TBG Campout’s tips for first time campers

I’m Farirai, I’m 28 and I’m an African travel blogger who also works as a chemical engineer in South Africa. I write travel guides to give you key information to make your traveling easier. Always feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

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I recently spent a weekend in KwaZulu-Natal, hiking the Drakensberg mountains to Tugela Falls with TBG Campout. Through that adventure, I learnt that there is so much more to hiking and camping than I realised.

So I interviewed the founders of TBG Campout, Sibonelo Malunga and Mandla Malaza. They have extensive hiking and camping experience and they’ve shared their best tips and advice for first time hikers and campers in this blog post. Have a read to be prepared for your first time camping.

All images in this post are by talented photographer, Patrick Phakathi (@lorendzo).

What is TBG Campout?

TBG is an outdoor adventure company which curates hiking and camping trips to hidden gems within South African borders. We also do trips to Botswana, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. Our trips are targeted to young adults between 21 and 38 though all ages are welcome. TBG stands for The Baridi Group which means cool in Swahili.

What are your 3 packing essentials for camping?

1. Liquids (energy drinks and water), energy bars & high protein snacks

2. Comfortable shoes & clothing

3. Sleeping bag & mattress

What should we do to keep warm when camping?

The gear that you need is dependent on the terrain and season. So make sure you have an understanding of where you are going and what the weather conditions will be. To keep warm, you need a good sleeping bag. There are summer sleeping bags and winter sleeping bags and within each of these there are different risk ratings depending on the expected weather.

A sleeping bag rating gives you an indication of the type of weather in which you can use your sleeping bag. If you are camping in extreme cold where there is snow, you would need a sleeping bag with a minus rating. For example, a sleeping bag with a minus 5 rating is one you can use in weather where the temperature goes as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius. Getting a sleeping bag suitable for the weather conditions will ensure that you are able to keep warm.

Sleeping bag liners are an additional layer that you can insert into your sleeping bag for extra warmth. A sleeping bag liner also comes with a rating similar to the sleeping bags.We also recommend wearing thermal clothing to keep warm.

For infrequent, first time campers, we would suggest purchasing a sleeping bag that is between minus 1 and minus 5. Southern Africa is fairly warm so purchasing that together with a sleeping bag liner should be sufficient.

How can we ensure our safety while camping?

Hike or camp with someone experienced.

Take any given rules very seriously and abide by them.

Understand your personal limits and don’t do something that is beyond what you can handle.

Understand what injuries you have. For example, if you know that your knees are not strong enough don’t go on an extended day hike.

Any advice for preparing food while camping?

You will find that open fires are not allowed in nature reserves and other camping locations. A Bunsen burner or a small gas burner is the easiest tool to use for cooking in the bush. These are small and portable and therefore easy to fit in your bag. Get small pots that can easily fit into your bag.

Some of the foods we like to bring are tinned foods like tuna, carbs such as noodles, pasta and couscous and of course, high protein foods.

Which TBG Campout package would you suggest for hiking & camping beginners?

For hiking, come for a day trip. We leave around 6am in the morning and return by late afternoon. These generally take place on a Saturday or Sunday. This will allow you to get exposure to hiking. TBG Campout does a lot of hikes in Magaliesburg (in Gauteng) such as Kranskloof and Castle Gorge.

For camping, join a TBG campout which is a one night camping experience. We arrive at the campsite on a Saturday, your tent is set up and your food is prepared while you engage with people and enjoy the outdoors. This way you will get to discover whether camping is something you enjoy.

TBG Campout offers 5 services:

1.Camp outs

Campouts are one night trips to interesting locations such as Hennops & Hartebeestport. All camping equipment is provided. You can expect a social experience in the bush with good food and music.

2. Hikes

TBG does local, one day hikes close by to Joburg. These start early in the morning and end in the late afternoon. Longer distance hikes, like Drakensberg, include camping and meals.

3. Festivals

TBG Campout does packages for festivals that have camping offerings such as Bushfire & Oppikoppi. These packages are all inclusive. Transport, camping equipment and meals are all provided

4. Rentals

All equipment required for campouts, hikes or festivals is available for rental.

5. Custom projects

TBG Campout can organise campouts or hikes for birthdays, team building and groups looking for something fun to do.

Follow TBG Campout on social media to stay up to date with their scheduled trips!

Instagram: @tbg_campout

Twitter: @tbg_campout

Facebook: TBG Campout