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The Travels of

Jacqui and Lars

Trans-Africa 2000/01 - The Best Campsites


Set out below are a list of some of the best campsites that we stayed at on our Trans-Africa.  By their very nature, most of these are bush camps, but there are a few exceptions.  The reason they make this list vary, some due to their beauty and views (there are a lot of these), some due to their sounds (such as the roar of Murchison Falls as the mighty Nile thunders through a 6 meter wide gorge just meters away), some due to the positioning of our tent and others due to their sense of danger (such as in the Serengetti with the roar of the lions at dinner and the hyenas brushing by the tent at night).


We have also identified a few of the worst campsites - quite a few could fall in this category, but we have chosen a few select ones.


The Top 15 Campsites ...


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Western Sahara transit, Morocco - 16 October, 2000

Bush camping the the desert is wonderful. It is so quiet and the raw beauty of the surroundings is fantastic.  We set up the camp to the bright orange backdrop of the sunset.  We sit around the fire as dinner is cooked and watch first the stars come out and then the nearly full moon rise over the horizon.  We fall asleep under the desert sky to awaken to a heavy and thick fog that is unreal.  It seemed like we were in our own little world.  It took a moment to figure out which direction the truck was and after a while we could see the dull glow of the cook lights through the mist.


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Sahara Desert, Mauritania - 23 and 24 October, 2000

Camped in the shadows of a massive sand dune in the middle of the desert.  Nothing around us - no people, no tracks and no animals.  Just the absolute quiet of the desert and the stunning desert sky above us.


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Bani River bush camp, Mali - 11 November, 2000

On our two day pirogue trip down the Bani River we stopped for the night on the edge of the river.  We could watch the locals slowly make their way along the river.  The moon was full and lit up the river in its glow.  It was amazing how bright it was in the moon light.


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Dogon village, Mali - 14 November, 2000

Camped on the top of a mud hut under the overhanging Bandiagara escarpment with a view of the plains spreading out below us.  We once again enjoyed the light of the full moon spreading its rays over everything around us.  The view, and the campsite, was only marred by the sight of the Captain laying naked, other than for his red defenders, on his sleeping bag on the roof just below us.


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Rufta (Rhumsiki hike), Cameroon - 23 December, 2000

After a long day's hike we come to a small village and emerge on to a small field with a stunning view into the valley below.  Over a beer and other drinks we watch the sunset and, as it got dark, numerous small fires light up in the valley.  It was odd sitting there looking down at all those fires and speculating what others were doing.  We woke to a wonderful view the following morning.


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Bush camp near Zaire border, Cameroon - 27 December, 2000

Just near the border with lawless Zaire where there are bandits constantly crossing the border (which is just a line on maps) and we would make a ripe target.  We wait until the road is clear and then drive up a small dirt trail - the truck can barely fit and as it gets narrower and narrower the branches of the trees scratch along the sides of the truck.  When we can go no further, we stop and set up camp on a ground filled with sticks, stones, small bushes and termite mounds - after a while we are able to clear a space for our tent.  Equipment is set up as well as possible given the lack of room.  No lights allowed.  After dinner we line up the chairs along the dirt path (no space to have a circle around the non-existent fire) and talk under the night sky and to the sounds of the forest.  It is actually quite nice (once you have banished the thought of bandits from your mind)!


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Korup National Park, Cameroon - 6 January, 2001

Set up camp in the middle of the rain forest.  Bathed in a nearby stream.  Cooked dinner over a typical local cooking fire.  Played cards under a gas light.  Talked until our eyes closed.  Fell asleep to the sounds of the rain forest all around us.


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Nake Bakundu, Cameroon - 7-9 January, 2001

Our truck breakdown had a silver lining - we broke down right outside a small village along one of the many red dusty roads that we traveled on during our trans-Africa.  We had to stay a couple of nights and it allowed us the chance to truly mingle with the locals.  We were invited to their houses for drinks, to bath, to snack and to chat.  The mayor met with some of us and told us about his plans for the village and what was happening.  The villagers were fascinated with what we did and our equipment (they were especially amazed that the men helped with things such as cooking).  They would come and watch us put up our tent and then stand around out side as we went and (tried) to sleep.  Everything in the town was coated with the red dust that was blown up every time a vehicle passed by.  While we did not want to breakdown, it was one of the best experiences form our trip.


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Serengetti National Park, Tanzania - 29-31 January, 2001

Set up camp in the middle of the national park - it is a designated campsite, but there are no fences.  Had to leave our tents open, otherwise the baboons might rip them open to see what is inside.  When we came back from game drives we would find the tracks of elephants or bucks or lions that had passed through the campsite.  At sunset, went to the nearby hotel for drinks on the terrace overlooking the plains.  In the evening, as we sat around the fire, we would hear the roar of lions and the cackle of the hyenas.  While we slept in our tent, we would hear and feel some animals brush against the side of out tent - going for a nightly pee was another experience!!!


