Car Camping Spain, we venture out to the nearby mountains on a 24 hour trip and put the new bed setup in the Shogun to the test.
There comes a point when your youngest turns into a teenager and doesn’t want to be camping with Mum and Dad all the time anymore, while it’s great to do the family trips it’s also great to have some R&R for yourself too. Interestingly in Spain, a country renound for its rules, regulations and red tape there is no age requirement to leave your child home alone – parents discretion. Our young lad is a responsible young teenager and we have no problem doing just that.
So as the mayhem of the August holidays comes to an end we head off on a 24 hour chillout overland trip to relax a bit and spend some time in nature. A tent would be out of the question, that would be ‘camping’ but in Spain you can sleep in your car so with a new set up in the back of the Shogun we were eager to try it out.
Car Camping Spain – Is it permitted?
Yes it is permitted but as with many things in Spain you will find no consistency in the law or how it is implimented region by region. You are allowed to sleep in your car in Spain but there are too many variables to write about here including the mood of the Guardia Civil officer who may raise issue with you.
Overlanding Realities & Parking Offroad
The ‘law’ and the reality are often two very different things when it comes to such subjects. If we were to camp up on the beach then yeah, that’s going to attract attention however sleeping in your overland rig is mainly done in quiet, remote parts where you won’t get noticed.
as with many things in Spain you will find no consistency in the law or how it is implimented region by region
Case in point: our night out in the Shogun, in the depths of the Altiplano de Granada with no dwellings for miles, completely isolated on a mountain and impossible to notice until you’re actually at the location. The access to such places can be a challenge especially at night and being so ‘out of the way’ makes them off the radar for any oficial.
Escaping the noise…
There is something about knowing that you don’t have to go home, no deadlines, things to get back for, immersion into normality once again. Staying out means you can chill out which for me is pretty important at the moment.
Wild camping brings with it that thought in the back of your mind that you might get moved on then you realise you’re in the most remote place you could find and the chances of anyone disturbing you are almost zero, in any case we are sleeping in the car – no tents involved.
We chose to set off around Saturday lunchtime, the location is superb with fantastic views, very quiet and with the exception of the odd mountain biker we never see anyone at this spot hidden away in the Altiplano de Granada. The location is isolated which is exactly what we want, slghtly exposed yes, but with a little luck and some kind weather you have a full 360 view with open clear skies and very little light pollution.
Sleeping in a Shogun Sport
This was a test run so we knew it was not going to be perfect and it wasn’t… Climbing into the back of the Shogun with the bed set up was a challenge to say the least, comical in fact, at one point I couldn’t even slightly hoist my frame through the gap in the door for laughing. It’s okay for small people but when your a 6ft2″ ex rugby lock forward, things get more difficult.
When you’re in though all is good, there isn’t much headroom but there is ample length even for me which is always the issue in a tent, there is also plenty of width and room to move around.
Levelling for sleep
One thing that you never hear much about when it comes to roof top tents is the levelling that is required for the vehicle – sleeping in the back of the car is no different. At our location we have the apex of the mountain then it’s surprising how quickly this declines away.
Levelling the Shogun with rocks was not a problem although we still decided to sleep with our feet towards the tailgate – this is an issue as you have to get in the vehicle first then get turned around. For next time we’ll be sleeping with our feet behind the front seats, this means we can crawl into the back of the car and slide out feet first when we want to get out.
What we’d do differently
As mentioned above we’d sleep the other way around for ease of climbing in and out. The mattress has to change, it’s a huge big spongy thing that makes getting in a challenge and it also decreases the amount of headroom you have inside the vehicle, okay for a tent but too big for a vehicle which is a shame as the length and width are perfect.
Next time we may go the sleeping mat route and see how we get on with them, something compact to store and less cumbersome when set up. Other than that this short 24 hour trip went very smoothly, we did sleep, not the best sleep but we did get a few hours in as to not feel completely drained the next morning.
Did we get ‘the knock’?
No. Our chosen location is so isolated and rough to get to that no authorities are going to venture up there in the middle of the night on the off chance people might be camping, different perhaps if you had a bonfire going and some thumping techno at 3.00am but not for a quiet overnighter.
I am not entirely sure what the deal would be if we did get the knock, would we be breaking any laws? You are allowed to sleep in your car but we would clearly be camping even with nothing left out and no awning up etc. It’s a grey area and much would depend on the individual that came across you.
Car camping Spain tips:
- Find an isolated location
- Don’t attract attention by lighting a fire after dark – it will be seen for miles
- Keep noise to a minimum
- Keep your camp minimal, like you can leave at a moments notice if needs be
- Do not leave anything out on the ground overnight [chairs/cooler/awning etc]
- Leave nothing and take only photos
- Don’t quote the law to the Guardia – they don’t like it.
Sleeping in the back of your 4×4 completes the overland experience, it’s our kind of camping, way better than official campsites although they do have their place. You don’t have the people, the noise, the karaoke and the holiday campsite vibe all of which you have the pleasure of paying for, it’s just you and nature which is what we are after.
I know the benefits on a physical level are incredible, for two days afterwards I was no longer reminded about the stroke that happened 4 months prior as even though I was chilling out I was being more active too.
Silence is golden…. and this what you get, it reminded me of my childhood days growing up on a farm in rural Northumberland where it was so quiet it was almost deafening. You can relax, wind down and watch a full day go by from sun up to sun down. Being outdoors for us is important and for 24 hours you can sit back and forget. I know the benefits on a physical level are incredible, for two days afterwards I was no longer reminded about the stroke that happened 4 months prior as even though I was chilling out I was being more active too.
Converting the Shogun into a sleeper has been a good idea now that there are just two of us for short trips like this. It offers a different dynamic by way of making the trip complete with no driving for the rest of the day – it makes all the difference.
Links & Resources
- Sleeping in a vehicle [Spanish Road Traffic Law] / PDF in Spanish
- Wild Camping in Spain
- Shogun Build
- Parking for the night in Spain
Leave a Reply