Microadventure: Cycling and Wild Camping In The Forest of Chaam

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. – Jawaharlal Nehru

When I close my eyes and think about the word adventure, I instantly picture myself somewhere in nature, being on a journey while exploring new things. To be more specific, I imagine myself cutting my way though a remote jungle with a machete until I suddenly discover an old mysterious temple containing a shiny treasure, protected by booby traps. Thank you, brave professor Indiana Jones for the image! Of course this image of adventure is very cliché and you can seek adventure in many different ways.

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In my opinion, every good adventure contains at least four key elements. A journey, exploration, a bit of a challenge and preferably nature. If everything goes well, this should lead to excitement, fun and awareness.  Personally, I love adventures and they always make me feel very  alive. It is the thrill of exploring the unknown what makes it so exciting. The thrill of challenging myself to take a step further and to get in touch with the world’s beauty. It brings me closer to myself and it is the perfect way to escape daily life for a while. When I have had an adventure I feel recharged again and that is why I think it is good to have one once in a while.

An adventure does not necessarily have to be big to experience that feeling. You do not have to be dropped in some rainforest of Guatemala or hike through the Scottish Highlands, you can have a small adventure close to home as well. Recently I found a really cool concept. Microadventures! You can easily have a small adventure in a weekend. Just pack your bag on Friday afternoon and start walking, cycling or driving and see where you will end up. You can even have a small adventure during the week. Go to the beach after work with a sleeping bag, cook and spend the night over there and go back to work the next morning. I think it is a very inspiring concept and the options are as endless as your imagination. .

Last week I went on a microadventure with two friends. Usually it is illegal to camp in the wild in Holland but when I was reading and preparing for my longboard trip to Paris, I found out that there are special campsites where it is allowed. Most of them are in the woods, without facilities (except for a water pump) and of course it is for free. All the reason to give it a try.

starting our micro adventure

My plan was to get there by bike so I chose a campsite which was close enough to be a goal and far enough to be a challenge. I found one 90 km away in a beautiful forest in the south of Holland. Now, you might think 90 km is not that far but keep in mind that we all had crappy bikes made for short rides in the city and that I have always lacked the skill of packing super light. It turned out to be the perfect recipe for a huge pain in the butt.

The plan was pretty spontaneous so we did not have time to prepare well. Soon after we left, I was faced with the fact that a little extra preparation always goes a longer way. After a few km I had my first flat tire because I did not check if they were ok. Eventually, I had three more during the trip before I had enough of it and bought a new tire. But what does not kill you makes you stronger. It added to the whole adventure experience and we ended up meeting a bunch of very friendly and helpful people who restored our faith in humanity.

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The road to our destination was very divers. First we drove through some bigger cities like Rotterdam but half way they made place for the countryside. Once a while we crossed a small village and slowly we came closer to the forest of Chaam where we were going to set up camp. After a beautiful sunset it got darker and darker. We reached the forest around 11 pm and by that time it was totally dark. Now, these wild campsites are already hard to find during daylight so you can imagine how it is during the night. Even though we had a full moon to help us, we could not find the site that night.

We set up camp along a forest trail and we chilled and played guitar around a torch. It is a mystical experience to be in a forest in the middle of the night while there is a full moon. There was an eerie silence but calming at the same time. It was a little foggy and damp and the trees looked beautiful in the moonlight. Every time I filled my lungs with the fresh forest air, I felt more and more alive.

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The next morning I woke up after an extremely good sleep and started to explore the forest. It was a wonderful and peaceful forest with a shallow a lake close by. Soon we discovered that the campsite was less than 100 meters away from where we slept. There was a water pump providing water, some pieces of tree trunk and a place to light a fire, making it a perfect site to set up camp. We had an awesome day that day and it was great to feel so close to nature. We relaxed, carved some wood, talked about life and made jokes. In the evening we cooked a very healthy dinner with lots of vegetables, nuts, dried cranberries and Quinoa.

A forest ranger gave us permission to make a campfire so we made one the outdoorsy way with a flint and some tinder. There is nothing better than the sound and the sight of a warm crackling fire and I can look at it for hours. When it got darker we had some wine, played the guitar and sang songs under the stars while flames playfully turned wood into black coals and orange sparks tried to make their way into the sky.

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After we woke up the next day after that superb night, we took a walk through the forest and saw some deer and lots of colored dragonflies in all sizes. Around noon it was time to break up camp again and to make our journey home. Although it was only for a few days, it really felt like I had been away for a while. All the elements where there to make it an adventure and I felt completely recharged and satisfied when I got home. Microadventures are great because they are so easy to implement in your life but they make such a difference. They do not take a lot of time and preparation and they do not cost a lot of money. I am definitely going to do this more often.

How about you? Are you an adventures type and do you perhaps some great microadventure ideas you would like to share?

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