I thought the puff adder was bad but the bees were something else!
In 2014 we were on Khiding pan in the Kgalagadi. Water is scarce in this area and animals come for miles to the water holes. We had a beautiful campsite overlooking the pan with not a soul in sight. We arrived quite late in the day, so by the time we setup camp dusk had fallen. In the morning once the sun had come up we started to hear a bee or two. Within 30 minutes there was a low din and within two hours the campsite was swarming. They were trying to climb up the trailer taps, in the kettle or any water bottle left out. Any moisture left on any surface was infested and they only left at sunset. They were relentless! Olivia got stung for the first time and luckily wasn’t allergic. We ended up just going for drives in the car to get away. Any other car we stopped to ask had no bees in their campsite, we were just unlucky.
We had left a small bowl of water out to rinse hands in and soon it was filled with drowned bees 😦
And we thought it was a once off but in 2016 we were in the Hoanib valley in Namibia looking for the desert lion and elephants. The wind was howling and we spent most of the morning trying to find a valley to camp in that was slightly sheltered. We finally found a spot at lunch time and again, within an hour of setting up camp, they started to arrive. But this time it was 50 times worse than Botswana. The water is so scarce that they were desperate. We put the kids in the bubble tent to play and watch a movie but they had water bottles and the tent was soon crawling on the outside with bees trying to get in. The kids were beyond freaked and on top of that boiling hot. In the end we again ended up having to climb in our cars just to get away as it was too hot to lie in the tents.
Me trying to see if sitting under the mosquito net would help at all – it didn’t but at least it provided some amusement.
We had planned to spend two days in that valley but as soon as the sun rose the next morning they already started arriving so we had to pack up and go find another campsite.
Being no expert this is what I have learnt from these two experiences:
- Fruit scented dishwashing liquid makes it muuuuuuuch worse
- Citronella candles do nothing to keep them away. We were burning 5 of them to try and get the lunch out but they still were everywhere
- Anthisan works better than calladrel for the stings
- The mozzie net helped a bit but ours had a stupid split in the middle to tie closed so a full one would work better
- Basically, if they start arriving rather pack up camp and move
- If you can’t move, grab snacks and drinks and rather go for a drive till sunset
- As soon as the sun goes down they leave
So here’s to hoping that we have a bee free trip up next
We are by no means the hardcore full time overlanding family. We live and work in Cape Town and have our own business. So our holidays have been windows into this amazing continent we live in. We decided when the kids were little that overseas holidays were just too costly from South Africa and to rather explore what is literally on our back doorstep. In order to do so, vast distances have to be covered. We took some French students to Namibia with us two years ago and they could not get over the huge distances we needed to drive.
I used to hate car trips! The quicker we got somewhere the better and heaven forbid we had to stop. My husband and I used to see how quickly we could do these stops but that had to change when we had kids. Doesn’t matter how you prepare, a trip always takes a million times longer with children. The one needs to wee, you stop to do so and then just as you get going typically the next one suddenly needs to wee. Doesn’t matter that you specifically asked them and they categorically said they didn’t need to! So when we invested into our overland trailer with these long trips in mind as a family, I had to change my mindset. The journey had to become part of the holiday. Stopping for tea alongside the road or a wee break with a 20minute play all became a part of the holiday. So when heading off on those road journeys with children, give yourself extra time on the trip. Reduce the distance and if necessary make it in stages instead of pushing it. Suddenly it won’t be so stressful anymore as you are not chasing such a tight deadline. When you are relaxed, your kids are relaxed which makes for a much more pleasant time.
On these trips we go with our Toyota Fortuner D4D 4×4 and our Mission Trailer. The trailer makes travelling with kids so easy, as we can pull over anywhere for lunch and not have to unpack half the car to access the kettle. There have been many late campsite arrivals where I have been able to immediately start cooking and am done by the time everyone else has just finished setting up as our kitchen is immediately available off the side of the trailer. Also, when we are in spot, we can setup and then go off with the car to game watch and not have to pack everything up. The draw back with the trailer in very remote places on bad roads is that unless you are a champion reverser (like my husband), you can get into some very tight and hairy situations. It is also heavy and hard work on those very sandy roads, like in Botswana, and travelling with a second vehicle and a snatch strap is a necessity.
My husband, Simon, has threatened often to sell it but I refuse. As a mum, it makes my life so easy. Also, we are invited along on many trips because of our useful kitchen accessibility and the extra storage which means we can carry that extra drink to watch the African sun go down. Cheers!
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