(words and photos: Basil Parker)
If you think AfrikaBurn is for Hippies then you are totally wrong, it’s a festival of joy and happiness and everyone is invited. No-one judges you and you’ll feel right at home the moment you get there. We saw so many families, young and old enjoying the art and the people, if you want to express yourself then AfrikaBurn is the place to be. From a photographers perspective it’s pure magic, people willing to be photographed and eager to pose, massive artworks, light, epic dust, storms, sunrises and magical sunsets, it has it all.
It is by far the best organised event I’ve ever been to, it’s stealth organisation at its best, basically everyone knows the rules before they get there, no one needs to constantly remind you to be cool or nice to others, you take care of yourself.
Here’s our tips to make it memorable
Go with an open mind, everyone is chilled and relaxed, no one will judge you and very quickly you’ll stop judging.
Go prepared food wise and gear wise, go light, when it comes to food no-one should be spending hours preparing food, tinned foods, Biltong, 2 minute Noodles, Cereal, Chocolates. Take a Gas stove/cooker and utensils to warm up the food and to prepare Coffee and Tea. A bucket for cleaning up and a spray bottle with dishwasher is recommended.
They recommend 5 litres of water per person per day and that’s what we took with us, you’ll be amazed how much water you consume in a day and quickly adjust your routine to save.
There is no power, no running water, no ablution blocks except very open plan basic toilets. Shower using a spray bottle and a washcloth or go searching for some of the folks offering warm showers. There is nothing for sale here, no food stalls, no restaurants, no shops. The only thing you can buy is ice and good luck getting it, there’s not much of it and you’ll need to stand in a queue. There are no rubbish bins, what you bring in you have to take back with you, you quickly realise how much junk you create.
There is no connectivity, your mobile device is of no value here, no-one stares into their phones while you talk to them. It’s amazing how quickly you adjust to no connectivity, it feels like freedom and you won’t be eager to reconnect when you leave.
Personally we don’t recommend you take a bicycle, if you’re a daily rider then yes it might help, if you never ride a bike then don’t waste your time getting one for Afrikaburn, you’ll end up like us with a sore arse after the first day and you’ll walk around the rest of the time. The AfrikaBurn area is big but just enough so you can walk around quiet easily, you’ll see more and a bike will become a hindrance after a while, rather spend the time and money dressing yourself up for the event.
That road, the very long and notorious R355, will test you, thankfully we had a very capable 4×4 so we had it easy. Try your best to hire or ride in a group in a well equipped vehicle, we saw lots smaller cars really struggling along the road. The ride there is still okay but when you leave you will know all about it, thousands of people all leaving at once, if you’re heading south, recommended, then it’s 125km of riding with heavy dust at 20kph with little chance of overtaking the person in front of you, do the sums, you’ll be on the road a long time. Yes there are idiots who will overtake and ride like pigs so keep your eyes wide open.
We strongly recommend you go in a group and camp together, it’s not a must and you won’t feel left out if you don’t. A bone of contention are the stretch tents that are put up every year and then stand empty most of the time, this year they clamped down on this happening and insisted the stand be occupied when the stretch tents are erected. If you can get a group together then do hire a large stretch tent, it’s practical, you can then camp under the stretch tent in smaller tents, this will offer some relief from the sun, wind and dust. Just make sure you are there when the stretch tent is erected. Be prepared to get dirty, wet wipes and hand sanitizer are your best friend, the place is dusty, even when the wind is not blowing there is dust in the air, it’s dry, not much grows here and we did not see any insects.
Do dress up, you’ll look totally out of place dressed normally, get goggles from the hardware store, you’ll need them for the dust, Youtube has hundreds of videos on how to add some bling bling to your goggles.
Go early, this is not a weekend jol, you simply can’t see everything on Saturday and Sunday.
We got ‘married’ at the mass purple wedding on Saturday and Bishop Loon was in attendance to ensure the vows were properly administered.
Most of all leave your paranoia in the city, in Tankwa Town everyone is super chilled, we did not see or hear of anything being taken or stolen, no fights, no bad neighbours.
It’s like camping but with only the family members you like!
This post was first published on Basil Parker’s personal blog, here. Head there to see many more of Basil’s shots from the 2016 event. Thanks, Basil!
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