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Lake Bunyoni, Uganda - 3 and 9 February, 2001

Camped on the edge of the deepest lake in Uganda.  One of the few fresh water lakes you can swim in safely in Africa (bilharzia free).  Good bar overlooking the lake from where you can watch the sunset.  Canoe to a nearby island for drinks.


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Murchison Falls, Uganda - 11 February, 2001

The thunder of the mighty Nile River forcing its way through a six meter wide gorge is awesome - and to sleep meters away from it is incredible.  We were able to set up our tent right over the gorge and we were not sure if we would be able to sleep with such a load noise - but sleep we did.  But first, before going to sleep, we sat on the rocks over the falls with a drink and were mesmerised by the sight and sound of the rushing water.  Then the full moon started to rise over the horizon upriver.  It was a nice slow moon rise - we could watch as the glow of the moon light lit up the horizon.  Then, once it was up, it threw its light on the white, foaming water.  What a night.


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Bujagali Falls, Uganda - 14 - 17 February, 2001

We had just finished white water rafting the source of the Nile - four Grade V rapids.  We had drunk too much beer on the way back.  We were pumped and the camp site did not let us down.  It has a great location right on the Nile and some of the rapids.  A very good bar with a view of the rapids and the river.  During the day, we could just hang out and watch the other rafters go by and fall into the river.  Wonderful sunsets and sunrises.


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Lake Kariba Houseboats, Zimbabwe - 22-24 March, 2001

Stayed in nice houseboats anchored in Lake Kariba in the national park.  Went for walking, boat and canoe safaris.  Otherwise we relaxed on the upper deck of the boat enjoying a drink, the breeze and the view.  Went swimming (some in their nude) in the "cage" (to protect you from the hippos and crocs).


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Spitzkoppe, Namibia - 25 April, 2001

The closest you come to a bush camp in Eastern and Southern Africa.  No facilities, but a fantastic view of the rock formations.  During the day, walked around and up some of the massive rock formations.  Watched the sunset perched on a huge rock while having a drink.  Then enjoyed the fantastic desert night sky.  Woke up to Spitzkoppe bathed in the warm glow of the morning sun.


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Klein Aus Vista, Namibia - 2-3 May, 2001

Similar to Spitzkoppe, but with excellent facilities.  Nearby hills to walk in.  A short stroll up one of the hills to watch fantastic sunsets.  Again, beautiful desert night sky.  And a great party!!!


... and a few of the Worst Campsites
. .

Border campsite, Morocco - 20 October, 2000

It was a good thing we arrived after dark - the only problem was that we could not see if we were setting up on our tent on some crap or other garbage.  This was the parking lot cum campsite just before the border crossing into Mauritania - lots of people stayed here for one short night and they just dumped their trash every where and they (along with the animals) went to the toilet where ever they felt like.


Nouakchott, Mauritania - 26 and 27 October, 2000

A small walled compound in the middle of the dusty town that became stifling hot at night.  And then came the mosquitoes, whose buzzing (but not biting) was drowned out by the symphony of sounds around us - snoring, grunting, farting, giggling, rustling, turning, etc.


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Ouagadouguo, Burkina Faso - 21 November, 2001

The sign listing the rules should have been enough to scare us off.  What might once have been a nice campsite has morphed into a junk yard for broken down cars and trucks and other trash.  The ground was rock-hard dirt and no shade.  At night, just on the other side of the fence, a local night club got going.  The music and noise was so load, in the end we just went out and joined them (despite the rule saying that we could not buy anything from an establishment outside the campsite).


Presbyterian Church grounds, Kumasi, Ghana - 24 November, 2000

This would have been a very nice campsite except for one thing - the wake that went on all night long.  The music, singing and dancing to celebrate the life of the deceased was an all-night affair.  But I guess we should thank them for letting us stay there despite the wake and funeral (they had earlier turned away another truck because of the funeral -we were lucky to stay there after we had been driving all day).


GHASOM (God Has Shined on Me) Hotel, Accra, Ghana - 26 - 28 November, 2000

Our room was from hell - it was sold to us on the basis that it had an ensuite bathroom.  But they did not tell us about the street corner below where they had a mosque with blaring loud speakers praying five times a day, two all-night street clubs and an open air market.  We were lucky if we got one hour of un-interrupted sleep (night clubs went quiet around 3 AM and the prayers started around 4 AM).  After a couple of nights we moved to another hotel - much nicer and quieter.

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Yankari National Park, Nigeria - 16-19 December, 2000

The constantly flowing hot springs would have made this campsite onto the list of best campsites, except for the prayers that blared out (including at 4 AM) of the numerous loudspeakers set up all over the camp at regular intervals through out the day and night.


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