AfrikaBurn – a journey into the interior

Once a year, millenials, hipsters, ageing hippies and middle class urbanites abandon their mundane existences and head into the parched hinterland of South Africa to experience a burst of freedom and self-expression in the desert at AfrikaBurn. Transforming the Tankwa Karoo into a fantasy village of theme camps, art, costumes, music and play for a week, AfrikaBurn gives, shares and liberates.

IMG_2798As the Burn begins, the vast space fills with thousands of Burners camped in the desert shale like refugees pimped to party in the dust.


SUV’s are parked, masks and costumes clamber onto mutant trucks blaring beats, fur covered Vespa’s and dayglo bicycles, to follow the fire, music and play.


AfrikaBurn culminates in a series of primitive ritual burns of massive artworks built for the event – crowds clamour, sparks shower and tribal nudists cartwheel around the fiery pyres.

Burn fires

Regrouping through the night around nothing and everything, trails of LED lights follow the moon and the music.


Until the sunrise gong signals a new day, giant bubbles catch the breeze, yoga mantras float on the morning and coffee percolates tired souls.

AfrikaBurn sunrise bubble

Jack Kerouac grafitti scrawled above the Chinese barrister in the coffee tent, sums up the experience: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

IMG_2942Dusty, partygoers revive and pull on tangled fishnets, corsets, and monster faces. Dancing aliens relentlessly follow the trance and Elvis dances to disco, masked bodies spin on hula hoops.

BurnersHeat forges mirages of vessels sailing across the plain, towards supernatural towers, welded steel beaks and eyes glare across the Binnekring (Inner circle).


The sun reluctantly sinks, tribes gather and disperse and press in again as fires flicker and the burn continues.


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