By now you must know that I LOVE FESTIVALS!! I’m going to my first Afrika Burn festival in two weeks!! I can’t contain my excitement!! (hence the over use of exclamation marks!)
AfrikaBurn has been on my festival bucket list for years, but I haven’t been able to attend due to work commitments. This year I bit the bullet and bought my tickets 2 months ago, and now it’s almost time! 2016 marks the 10th AfrikaBurn and the theme this year is X. X marks the spot, X = 10, X factor??
AfrikaBurn, based on the original Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, is a community of people who come together to create art, burning structures, costume, performance, theme camps and music. It takes place in South Africa’s own Tankwa Karoo, a harsh desert environment known for it’s blazing hot days, cold nights, extreme dryness and dust storms! Hardcore.
The site for AfrikaBurn is Tankwa Town, which for 11 months of the year is a stark Karoo plain made up of veldt and indigenous scrubs which gets transformed into an artistic dreamscape for week. Check out the video below, it’s surreal.
What to pack? Where to start?
So I have to pack now now, as I’m leaving for a blog trip to Stellenblog, and I have to take my AfrikaBurn gear with. Since I don’t have the luxury of driving down from Joburg with a big trailer, I’ve got to pack all my gear in one piece of luggage that I can check-in to my flight.
The thing is you have to bring EVERYTHING with you from the basics like water and food to fantastic fun stuff – like costumes, body paint and beer! Nothing is for sale but ice at the event.I must admit, I’m a bit intimated by the idea of camping at The Burn. This would be my most hardcore camping experience yet. Even on the Otter Trail, there was water available. Since I’m an Afrika Burn virgin, I’ve crowdsourced my packing from my experienced Burner friends. Here are their recommendations:-
What you need to survive a festival in the desert
Seeing as you have to be totally self-reliant at the Burn – there’s nothing to buy (except ice) and they nearest town is over 100km away, packing well is going to be crucial to survival. Here are some essentials that I’m going to survive and to protect me from the elements:
Hydration – and lots of it!
If there’s one thing that’s going to help you survive a festival in the desert, it’s being hydrated. You don’t want to end up with prune skin and a monster headache from lack of water. If you forget everything else, just REMEMBER TO HYDRATE. We’re taking along the recommended 5l of water per person per day, and a bit more for a few blitz showers.
With all the imbibing under the fiery Karoo sun, I’m also packing some Rehidrat sachets to keep me hydrated and replenish my electrolytes lost from all the sweating and dancing. Partying in the sun is thirsty work y’all, the last thing I need is to faint from dehydration. A hydrated body is a healthy body, and with all the partying that’ll be going on I’ll need to stay fit!
I’m packing a reusable water bottle to carry around the festival to top up with water and some some Rehidrat sachets for some extra hydration.
Sun and heat protection
Besides the obvious (sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses and a sun hat) my friends have recommended shade to camp in and an umbrella. At the last festival I went to I packed a tiny portable spray bottle that I filled with water – perfect for a little spritz as a pick-me-up from the blistering heat. I’m also packing a warm jacket to keep me toasty on the chilly nights.
Think like a biker in the dust is what I’ve been told. Apparently goggles and motorcycle bandanas are essential for protecting your eyes and lungs from the dust and the smoke from the big burn!
Festivals can get loud and sleeping in a bright tent after an all night party can be rough. Besides my tent and sleeping bag, I’m definitely packing an air mattress for a decent night’s sleep. My friend, Lolla recommended I take a sleep mask and some ear plugs.
Basic ablutions in the form of composting toilets are available, but showers are a luxury! We’ve packed a basic solar shower to help rinse off the dust. Otherwise hand sanitizer and wet wipes will go a long way!
Being so far away from civilization, Tankwa Town is one of the darkest places in SA.It gets super dark at night, and I don’t fancy getting lost amongst thousands of tents. My friend Caroline told me that lights are essential to surviving the Burn. Besides my trusty headlamp, I’ll be taking fairy lights for our campsite, rechargeable LED lamps as well as battery powered EL wire to light myself up at night. Oh and batteries, lots of batteries. You can order EL wire online here, and they deliver.
Comfortable sturdy shoes are a must – there’s lots of walking. I’ve also been told that I need a bicycle (or a mutant vehicle). Since I’m flying from Joburg, this might not be possible. But I’ll see if I can borrow one from a friend.
Of course we’ll be packing tons of food and snacks! We’re taking a camp fridge and some huge cooler boxes packed with beers, gin, and other important food groups 🙂 No really, we’re taking braai meat, nuts, fruit (watermelon & apples pack well), and lots of non-perishables.
A basic first aid kid is a must. I’ve had my share of cuts and bruises tripping over tent pegs and rocks stumbling through dark campsites. My first aid kit is also well stocked with painkillers for those inevitable hangovers and some ibuprofen for any muscle ache. I’m also packing some Vitamin B & C to prevent any nasty colds. A friend recommended that eye drops are going to be life savers in the dry dusty conditions, so they’ve been packed too!
The fun stuff: Gifts and Costumes!
My friend Kimberly and I went shopping yesterday, and came up with some ideas for costumes – lets just say they involve tutus, masks, cowboy hats and nipple caps (not mine!). AfrikaBurn is also a gifting community, so my tribe and I have to also come up with some cool gifts to share – we’re planning on taking beer, temporary tattoos, a bicycle repair kit and hangover packs to gift to our fellow Burners.Have I forgotten anything essential? Experienced festival-goers, please comment below with your tips.