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Wild Camping In Turkey – Why Bother?

We’ve met a fair few cycle tourists along our travels who elected to ‘wild/stealth camp’ a lot in Turkey. After finding many great free places to camp in Turkey just by talking to the locals in a likely looking spot, I asked myself, what’s with all the wild camping?

There are some benefits of course to wild camping; the main one I can think of is that after a really hard or stressful day when you really don’t want to bother interacting with people… er… you don’t have to. You could also argue that if you’re well hidden that it’s safer, (I personally thing from this perspective you’re better off camping within someone’s property… but that’s a matter of opinion); although I would say that seclusion may be a double edged sword, after all, you don’t know what people use certain seemingly quite areas. However, Turkey is a very safe country to travel in… I wouldn’t let this be a major concern. Also finding secluded/wooded areas away from roads isn’t that easy in much of Turkey; what with its generally dry barren landscape, (well, the bits we cycles through anyhow)

But even if personal space is a priority for you, camping at petrol stations; restaurant gardens; government buildings, etc is rarely stressful in the same way staying at someone’s house can be, you’ve got your tent to crawl into after all, and you’re not expected to be ‘on’ and entertaining in the same way you are when you stay in someone’s home (don’t get me wrong, I love getting invited to stay with the locals – but I’m sure you’ll agree that there are some days when you just want your own space). The most hassle you’re likely to receive is people brining you tea, food, blankets and checking you’re ok, etc, but in our experience unless you make the effort and make it clear you’d like a chat, you get left pretty much alone. And if you are up for a chat it’s a great way to meet some friendly locals who are usually more that glad to sit down for a tea and a chinwag, (even if you both don’t speak the same language).

Turkish Cay

This is the worth thing that will happen

The one downside to some of these places, (petrol stations for instance) is that they can be noisy… but the same could be said of wild camping spots unless you go well off the beaten path. We’ve never found it to be a problem, but if you’re a light sleeper it’s nothing some earplugs shouldn’t fix.

And before you recoil in horror at the idea of camping at a petrol station, (doesn’t sound too appealing right?) let me fill you in; the places in Turkey, for the most part, really are very good and many, (the ones we choose to stop at given the chance) have small wooded picnic areas round the back, shielded from the worst of the noise and obscured from view of the road. They always have toilets, (open 24 hours) – sometimes with a shower, usually have a restaurant if you don’t feel like cooking and of course a mini market; if you’re lucky you might even get luxuries like power points and internet access… what more could a tired cyclist want! Many we’ve stayed at have been more peaceful, secluded and had better facilities than some overcrowded campsites we stayed at in Europe.

Petrol Station Camping

Petrol Station Camping... Yeah... Horrible

And best of all, with any of these places the people in charge seem delighted to help you out; I could ramble of for ages about how hospitable and friendly the Turkish people are… I won’t… but they really, really are.


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