Camping is one of the best ways to truly get close to nature, and when you’re camping in Africa, the closer you can get, the better. However, circumstances differ immensely from campsite to campsite: some have kitchens kitted out with stoves and fridges, hot showers, and electricity; other more “primitive” campsites leave you with nothing but earth, wind and fire. Choose your campsite according to how adventurous you’re feeling, but be sure to pack these 13 essential items no matter where you go camping in Africa.
Unless you’re not really camping, it’s safe to say that you’ll definitely need a tent. These days, tents take five seconds to put up and you can even get ones with separate compartments for the kids. You might be able to do without a mattress, but only if you have a really comfortable pillow. Toasty sleeping bags are a given.
Seeing as we’re talking about Africa, there is bound to be some level of dust around. Some places are more dusty than others, and the more remote you go, the more dust you’ll encounter. So make sure you take a dustsheet for under your tent and to make a little porch area. It will do wonders in keeping the dust out.
Most tents have a mesh layer on the inside of the canvas, so be sure to make use of it or bring your own mosquito net. It could get stuffy inside the tent if it’s zipped up all night, so opening the solid canvas and leaving the mesh area closed will offer some much needed circulation while keeping the whining mosquitoes at bay.
Repellent is not only for mosquitoes, but for all kinds of flying and crawling insects that you’ll encounter in the campsite. Once again, there are more of these the further away from civilization you travel. They’re mostly harmless and simply annoying, but it’s still best to keep them away from you.
There are many campsites where the tap water is drinkable, but you don’t want to take the chance and end up being ill during your holiday. If you’re travelling with kids, the water might taste funny to them even if it is drinkable. And taking your own water means you don’t have to walk up and down to the tap every single time you want to have a sip. So bring some bottled water and save yourself the hassles.
There are few things more annoying than wanting to eat, but realizing you have dirty hands and the taps are 100 meters away. Wet wipes will also help you wait out the morning shower queue and keep you smelling fresh as a daisy.
BBQ grill and a pot
Even if a campsite in Africa doesn’t have electricity, it will still have a barbecue or braai area. All you need to cook is a grill, and a pot that you can put on the coals for boiling water or cooking a variety of food. You’ll be surprised how many meal options are available to you with only these two essential items.
Even if there’s electricity at the campsite, it’s always nice to have a light that you can carry around. Solar lights are great because they charge in the sun during the day and last for at least six hours when the battery is full.
First aid kit
You never know who is going to step on something sharp or even wake up with a headache after too much time spent in the sun. A small first aid kit will supply you with all the essentials needed without you having to worry about whether you remembered to bring the tummy pain pills or throw the box of plasters in your duffel bag.
Cooler box or car freezer
It’s essential that you keep your meat cool, but it’s also very important to chill the tonic for those delicious afternoon G&T’s in the bush while watching the sun set in silence. A car freezer is ideal, but if you’re only camping for a weekend, a cooler box will do, especially if there’s a camp shop that sells ice.
A lot of the time the rubbish bins are just a little too far away to walk for every wrapper you want to throw away. It’s simply too tempting to drop them on the ground and promise yourself you’ll pick them up later. Instead, take your bags and keep the campsite and the continent clean.
Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
Camping implies spending a lot of time out in the open exploring, or simply lounging beside a river somewhere. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are paramount to your enjoyment of the golden African sun, particularly if you are fair-skinned.
Duct tape can fix anything from a tear in a tent to a hole in a soccer ball. It definitely comes in handy during untimely camping mishaps.