It’s been several weeks since the “Burn” and I feel saddened writing this post. Reason being…. I want to go back! Even though I know that right now there’s probably just the baron desert there. Before I go on about how I miss it , lets start from the beginning…
What is AfrikaBurn? This is the question everyone kept asking me when I decided to go the burn. Well, to put it in layman’s terms, AfrikaBurn is an annual, week-long event that takes place in the middle of the desert. It is a burning man regional event which takes place in the Tankwa Karoo. You, they , everyone build statues / artworks and then burn it down. There’s no water, no bins and no cellphone reception. Doesnt sound like much, but i can assure you, even though it didn’t have any comforts of home, its a place I would go back to in a heartbeat. There is a sense of a community, everyone is extremely friendly and nice, everyone respects “the code” of the Burn, there is music 24/7 and lets not forget to mention the most amazing artworks I have ever seen.
Let me just mention that I am the type of girl to get manicures and facials and its very hard for me to rough it. The reason I am mentioning that is because if I could do it , anyone can. It’s one of those events you have on your bucket list – you scratch it off and then it’s done. The problem is, I want to re-do that bucket list item every single year.
I’ve decided to break this blog down into the following parts:
- Preparation for the Burn
- What to pack
- What to expect
- Preparation for the burn
The first thing you need to do is commit by registering yourself on their website and then buy your tickets on Quicket. When you register yourself, they ask you a series of questions which I found quite entertaining. They educate about the “code of the burn” and specifically “MOOP” which means matter out of place. This basically means that whatever you bring to desert, you need to take it back with you. Including all litter. No cigarette stompies left on the ground people! It’s a saying that basically says that you leave Afrikaburn as you found it. The ticket costs about R1200 and gives you entrance to the week-short event.
You need to do organise a 4×4 vehicle. Yes you will need it! The last 100kms to Tankwa Town in the Karoo (where the Burn is held) is a gravel road. I did see a few Polos, Mercedes and Audis – but they struggled and probably f’d up their tyres and their car exteriors. It’s safer to take vehicles that are meant for that rough ride. I would recommend renting a vehicle almost 6 months in advance!
If you’re inclined, you need to get gelish nails the day before you leave. You don’t want your nails looking chipped and colorless now. Also, I went to get a good clean wash and blow dry at the hairdresser so that my hair could be nice and clean for the few days I was there. There is no electricity and showers – so you will get dirty. If you have some more cash to blow, why not even opt for a nice spray tan. This will make you look nice and bronze your whole trip there.
Book a generator and buy some Diesel to run the generator. This was such an awesome thing to have with us as it kept the freezer going, played music and allowed us to charge our cameras for photos of course.
Lastly, get the most amazing outfit imaginable. Tankwa Town gets very hot in the day and very cold in the night. So your outfit needs to be versatile to switch between 2 extremes. Try not to get outfits that break and leave dirt behind like feathers or beaded outfits that could easily break and cause “MOOP”. Some cool places to find awesome outfits are “This is not a post office” in Kloof street or for a cheaper option – spend a day in China Town. If you have loads of time why not make your own outfit and be as creative as possible. The burn is all about art expression and this is the perfect place to show off your talents. I opted for a corset and tutu. I wore it around the house to make sure its super comfy. Comfort is key in the desert.
- What to pack :
Before I started packing I was overwhelmed with everything I thought I needed and ended up not even using half of it. So I have summarised the best list possible for you:
- A tent. Preferably one you can stand in because it’s easier to get dressed standing up than sitting down.
- A very warm sleeping bag (extra blankets too)
- A luxury item that I took with (which isn’t a must) because it SAVED me in terms of comfort was a stretcher and a mattress. You can get a camper stretcher and mattress that will be just under R1000 at Makro.
- Pillows and 2 warm blankets (comfort is key). It gets extremely cold at night.
- One very warm and versatile jacket. I took a few but ended up only wearing one. It was a black (changeable with all outfits), had a hood and was very fluffy and warm.
