Afrikaburn has easily become one of South Africa’s most anticipated outdoor “events.” And although it’s not a festival, it still seems to pull some of the finest DJs from across the country and abroad to the plains of Tankwa, to be part of the amalgam of weird and wonderful displays created within this social experiment.
Through its volunteer culture, the Afrikaburn community come together every year to create art, burning structures, costumes, performances, theme camps, music, mutant vehicles and much more, all playing out in a week-long experience of art and culture in the Tankwa Karoo, just four hours outside of Cape Town.
As the African extension on the famous Burning Man in the Nevada desert, you can expect things to be slightly different compared to its American counterpart. Attracting up to 10,000 people—as opposed to Burning Man’s 80,000—Afrikaburn is more intimate, and as such can make for a truly remarkable experience.
With just a few days left until thousands of burners embark on the grueling journey to the Tankwa Karoo, we’ve put together a survival guide for those first timers who don’t quite know what to expect. Afrikaburn is like nothing you’d have experienced before and there are a few things you need to be fully aware of before leaving the comfort of your home.
While there aren’t many rules out in the Karoo, Afrikaburn have their own set of guidelines which strive to educate the community on the ideals of the movement. These guidelines include Radical Self-reliance, Inclusion and Self-Expression, as well as Civil Responsibilities, Leaving No Trace and the Spirit of Gifting. This is an important read for any first-time burner so be sure to read the full guidelines on the Afrikaburn website.
So what are the most important points to consider when arriving at Tankwa?
Take it easy
It’s easy to go completely balls to the wall and “burn” yourself out in excitement, but remember, you’ve got an entire week ahead of you, so it’s best to pace yourself. Problems can arise—flat tires, broken tents, losing items—so you don’t want to be too stringent about how you foresee the week playing out. Take it easy and enjoy the ride.
The checklist is there for a reason
You want to make sure you have everything to keep you going for the entire week as there is nothing on sale on the Karoo, except ice. This includes the recommended five litres of water per day, per person (yes, that’s 35 litres), which is essential if you want to keep clean(ish) and hydrated for the duration. You also need to have all your food for the week, a comprehensive medical kit, as well as clothing for the hot days and cold nights. You can find the complete checklist at the bottom of the page.
Everyone is a part of the Burn
As a self-reliant community, each burner is a member of the colony. And with the large amount of work needed to pull off such an immense project, the organisers rely on volunteers to keep things running smoothly. So, be active and mindful when embarking on your escapades and help out any burners in need. You can register as a volunteer at participation station volunteer booth at around 8AM on the Binnekring, otherwise visit the Afrikaburn Volunteers Facebook page for more details.
Get your bearings
The massive landscape can be tough to navigate if you don’t know where everything is, so finding your bearings will be important for your stay in Tankwa. Explore the site and get to know where everything is, and if that fails, keeping a copy of the map on hand will help you on your journey through the Karoo. Copies of the map and guide are available at Die Hek.
Leave no trace
Although this should be adhered to at all times when in the outdoors, Afrikaburn is serious about removing any MOOP or “matter out of place” throughout the week. This includes the sludge left over from your washing up and of course all litter. If it wasn’t there before you arrived, it doesn’t belong there. A great way to keep your MOOP in check is to keep a packet with you, or simply keep it in your backpack—which you can imagine will be a vital storage space for keeping your essentials close-by.
Embrace the experience
You’re going to be surrounded by this new, large group of people for an entire week, so why not head out and get acquainted with all the new faces. The vast desert is a great place to express yourself and allow your imagination to run wild, so wear, play and create whatever your heart desires. Chances are you’ll find many people who you can share the inspiration with, and sharing is always important within a community.
- Your ticket & photo ID for entry (SA ID book, driver’s licence or passport)
- 5 litres of water per person per day
- Enough food and beverages for the duration of your entire stay
- Shelter, bedding, warm & cool clothing
- Trash bags
- Fire extinguisher Comprehensive medical kit
- Any required prescriptions (please note: the medics don’t dispense painkillers, headache tabs or antibiotics)
- Light: a headlamp, torch, bike light, fairy lights, EL wire (and spare batteries). Solar lights rock – get ‘em.
- Duct tape & cable ties – because they hold the universe together!
- Bringing wood? Bring a brazier or braai - camp res on the ground are NOT permitted.
- Recycling bins: you’ll need one for wet waste, and others for paper, plastic and metal / glass.
Stay in touch with the Afrikaburn community via Facebook.