Algarve camping

Dear Editor,

I have no idea if this is of interest but my husband and I were talking about wild camping in Portugal and we thought it would be interesting to propose to the local authorities a measure which would both protect the land and bring capital to the councils.

We spent six months in a campervan last year travelling around the US. We did a mixture of campsites but also wild camping and found the system there particularly impressive and innovative in terms of controlling wild campers and protecting the environment but not prohibiting the inevitable, which is that people will always try to beat the system and seek out the beauty of the country and the best experience, instead of ‘making the right choice’ and heading to the underdeveloped, underfacilitated campsites that in Portugal are often in pretty awful areas (next to motorways etc).

Essentially in the US (and Scotland I believe has the same thing!), campers are issued ‘permits’ to wild camp and at a cost (we paid anything between $28 or $40 per night depending on the quality of the location, views etc). You can purchase permits sometimes in advance, but some have to be issued closer to the time e.g. 24-48 hours before the desired camping date to avoid people buying them all up and not using them. There are only a certain amount of permits issued and the ‘wild camping’ spots are marked out clearly in the protected areas.

Perhaps this might be an idea that the Algarve and elsewhere in Portugal could pursue. I feel like the problem of wild campers will never go away and that people will always seek out the experience. Having used a camping app in Portugal myself that has individuals mark out good places to wild camp, most of the reviews are that they didn’t get bothered by GNR – only a handful do, which definitely doesn’t put people off!

My suggestion would be that the Portuguese see it as an opportunity to promote respectful wild camping, and make some money to invest in the policing of it too through the permits!

Emma Campus, By email