Like for many people, travelling in VW bus has been a childhood dream of mine.
VW Bus Surprise
Honestly, I did not expect to be asked to join this trip at all. My neighbours Sven and Mario contacted me on Tuesday evening. At first, I was indecisive due to other responsibilities. Therefore, I adjourned the decision. By the following morning, it was clear to me that it might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take part in such an adventure without any major costs, which a VW bus clearly involves.
Van Life Switzerland
Although I have watched many videos about van life, it remained something totally new for me. I had slept in cars before, but this VW bus took it to a whole new level. Moreover, such a vehicle is far from inconspicuous. Usually, I try to be as hidden as possible from any people who might come across while wild camping. Yet, this bus figuratively screams to stay the night and it is not meant to be driven off-road. So, where should we go?
Where to wild camp?
In terms of wild camping, regulations are obscure in Switzerland. Clearly, there are certain places such as nature reserves where it is forbidden. On the other hand, above the tree line it is usually no problem. The laws specifying wild camping are formulated by municipality or canton, which makes it quite cumbersome to find out for every place.
Having camped wild countless times, I was never sent away by anyone. However, I have been avoiding places next to streets, which is not possible with a van. Therefore, the boys and I planned for several options to stay the night. Dead end streets on the map are good indicators and Google Street View seals the deal. Make sure to have a plan B in case place A does not live up to the expectations or you have an encounter with the police. As far as I know, they will only send you away and I have never heard of a fine being issued for wild camping (unless in an area explicitly specified as prohibited).
Furthermore, on the road we chatted with other people in vans and received valuable information. For further information, please contact local authorities or boards of tourism
Before setting out to our camping spot, we visited the Bärglistüber waterfall. It has been long on my to-visit-list in Switzerland and it is truly a magnificent sight.
Arriving at the lake, we talked to fellow campers, who reassured us that we will be fine. Therefore, we settled at the banks of this wonderful lake by establishing a bivouac.
Bivouacking under the stars
The following day, we went fishing at a creek in a nearby valley. Yet, we neither saw nor caught anything. Perhaps this was due to the hydropower station above, which might have flooded the river recently.
Enjoying the time on the road, we decided to stay another night and looked for another place to sleep. We settled on a smaller lake high up in a valley. The narrow road was quite daunting on the old engine of the VW Bus and we had to stop occasionally to cool it down.
At the lake, I finally managed to catch a fish. The small perch made for a great side dish.
VW Bus Trip Take aways
Travelling by VW Bus is a very relaxing mode of travel and quite comfortable to carry a lot of gear. At first, I felt limited by rules and regulations about where to camp, but apparently it is accepted in many places provided you have proper conduct. Furthermore, I was astonished by the strong community of van owners in Switzerland. At our second night spot, we met another photographer and had great talks. If I had a VW bus myself, I would add some specific compartments for gear as well as solar panels, but living in a rustic van is pretty cool too.