Desert raves, mutant vehicles, massive sculptures, and human car washes are all part of the recipe for a spiritual party of a lifetime. Hosted annually in Tankwa Karoo National Park is Burning Man's second largest regional event, AfrikaBurn. Artist and creators from all around the world come together to build a temporary city based on giving.
What you need to plan a trip: ticket, vehicle to get you there, flight if coming from overseas, camping supplies, food/WATER, and fun ways to express yourself.
General tickets cost about 1059 South African Rand or about 60 USD. You can buy this on afrikaburn.com after you create a Burner Profile.
I first heard of AfrikaBurn on a solo trip to Cape Town where I met other travelers at my hostel that were planning on going. It sounded like a gathering of a lifetime so I knew I couldn't miss this opportunity.
Finding a group to attend the festival with made planning much easier. However; if you do not have that luxury, there are numerous groups on facebook with people from all around the world looking for others to create camps with. Group planning allows you to eliminate bringing duplicate amenities and have more space in your vehicle for food/water. If you plan to go alone, you can still meet others online to organize rides to get to the festival!
Everything you bring in will need to last you your entire stay and EVERYTHING gets taken back with you.
If you are traveling from overseas or cannot find a group, theme camps are another great option. Since it was my first week long festival, I went this route. I joined Alien's theme camp. It cost about 100 USD (separate fee from the ticket) but they included a fully equipped kitchen, coolers, outdoor showers, and drinking water. You need to bring enough water to drink, cook, and shower for the week so having that there for us already saved tremendously on space.
Because of the popularity of the festival, I would plan to have your car booked before arriving to ensure you get one that's large enough to fit your party and supplies. I had a friend already in Cape Town that was able to call and book it but there are companies that you can rent from online as well. We had a 7 seater van and a truck for 8 of us to ensure we could fit our camping gear, food, alcohol, and suitcases. Splitting rental car cost is a great way to save money.
If you are bringing your own water you will need to have A LOT of extra space. It's suggested to bring 1.5 gallons per day you are there, you will use more water than you think!
Make sure you get full coverage insurance.
You will be taking very bumpy dirt roads and unfortunately with South Africa's dangerous reputation, it's better to be safe than sorry if your car gets broken into. On the night we returned to our hostel, the hub caps were stolen off our van so we were extremely relieved that we paid for the insurance.
I flew into Cape Town to meet my group. I took Lufthansa and it cost about 800 USD round trip (the most expensive part of the trip). If you are looking to fly out of the U.S., try looking at flights leaving from your closest largest city. Flying out of Chicago versus Columbus saved me about 300 dollars.
Days before the festival we all met up at Cape Town Backpackers Hostel to make a list of the things we should bring. We went shopping as a group for supplies and food. Although our theme camp had some coolers, I would not suggest buying many things that need to remain cold as there is limited space. Granola bars and canned foods are great, get creative and make meals together to save money. Some theme camps will offer food too! The year I was there, they had a build your own pancake bar.
South Africans drive on the opposite side of the road from the U.S. so familiarize yourself beforehand or hope someone in your group is from there. From Cape Town it's about a four hour drive north depending on traffic. The last gas station is about an hour outside of the festival so make sure to stop for refreshments and ensure your vehicle is full of gas to avoid being stranded with no cell service.
So you packed up your vehicle, drove up through South Africa and finally arrived!
Now it's time to get dirty!
You'll wait in the line of cars to check in and receive your wrist bands. Then you will either be directed to the theme camp you chose or to the general camping area. You can park right next to your camp site. When setting up your tents, it gets windy so make sure you nail it down so your home doesn't blow away. I had an individual tent. As much as I love the group I traveled with, it was nice to come back to a place to decompress after a day of adventure.
Check with your theme camp or group beforehand to eliminate packing duplicate items.
-WARM sleeping bag. Desert nights get cold!
-Sleeping pad for comfort
-Portable stove and cooking utensils
-Plate/bowl and silverware
-Reusable cup. Theme camps that gift drinks will not have cups for everyone so bring your own to eliminate unnecessary waste
-1.5 gallons of water each day per person
-Food to last yourself the entire stay
-LIGHTS LIGHTS LIGHTS! These are SO important and you really cannot have enough. Imagine wandering back to your tent with the pitch black desert sky among thousands of others that look the same. Make yours unique by decorating it with colorful lights. Lights are also great to add to backpacks and outfits so you can be seen at night and allow your friends to identify you across the field in the dark.
-Towel and biodegradable soap if you plan to shower. The year I went they had a human car wash which ended up being my favorite part!
-Fun outfits! Literally ANYTHING goes! Fish nets, sparkly tops, body paint, or nothing if that's your style! AfrikaBurn is a lot more laid back than Burning man when it comes to outfits so if you want to live in your favorite T-shirt all week, do it!
-Warm coat or layers to add on at night. Fur coats are super cute and warm to throw on before a night of exploring!
-Comfortable shoes! You will be walking A LOT so keep your feet happy.
Get ready for a week to remember! AfrikaBurn was one of the best experiences of my life and where I made some lifelong friends. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences, it's the place to do so. Theme camps have a lot to offer so wander around and see what you can discover! Spiritual journeys, wine bars, funky music, and a whole lot of giant burning sculptures!