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Camping

Camping is an activity that can easily be enjoyed by everybody. Camping is a lot of fun as it's cheap and healthy.

  • campingCamping in the Drakensberg is a way to get in touch with nature and get away from city life. Camping is a great way to experience the outdoors and spend time with family and friends. It also offers a base camp for hikes into the mountains.
     
    The Campsite
     
    The campsite layout should be well organized, with a place for cooking, relaxing and washing, none of which are right where you sleep.
     
    Shelter and Sleeping
     
    The typical camping shelter is the tent, and choosing a camping tent means knowing how many people are going to sleep inside.
     
    Sleeping bags are essential, and they should be chosen to suit the climate and weather. If possible, use a sleeping mat under your sleeping bag for additional comfort. A great deal of temperature is lost through the ground even with a sleeping bag, so don't underestimate how far a little insulation can go.
     
    Camping Supplies
     
    Camping gear can be very basic or very complex, depending on the degree to which you want to be roughing it. Basic navigation may or may not be needed depending on what you plan on doing, but bringing a compass is always a good idea in case you get lost. Bring basic survival equipment of course, including fire-starting gear, water purification, first aid kid, bug repellant, and other essentials. Camping lights can be a nice touch, but are not necessary, although a good flashlight is a must.
  • Plan ahead and prepare
     
    • Know the regulations and concerns for the area you'll be camping in. Restrictions are based on any past abuse and the special conditions of an area.
    • Camp and travel in small groups. They are quieter and do less damage.
    • Learn how to properly store your food to protect it from baboons and other animals.
    • Repackage your food into re-usable containers like Ziploc bags. Avoid tin or aluminum cans and glass. Reduce the amount of rubbish you bring by eliminating all unnecessary packaging like cardboard boxes, etc.
    • Make sure you have a way to properly dispose of your rubbish (bring an extra rubbish bag).
     
    Dispose of waste properly
     
    • If it wasn't there when you came then don't leave it there when you leave! You are responsible for anything you bring. Carry out all your trash.
    • Inspect your campsite for rubbish or misplaced gear before you leave.
    • Do not bury your rubbish. Animals will dig it up or it will become exposed later on for someone else to find.
    • Contrary to popular belief tin foil and plastic bottles do not completely burn.
    • Practice "Negative Trace". Pick up rubbish that others may have missed or that were dropped by accident. Educate any inconsiderate people you encounter about Leave No Trace and low impact skills and ethics.
     
    Leave what you find
     
    • Take only pictures, leave only the lightest of footprints, and bring home only memories.
    • Resist the temptation to take home souvenirs. Leave stones, feathers, artifacts, flowers, petrified wood, etc. so that others may enjoy them.
    • Leave the place you're visiting in a natural condition. You can't improve Nature. Do not alter a site in any way. Good campsites are found, not made. Don't pound nails into trees or damage live vegetation or trees.
     
    Leave your saw and axe at home
     
    • Don't break or saw off branches from dead trees, live trees, or fallen trees. Use only wood that you brought with you. Don't peel the bark off trees for use as fuel. It takes many years to heal and remains an eyesore in the meantime. Don't make a fire ring with rocks. Blackened rocks are very unsightly and stay that way for many years.
    • Some areas don't allow fires or only allow fires in designated areas. Know the regulations for the area you will be visiting.
    • During dry periods it can be dangerous or against regulations to build a fire. Make sure your fire is completely out before leaving an area.
     
    Respect wildlife
     
    • Treat the animals you encounter with respect. Remember that you are a visitor and are traveling and camping in their backyard.
    • Observe wildlife from a distance.
    • Do not feed the animals! You will create a nuisance because the animal will develop a taste for human food, associate humans with food, and then raid our campsites to steal our food.
    • Learn how to properly store your food to protect it from baboons and other animals.
     
    Be considerate of other visitors
     
    • Preserve the solitude. Respect other hikers by traveling and camping quietly. Keep radios at home.
    • Pets are best left at home. Keep them away from water sources and clean up after them. They are your responsibility. Some areas don't allow pets.
    • Base your decisions not only on how your actions will impact the environment but also how they may affect others as well.
  • Camping can be a lot of FUN! Especially if you're organised!

    • There are three basic styles of family tents:

      dome tent

      Dome-style. These are strong and resist wind and rain well. On the other hand, they have less headroom and usable space because of the slope of the walls.

      tunnel tent

      Tunnel-style. These provide excellent stability if pitched end-on to oncoming winds. However, when they are pitched the other way, they are much less stable. Typically made up of two or more poles running the width of the structure, this shape makes for much better interior space and head room. The tents are not freestanding and must be anchored and guyed out securely.

      cabin-tent

      Cabin-style. They have the most space and headroom. They're easy to get into and out of, some even have room dividers. However, they can be harder to put up and may not be as reliable in extreme weather.

