As a born and bred Londoner I was never passed on the top tips for camping in the African bush. Let's say I have a few more frills than a certain Mr Grylls. However, I did enjoy cocking things up and subsequently learning from these mistakes. Things such as - when collecting firewood look at a branch before grabbing it, as it may be one of them spikey ones. And gems such as - whilst wild dumping check the parameter a full 360 degrees or you'll end up pooing in front of a whole family of goat herders. Real invaluable information. So, that being said there are some more practical tips I learnt that I would like to let you know, so your stay in the bush can be a little less humiliating and a little more facilitating.
1. Always wear shoes and carry a torch at night. I know this one seems logical and straightforward but some people don't think about the imminent danger of scorpions whilst doing their teeth or indeed that poo that you don't want to get out of bed for but if you don't you'll soil the bed.
2. Put a sock in the zip of the tent when zipping it up. To be honest I never asked why this was necessary but it was from a reliable source and it's probably something to do with snakes slithering in and killing you in your sleep, so I did it.
3. Keep a fire lit if possible. Hyenas aren't fond of fire so keeping one lit deters them as much as possible, the cackling numpties.
4. Solar powered lights. If you can find them they're a lifesaver and supposedly run off the sun if you have any idea what that means.
5. Don't set up camp in a lugger (dried up river bed). Apparently rain happens fast and furiously and so rivers fill up in a similar fashion. So remember the Old rhyme "camp high and dry and you'll probably not die".
6. Monkeys and not leaving food lying around. Another fairly self-explanatory one but they are tenacious little blighters and they'll steal food out your hands if they see an opportunity. If you don't have authority early they'll take everything you've got so ward them off early on.
7. Google tides before you go. If camping on a desert island or beach it's important you look up the tide or you could wake up in the middle of the Indian Ocean and feel rather silly.
8. Water is key. This one really is straightforward but overcompensate or die, simple.
9. The Panga is king. A Panga is a mahoosive African knife mainly used for cutting wood, which is one effective use for it whilst camping. However it doubles up as a very efficient hole digger for when you have to ‘drop the kids off at the pool’. That metaphor seems slightly morbid when you’re not actually dropping them into a pool, but more burying them in the sand, so what I meant was its useful when digging a hole to poo in.
10. Know the whereabouts of the anti-venom. I was lucky enough to be camping with a seasoned ruffian who already knew the doctor by name and his whereabouts. However, I can imagine trying to learn this information whilst staring down the barrel of death with an ever swelling butt cheek, knowing you’ll probably never finish that particular poo, could be one of life’s more stressful moments.