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Tripping out in Tankwa, Karoo

April 9, 2015


If you're looking for an entirely different, completely eccentric and spectacularly trippy reason to travel to South Africa, look no further than the AfrikaBurn Festival in Tankwa, Karoo. Afrikaburn is a participative festival, meaning that you can't simply purchase a ticket and then rock up with your tent and a deck chair and spectate the weekend away. Everyone who comes to AfrikaBurn must contribute towards the experience. You, the 'Citizens of Tankwa Town' are the festival.

A regional spin-off of the original Burning Man Festival in Nevada, USA, the South African version brings together a volunteer community of participants who join forces to create art, burning structures, costume, performance, theme camps, music and of course, mutant vehicles...

AfrikaBurn’s aim is to be radically inclusive and accessible to anyone. Nothing is for sale but ice at the event. Nothing. There are no vendors, no advertising or branding. It just doesn’t fit in. It’s not even a barter economy – it’s a 'decommodified zone with a gift economy', its about giving without expecting anything in return.

It might sound a bit 'far out', and it is, both literally and figuratively – Tankwa Town springs up in the middle of the dramatic, barren, moon-scape scenery of the Karoo semi-desert - but it is also a once in a lifetime opportunity to be completely free from the trappings of the modern world, a truly unique experience.

Nor is it solely for teenagers. Anyone with a sense of fun who is willing to embrace the spirit of the event and get involved is more than welcome.

To really understand AfrikaBurn, it is a good idea to read the Eleven Principles, which are more or less the manual for the experience, and the culture of the festival.

I'm already planning my costume and brushing up on my circus skills ready for next year.

For more information visit

All photographs courtesy of Jonx Pillemer from the AfrikaBurn website.

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