Camp cooking ideas:
• LP Gas is the most common fuel used on the safari although it is less efficient than many other fuels. The convenience of gas and the wide range of accessories is its biggest advantage.
• Alternatives such as multi-fuel stoves are smaller, lighter and more fuel-efficient.
• Cast iron pots are very useful on safari. I find that three-legged iron pots are awkward to pack and are less versatile than flat-bottomed types. We have used a flat-bottomed pot with great success in baking bread, rolls of meat, potatoes and even chocolate cakes.
• Camp baking can be done in steel bread ovens or in cast-iron
pots. Build the fire in a shallow hollow on a flat rock. Before
cooking remove the coals from the rock and position the pot on
the rock, placing hot coals around, without too many of them touching the pot. Then place a few hot coals on the lid. Rotate
the pot from time to time.
• Never cook inside a tent as it is extremely dangerous. Leaking gasses cannot escape and because most tent zips are plastic, if there is a fire, the zips melt together and occupants can’t escape!
Lighting fires with wet wood
If you find your matches wet and you don’t have a lighter, use a magnifying glass from a penknife or a lens from a binocular to burn dry grass. Dry grass is better for lighting fires than newspaper, but start with only a small clump otherwise the fire will be smothered and will smoke excessively. If all the wood is wet and smokes instead of burning, line the base of your fire with tin foil. This insulates the fire from the damp ground and the heat reflected by the foil accelerates the burning.
Keeping warm at night
If you don’t have a hot water bottle take a rounded rock, about 25cms in diameter and place it next to the camp fire with one side of it over the coals. Rotate it periodically during the evening. Fifteen minutes before retiring wrap it in a towel. Do not let the rock get too hot otherwise you may scorch the towel. Place this warm bundle inside your sleeping bag. It will provide a substantial amount of heat for most of the night. However, do not rely on finding suitable rocks in desert and semi-desert regions. Parts of the Kalahari, for example, are completely without rocks.
Sleeping inside the vehicle
Mosquito netting cut to size and attached to the windows with Velcro will allow the windows to be opened at night. If the vehicle has to be emptied, all foodstuffs must be stored in very strong boxes (preferably steel) to resist attempts by animals such as hyena gaining access.
Sleeping on the vehicle’s roof-rack, whether in a tent or in the open, is ideal because being well away from the ground is a safe refuge from snakes and scorpions. Still my preferred way of sleeping in the bush is in the open on a roof-rack – except for attacks by mosquitoes, which can be dealt with by constructing a simple mosquito net which covers the part of the body that is exposed. Alternatively, burning mosquito coils all night helps a bit. (Inadvisable in malaria regions.)
Awnings permanently attached to the side of a vehicle are what I call ‘instant’ awnings. They are a convenient way of creating shade in an instant. If you, like me, like to stop on a lonely road, drink something icy and simply stare at the surroundings during a break for lunch, then an instant awning is a real luxury. They come in the less expensive roll-up variety and in the enclosed tube like the Eezi-Awn and even a leg-less design from Hannibal.
Motorists who carry fire extinguishers rarely use them. Rather they use them when helping out fellow motorists who do not have one and suddenly have a need for one. There is no substitute should you have a fire. To the off-roader, when travelling over grasslands, fire is always a serious risk. Grass tends to get caught around the exhaust, it dries out, smolders and eventually ignites. Once the grass ignites, it burns so fiercely that even with an extinguisher, extensive damage can result. Many vehicles have been lost in this way and I know of a brand new Nissan Sani, on its first trip out, that caught alight in the grasslands of the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana. After all the precious drinking water had been used in an unsuccessful attempt to put out the blaze, they were left without food, clothes and water with a 70-kilometer walk to the nearest town ahead of them. Although the vehicle was destroyed, the two men escaped with their lives.
Many vehicles are prone to this danger. I also know of a Land Rover Series-3, Mercedes Geländewagen, and a Nissan Sani and Patrol that have been lost in this way. Every vehicle must carry their own, easy-to-reach, fire extinguisher.
Fire Extinguisher ideas:
• Dry powder extinguishers are suitable for vehicle fire applications. Carry one of at least 2kg.
• CO2 Extinguishers are more potent and heavier. They can also be used for pumping tires.
• Neglecting and failing to service fire extinguishers is common. Let’s not be caught napping with a fire that destroys our vehicle.