- Really comfortable, warm and FLAT boots. Now ladies, we all wanna be tall, but heels in the desert is NOT practical. I took my pair of brown Aldo leather boots with fur inside. This was my saving grace and kept my feet warm and I could walk for hours in them.
- Loads of baby wetwipes. I bought 3 packs of Johnson and Johnson wet wipes, for sensitive skin and fragrance free. This was extremely useful for washing hands, face, underarms, etc.
- I took along Cetaphil gentle cleanser and cotton pads. This was extremely useful for removing make up and cleaning your face. It gets very dusty. The nice thing about Cetaphil is that you can use it wash your face without water.
- Drinking water and washing water. They say about 5litres per person per day. I bought these 20l containers at the plastic place in china town near Canal walk. It had a tap attached to it, which becomes very useful. It cost about R90.
- Medical kit (specifically plasters, Imodium, headache tablets, nausea tablets)
- Black bags (for your dirt)
- Headlamp and torch
- Fire extinguisher (just in case)
- Wood for fire, lighters (bring loads as you always lose lighters)
- Summer clothes for the day time and winter clothes for the night time. I wore one pair of denim shorts and sleeveless sweaters in the day and opted for jeans/ trackpants and long tops in the night time. A beanie is always a good idea.
- Try not to wear open toe shoes in the day time as the floor is hard and the little rocks goes between your toes. I would suggest a shoe like espadrilles/Paez shoes that has a hard sole, canvas material (so not hot) and very easy to slip on and off.
- Razor (in case you need to shave your legs) or opt for a leg wax before you leave.
- Really good sunglasses and a hat for the day.
- A buff. This is extremely important. I used this to cover my nose when going to the loo or pushing my hair back when it got hot. Extremely useful!
- Food – it’s all about personal preference. I opted for quick fixes. I bought a box of jungle oat breakfast bars and juice boxes. A braai is common and I would recommend bringing meat, chicken, sausage, etc. Its also nice to melt marshmallows around the fire.
- A pan for food. A pot to boil water or milk, a braai grid. Tongs, etc
- Braai wood and Blitz
- A small bucket for washing.
- Biodegradable shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Dischem had some nice ones.
- A freezer (a nice compact one for all your food items that needs to be kept cold)
- A bather (including flip flops)– so that you don’t have to bath in the nude.
- 2 x towels
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A good camera
- A bicycle
3. What to expect
Upon arrival – I remember thinking to myself…… AM i really doing this??!! However, the guys at the front were very friendly and made me feel at ease. They asked if this was my first time. When I shyly said “yes” they all started shouting “VIRGIN”. Embarrassing! Then they told me that its tradition for all virgins to hit the bell. Deciding that I will be “game” for anything, I went over to the big bell and gave it a good pounding (excuse the pun).
We then set up camp away from the “binnekring” The Binnekring is where the magic happens…..
I was super excited to go to the Binnekring and check out the vibe. While walking there I noticed the “toilet situation”. The toilets are basically “long drops”. Covered in a wooden surrounding which is just high enough to cover you with a netting around the top so that people needing to go know that you in the loo. Its open on both sides and i must admit that when I eventually used it I could see people walking pass through the side openings. Moral of the story…. everybody goes to the loo so don’t feel scared or embarrassed. Once you done using the loo, you throw saw dust into the long drop and close the lid.
Getting to the Binnekring is quite easy as all paths lead to it I guess. The first thing I saw in the distance was the most beautiful 3 cones in the distance. Walking around, it feels somewhat magical and almost theatrical too. Seeing the people walking around in strange outfits and statues created in the middle of the desert! Its all very overwhelming and yet beautiful at the same time. I managed to capture some true memories while I was there…
So what to expect? Everything unimaginable. I went there with no expectations and I was blown away. Would I do it again? Most definitely!
If you planning on going, leave the bad attitude at home. This place is all about kindness and generosity (as well as an awesome party).
Read more about the next burn here. If you found this article useful – leave some comments!
So remember … you may not always end up where you thought you were going, but you will always end up where you meant to be.
A really good video to watch. See it here.