A turning point in wild camping

By Paula Martins, in News, Community, Lifestyle · 15-01-2021 01:00:00 · 25 Comments

New rules regarding wild camping mean that campers will have to find an official site to stay.

Every year, Portugal, especially areas such as the Costa Vicentina, receive hundreds of people who exchange the comfort of a hotel for a caravan.

Many of these campers admit that theydon’t like to go to legal campsites and there are many reasons that contribute to this decision including a lack of legal campsites, money and freedom, are just a few of them. However, this freedom is now going to stop.

On 9 January 2021, a new rule came into force to change the highway code, which in addition to protecting the traffic rules, subtly prohibits camping outside authorised campsites as outlined in article 50ºA of the decree-law n.º 102-B/2020.

This new ruling has led to a considerable amount of criticism both from those who approve of stricter regulations and also by those who advocate for the freedom to camp in the wild.

Rubbish left on the ground, excess noise and general pollution are some of the complaints about campers that may be related to the origin of this new ban. Currently, in the middle of this pandemic scenario this was expected by many to become worse.

In May, because of the pandemic, more restrictive measures had being taken in the decree-law n.º 24/2020 of 25 May that regulates the use and access of beaches, in the context of the pandemic. So, since this date, people were already forbidden to stay in caravans or similar in parking areas near to beaches.

Andreia Pereira and Luís Pina, a Portuguese couple who travel and work full time in their caravan, who, in their Travel Inspire Project, divulge their lifestyle to those who follow them, confess they already have picked up rubbish left behind by other people. However, they are absolutely against this new rule. “Portugal is not yet prepared for this new legislation, without enough infrastructure and conditions, to be able to have alternatives for those who have this lifestyle or are users of caravans”, they said, regretting that not everyone knows how to set an example.

This revolt against campers exists because some of them “prejudice local population, the environment and economic agents who have invested in licensed spaces for hosting caravans”ww, said Andreia Pereira and Luís Pina.

On the other hand they “believe that stricter measures have to be put in place, such as the need for more inspection in the affected areas, the application of fines and awareness raising actions”, but is cheaper to prohibit than inspect.

The couple recalls that in 2020 an increase in users were recorded. “There were many tourists in caravans, even people who rented caravans for holidays, because they consider that in fact it is the safest way to travel in times of pandemic. This increase in the number of campers, caused disorder that led to a revolt on the part of the local population and municipalities, and as a consequence more restrictions were created in the most affected areas”.

The main change, according to the couple is that: “Now, in addition to prohibiting parking and staying by the beaches and places marked as unauthorised, it also prohibits overnight stays in any car park throughout the territory that is not expressly designated for caravans, that is, campsites Service Areas for caravans (ASAS) and signposted locations for caravans.”

What are the alternatives?
Municipalities, if they want to continue receiving these tourists, need to adapt to the new rule in force by creating infrastructures and legalising them as expressly authorised to accept caravans. This is what is happening in Moura, where there are already plans in place for a new area for camping.

The Council of Moura approved a project for the Caravan Service Area of Aldeia da Estrela. According to the Planicie da Estrela website, this space will have “five places for caravans, in a space equipped with telecommunications infrastructure, energy, water and sewage, access control and wi-fi”.

Meanwhile the couple, whotravel all the time, told The Portugal News that: “It will be a new adaptation and a different way of travelling. We travel slowly, we especially like the interior of Portugal, but with the new prohibitions we are forced to look for places designated for caravans, which will also force us to do more kilometres looking for these places”. The worst that they point out is the lack of infrastructures- the existence of few legal campsites in the interior of the country will require travelling many kilometres to find one.

At the moment there are many petitions being created in order to stop the advance of this rule, which many believe is negative for the economy, as Portugal is no longer an attractive country for this target group. These petitions would need, 2,500 citizen signatures to reach parliament and be analysed by the competent parliamentary committee.



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Comments:

Is there a chance that some areas of Portugal will be open for caravans during July and August 2021?

By Kobi from Other on 28-05-2021 05:06

I have been wild camping in Portugal on and off for the last fifteen years , spending a considerable amount of cash there. The vast majority of motorhomers leave no rubbish are law abiding, and most only go in the off season keeping local businesses ticking over. I will be seriously thinking wether to go again

By Colin from UK on 07-04-2021 06:48

2 years ago I retired and fulfilled a lifetime yearning and drove 3000 miles to Portugal I stayed on Portimao sand dunes. fished and relaxed it wasn’t a matter of camping on the cheap the fuel to get there and back cost £1200 it was just a lovely place for me and my dog to be.
I cleaned up after myself and others and met some lovely people
I spent 3 weeks there interspersed with the occasional night in a “proper” site to recharge the batteries, top up with water and empty the cassette toilet waste.
I feel privileged I was able to do that and had looked forward to doing it again but now alas I shall not how sad ! The trip cost me around £5000 in all and a lot of that was spent in Portugal .
You get get good and bad in all walks of life and what a shame Portugal now chooses to punish everybody for the sins of the few .

By Eric from UK on 10-02-2021 07:37

Was planning to spend March in Portugal, now I will find other places to spend my money. I never left any trace when wildcamping around the world, such a shame.