       When choosing a tent consider the following:

      • Togetherness can be great, but don't overdo it. Make sure the family's tent is big enough; each person needs at least 2 square meters of space and choose a tent that could hold at least one more person than you'd expect. If you camp with children, the tent may be a living room as well as bedroom - especially if it rains. You'll want space for the children to play games, read and move around.
      • Consider how compactly the tent and poles fold and whether they will fit into your vehicle.
      • Vertical space can be almost as important as horizontal. Do you want everyone to be able to stand up inside the tent? Do you care if adults can stand only in the middle? Will people need room to change clothes?
      • How is it to setup the tent? Most tents have poles on the outside, which leaves more room inside. The difficulty depends largely on how many poles are involved. The fewer the poles, the easier to set up. Most poles are segmented and held by shock cords so they can be folded for storage. It's easier to attach poles to the fabric by clips than to thread poles through fabric sleeves, but sleeves make the structure stronger. Some tents have a combination of clips and sleeves.
      • Letting moisture out of the tent is vital. Condensation from people's breathing and wet clothes and gear can gather inside a tent, with drenching results. Ventilation is important, especially in summer. Look for ceiling vents and plenty of mesh panels in doors and windows.
      • The family is snugly tucked into the tent, and there's enough room for everybody. But what about all the boots, shoes, daypacks, jackets and other gear? A vestibule is a great addition, like your mudroom or porch back home. This separate area for storage may stand alone or be built into the rainfly.
    • The main choice in sleeping bags is between synthetic fill or down. Down is lighter in terms of a weight-to-warmth ratio and is  more compact. However, only synthetic fills will maintain their shape and warmth even when wet. Down turns into a heavy, soggy, cold mess that takes forever to dry out.
       
      Next is to decide on the temperature rating for your sleeping bag. A three-season sleeping bag should see you through a frosty morning in spring or autumn and not overheat you during a warm night. If you are doing winter camping, then a sleeping bag rated to below -5 degrees is better. Make sure the sleeping bag you choose fits your personal dimensions and size.
       
      sleeping-bag
      A welcome addition is to have a sleeping mat which provides cushioning and insulation. Their is a huge range of sleeping mats on the market. If you have space select a larger mattress for more luxurious sleeping comfort.
      sleeping mats
    • Clothing to take with camping includes:
      • T-shirts
      • Underwear
      • Quick-drying pants or shorts
      • Long-sleeve shirts
      • Sun-shielding hats
      • Swimsuits
      • Bandanas or buffs
      • Hiking Boots
      • Socks
      • Long underwear
      • Sleepwear
      • Insulating jacket or vest
      • Insulated pants
      • Gloves or mittens
      • Rainwear
      • Clothesline with clips
      • Water sandals
      • Sandals
    • Kitchen & cooking equipment should include:
       
      • Matches or lighter
      • Charcoal
      • Grill rack
      • Frying pan
      • Cook pots
      • Pot grabber
      • Bottle opener
      • Can opener
      • Food-storage containers
      • Resealable storage bags
      • Trash bags
      • Tablecloth and clips
      • Coolers
      • Plates, bowls, mixing bowls
      • Mugs/cups
      • Utensils
      • Paring knife
      • Spatula
      • Cutting board
      • Biodegradable soap
      • Pot scrubber
      • Water container
    •  Ideas of foods to pack are:

      • Coffee
      • Cereal
      • Eggs
      • Breakfast bars
      • Butter or margarine
      • Bread
      • Meat
      • Soup packets
      • Cooking oil
      • Salt and pepper
      • Tea
      • Milk
      • Drink mixes
      • Fruit
      • Vegetables
      • Cheese
      • Crackers
      • Chips
      • Chocolate and sweets
      • Marshmallows
      • Herbs & Spices
    • A basic first aid should always be taken with when camping and the items to take include:
       
      • Your personal medication
      • Bandages
      • Plaster strips
      • Sterile gauze
      • Antiseptic wipes
      • Tissues
      • Pain relievers - Tylenol/Panado/Aspirin
      • Antiseptic cream
      • Sunburn lotion
      • Hydrogen peroxide
      • Scissors
      • Tweezers
      • Eye wash/eye drops
      • Mosquito repellent
    • Below are the basic items to include:

      • Toilet paper
      • Hand sanitizer
      • Toothbrush, toiletry kit
      • Brush/comb
      • Soap
    • Fun things to take camping include:
       
      • Playing cards
      • Kites
      • Glow sticks
      • Frisbee
      • Puzzles (crosswords, etc.)
      • Board games
      • Rugby/Soccer Ball