The [ULTIMATE] Afrikaburn Survival Guide
Whether you’re a first-time burner looking to get an idea of what to expect at Afrikaburn or a veteran burner looking for a brush-up on what you need for Afrikaburn prep, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the only Afrikaburn survival guide that you need to read!
We’re going to cover everything from getting your tickets all the way through to the day you leave Tankwa Town. To skip straight to a section, use the links in the box below.
📅 When and where is Afrikaburn held?
Afrikaburn is held in April/May every year, with specific dates varying, in the Karoo desert, roughly 5 hours from Cape Town. The specific location is on a plot of land called Quaggafontein.
There are several sales where you can get tickets to Afrikaburn, but you should ONLY buy from the official website links, which lead to Quicket, the ticket sale website. Scammers are rife when it comes to selling fake tickets. Here’s a brief look at the ticket sale tiers:
Prices are in South African Rands (ZAR), and at the time of writing, the USD$ and EUR€ are roughly 1:1.
These are essentially early-bird tickets. They cost almost double the regular tickets since they are mainly for those who want to donate extra to Afrikaburn to support their community work throughout the year and help those who can’t afford premium-priced tickets.
No. available: 1000
Cost: R4999 (±USD/EUR 295)
When are they sold: Usually in August
New Horizons Tickets
These are much like the Mayday tickets in that the extra money goes towards Afrikaburn as a donation.
No. available: 1000
Cost: R3499 (±USD/EUR 205)
When are they sold: Around August
This is your main sale, with the highest number of tickets being sold.
No. available: 6500
Cost: R2499 (±USD/EUR 145)
When are they sold: Around November
These are full-priced tickets that parents/guardians over 28 years of age can buy for their teenagers of ages 15-17.
You can purchase children’s tickets for kids up to the age of fourteen (14). These tickets can be purchased at the gate as well as online by parents/guardians over the age of 28. Only four (4) children and minors are allowed per guardian. This is to make sure that there is sufficient adult supervision at the event.
If you want to purchase a minor or kids ticket, you’ll need to fill out the Parent/Legal Guardian Indemnity form. Note that the guardians’ ages are checked before entering the event.
No. available: Unlimited
Cost: R499 (±USD/EUR 30)
When are they sold: Around August, but the sale remains open after general ticket sales have closed.
These tickets are for citizens or residents of African countries who may not have the means to participate in the event otherwise.
No. available: 150
Cost: R259 (±GH 159/±P 194/±ZK 247)
These are tickets subsidised by Afrikaburn (and those who bought the Mayday and New Horizons tickets) for those who can’t afford the regular ticket price but can afford a reduced ticket price.
No. available: 300
Cost: R999 (±EUR/USD 59)
When are they sold: Around September
Note that for the two reduced ticket sales, a copy of a bank statement and a motivation letter will be required for your application. Very few of these tickets are offered, and they are only provided case-by-case to those who truly can’t afford the general ticket prices.
Pensioners go FREE! Those over 70 years old get free entry but must still book a ticket by emailing email@example.com
When are they sold: Around August to April
This is like a ticket for your vehicle. You must have one of these to bring your car into the event. The reason for this is to encourage carpooling to reduce the environmental impact of the event.
Vehicle Pass (Cars & Trucks): R299 (±EUR/USD 17)
Vehicle Pass (RV/Camper Van/People Carrier): R499 (±EUR/USD 29)
When are they sold: November until the start of the event in April/May. You can also purchase it at the gate.
😴 Where will you sleep?
Theme Camps or Solo Camping
So, you’re in the midst of prepping for Afrikaburn. Are you going to join a theme camp? For the first-timers here, a theme camp is a group of people who share the responsibilities of survival at Afrikaburn as a team. This can come in many forms, from sharing cooking duties to bringing various supplies to lighten the load on each individual.
Joining a theme camp has pros and cons; they are generally positioned closer to the action, which means less walking. And they usually provide things like a big shade area, water, food etc. But since they are closer to the action, they are often in a loud area.
A caveat regarding theme camps is that Afrikaburn does not allow “Plug n Play” camps. These are camps that charge you for the service of setting up everything you need for the event, such as your tent etc. These go against several of the central tenets of Afrikaburn, like Radical self-reliance, Participation and Decommodification.
If you’d like to join a theme camp, look on the Afrikaburn website under Event participation – Theme Camps.
Camping solo or with a group of friends are two other options. Doing it all by yourself will require a lot of prep, and you must bring absolutely everything. Camping with friends is great since you can share the load with them and hang out.
You could potentially save money by choosing one of these options, but the cost will most likely even out with whatever you would pay to be a part of that camp.
It’s really up to you what you’d prefer. There are lots of friendly folks who might be willing to let you join their group. Take a look at the quick checklist of essentials at the end of this article for some must-haves for camping at Afrikaburn!
Your other option for accommodation is an RV or camper van. It will be well worth the convenience and comfort. But if you go this route, you need to drive yourself to Afrikaburn, which we discuss in the transport section below.