Insect repellents come in many different forms. Mosquito coils are very effective as long as there is no wind. What is more, they work even better if burnt close to the source of light. Spray-on and stick repellents such as Peaceful Sleep and Tabard are best applied to ankles and socks as well as to exposed skin. This will prevent ticks from crawling up the leg. Repellent lotions are also available, and all of these products are toxic. Contact with sensitive skin, on the lips and eyelids will cause irritation. Some repellents may cause a skin reaction with certain people and if a new brand is taken on safari it is advisable to test it on the skin before departure. Mozi Wipes, wet-wipes impregnated with repellent, work very well.
Other less orthodox methods of discouraging mosquitoes are found in repellent arm bands, repellent bars and vitamin B12 which perhaps is the most unusual. I am assured that a course of vitamin B12, started two weeks before departure and continued during exposure, makes mosquitoes think twice about biting. Arm bands impregnated with insecticide are also effective and if worn around the ankles would also be very effective against ticks.
Refuse and ablutions
Some conservationists abroad advise burying rubbish. In Africa this is contrary to all proper thinking. Animals, namely baboons, jackal and hyena dig it up and spread it around. Burn it or take it with you. To aid in the processing of refuse and to make it easier to carry,
Ideas for handling refuse:
• Use paper plates and burn them in the camp fire.
• Do not burn plastic – it melts down but still constitutes litter. Put the small bits into cans, burn them and then toss them into the refuse bag, Burnt tins don’t smell.
• Use bleach-free toilet paper and if possible burn it before burying it. Dig a hole as deep as possible – at least 30 cms.
• Use a four pound hammer and a wooden block (or the jacking plate from your high-lift) to crush beer, soft drink and food cans. This will reduce the bulk of your rubbish.
• Carry some large sized heavy duty plastic bin bags in your safari kit. Rubbish in bags strapped to a roof-rack will prevent smells inside the vehicle and can be easily discarded when a town is reached.
Perhaps the single most important item in the safari wardrobe is a good hat. Wide brimmed hats are better than caps as they keep the sun off the neck as well as the face. Like the hat, other clothing should be chosen to protect the body against the elements and to blend in with the surroundings. There is no escaping it, the Australians make the best looking bush hats. Try an Acubra sometime!
Camouflage against animals is not dependent on colour, since most animals are colour-blind. Interrupted patterns that break up the human shape work best. Even bright blue and red cannot be seen by animals – in fact, pure blues are better than any other colour for animal camouflage. Long baggy trousers are the best protection against snakes and are most comfortable when walking through
Never underestimate how low temperatures can fall during darkness. Wherever and whenever you go on safari, take along a warm jersey and a wind cheater.
If you intend to walk, wear boots or tackies. Sandals and flip-flops are totally inadequate – they allow grass to cut the feet and are no protection against biting insects or snakes. At night, boots or tackies are also recommended, as snakes and scorpions are largely nocturnal.
You will need a basic kit for emergencies or to tide you over until medical help is found. This is something to discuss with your family doctor. You should also mention drugs that will be carried to combat common illnesses; diarrhoea, vomiting and allergies as well as the carrying of needles and syringes should an injection be required in a situation where sterility is dubious.
A first aid kit should include:
• Analgesic ear drops.
• Antihistamine ointment and oral preparation.
• Anti-inflammatory gel.
• Anti-emetic preparation.
• Antiseptic concentrate, ointment or powder.
• Cotton wool.
• Crepe bandages; large and small.
• Gauze swabs.
• Paracetamol for fever or pain.
• Paracetamol plus codeine for stronger/adult analgesia.
• Rehydration powder or tablets.
• Sling and splints.
• Sticking plaster and wound closure strips.
First-aid and snake bite kits
The value of a snake bite kit in the bush is questionable. Seldom is the small amount of anti-venom carried in a kit sufficient to help the patient in any significant way. More importantly, due to the toxicity of anti-venom, it should only be administered by a medically qualified person in a situation where appropriate action can be taken to counteract the severe life-threatening allergic reactions which often occur.
Outdoor Warehouse has developed an excellent first-aid kit designed for the 4×4 outback explorer. Pretty complete and well conceived, it should handle most eventualities while far from home.
Stings and bites – First Aid
The effects of stings and bites from insects, scorpions and snakes can be partially relieved with the use of a suction device called Aspivenin. The kit consists of a special syringe and a range of suction nozzles of varying sizes. If applied immediately after a bite or sting, the Aspivenin will suck a quantity of poison, relieving pain and reducing swelling.
This annoying insect is found throughout Southern Africa and is particularly prevalent during the wet months. It lays its eggs in damp clothing that has been hung out to dry. Then, when the clothes are worn the eggs hatch and the worms burrow into the skin causing severe irritation. Spread a liberal layer of Vaseline jelly over the infected area and cover with a sticking plaster to starve the worms of air. To prevent Phutsi Fly, all washed clothing must be ironed.