Trip Report – Hammock Camping in South Africa
Situated in the warm Free State Province, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a great tourist attraction. It is close to the Lesotho border and features a wide array of different animal and wildlife. I had the opportunity to visit the Park after its amalgamation with the Qwa-Qwa National Park and see the full 130 square miles.
I followed the Rhebok trail that covers a massive 31 kilometers through the rocky passes and this is usually done over a period of 2 days. In this time, I had the chance to enjoy a brief night in the wilderness and I preferred hammock camping with my friends to keep us off the ground and away from the bugs. While there are numerous hotels available, we loved the camping part.
Since I had a successful trip in the majestic wilderness of Southern Africa, I decided to share a few of my top hammock camping tips that my friends and I have used throughout the years of camping and visiting numerous national parks. These tips would keep you safe in on your next trip to South Africa and the dangerous outdoor predators.
Top 5 Tips For the Perfect Hammock Camping Trip
If you plan on camping with a hammock, you will need to understand these tips. Once you have them fully understood, the trip will be much more adventurous and you will not be left out on the ground with the night creatures. Here are my tips for camping with a hammock:
Use web strapping and get the perfect angle
Web strapping is used to disperse the weight much better, which will eliminate any potential weaknesses that could be found in the strapping. Web strapping also has a better effect on the environment and will not cause as much damage to the trees. These straps are generally made from polyester and polypropylene and won’t cost you a fortune either.
The best angle to strap your hammock is at around 30 degrees. This does not put too much stress on the anchor points and eliminates some of the tension that might cause them to break. Once the hammock is pitched, you could simply just scan the angle when compared to the ground. This ensures that you have enough lean way to enjoy the hammock, without too much tension.
A deep sag is important
Some of us are not the gentlest of sleepers and we tend to get a little rough during the night. A deep sag is important to have and this will keep you from accidentally falling out at night. The pitch should be high at the top and have a sag in the middle to ensure the maximum comfort for your hammock. Also, if the sag is too much, you might feel a little smothered.
Ensure some insulation
This is especially helpful when camping in rural areas in Africa. During the day, you will have extremely hot temperatures, but it can become just as cold during the night. The under quilt is a great way to keep you insulated and to ensure that you stay warm. In the winter, the hammock does tend to lose weight at a rapid pace and most of this is lost through the bottom.
Invest in a net and tarp to keep the rain and bugs out
Mosquitoes and flying bugs are certainly some of the most irritating bugs found in the African wilderness and they can make it quite hard for you to sleep and enjoy your evening. Nets are vitally important to ensure a good nights sleep and many of the top range hammocks now include a net as well.
The tarp is another thing you might consider looking into and with a good tarp, you could beat the rain as well. The rain can be accounted for in Africa, but occasionally, you might get caught up in the unsuspected storms. However, the Free State province is quite dry and you might be safe without a tarp in the winter and early summer months.
For a lightweight backpacking trips, we have invested in the pop up tent and it only took 30 – 60 seconds to set up. You may consider it if you want to stay away from unexpected rain and dangerous insects at night.
Lay diagonally on the hammock
Many people still choose to sleep straight on a hammock or in the banana shape, but this is not the most comfortable way and you could feel smothered on the inside. Beginners should try and sleep diagonally as this will stretch open the hammock and allow you to get a natural sleeping position. The hammock is not a bed and therefore, it must be kept straight. With hammock mattresses, you could also improve your sleeping experience.
While experiencing the wilderness in Africa is always a great, hammock camping just amplifies the connection that you build with nature. These hammock camping tips can be used all over the world and while the conditions are fundamentally important. You could buy a top quality hammock and just simply add the accessories and insulation like you need. These tips should help you on every hammock camping trip.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that starting a fire in a National Park without supervision is a criminal offense and should not be attempted. However, the hotels do offer fireplaces if you feel like using them.
Luna Anderson is avid camper from Phoenix, Arizona. She loves outdoors and she wants to show people the endless possibilities of this world and open your mind to experience over possession. You can find practical tips about hiking, camping and survival skills in her blog hikertrack.com.