If you decide to take a camper van, check out this article about Burning Man RV rentals. It is written for Burning Man, but the tips on how to prepare your vehicle are transferrable.
You’ll need to bring absolutely everything you need to eat or drink for the duration of the event, as well as everything you need to cook/prepare that food.
Choosing what to bring can be tricky since refrigeration is a challenge. And also remember you must take ALL your garbage home with you. Take a look at this list to give you ideas on what food and drink to bring.
- Five (5) litres of water per day is essential and non-negotiable.
- Tinned food, like beans, tuna and corn, is recommended.
- Fruit, like apples, bananas, avocado, oranges, and lemons (but not too much, they will rot in the heat after a few days).
- Vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, keep you nourished, but minimal amounts of them as they’ll go off quickly.
- Dried fruit like dates and bags of mixed dried fruit will keep over the duration.
- Snacks like trail mix, nuts and biltong are good ideas for a week in the desert.
- Granola for breakfast or snacks, bread, eggs, pasta, packet sauces
- Condensed milk is excellent if you don’t have a fridge or to save space in the cooler bag.
- Any alcohol that you want to drink
Plan to make things that are quick and easy. You don’t want to be spending your time worrying about making food when you could be out having fun. Pasta dishes and veggie curry are two battle-tested meal options.
Gifting is one of the eleven (11) principles of Afrikaburn, but it is more than that. It is a way of life in Tankwa Town. Whilst you’re there, there is no buying or selling of goods. People just do nice things for each other without expecting anything in return. So, you need to come prepared with something to give.
Related article: What is Afrikaburn all about?
It’s not an exchange mentality. It’s more like you want to have something to give because that is part of participating and creating the culture that everyone loves so much. So, what can you bring?
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a material item. It could be something like giving advice, bringing enough food to serve people breakfast, or setting up fun activities that people can enjoy.
Here are some ideas:
- Beaded bracelets (people love the friendship bracelet type of thing)
- Ingredients for handing out coffees in the morning
- Setting up an advice stand/skill stand for newbies
- Hangover smoothies
- Key chains
Note: Gifts are consensual. If someone doesn’t accept or is incapable of receiving a gift, do not give it to them. Remember that one of the principles is Civic Responsibility. Taking care of each other as a community.
👘 What to wear?
Costumes are another massive part of Afrikaburn. Since it is a place where you can express your true self, many people go all out. This is not to say that costumes are compulsory, but it is an opportunity you should seize!
You can wear whatever the heck you want, so this is your time to get creative. For example, some people wear their birthday suits! Others go full fantasy, and others wear a style they wouldn’t typically wear in the outside world. If you are travelling from abroad, then explore the vintage stores in Cape Town to find some festival-worthy threads beforehand.
The only thing you should avoid are items that are considered MOOP, which stands for Matter Out Of Place. It consists of things that don’t belong in the desert. Specifically, something that will be difficult to remove when you leave (like glitter, feathers, alien plants, etc.).
There are also a few essential practical items of clothing that you will need to bring:
- Buff/ balaclava
- Warm clothes for nighttime (thermals, scarves, jackets, beanies, hoodies, thick socks)
- Comfortable shoes
💳 General cost
So how much is all this going to cost you? Here’s an example breakdown of what it might cost you. This will vary depending on what you already have/ can borrow and may differ substantially depending on price fluctuation.
Prices are in South African Rands (ZAR), and at the time of writing, the USD$ and EUR€ are roughly 1:1.
Ticket: R2499 (±USD/EUR 145)
Airfare: ZAR 20 000- ZAR 40 000 ($1152 – $2305) Using LAX to OR Tambo as an example. (if coming from the US).
Bus: ± ZAR 2000- ZAR 2500 ($115-$144)
Tent: ZAR 3000+ ($1723+) If you’re on your own, you’ll need to get a five (5) sleeper to accommodate all your stuff and proportionally bigger with more people.
Camping Mattress: ZAR 200- ZAR 1000 ($11- $58)
Sleeping bag: ZAR 200 – ZAR 800 ($11- $46)
Backpack: ± ZAR 300 ($18)
Fanny pack: ZAR 150 ($9)
Headtorch: ZAR 200 ($11)
Batteries: ± ZAR 300 ($18) Depends on what batteries
Rebars: ZAR 200 ($11)
Duct tape: ZAR 150 ($9)
Cooler bag/box: ZAR 200- ZAR 400 ($11- $23)
Warm clothing: R1500+ ($87+)
Gifts: ZAR 700+ ( $40+) Depending on what you buy
Food: ZAR 2000 ($115)
Water: ZAR 140 ($8)
Toiletries (sun block, wet wipes, medicine): ± ZAR 300 ($18)
Miscellaneous paraphernalia: ZAR 500 ($28) (Boxes, fairy lights, other random/fun things to add to the Town and your campsite)
Total: ZAR 33840 – ZAR 56640+ ($1950 – $3265)
Okay, so now you’ve got your stuff sorted, but how will you get there? Well, you have a few options. You can drive, catch the Afrikaburn bus, or share a ride with someone else.
