Get out into nature, pitch your tent in a beautiful spot, seek your little happiness nearby instead of out in the big wide world.

A tempting idea, at least some holidaymakers think.

Many conservationists believe that selfishness at the expense of the environment.

Wild camping is often not allowed in Germany - but this is often disregarded, especially in Corona times.

What is the legal situation for wild camping?

While in Scandinavia everyone can set up camp almost anywhere in the great outdoors, this is not allowed in this country with this generosity.

The exact regulations differ from state to state.

In Baden-Württemberg, for example, you are not allowed to camp in nature.

In Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, one night is allowed, but not in the middle of the forest.

This is almost always taboo.

A single night is also tolerated in Brandenburg.

The amount of the fines also differs depending on the country.


If wild camping is not expressly allowed, it is probably forbidden, says Swen Walentowski from the legal portal Anwaltauskunft.de as a guideline.

This is true anyway in particularly beautiful places: "Wild camping is generally prohibited in national parks."

The same applies to nature reserves and many other protected natural spaces - which often include idyllic river banks, which canoeists may find attractive overnight camps.

Canoeing is fun - but you should only set up camp at official campsites on the way

Source: dpa-tmn / Patrick Pleul

And there is something else to consider: Walentowski points out that around 50 percent of the freely accessible forest and meadow areas are privately owned.

"If the forest path ends in a clearing, it doesn't have to be a public area, camping there is still forbidden." If you pitch your tent behind a fence, you can even break the peace.

Then there is a threat of a complaint.

Who can give me specific information?


Friends of nature can best get information from the Environment Agency, the Nature Conservation Agency or the local forestry office.

The local tourist information offices also know the local rules.

What about bivouacking?

The legislature does not know sleeping in the open air without a tent.

So is it a smart stopgap to avoid legal trouble?

The question is whether bivouacking falls under the right of entry for the purpose of recreation.

"I tend to believe that bivouacking falls under camping, even if the legislature did not think so," is Swen Walentowski's assessment.


It depends on the individual case: If someone gets into an emergency in the mountains and can no longer come down from the mountain, then bivouacking is allowed.

It looks different when hikers consciously take a sleeping mat, sleeping bag and other equipment with them - just not a tent.

“That doesn't work,” says Walentowski.

Especially not in national parks.

If in doubt, it is always worth asking the relevant state authority.

Do visitors adhere to the rules in the national park?

Many do not do that, in any case it is enough to disturb nature.

The Saxon Switzerland National Park is an example of this.

There the so-called Boofen - free overnight stays - is only allowed in connection with the practice of climbing.

There are a total of 58 places where climbers can spend the night outside.

The park's rangers check these places and ask questions.

There is just one catch: The rule that free overnight stays are actually only allowed for climbers is practically difficult to enforce, as Hanspeter Mayr reports.

“Our rangers have already heard all the excuses,” says the head of public relations.

There are also other problems.

“Many do not know where the Boofen are,” says Mayr.

“If you leave too late and come into the dark, you can often no longer find the official Boofen.

Others come into their chosen boofe and find that it is full.

If they can't find another one, they lie down somewhere. ”This causes disruption in the entire national park.

How big is the problem in Germany?

In the national parks in Germany, wild campers and visitors who simply get out into nature are a big problem.

In the Saxon Switzerland National Park, between 2017 and 2019, between 20,000 and 35,000 people stayed in the Boofen - whether legally or illegally.

“That's 80 people a night, one and a half hotels,” says Hanspeter Mayr.

"And everyone goes to the toilet in the morning and in the evening."

Above a certain number, the problem lies in the sheer number of visitors, explains Mayr.

“That also has to do with social media.

Nature is needed for self-presentation. "


Influencers lead their followers to supposedly lonely places that the masses follow.

Rules are disregarded, for example to get a great selfie - this is what happened in the Berchtesgaden National Park.

Barriers were overcome there in order to get more impressive photos of the Königsbachfall.

Serious accidents occurred as a result.

Hanspeter Mayr expects 2021 to be just as bad as the previous one.

“I am grateful for every day the weather is bad,” he says - to protect nature.

Does careful bivouacking disturb the animals?

Hanspeter Mayr vigorously contradicts the widespread opinion that you just have to be careful and considerate enough in nature, then you don't disturb the animal world either, Hanspeter Mayr vigorously contradicts: “When people say that they don't bother at all, then I have to say: Yes, it does is so due to the outstanding sensory performance of many animal species. "

According to Mayr, the mere presence of people can lead certain animals to decide for or against a habitat.

One example is the peregrine falcon with its extreme visual performance.

“He avoids an eyrie when it is too close to the hiking trail and people keep deviating from it.

Owls, too, perceive human noises, especially at night, over much greater distances than we think possible. ”Other animals would smell food they brought with them or the fabric softener in their clothes over long distances.

Conclusion: It is a fallacy to believe that if you just keep quiet and take your rubbish with you, you don't leave any traces in nature.

Does it help to stay overnight in a mobile home or car?

These vacationers also cause problems in sensitive natural areas such as the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.

“There are no streams here because the water seeps away quickly,” explains Hanspeter Mayr.

So people with mobile homes or their own car are drawn to the river, which is actually one of the best waters in Saxony in terms of water quality.

Not last summer: “The foam crowns came towards us,” says Mayr.

In any case, the legal situation is clear: in Germany, according to ADAC, you can only spend the night with the camper outside of camping or parking spaces in order to restore your driving ability.


The single night should be limited to ten hours, camping chairs are not allowed to be set up.

Anyone who violates this must expect a fine.

The rules are particularly strict in protected natural areas.

Where can I pitch my tent?

In protected areas there are sometimes special nature camps or trekking sites where you can legally pitch your tent.

Sometimes there are toilets and a small fireplace.

Such storage locations have been designated in the Sauerland and the Eifel, for example.

There are several places available in the Black Forest from May to October.

In Schleswig-Holstein they are called overnight places.

It is important to find out about availability in good time.

Hanspeter Mayr's advice is to come counter-cyclically to Saxon Switzerland and avoid it on nice weekends and public holidays.

"If you are looking for relaxation and solitude, you will hardly find anything here this year."

If you want to come anyway, you should follow the rules: no fire, no overnight stay, be considerate of animals and plants, don't leave any rubbish behind. "So that we can all enjoy nature for as long as possible."