Wild camping rules differ per area
Rules about wild camping are set by the local authorities. So even though there are basic rules in Switzerland, exceptions may apply. Carefully check whether wild camping is allowed on your preferred location before you head off.
No wild camping in valleys, inhabited areas and forests
Switzerland has beautiful, but vulnerable nature and wildlife. In order to protect the surroundings, and to ensure the safety of the people themselves, wild camping is not allowed in these areas:
- inhabited areas;
- areas close to mountain huts;
- nature reserves and the Swiss National Park;
- wild rest zones;
- hunting ban areas.
Check whether your preferred location belongs to these categories. In case of doubt, contact the local authorities. If you’re still unsure, please respect Switzerland’s nature and don’t put up your tent. There are plenty of official legal campsites.
Wild camping in the mountains
Wild camping is basically allowed in the mountains, above the tree line. This applies for one night only at each location, and with a limited number of people.
Choose a safe location
Once you’re sure that wild camping is allowed on your preferred location, you’ll still have to find a safe spot:
- don’t put up your tent close to mountain streams or rivers. They may suddenly swell due to rain or storm. Flooding of your spot may also occur if it doesn’t rain on your location, but higher up in the mountains. Water levels may also rise due to hydropower plants connected to streams and rivers;
- don’t camp on or at the foot of a slope from which snow, stones or other rubble may fall down;
- don’t camp on mountain tops or ridges, especially if thunderstorms may occur. Such exposed places are likelier to get hit by lightning;
- always keep an eye on weather forecasts, and adjust your location (or drop your camping plans altogether) if there’s a risk of bad weather.
Respect the rules concerning nature and wildlife
If you’re camping in the wild, this is what you can do to respect Switzerland’s amazing nature and wildlife:
- don’t be noisy and don’t disturb wildlife. Be especially quiet around dusk, as that’s when many wild animals are active;
- clean up all of your waste, including degradable (food) products. If you have to wash your dishes, do so with a mild, degradable detergent and make sure this doesn’t end up in lakes or streams;
- use existing fireplaces only. Each new fireplace disturbs nature and wildlife. Be careful when creating a fire, and don’t do so if a (local) fire prohibition applies due to drought or heat;
- if you need to go to the toilet, do so away from lakes or streams. Cover up your excrements. Use normal toilet paper only. Don’t burn your toilet paper, but take it with you along with your other waste. You can take along special bags for this if you like.
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