Vancouverites looking to enjoy the great outdoors without the stress of an increasingly competitive campground-booking process have a new service at their fingertips: Campertunity, the so-called “Airbnb of camping” that offers Canadians the chance to rent campsites on private land.
Founded by local camping enthusiasts and North Shore residents Guita Yazdani and Nora Lozano, the website allows private landowners around the country to list their properties for rent online. Each posting includes a description detailing the location and size of the site, and a catalogue of available amenities like picnic tables, access to potable water and outhouses, and whether or not the area allows pets and fires. Nearby activities, such as hiking, swimming, and fishing, are mentioned, too.
Similar to Airbnb, users may search and book campgrounds according to a range of dates or the number of guests who will be staying. They may also leave reviews after their stay. Prices range from $6 to $50 a night, which are slightly cheaper than or comparable to those offered at provincial parks, says Yazdani.
The benefit here is that campers get to forgo an aggressive provincial-park campsite-reservation system that, more often than not, requires people to register at least four months in advance. “It’s a constant thing every summer, where we see there are not enough campsites and too many campers,” Yazdani tells the Straight by phone. “So Campertunity is a response to this gap—this problem that’s out there—where people want to get into nature but it’s hard for them.”
By opting to stay on private land, campers also get to experience nature the way it was intended: in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle associated with urban centres. In fact, it was a particularly busy stay at a B.C. provincial park two years ago that prompted Yazdani to wonder why more private land wasn’t being made available to campers.
“I woke up to the sound of RVs going by, kids going by,” she recalls of that camping trip. “And I remember thinking, ‘If I had my eyes closed—if I kept them closed—I would think I was in the city.’ It was noisy.”
Yazdani says anyone with “space for an RV or space for someone to pitch a tent” may list their property on Campertunity. Since launching in April, the online marketplace has seen postings from regions such as Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and Salt Spring Island. Campertunity receives a 10 percent cut of reservations, and landowners are encouraged to purchase extended liability insurance on their existing home insurance to cover any injuries campers may sustain onsite.
With “thousands” of acres of privately owned land—and plenty of avid campers—around the country, Yazdani is confident that Campertunity will take off in Canada. “The goal is to get people outside, that’s it,” she says. “We want people to be able to access nature—it should be accessible to everybody.”