By Tony from Other on 05-02-2021 11:53

We have a lot of hikers here in the south of the Netherlands. The weekends are crazy busy and some morons sh*t on my land because you always have idiots. Now should we forbid hikers?! Off-course not!! We provide facilities and earn money from them.
I would say wild camping is only allowed with a permit that you can buy and when the police confirms that people have no toilet of leave a trace they get a big fat bill. Don't let retards rule the world!

By relf from Other on 04-02-2021 05:07

As an E. Algarve resident, I’m happy to see this law enforced. For years, our beachside parking lots were occupied mainly by long term camper vans, making it a challenge for day visitors and local residents to park. The water fountain was rendered unusable after the top was hacked off by campers to facilitate filling their containers with free water. The paths around the beach were littered with t.p. and rubbish, and the dune plants trampled.

By Theresa from Algarve on 24-01-2021 07:33

In hotels and guest houses a registration is required so it is known who stayed there.
The problem with illegal campers is we have no idea who they are, where they have come from and why they are here.
I have had enough of having to keep an eye on dodgy characters parking over night near where I live.Then having to walk past the smell of excrement and litter they frequently leave behind.
Camper vans are like flies on Sh@t. One turns up and then the message gets out and the others swarm in.
I am sure there are lots of places in eastern europe where they can go and be unregulated.
If they want to come to Portugal,they have to abide by the law of the land.
Rules are there for the protection of everyone.Without them,we see the chaos that ensues.

By James from Algarve on 19-01-2021 10:25

Blame the one group of people with toilets in their vehicles for human waste? How does that make sense? The waste is from day trippers in cars!

By Bob from Algarve on 17-01-2021 11:55

most 67% of motorhome users are dog owners that travel with their pet because hotels don’t allow them , when parked at dozens of beaches lakes etc the people disappearing into the woods/ sand dunes mostly come from day visitors in their cars most motorhomes have toilets & showers and can live comfortably for a week at a time without using external facilities, i don’t deny that there are people who have vans that abuse the areas but by no means all, brexit is already sending people to morocco instead of portugal there are many areas i’m happy to park & pay for the placement but not in a compound 6mts from another van if i wanted that i would buy a house

By ken dunne from UK on 17-01-2021 10:59

I am building a 4x4 camper where we sleep in the back. We will wild camp regardless of the rules. We never leave any rubbish and frequently find ourselves taking bags of rubbish left by others. We never use camp sites and never ever will. We use a 4x4 because we want to get away from people and cars and vans. We seek peace. Portugal; is a wonderful country, hopefully attitudes dont harden against others who bring welcome revenue into the economy.

By Donegal Overlanding from Other on 17-01-2021 12:18

So upset reading this. We have a 2 berth campervan and I am planning to retire once pandemic is over our dream was to travel around Portugal during the winter months in our van. We have been to the country many times for short holidays and dreamt of enjoying touring for months at a time. Devastated!!!

By Eveline Gordon from UK on 16-01-2021 09:35

Campervans bring a huge amount of income to off season Portugal. Studies by the camper rental association in Portugal believe the market is worth €50,000,000 a year in rentals alone. This law has just put a massive dent in that. Think about all of the facilities they could have built with the taxes generated. Yes Ban wild camping in the Natural parks, but really in random carparks where you're just going to park for the night and move on, just like the rest of Europe. The situation got really worse last year when the Portuguese decided they would try wild camping, and then Voila rubbish and xxxx everywhere. Vans like indie campers with no toilets renting for €30 a night is a recipe for disaster. New Zealand also suffered the same this year when it's local population decided to wild camp, but they tackled it level headed and said no rental vans without toilets and set up more camp spots where you can only stay 2 nights max. We can all blame the Hotel association Portugal and Orbitur for lobbying the government on this one. Portugal has the worst campsites in Europe and they are very few and far between. Orbitur Sagres, please ! what a dump! and so far out of town, you need to take a taxi to go for a meal out. Camping at zemar In Alentejo is €90 a night and it's a dust bowl. Portugal needed to catch up with the rest of Europe before it brought out this law, but as usual it manages to mess things up constantly by not studying the situation properly and bowing down to the big hotel associations. Bravo Portugal lets regress to that 3rd world sh## hole.

By Brian Blessed from Algarve on 16-01-2021 09:04

Campervans bring a huge amount of income to off season Portugal. Studies by the camper rental association in Portugal believe the market is worth €50,000,000 a year in rentals alone. This law has just put a massive dent in that. Think about all of the facilities they could have built with the taxes generated. Yes Ban wild camping in the Natural parks, but really in random carparks where you're just going to park for the night and move on, just like the rest of Europe. The situation got really worse last year when the Portuguese decided they would try wild camping and then Voila rubbish and shit everywhere. Vans like indie campers with no toilets renting for €30 a night is a recipe for disaster. New zealand also suffered the same situation this year when it's local population decided to wild camp, but they tackled it level headed and said no rental vans without toilets and set up more camp spots where you can only stay 2 nights max. We can all blame the Hotel association Portugal and Orbitur for lobbying the government on this one. Portugal has the worst campsites in Europe and they are very few and far between. Orbitur Sagres, please ! what a dump! and so far out of town, you need to take a taxi to go for a meal out. Camping at zemar In Alentejo is €90 a night and it's a dust bowl. Portugal needed to catch up with the rest of Europe before it brought out this law, but as usual it manages to mess things up constantly by not studying the situation properly and bowing down to the big hotel associations. Bravo Portugal lets regress to that 3rd world sh## hole.

