Camping in Africa!

Posted: 20/08/2011 in Africa

I go away with friends every Melbourne cup long weekend. A couple of years ago it was suggested that we could camp instead of stay in self contained units and I balked at the idea! No way I wanted all my creature comforts. Well, how interesting then that I no longer mind camping and that in fact I have become some kind of camping queen. Ok maybe not because we still have a chef and we stay at places that generally don’t require you to dig your own loo or bathe in a river but still…no electric blanket, no TV, no bed, no heating or air con, no couch, no kitchen and then there are the other things. Electricity, wild animals, cooking/washing/chores and showers/loos.

Electricity
Electricity is unreliable in Africa, at any time it can stop working. One should not rely on it to charge all those billions of electronic devices we can’t live without. How hilarious that I’ve gone camping in a country with variable electricity and have a bag for DSLR camera, point and shoot camera, iPad, iPhone, kindle and MP3 player plus all the charging cords and adapters. Thank goodness for the Africa-in-focus truck with it’s ability to charge devices while on the road. Aside from learning to charge whenever I can, the most important thing I learned is that as soon as dusk sets in the head torch should go around ones neck because it’s almost guaranteed that the electricity will go out at some stage for minutes to an hour or more and generators are either not available or not reliable. Some of the places I’ve stayed are vey much out in the sticks and when the lights go out it’s dark, really, really dark. You can be chopping veggies and suddenly not see the knife in your hand or taking a shower and suddenly not even see the door. At some places they cut the power after 10pm, I assume as a cost thing on maybe they only run on generator I’m not sure, but anyway if you have to pop over to the loo in the middle of the night you want to know where your going and especially what you might step on or bump into. Which brings me to my next point.

Wild animals
The campsites in Africa are vaguely similar to those in Australia except for one major difference – wild animals. I can hear you all saying that we have kangaroos hopping around ours but I’m sorry, that does not compare to a scorpion under your tent or hyenas rustling through the campsite or waking up to an elephant WALKING PAST YOUR TENT!! Yep, all that’s happened. Our last campsite was called “wildlife campsite” and it lived up to it’s name. On the shores of the river hippos lounged in the water and to the right at any given moment you might see giraffe, impala or elephant. Baboons (urrrrrrrgghhh) were constantly running around just waiting for you to accidentally leave a scrap of food on the table. And during the night we were advised that if you have to go to the loo (it’s all about the loo!!!) to simply go at your tent door because of what might be walking through the campsite. Sure sure, whatever! Well at 4am on the first night I woke to noise outside my tent and then heard a long, loud growl. While it scared me a little it did not sound like a lion. I wasn’t going to check it out though. Next thing I know this enormous and I mean enormous shadow passes over my tent. I was speaking to Keith the next morning and he said it was and elephant, 3 actually. He had his tent window flap open and saw them, one standing right at the window looking in, and these are wild animals, very very wild animals. Elephants growl, I did not know that. The following night Chris, whose tent was behind mine and Keith’s had to get up to pee and as he put his head out to check the surroundings, saw a hippo standing 2 metre from his tent. No water for me after 6pm thank you very much, I ain’t getting up to pee only to fight my way to the loo through the herd of elephants and hippos! You can hand feed kangaroos people! How very surreal it is.

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