6 Things You Have to Experience at AfrikaBurn

Words and images by Ann Gadd

You’ve packed the tins of beans and chickpeas. Your lentils, packets of preserved rice salad, coffee, tea and long-life milk have been set aside to go. The litres of water, tent, chairs, lights, torches, batteries and bedding are crammed into the car. You have tickets and your ID, and a very long stretch of bad road ahead… You’re about to experience your first AfrikaBurn!

So, what experiences should you definitely not miss out on? And what would be nice to do but maybe not if you’re feeling lazy? When you check in, you’ll get given a comprehensive booklet with the programme for the event, sometimes though, the descriptions don’t exactly describe the event. Take for example, “A mysterious device of unknown origin plays the music of a lost civilisation.

Many events and activities differ annually, but here are some things not to miss:

Stop off at the Tankwa Padstal and enjoy some refreshments. Its unique and loads of fun. The kids would enjoy the donkey rides on offer, while you have a toastie and drink.

The ‘Tankwa Padstal’ is roughly halfway on the bad dirt road to the event and offers everything from guitar strings to an ice-cold brew.

The ‘Burns’ (where the sculptures are burnt), usually at night, are extraordinarily emotive events. Fire dancers and the build-up and the flames engulf everything across the desert sky.

The Firemaster, Martin Glinnister silhouetted against the burning artwork of the ‘San Clan’.

Gift something. Anything – from pancakes to coffee to healing therapies. Or volunteer as a ranger. You’ll get to walk around the camp for a four hour stretch and make sure everyone is safe. It’s a great way to meet and interact with people.

AfrikaBurn is also about meeting weird and wonderful people and building new connections.

Talk to strangers. It’s the friendliest place ever. You can you walk into a theme camp and start chatting to someone you’ve never met and they won’t be surprised. I’ve chatted to people from all around the world and made new friends doing so.


Get up really early (or party through ‘till dawn), and experience a real desert awakening. Haunting music like ‘Fairweather Friend’ by Resonata filtering across the landscape through massive speakers add to the experience.


Don’t plan too much. Rather let the experience unfold. There are so many events and experiences, just walk around and enjoy! No two peoples’ experiences of the event will be the same and you’ll find yourself saying “I never saw that,” or “didn’t you go to…?” Which is the very reason that you’ll be going back the following year!

Some of the fun signage on display at AfrikaBurn.

Check out our Festival Calendar for 2017.

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