Bush Camping Checklist for a Well-Planned Adventure

Imagine this – waking up in the morning with the dawn chorus the alarm clock, hands tightly wrapped around a steaming hot beverage and then a whole day of watching the antics of all things wild and wonderful. Then ending off your eventful day having dinner while being serenaded by a wild beast of some sort, making his or her presence known not too far off.

This is what bush camping could be like, a thoroughly enjoyable experience. For the old hands, it should be a walk in the park (excuse the pun), but for the novice, it can be a daunting experience. Having a few tricks up your sleeve (this bush camping checklist) can be very helpful when it comes down to setting up camp and surviving in the bush; making it an experience to remember.

Bush Camping Checklist - Relaxing around the campfire

Above: A bush camping checklist can make planning your bush adventure a breeze

1. First aid kit

This is the most important part of your bush camping checklist to go through before you head to the bush. Make sure that the medication, ointment and anything else with an expiry date is still good to use. It’s also vital to ensure that you are covered for all eventualities – from bandages for scrapes and burns, to spray, lotions and disinfectants for insect bites, to tablets for headaches and other pains.

2. Tent

For this section of your bush camping checklist, bigger is definitely better. If there are two of you, get at least a four person tent. Always pack at least two waterproof groundsheets, one for under and one for over; and don’t forget a reflecting ribbon or two for the guy ropes to avoid tripping unceremoniously on your bush camp safari.

3. Bush camping checklist for bedding

Instead of a thin yoga-type mattress, invest in a good blow-up mattress that will make for a much better night’s sleep while camping in the bush. Your sleeping bag should be as thick, or thin, as you like. The same applies to the pillow.

4. Lighting

“Look, no hands!” – A headlamp is invaluable as it is compact in size and can be operated whilst setting up your camp, cooking, cleaning and reading. Other portable lamps, like lanterns and flashlights, are also handy. Remember to add a pack of spare batteries to your checklist for bush camping, if the lamps can’t be charged in any other way.

5. Utensil checklist for camping in the bush

Instead of scurrying around at the last minute and inevitably forgetting something, get a storage box for when you go on your bush adventure and fill it up with all the essentials. This should be the usual suspects (knives, forks, spoons, plates, bowls, cups and glasses), pots and pans, bottle and can openers, braai tongs, containers for storaging leftovers, a small camp stove, cleaning aids and anything else you may need to add to your checklist for camping in the bush.

Checklist for camping in the bush -Chatting around the campfire

Above: Chatting around the the campfire and enjoying your bush camping adventure

6. Bush camping food checklist

Most importantly make sure you have enough water for your bush adventure. It can come in handy for everything from drinking to cleaning to cooking. There’s nothing as good as dining Al Fresco style, but without turning cooking outdoors into a challenge so keep it simple.

Get a container to store your dry food items in. Breakfast and brunch can consist of rusks, cereal and of course a good fry-up, consisting of eggs, bacon and toast. For dinner, the traditional braai with accompaniments like ‘pap’, corn on the cob and potatoes wrapped in foil. Also, don’t forget a couple of tinned vegetables (beans, sweet corn), chakalaka, tuna, cup-a-soup, instant mash and something sweet like marshmallows as an after dinner treat.

7. Checklist of miscellaneous bush camping items

There are always those items that you don’t necessarily think of, that should be a must on your bush camping checklist. Some things to remember:

  • Trash bags (to make sure that you only leave your footprints)
  • Toilet paper and tissues (it’s not called ‘white gold’ for nothing)
  • The right camping chairs (for those cosy nights around the fire staring into the ‘bush television’) 
  • Reading material, playing cards and board games (for those moments when you have some spare time)
  • A camera (to make sure you capture every moment)

After reading this bush camping checklist, we’re sure that you’ll be feeling much more prepared for your next bush camping adventure. If you’re planning a self-drive journey into Africa, and are learning about important elements of enjoying a well-planned safari, then perhaps doing a Field Guide course is something you’d be interested in.