AfrikaBurn Survival Guide

AfrikaBurn’s Minister of Propaganda lists the 10 essentials you’ll need to survive

Words: Travis Lyle | Illustrations: Amber Pretorius

The temporary city of art, costumes, music, performance, weird cars, weirder people and some of the most hardcore camping since Frodo trekked into Mordor, Tankwa Town in the Karoo isn’t for pussies. We spoke to AfrikaBurn’s Minister of Propaganda, Travis Lyle, to find out we'd need to make it in and out of the apocolyptic landscape and back to our sheltered, privileged lives.

Having been there since the start, and attended the original Burning Man as well as Spain’s regional event, the guy’s seen it all.

“Kids rocking up with a cooler box, slops and boardies, jolling their tits off and then falling down face-down in the dirt two days later," he recounts, shaking his head, before taking a breath and adding. "We might seem a little heavy-handed sometimes, but people need to know that this is a harsh environment and a completely overwhelming place.”

For the 10 000 people attending this year's event, this is what you guys need to include, along with an open mind and childlike enthusiasm.

Spare tyres

You don’t need a 4x4, you just need to drive smart. Pack two spare tyres and then include a compressor and snot plugs. The Northern Cape government doesn’t have the money to maintain their roads like we do in the Western Cape, which you notice as soon as you hit the border. The road to Tankwa Town is shale, so don’t overload your vehicle and don’t drive fast. It’s also better to drive in the cool morning or late afternoon – the heat of the day makes those rocks sharper and your tyres softer.

Stuff to make you comfortable

You want to create a comfortable, shady home space or by day-end you’ll be a very unhappy camper. Think stretch tents, pillows and shade cloth to cover your dome tent. Remember, the ground is hard, so your normal tent pegs won’t survive. You need rebar and a ten-pound hammer. Nights are about 10 degrees Celsius and lower if a cold front comes. Days are 30 degrees Celsius and up. Pack accordingly.

A dust mask

Whether that’s a gas mask or a bandana, you need something to protect you from the dust. If the wind picks up, dust goes everywhere. Everywhere.

A decent cooler box

You want something that can keep ice for a few days. You can buy ice at the Burn, it’s the one thing that you can actually purchase, and it’s not sold at a premium or anything. Just remember to separate your food and drinks so that you’re not going in and out of your cooler box all the time.


Slops and sneakers are not going to cut it.

A bicycle

Walking around everywhere is killer. Look at the map again. AfrikaBurn is huge. And remember to lock it or lose it. When the going gets crazy, bikes go walkies. Mark your bike with your name, phone number and camp location. Decorate your bike so that it’s less likely to be borrowed without your permission. Attach a light for nighttime riding. And remember, no bike is considered stolen unless the lock was bust and no bike is considered lost until the event is over.

A burner's vanity case

It’s dry as a motherfucker, stuff’s being set on fire and you’re hammering and working with your hands a lot. While a pair of gloves wouldn’t hurt, you should definitely bring enough sunscreen and Lip-Ice and stuff that moisturises your skin.

A decent day pack

There are a lot of cases where someone will say, “I’m just going to check that thing out over there,” get sidetracked, and wake up nine hours later in the medical tent. A camelback is a good idea, but even better is a backpack where you can keep a muesli bar, some biltong, some fruit, your water – and then pack away all your rubbish. There are no dustbins and your trash is your trash, not somebody else’s problem.


Great idea. Two years ago it rained. If it doesn’t rain, and it doesn’t usually, you’ll appreciate the mobile shade.

A camera

There are no restrictions on personal shots, other than the idea of ‘Ask first’. If you’re not going to be publishing photographs then you can do whatever you want. Otherwise, AfrikaBurn has an obligation to protect the rights of the participants expressing themselves in any way they want. So if you photograph a person in a state of undress or a compromising position they must be informed. There have been photos published of topless girls at the Burn. Not cool. Oh, and posting to Facebook or Instagram counts as publishing, too.