The Ladies Guide to the Bush

The African bush, there truly is no place like it. Life evolves around nature, the rising and setting of the sun, where the morning bird chorus becomes your alarm clock and the sound of the nocturnal birds, frogs, and insects sing you to sleep. Living in the remote African wilderness can be idyllic, but it also presents a unique set of challenges that will at times push you out of your comfort zone.

Don’t just visit the bush, live in it, and use your time with us to truly connect with nature. Embrace the unexpected and see every opportunity as a chance to learn something new.

Water

Water is a precious resource that it is easy to take for granted. Use water sparingly whilst in the bush. Get into the habit of not letting the water run while you are brushing your teeth and turn off the taps the minute you are done. Want to make shaving your legs easier? Turn off the shower whilst shaving and then turn it back on to rinse.

Just remember that there will be times when an Elephant decides that they need the camp’s water more than we do. Is there anything we can do to stop a 6-ton animal pulling up the water pipes? Not really, we have tried and the Elephants always end up winning. Use this time to learn how to live in harmony with nature, to gain some new plumbing skills, and also to learn the true value of water. Don’t worry we always have spare drinking water in the camp for emergency’s and this is where bringing a face cloth with you comes in handy – you can easily get clean with minimal water usage.

The Ladies Guide to the Bush - Ecotraining - E Leaning
Photographs © Sam Davies

Suncare

As Baz Luhrmann once said

‘’if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it’’

The African sun is much stronger than you might think and it’s easy to get sunburnt even on cloudy days. Sunburn equals skin damage which in turn causes our skin to age faster and no one wants that. The first thing I do in the morning is cover my exposed skin in SPF 50. Make sure that you pack plenty of sunscreens and reapply them several times throughout the day. Bring at least SPF 30 (ideally higher) with UVA and UVB protection with you and keep it in your backpack so you are ready to reapply at any time.

Don’t forget your lips and consider getting a lip balm that also offers sun protection.

Remember that a good hat and sunglasses are also essential items no bush lady should leave home without.

Makeup

Being in the bush can be a liberating experience when it comes to makeup. Generally, most of us go bare-faced, preferring to have a few extra precious moments in bed.

Leave foundation, blush ect at home. The African heat tends to melt makeup and you end up looking like a hot mess. If you don’t feel like you can give up all makeup, simplify your makeup bag and bring waterproof mascara, eyeliner, and lip stain with you.

Remember that tinted moisturizers with SPF don’t count as they generally don’t offer enough sun protection.

Skincare

A combination of sweat, sunscreen, wind, and dust can play havoc with your skin.  Cleanse, tone, and moisturize – The three cardinal skincare rules any lady should live by and this is especially true in the bush.  Look at bringing a mild face scrub with you that you have used a couple of times a week to exfoliate your skin.

Also, consider bringing some tubes of face mask with you – a clay one to detox your skin and a moisturizing one for when your skin is feeling a bit dry, not only will your skin thank you for it but it will also provide you with 20 minutes of me-time.

Personally, I think a bar of soap in a soap container is better to bring with you than a liquid body wash. Not only does it take up less space, but it also lasts so much longer, saving you money and the stress of having to buy more.

The Ladies Guide to the Bush - Ecotraining - E Leaning

Haircare

Bring plenty of hair/elastic bands so you can put your hair up when you are on a game drive or a walk, not only is it a great feeling to get your hair off of your neck, but if you put your hair into a plait (braid) or a bun, it will also stop your hair from getting all knotted up.

If you have long hair don’t forget to bring a conditioner with you. If you have the space in your luggage consider bringing a leave-in-conditioner or a hair oil as well just to provide your hair with extra moisture and keep your long locks looking lovely.

If you have dyed hair and want to get it coloured before you come, speak to your hairdresser to make sure that you choose the best colour. Certain colours like red hair dye fade quickly in the sun.

Dehydration

Remember that by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated! Our bodies need water to survive. Bringing reusable water bottles and hydration packs for walking with you is essential.  It’s just as easy to become dehydrated on cool days as it is on hot days. Being dehydrated often means missing out on activities which is the last thing anyone wants.

As soon you experience any dehydration symptoms please let the staff you that you are unwell so we can help you.

The Ladies Guide to the Bush - Ecotraining - E Learning
Photographs © Sam Davies

The unavoidable time of the month

Unfortunately, this is something that all us ladies go through like clockwork. Don’t let it spoil all the fun of being in the bush.

Make sure you bring sufficient sanitary supplies with you and if you don’t think you have enough, speak to the Camp Coordinators, we can always order extra supplies for you on the camp’s weekly food orders.

When out on a game drive don’t be afraid to ask your guide for a comfort break. Make sure that you take a brown paper or zip lock bag with you to put your used sanitary items in, so you can dispose of them in camp. Please don’t leave any used sanitary items in the bush – you never know what might eat them.

Most importantly don’t be afraid to speak to female members of staff if you need some help and support.

Let’s talk underwear

First, leave anything white at home as it’s not easy to keep it looking white.

If you can when it comes to bras consider bringing a supportive sports bra or a bra without underwiring. If you can’t go without underwiring, make sure that it doesn’t sit too high or it could get uncomfortable when the wiring digs into you.  Bush roads can be uneven and bumpy and having the right support without relying on underwiring can help to make game drives more comfortable.

Sometimes you just need to be a girl

Whilst skirts and dresses might not be practical for getting in and out of game viewers or going on bush walks, it doesn’t mean you have to leave them at home. Consider bringing one or two with you so you can lounge around in them whilst you are in camp.

Love wearing nail varnish? You don’t have to leave it at home. Whilst it might not last as long as it does at home, it’s still fun to add a splash of color to brighten up your day.

Other bits and bobs

If you are used to the noise of the city, sometimes for the first few days the bush at night can sound overwhelming. Bring some earplugs with you, to help you sleep and slowly adjust to the bush.

Bring a decent torch with you, the lights on your phone just aren’t good enough. You need to be aware of your surroundings, especially at night and a good torch will help you see further into the bush. Also, consider bringing a small collapsible solar light – these are great if you want to study in your tent at night or want some extra light if you shower when it’s dark.

Don’t forget that it is important that every day you take a little bit of me-time. Work out, find a spot in the shade to relax by yourself, put some headphones in and listen to some music.  This will just help to reinvigorate you; make you feel more positive and help you to distress a little.

One thing I like to do when I’m out of the bush is treated myself to a massage and a facial – this for me is the perfect post bush treat and there is nothing better than having someone pamper you for a couple of hours.

Enjoy your time in the bush, it is an adventure of a lifetime that few are lucky enough to experience.  You will learn more about yourself and what you are capable of doing. Some people might think that you are crazy, daring to do something different, living in a camp with no fences, where animals are free to roam, with limited electricity and no TV, but a lady that dares to dream and follow her own path is the bravest of them all.

Time fly’s when you are in the bush and before you know it your time with us will be over.

Packing for Safari: A Girls Guide to Packing | Bush Essentials Ep.1

Jen Palmer founder of Women for Wildlife takes us through some bush essentials when packing for Safari.

About the Author: 

Emma Summers is an EcoTraining Camp Manager at Selati Game Reserve.