Free Wild Camping in the Netherlands...?
I figured out how to wild camp in the Netherlands! It's quite easy, and even better, it's free. In The Netherlands and some parts of Belgium, Paalkamperen, which literally means "pole camping," is how some people enjoy the outdoors. You navigate to the GPS coordinates of a pole and tent camp within 10 meters of it. There may be limitations on the number of tents, length of stay or fire allowance, but otherwise you have found yourself free in the Dutch "wilderness."
Most camping in The Netherlands is within RV Parks or parks where you rent a bungalow. While you may still place a tent there, but it's not truly camping as we are accostomed to in Canada. This is not to say the Dutch don't know camping; they camp in other countries in tents and away from civilization, but not en masse they way we do in North America. The Dutch have to go elsewhere to get to "the sticks." This makes sense when you realize that The Netherlands is the second most densely populated country in Europe, behind the island nation of Malta.
That is why I am happy to have found out that Paalkamperen exists, and seems to be relatively unknown! You can get to your site without really seeing anyone else. You can be outside, and although you may not be in the most "wild" places (a wooded area behind a farm, for example), you are still able to enjoy the experience of "roughing it." You might just be woken in the middle of the night by a herd of sheep bleating at the moon. A little different than in Canada, but still very fun.
For more detailed information on these campsites check out this excellent page by Stefan Kruithof: https://sites.google.com/site/paalkampeerders/
Have you ever wild camped in an interesting place, or even here in The Netherlands? We'd like to hear your story in the comments. Thanks for reading and happy camping!