In our previous article we described how we travelled overland through Africa. If you haven’t read the article (shame on you), you should know that we are not the most advanced campers. The last time we slept in a tent was about 20 years ago, and we have never set up a tent by ourselves before. Was traveling and camping through Africa not a bit next level for us? And was it a good idea to jump from A to Z in one step? Well, actually it was amazing. We don’t regret a single thing and we loved every part of it! However, we did experience some challenges, as we are the most unprepared persons ever. Please learn from our mistakes, take advantage of our unprepared-ness, and be the best camper of all times. Read here what our challenges were and how you can prevent them!
Lesson 1: Pack a sleeping bag.
Is this a joke? Of course, you go camping. Sleeping in a sleeping bag is something every person on earth would think of?! Well, we didn’t. In fact, we didn’t had anything to sleep under or anything to keep us warm at night. The first night we used some clothes and a towel as a blanket. We thought this would be comfortable enough to sleep in… Why would we need some warm blankets? We are in Africa, Hello…?! Well, yes. Maybe this is something everybody else would have checked before (and we didn’t), but in some places in Africa it can be really cold at night! The first night we couldn’t sleep because of the cold and we even felt sick because we were so cold. Luckily the morning sun was warm enough to get our temperatures up and everything was good again. But seriously, bring a sleeping back, and a warm pyjama.
Lesson 2: Bring stable walking shoes.
This time, only Fleur is the ignorant one. Doing a 4-hour walking safari on flip-flops is not really recommended. Is it manageable? Yes sure, you can survive. Will you have blisters afterwards? Of course you will. Even more than you can count on one hand, in all shapes and colours (we will spare you the pictures). Will you still enjoy the walking safari? Yes you will, and hey.. when seeing hippos a little too close to you, you will forget about your feets for a couple of seconds (always try to see things in a positive way). Although with stable walking shoes, you are probably way faster if you need to run away from the hippos, so lesson number 2: just bring the shoes with you.
Lesson 3: Bring a flashlight.
Camping in the wilderness and thinking you will be able to see in the dark, is just naïve. Luckily we live in a time where almost everybody has a smartphone with a flashing lights application, otherwise we would have probably died somewhere on our way to the toilets. But we wouldn’t recommend to depend on the small mobile phone light completely, as you can run out of battery easily and also the light is relatively very small when there are no other lights at all. What we have learned from the well prepared travel group, is to bring a headlamp with you. The light is very bright and shines in the direction you are looking at. And on each campsite you will be advised to look very carefully at the ground, as there can be dangerous spiders and scorpions.
Lesson 4: pack raining clothes/a poncho
When we arrived at the Victoria Falls, we wanted to walk around the falls. It was a warm sunny day, so we enjoyed it a lot; flip flops, summer dresses, and ready to go for our walk. Many people along the way asked us if we wanted to use a Poncho. Us: “thank you, but we are fine”. Fleur; “I would never wear a poncho with a temperature like this”, Puck: “Yes, it’s so overdone, I mean up till now I have not felt a drop of water yet”. No of course we haven’t, as we just started our walk and were only at the beginning of the falls. Seriously, sometimes we even wonder how we got graduated, haha no it is not that bad. Not even 5 minutes later, we were soaking wet and we had to walk all the way back. Lucky for us it was a sunny day, so our clothes dried quite fast. Normal people would probably see this as a lesson, and would buy a poncho in the next shopping mall. But as we most probably don’t fall under the category “normal”, we didn’t. They say, if you don’t listen, you will learn the hard way, and so we did during our trip at the Okavango Delta. When we went to the Delta, we had to take a Mokoro ride (a traditional canoe) for about 2 hours to arrive at the accommodation. The moment we stepped into the Mokoro, it started to rain. Of course we didn’t had a raincoat nor a poncho with us, to keep either us or our stuff dry. For your information: there was no electricity at the Delta to dry our clothes, and we couldn’t dry our clothes outside as it was still raining. So after two hours we finally arrived at the campsite, where we were standing like drowned rats around the bonfire. A simple poncho could’ve prevented this all, but we just had to learn it the hard way. At least we know now! ;-).
Lesson 5: bring enough anti-mosquito spray
There can be lots of mosquitos at some places, so make sure you bring enough mosquito spray. It is best to use a spray with about 40% deet. We took about 2 bottles with us, but we finished them half way. We thought it would be easy to find a spray with Deet, that was just not the case. There were lots of sprays available, but they are not as strong as the one we had. This, of course, is not a major issue but it does makes your life a little easier.
Other than that, just bring your normal travel stuff. If you are going to the more underdeveloped countries, it might be a good idea to buy/bring some notebooks, pens, markers, or anything like that. This is something we actually did bring with us and gave to a school in Malawi. It is small and easy to pack in your bag. All the schools in Malawi (or in other countries) will appreciate it a lot, as they can use literally every single pen. If you will not visit a local school, you will definitely meet lots of children along the way that can use such products. They will be so happy and grateful for every small gift they receive.
Another tip: arrange a good health-insurance. It is very easy to become sick when you are traveling in other countries, especially when you have a totally different lifestyle. Unfortunately, I experienced a bad fever when we were in the middle of the Zambian bush. We had to fly to the capital Lusaka to visit a hospital, as there were no facilities around the bush. We never expected this to happen, but we were so happy that we arranged a good health insurance. This avoided us ending up with high costs on top of being ill.
The challenges we had during our camping adventure didn’t stop us from having fun. We loved every part of it and we will definitely recommend anybody to go on an adventure like this!