By simon from Algarve on 16-01-2021 09:02

All motorhome owners DO NOT respect Portugal.

I had one of those losers squat on my land until we moved them off. They left a big pile of rubbish and horrific human waste. Lucky for them I abide by the law, otherwise the situation would have escalated badly.

Ban them from the Algarve for good. They all need a good wash oh and a job. State hand outs keep these losers poluting life.

Pay for a legal campsite or pi** of back to where you crawled from, losers!

By Washingon from Algarve on 16-01-2021 10:09

I am so pleased that wild ca ping will be banned or seriously restricted.
I live near the coast and I am fed up with finding that beach car parks are full of camper vans.

I have seen them lift storm drains to pour their toilets into them.

Disgusting.

We caravanned for many years, but we always used official sites or motorway stop offs thru France. So we know what we are talking about.

By Trevor Roberts from Algarve on 15-01-2021 08:59

If you can buy a camping van for 50 000 Euro,
You can pay for a place on a camping place. And stop using parking places as living places.
So I think that it is good that parking places are not allowed to be used as camping spots.

On the other hand. People that have nothing bout a tent. Using their feet, bike or MC should be allowed to pitch a tent. As long as they do not disturb others. Camp sites are not common at hiking trails.

By Gustav from Algarve on 15-01-2021 03:15

Good thing too. I've had enough of hippy types coming to Portugal with their hideous tattoos, piercings and wild, dirty, unkempt hair, camping out in the wilds like cavemen, only to leave a ton of litter behind.

By Billy Bissett from Porto on 15-01-2021 02:42

Hi over the last 4 years I have spent £12.000 on wild camping and camping sites. Well it looks like Portugal will not be getting any more of my money such a shame as I love Portugal. Spain from now on. Good bye kj

By Kevin from UK on 15-01-2021 12:29

Unfortunately in life there are people that agree with the rules and those that don’t. Generally as a motorhomer and a resident I can say that most people leave without anyone knowing they were there, as do most Portuguese people visiting beaches and beauty spots in the middle of no where.
However I have visited places that motorhomes could not access but the amount of litter, used toilet paper and nappies strewn around is disgusting so don’t think this problem will go away by blaming motorhomes.
Incidentally motorhomes carry a toilet cassette which on average last about three days, so most normal people plan wild camping trips in conjunction with emptying their cassette at the appropriate places, so a couple of days in the wild is possible.
Finally what’s classed as a motorhome, a lot of people use a panel van without ANY facilities are they going to be fined ??

By Peter Bird from Algarve on 15-01-2021 12:09

Good thing that the Portuguese locals never dump garbage in nature, or shit in nature. Just blame others and destroy motorhome toerisme while you're at it. Sign the petitions!!

By Fred Doe from Algarve on 15-01-2021 11:26

@John Dough

Re your last sentenceThere will of course be many that might think swapping free loading littering wild campers,for people who support local hotels and businesses would be a great thing.

Be careful what you wish for

By James from Algarve on 15-01-2021 11:13

Portuguese, please don't be so inflexible. It would have already been sufficient to forbid "wild" camping 2000m from any body of water. I cannot see any problem with campers stay overnight on a official parking lot at times of low business.

Alternatively many people might simply not come to Portugal anymore. Europe is large, so many places to go.

By John Dough from Lisbon on 15-01-2021 08:53

Sadly, a great idea.

Too many Loonies, Paedophiles, and "I don't care cause I'm only p*ssing thru", have nailed free camping.

Sigh of the Times.
Will the CCTV be wired before showers and free wifi? data for sale!

Small Stealth vans/cars will become the Norm - you cant stop people wanting to get away from Society - Sociably Accepted Levels of Insanity.

Pessimist ........we have the money and Logistical where with all, to put every problem on this planet Right. But we choose to look the other way.

There is only ONE key for future doors - money, and lots of it.



By Stephen Walker from Alentejo on 15-01-2021 08:48

This is long overdue.
Many residents here have to face walking past the stink of human excrement and litter left by wild campers.
The pristine landscape is for everyone to enjoy,but not for people to set up temporary homes which then blight it.
People who own camper vans should be aware of the rules before they buy or rent one.
Why should they be allowed unfettered access when everyone else has to park and live in authorised places?

By James from Algarve on 15-01-2021 08:11

All our ancestors were nomads. Little by little their freedom to roam has been incapsulated. While making new countries and making new laws for their new borders, the free roaming people were never taken into account. Nomads kept on being pushed away and now we have arrived at the final push in the process that drives out this nomadic freedom. People should be allowed to have different lifestyles, people should be allowed to be free.

By No Mad from Algarve on 15-01-2021 05:45
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