Bees and Desert Camping – not a match made in Heaven

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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unexpected surprises while Bush Camping

 

In 2013 we did our first trip with Jesse (5) and Olivia (3) taking them up to the Kgalagadi.  Our campsite on the Khiding pan was beautiful with not another person in sight.  We had put very strict rules in place for how far they could move from camp drawing a line in the sand as their boundary.   They also had to be in view of an adult at all times, so no going behind cars.  So Jess gets his spade and starts digging around a tree right next to the braai area.  He played for hours there with Livi and our friends son Sven, with their dinky cars and dinosaurs.  We thought it was great, being under a tree and in the shade but little did we know.

Later that night my husband took a pee against said tree and not five minutes later THE biggest, laziest and fattest puffadder you could imagine came out of the hole where the kids had being playing!!!!!   I still shiver at the thought.  Now the rules include no holes at the base of anything!

So here are a few things we now do with the kids camping in the bush:

  • Take tape or rope to cordon off the boundary area for them.  This is not to keep animals out but to give the kids an end point to the camp area.  We just took that plastic traffic tape and would tie it from the car to a tree and back to the car.  If no tree we stuck a stick in the ground.  When their heads are down and they are involved in play it is amazing how quickly with distraction they can move and unintentionally too.  If you don’t have rope or tape then draw a line where they can’t go beyond.
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    The Matopi Camp on the way to Nossob from Khiding.  The grass was very high around us so we ‘fenced’ off the area for the kids, putting all vehicles in a half circle

     

     

  • Check where the kids are playing and digging.  In the story above we didn’t realize Jesse had started digging where there was already a hole.
  • If you are bush camping with high grass, put all the vehicles in as much of a half circle and then the chairs on the other half of the circle and then the kids to play inside of this space.
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Jesse, Olivia and Sven playing at Matopi.  You had to worry about spraining your ankle with all the holes and trenches they dug