Easing into Camping

In theory, our Mara trip should have eased us into camping as we stayed at a permanent tented camp with catering. We had camp beds and even a toilet and shower in a separate ‘ablution’ compartment at the back! This sounds civilised but for some reason I found it more of a struggle than our later bush camping escapades. Partly this was due to my inbuilt aversion to early starts, as the trip initiated us into getting up before sunrise (from 4.45 onwards). It is never a joy to stumble around a tent at this time, using a head torch, in the cold and under constant threat from mosquitoes!

This was the first time I had ever slept under a mosquito net. 

My tent mate Gayle modelling the mosquito net
Either there was a hole in the net or the mozzies had been on the attack at dusk, because I awoke on the first morning to find a large bite on my ankle. Clearly I needed to ramp up my anti-mosquito precautions! My tent mate Gayle, who I was to share with for the next 3 weeks, had to endure my evening ritual of applying a concoction of DEET products, from body spray (an interesting aroma) and DEET impregnated wrist and ankle bands (an attractive look) to an electronic mozzie zapper balanced on my pillow! Nothing quite like a toxic halo of chemicals to send you off to sleep. I think I won the battle though – mosquito bites were thankfully few and far between from that point onwards.

The Mara experience also taught us to get moving very quickly in the mornings (getting up even earlier obviously wasn’t an option!) Nobody wanted to be the one keeping the group waiting, so mornings tended to be a very minimal and rushed affair. Huddling in our warmest clothing, muttering reminders to each other to take our anti-malarial tablets, we would pile half-asleep into the safari vehicles and set off to witness the splendour of sunrise over the savannah.

On return to camp in the evening, we were introduced to the ritual that would become very familiar on our African travels - setting up chairs around a campfire and enjoying our evening meal together by firelight.

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