Camping in Comfort

Camping is pretty much the same the world over. Find a likely looking spot, drag a heap of gear out of the car, pitch the tent, set up a fire, spring the folding chair open and sit back, probably with a beer or wine or rum or something.

Morning strikes and you wake to the squawking bird in the tree above you. The hole in the roof of the tent lets in just enough moisture to drip rhythmically into your left eye. Not a bad thing, because it's at least 800 degrees inside your tent and that final beer or wine or rum or something tastes like you spent the night eating the rock hard dirt you're laying on.

camping on the beach

Stagger outside, 2 greasy sausages left on the barbeque plate – mmm…breakfast, another barbeque on the way.

And that was camping for us for many years when we were younger and bullet proof. Endless weekends and holidays spent getting away from it all, no rules (except the unspoken laws of camp decency), no fences around the lakes and dams and beaches, no neighbours, no television, nothing but the bliss of the great outdoors.

Between the two of us we have over 40 years of combined adult campsite experience, (i.e.: the people responsible), in both Africa and Australia and today we do it a little differently.

This year we will probably spend a full 6 months living outside. Any time we spend under a conventional roof in a conventional house will be because we have chosen to take on a short term work commitment somewhere. The rest of the time we will be in the bush four wheel driving and prospecting and rock collecting and taking photographs and exploring and swimming and snorkelling and doing all the fantastic things on offer when you choose to leave the comforts of metro-urbia.

It’s generally the small things that make for a comfortable time outdoors.

Keeping It Simple

Because we often arrive late to the place we will camp, and often have to depart early, we are geared towards efficiency and minimization.

This means simply that our tent takes 2 minutes to pitch, literally – from taking it from its bag to banging the last peg in. That is a one person job. There are two of us. The other one has the table and chairs set up, the shortwave radio turned on, and is halfway through putting up an awning if required. That is in 2 minutes, without huge exertion or haste.

Part of the reason is because we do it 200 times a year but a big element is the way we pack and the gear we use.

Culinary Cornerstone

Food is often the cornerstone of the outdoor experience. It may be the fish that has been caught and prepared as part of the trip, a hearty stew or the traditional bush barbeque. For many people the preparing and consuming of a meal represents the essence of camping.

Barbeque is rarely on our menu these days. We carry a BBQ plate that fits our camp stove. You can see it here. We also have a braai rooster from Namibia, a type of open wire grill that we use on the fire. Mostly we cook Indian or Lebanese style breads on either of these, the occasional toasted sandwich, and sometimes a steak or chicken breast.

Because we spend so much time in the bush the never ending BBQ becomes monotonous and the constant red meat diet takes its toll. We are both passionate about food and cooking and a variety of relatively healthy food means feeling a lot better overall. This contributes to a more enjoyable trip as energy levels are better prepared to deal with the heightened activity involved with collecting firewood and setting up camp and making shade and swimming and climbing hills and bushwalking etc.

Utensils

The cooking utensils we choose to take are carefully thought through. In a regular house we prefer to cook on good quality stainless steel pans. There is an art to cooking on stainless and once mastered it’s hard to use anything else. In the bush we use Teflon coated aluminium pans. Every extra ounce of weight is important to us and aluminium is light. Teflon coating means cleaning is minimized and if necessary, can be managed with only a cupful of water. It just makes a disliked task quicker and easier.

Keeping It Clean

Ask anyone over twenty years of age what is the best camp-related feeling you can have outdoors and we’d bet it would be a hot shower. After good shelter and proper food a bit of personal cleanliness is probably the most appreciated part of camping. Most of our time is spent in a pretty hot part of the world and wherever we can we camp by fresh water and enjoy swimming and bathing in it. However because we spend a lot of time in a pretty hot part of the world, fresh water is not always easy to come by. We used to boil up a big pot and scoop the water up with a cup. Hair washing was a chore. Now we use a gas regulated machine designed for camping. Instant hot water at the turn of a tap.

We drive past cafes and coffee shops when we want coffee. We drive past because we make better coffee than we can buy at these places. We make it with a Presso coffee maker that doesn’t use power and doesn’t take up much room. It makes true espresso coffee and we froth the milk with the simple accessory supplied. We drink cappuccino and macchiato and espresso and sometimes we put Baileys Old English Liqueur in it and sometimes we have Irish coffee but we drink good coffee and we feel good because we haven’t been deprived of small pleasures just because we are in the bush.

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