Once a year, thousands of people gather in the heart of Tankwa Karoo for Afrikaburn, a festival that aims to be about freedom of expression, de-commodification, and communal effort. Set remotely in the arid, semi-desert Northern Cape with no vendors on-site, Afrikaburn is a little more grueling than your average festival, and attendees are expected to be truly prepared beforehand. Which is why we called on a few seasoned burners to share their general rules for surviving the event.

From packing a spare tyre to taking along an open mind, here’s a rough guide on what to pack for next week’s adventure.

Floyd Lavine (producer)

  • Travel  with a cool crew of friends
  • Plan your shopping (water is king) – also get some energy based foods that are easy to cook and eat
  • The desert is pretty harsh and the road can be tricky; so drive slowly and bring a spare tyre
  • Buy or create a really fun and playful costume, this will be your armour for the festival and the more effort you put in the the more fun you’ll have
  • Wipes! You might not be showering for a few days
  • If you can bring a bike, this is best way to explore
  • Bring little gifts to share with people or bring your best dance moves. 
  • Be open minded. Appreciate that this is a wonderful and rare privilege to be able to enjoy such a festival, so come with kindness.
  • When it’s all done and dusted bring some of that spirit back into your communities and be mindful, compassionate and grateful that you got to experience that.

Zakeeya Patel (Actor) 

Pic: Instagram
“My best survival tip for Afrikaburn is to take a bumbag, moon bag, fanny pack or waist pouch so that you can dance your face off with your hands in the air like you just don’t care! You won’t have to worry about losing it because it’s strapped to you. In it, pop eye drops, wet wipes, a phone (to take pictures and to use as a torch) and sunscreen! Don’t ever forget sunscreen!” 

Umlilo (musician)

Femme in Public
Pic: Alex Hopkins
  • Even though there are medics at Burn, make sure you have a kitted out medicine kit for all sorts of ailments.
  • I also always try to travel with some ginger tea and lemon sachets that can be drunk cold or hot, believe me they’ll come in very handy if your throat is freaking out from the sand, wind, smoke.
  • Don’t be boring with your expression. Pack some of your most outrageous clothes that you know you won’t wear after Burn and be creative with how you present yourself at the Burn.
  • You can never have enough water at Burn, so stock up on water supplies like you’re facing the Apocalypse.
  • Make sure you bring something to offer people at Burn, there is no currency but people are so creative in how they exchange ideas and gift each other. It makes a huge difference.
  • Find a bag you can carry around for litter because it becomes a big problem after a while and littering on the desert is not a good look.

Kieron Jina (performance artist)

Pic: Facebook
  • I always suggest reading the actual Afrikaburn survival guide as it offers the most valuable info when attempting to make your way to the desert. 
  • People are free to chase after the sunsets – the most magical part of the festival experience – but make sure you know how to get back.
  • Try avoid sleeping without a tent. I did that at my first burn and woke up dehydrated and babalas!
  • Always go back to camp as the sun sets so that you can replenish, regroup, eat, pack drinks before heading out to watch each burn.
  • Be open to the experience of meeting new people from across the globe.
  • Pack lipstick
  • Nudity is welcomed but beware that it can get so cold at night and bloody hot during the day.
  • Afrikaburn is a world of it’s own and you should be open to many challenges – it’s given me so many beautiful memories, friends and an awakened view of the world working in harmony.

Alex Leeu (DJ-producer) 

Pic: Instagram
  • My number one rule is: don’t be a dick.
  • My number two rule would be: always have good shoes and appropriate clothing for any kind of weather condition.
  • Ear plugs are important as there are many stages.
  • Don’t go with too many expectations.
  • It’s a place for self expression so avoid being judgmental.
  • Add value to the party and don’t take advantage of anyone around you.
  • Take a camera but not expensive gear. You will want to capture memories.

Tourmaline Berg (events co-ordinator)

Pic: Instagram
“Be OVER PREPARED, if you think you have everything, check again and take extra things. One wants to feel comfortable out there in the desert lands. Also make sure you contribute in someway. Whether it be building an artwork, creating a space with music for people to move their bodies, decorating yourself in such a way that brings a smile to peoples faces when they see you, creating a space for people to sit and relax or simply by gifting people with a slice of orange every morning. You will want to feel part of this incredible creative space somehow, trust me!”
 
All film photographs by Dirk Chalmers
Find more AfrikaBurn content here. 
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