Drive yourself/Rent a car
If you’re from SA, you can drive yourself to Afrikaburn. It’s probably the most convenient way of getting there, but be prepared for a hectic drive.
If you’re coming from outside of SA, you could rent a car, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The dirt road might as well have the nickname tyre shredder because it WILL wreck your wheels.
So, if you are driving your own car or a rental, ensure you know how to change a tyre. Bring a small puncture repair kit and two spares if you can. The R355 road is no joke so drive carefully.
A few tips: Drive less than 70km/hr, don’t try to overtake if you can’t see ahead (this includes dust clouds) and try to leave at dawn. It’s safer to drive in the daylight and saves your tyres from the midday heat.
Hiring a camper van or RV may be worth considering if you decide to drive yourself. Since you will be going through all the extra hassle, you might as well have that extra level of comfort that comes with sleeping in a slightly sturdier structure.
Catch the Afrikaburn bus
As I mentioned above, if you come from outside of SA, it’s probably best not to drive there yourself. Your best option would be catching the Afrikaburn bus or sharing a ride with someone.
The bus is pretty comfortable, can fit all your stuff and eliminates the concern of dealing with roadside hazards. Of course, this is not to say that your bus won’t get a flat, but at least you won’t be the one who has to deal with it! Don’t worry, though. Your driver will handle it.
The bus leaves at midnight the Sunday before the start of the event and returns on the last Sunday of the event. You can buy Afrikaburn bus tickets on Quicket, search bus to Afrikaburn, or check out the Facebook group Take a Bus to Afrikaburn. But they only depart from Cape Town.
The cost of the bus is usually around $75 (not exactly an arm and a leg), and it will give you the peace of mind to just sit back and wait to get there. And when I say wait, I mean the drive will take you at least 8 hours (or more) to get there. So be prepared to enjoy the scenery and chill out.
Share a ride
If you don’t want to hire a car, risk your own car or catch the bus, you can always check out Facebook groups where people advertise free seats they may have for the drive to Tankwa Town.
One of these Facebook groups is called Tankwa Ride and Share. You can chat with people on this group and find out if they have space for you and all your bags. Just note that it might be much more difficult to find someone who can fit you and everything you’re bringing, so organise a spot as early as possible!
🍳 Surviving once you’re there
Okay, so we’ve covered how to get your tickets and everything to do with preparing and packing. Now how do you survive and enjoy yourself once you are there? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Some tips for while you’re there
- Tankwa Town provides toilets, so you don’t have to worry about organising those.
- You are not allowed to have any open fires. Don’t put everyone else’s tents at risk. Sparks fly, and things burn. Leave the burning to the effigies.
- Leave no trace. Make sure you clean as you go because when you leave, you must take EVERYTHING with you, including all your garbage and leftovers.
Tanka town functions as a city; likewise, it is a whole different place during the day compared to at night. You’ll find art, events, music, food, and sometimes even massages during daylight hours. You’ll find a community connecting on the very issues that make us question why we’re here on this earth. It is spectacular.
But you’ll have to do plenty of walking to be able to explore all of this. So here are some ideas on what you’ll need to pack in your backpack for daytime wandering:
- A Bicycle if you’d prefer to cycle rather than walk everywhere
- Waterbottle with water in it
- Sanitiser/wet wipes + zip lock back for used wet wipes
- Lip balm
- Cup + utensil (spoons are the most versatile)
- A notepad and pen for people’s numbers, directions or noteworthy things to revisit. Or just take your phone, but this may be a hassle since phones die and there’s no signal.
At night Tankwa Town is alive with lights, music, crazy glowing outfits, dancing, and so much more. The evening is when you get to explore the party scene. Here are a couple of extra things you’ll need over and above your daytime essentials for your night adventures:
Night time essentials
- Fanny pack
- Warm clothes
- Head torch
- Alcohol that you want to drink
📃 Checklist of the essentials (not exhaustive)
Here’s a quick checklist of things you may not have considered essential for Afrikaburn survival! I haven’t included obvious packing list items, only things specific to Afrikaburn. I’m sure you know you must bring things like shoes and socks!
Do NOT bring (Things that are considered MOOP)
Anything that doesn’t belong in the desert or things that are difficult to take home with you.
💭 Final Thoughts
I hope this guide has given you just the right amount of information without being too much or too little.
As my parting word of advice, let me say: lean into the experience. An extremely unique community creates Tankwa Town, and it is worth experiencing it fully. Spend time exploring with your friends, but also spend time exploring on your own.
Seize the day (as in the daylight hours), because there is so much that goes on during the day, which you will miss if you spend all your time focussing on partying in the evenings, and lastly heed this article, and prepare super well!