Who hasn’t thought about spending the night out in the nature under a clear sky, watching the stars and waking up with the first sunbeams of the day. On many of our hikes we questioned ourselves whether or not it is allowed to spend the night with a small tent at a beautiful spot out in the wild.
Definition of terms
Camp: planned overnight stay in the wild, with a tent or similar.
Bivouac: sleeping in the wild without a tent, for example in a igloo or cave.
An emergency bivouac situation is given when not planning an overnight stay in the wild due to an accident, bad weather or when it’s getting too dark to get down from a mountain. Under these circumstances an emergency bivouac is allowed.
In Switzerland there is no general prohibition for camping, according to Art. 699 Abs. 1 ZGB forests and fields are accessible to everyone. Still there isn’t a uniform law for all of Switzerland, for each canton or community there are different restrictions. Most of the time there are clear signs on where you are not allowed to camp.
One or two nights, with a small amount of people in the mountains above the treeline are usually not a problem as long as you are considerate. The ideal place to camp is thus located above the treeline, on Alpine meadows or in rocky terrain.
If camping anywhere close to alpine or mountain huts, it’s recommended to ask the farmers or the hut team whether it is okay. If camping on private property should definitely be discussed with the landowners.
On the timber line, to ecologically sensitive sites, in floodplains and wetlands, camping should be avoided.
Camping is strictly forbidden in the following areas
- Swiss national park
- Nature reserves where hunting is prohibited (Overview map)
- Nature reserves
- Wild quiet zones (Overview map)
- Moorlands (Overview map)
Further information can be found on the SAC Swiss Alpine Club website.
Rules of conduct while camping
Always leave the place you used for camping the way it was or even cleaner. Which means:
- Dont’ leave any garbage, instead take it with and dispose it accordingly.
- Don’t disturb any animals by petting them, feeding them or making loud noise (music).
- Don’t stay for to long at the same spot, usually only one night.
- Making a fire in nature is dangerous and shouldn’t be done.