2 May 2012 by Chris Marais

Afrika Burn 2012 - dancing in the desert

Welcome to Afrika Burn, South Africa’s best desert festival, a 6-day dance-and-show spectacular that highlights creativity, self-expression and care of the planet. It takes place annually in April on a farm near the Tankwa Karoo National Park.

Fear Gods dance around the San Clan Man at Afrika Burn.

Lesson #1 when attending Africa’s brightest, most creative desert festival: arrive early, find your buddies and set up camp before sunset.

Tankwa Town looked like a giant’s up-ended toy box: dragons and Noddy cars, kaleidoscopes and trampolines, island oases and massive glowing butterflies, a row of marching rhino and tents, tents, tents.

Lesson # 2: Set aside lots of time to travel the dirt roads leading to and from Stonehenge Farm in the Tankwa Karoo. A simple line on a map looks short out here, but in reality even the main route between Ceres and Calvinia is a 70 km/h journey with occasional flat tyres thrown in for fun.


										The way to Tankwa Town is paved with tyre-biting rocks.

We arrived late, having driven over a road that could have been there back in Old Testament times, rushed about Tankwa Town in search of our friends with the Big Bedouin Tent and finally, as the sun was setting, gave up and quickly set up our own camp out in the bushes on the outskirts. From there, we munched on goat’s cheese, biscuits, chicken mayo and washed it down with a bottle of good red. All the while, Afrika Burn was thumping with action in the distance – we would attack that with gusto in the morning.


										Rhino convoy crossing the great Tankwa Karoo at dawn.

In the soft light of a new day, with only the hard-core ravers still awake, Tankwa Town looked like a giant’s up-ended toy box: dragons and Noddy cars, kaleidoscopes and trampolines, island oases and massive glowing butterflies, a row of marching rhino and tents, tents, tents. We quickly found our friends and moved into their massive Bedouin setup. Slowly, the camp came to life. People began connecting with each other, there were vague thoughts of breakfast, others began to apply make-up and put on their party outfits. Most of the Burners, however, were quite happy to snore away until midday. They had put in a long shift on the dusty dance floor.

Afrika Burn, which began a few years ago with about 1 000 people in attendance, has morphed into a 6 000-strong desert party of creativity and dress-up splendour that takes place in April each year. It was inspired by the Burning Man Festival in the USA.

This year’s festival began with a typical Karoo downpour which turned Tankwa Town into a muddy Woodstock overnight. There were a lot of sliding vehicles about, a lot of cheerful grubby people about – and the music, in its many forms all over the encampment, played on.

Category: Events


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