Is it okay to free camp or wild camp in the Middle East?

Andrew and our hilltop tenting siteThe Middle East is full of empty spaces and it’s generally no problem at all to pitch a tent in your spot of choice.

From pastures to deserts, we’ve free camped in some beautiful spots.

The nature of life in this region means you’re quite unlikely to be totally undiscovered. Countless times we thought we were hidden away in an untouched spot, only to find the local shepherd wandering by a few minutes later.

This is never a problem and more often than not the shepherd will say hello and ask if there’s anything you need.

If you want a quiet night, camp well outside villages because once word gets round of your location you’ll have a group of curious onlookers. They’ll think nothing of walking 15-20 minutes to come check out the foreigner who’s landed in their midst for a night.

On the other hand, if you have any concern for your safety or can’t find a suitable spot, don’t hesitate to ask at a police station, family home, mosque or just about anywhere else for a place to put your tent.

Mosques in particular will have a space for people who genuinely have nowhere else to go. They will not refuse you. Don’t forget to leave a donation.

Carrying a letter to explain your journey and what you need is a good thing. You can write it in English at the start of your trip and get the first English-speaking local you meet to translate it.

The only time wild camping can be a problem is if you unwittingly set up near a military base. You’ll find out quite quickly if this is the case as several officers arrive to escort you away. This has happened to us but they were always friendly.