1 Week in the African Desert: Afrikaburn 2017


See You in South Africa

Sometime in December, our friend William invited us to meet him in South Africa for the Afrikaburn event in April. We figured it was a one week music event, maybe similar to Coachella, but we really had no idea. Nevertheless, we said sure, why not. We figured we would be traveling around and it would be great to see some familiar faces during our travels.

It wasn’t until we purchased the tickets online that I realized just how serious of a commitment this whole event would be. The more we looked into it, the more we realized we weren’t going to be prepared for this at all.

What is Afrikaburn?

Afrikaburn is a Burning Man event that happens annually in the Tankwa Karoo National Park in South Africa. I’m not too sure why it’s called a park because it’s straight up desert land in the middle of nowhere. Temporary artwork installations are built by the burning man community which consists fully of volunteers. It is one week where people from all over the world of all ages come to camp in harsh, unpredictable weather conditions, and lose total connection to the outside world. “Burners” as they call them, come to participate in community activities, enjoy the artworks, drive mutant vehicles, build theme camps, wear elaborate costumes, and listen to a plethora of music with live DJ sets, all happening literally 24-hours a day. Afrikaburn is a non-stop event for one entire week. At the end of the event, usually on the last night, these temporary artworks are burned down and everyone comes together to watch the fiery installations.

It’s Much More Than What It Seems!

On the surface, it sounds like it could be a douche-y music festival where people just party and get obnoxious for one week. But, as a first-time burner, I am telling you it was so much more than that. Part of attending Afrikaburn includes committing to the principles on which this event is founded on. I won’t go into detail about all of them, but you can certainly look up more information. In summary, these principles are inclusion of your peers, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leave no trace, participation, immediacy, and each one teach one. The idea is to actively participate in the event by meeting new people, volunteering, expressing yourself however you want (yes, even if It means prancing around naked), and explore all of the art and music surrounding you. Everything you bring with you must go back with you, including your trash. Another principle I really love about this event, is that there is no currency. This means you cannot purchase anything at the event, but you can give everything. Giving gifts to other burners like food, drinks, random gifts etc., is the norm here at Afrikaburn.

To be honest, I was really hesitant to camp for one week in the middle of the desert, let alone in a foreign country.  First, I’m not much of a camper. I have maybe done it once in my life. Second, I was not looking forward to being unable to shower, and having to use port-o-potty’s for an entire week.We were told we would most likely experience extreme weather conditions from below zero at night to intense heat waves and blinding dust storms by day. No one could have been less excited and quite frankly, more scared than me.

Since Alex and I were only traveling in one carry on, we would have to purchase most of everything we needed for the event once we arrived in South Africa. Although, it wasn’t half as stressful as we thought it would be. Plus, we were happy to donate most of the stuff we purchased for the event back to the community.

Bought some random clothes for the burn in Cape Town’s Chinatown. I think we turned out pretty cute 🙂

The drive to Afrikaburn is supposed to be quite treacherous. The unpredictable but heavy dust storms make it nearly impossible to see the cars in front of you or behind you. The road is not paved, and your tires are more than likely to get punctured by the glass-shard type rocks on this road. As it turns out the scariest part of the actual event, was driving there and driving back.

We rented an SUV, hooked a trailer to the back of it, and off into the dust we went. Thankfully, only one of our tires got a small puncture which was easily fixed at one of the few rest stops on the way to the Burn.

The last and possibly the only rest stop on the way to the burn.

Candidly thinking about how I am going to survive Afrikaburn.
Model Will ready to take on the dust.

Once we got our tents set up, it was one week of crazy beautiful experiences. We met people from all over the world, gave and received gifts and with generosity and kindness, volunteered at our theme camp serving coffee to our peers, drank copious amounts of champagne, saw some totally crazy and really weird shit, climbed the art installations, listened to great and horrible music non-stop, and watched the installations burn at the end of the event. All in all, it was pretty magical.

All new burners are forced to roll around in the dirt before entering, to get an introduction of how we will feel for a week. #Dirty
Ringing the Afrikaburn Virgin Bell.
Alex casually blending in, while the guy with a penis tutu stands behind him.

It was a really really hot day, this ice bath saved me.
Alex hanging out on a mutant vehicle.
Afrikaburn by day.

Happy hour at the mini Eiffel Tower.
Afrikaburn Fashion Show!

These guys became our best buddies at the burn.
Will, Tori, & their cat leggings.

Happy Campers.


The barbie jeep from your nightmares.

Gameboy DJ set.

What I loved about Afrikaburn by far outweighed the things I didn’t.  Sure, we were absolutely miserable during the incredibly hot days. It really sucked to not shower for one week, and frankly I was sick of using port-o-pottys. First world problems?  Totally, but nevertheless completely out of my comfort zone. But, I went in with open mind, and had one hell of a time. If you push yourself to do things out of your comfort zone, you wont regret it and in the process you will learn so much. I loved my time here, and I even want to do it again!

My Final Thoughts on Afrikaburn

Afrikaburn enlightened me to furthermore appreciate the diversity of others, be myself, and let it all go for a while. It forced me to disconnect so much that I could enjoy everything in the moment and not worry about any outside stress, emails, social media, or anything at all really. To me, Afrikaburn turned out to be much more than a music event. In this place, you were free to be a kid again, be expressive in non-judgmental environment, and actually engage in making personal connections. We had a crazy amazing time amongst 13,000 strangers who became friends. Thanks for the good times!







One response

1 Response
  1. These photos are absolutely beautiful and natural… so stunning! Your stories are so heart warming…I almost felt like I was there with you just reading them:)

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