Our Tent Mansion

We’re going camping this weekend. Just a couple nights in Limpopo Province, so I can finally see that big ol’ baobab tree with a bar in it where we originally planned to celebrate my birthday back in September. But with everything on that September trip list, we just didn’t make the baobab.

We’re decked out with camping gear now. With all the places we want to visit before we move on from here, we knew we couldn’t afford to keep paying for lodges and hotels everywhere. We love tent camping, and the money we save by paying for a simple campsite far exceeds the time and extra work involved in “roughing it.”

travel Africa tent camping
Half of the “moonroof” in our tent mansion. Probably not a good idea for the rainy season anyway…

As people were moving back to the states this year, I made many hasty purchases, scrambling together a hodgepodge of items. We now have a variety of second-hand chairs, tents, a braai box (packed with cookware, tableware, linen and spices), mats, sleeping bags, and assorted “gadgets.” Kurt says knowing how overeager I get on preparing for our trips, he’s pretty sure the kitchen sink is in there somewhere, too.

The highlight of what I bought is what we call our “tent mansion.” In addition to the five-man-standing room inside with a netted moon-roof for viewing the stars, it has a large covered outdoor area, which could either be a patio shelter or, as we keep joking, a carport.

travel Africa camping
Our tent mansion, with its patio big enough for our car to fit.

It wasn’t the only tent I bought, though. I thought it was better to buy first, and let Kurt decide later which to keep and which to re-sell. But since several friends have promised (you know who you are!) to visit over the next year, we decided to have a “guest tent.” After all, they’re paying to fly to Africa, the least we can do is provide a real (cheap!) bush experience for them as part of their trip!

Africa travel tent camping
Your tent. When are you going to visit?

Maybe having a fancy mansion tent and guest tent means we’re moving up in the world. In the early years of our marriage, it was the two of us in a little pup tent, on grand road trips to see America. There was always bread, and plenty of peanut butter and jelly to last the trip. We got caught in a tornado near Abilene, Texas, were stalked by a wild dog near an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and spent more than one night sleeping in the car for reasons ranging from bears, to hail too big for our tent to handle.

We graduated to nicer tents as the years went by, but nothing we’ve had in the states is as huge as this tent mansion. We won’t be taking it back with us, but we will be taking back plenty of ideas, and creating our own braai box back home.

It’s supposed to be cold and rainy this weekend, so I guess we’ll get to test out the weatherproofing on the tent, and the cold ratings on our bags. We’re excited anyway. Camping in the rain feels like home. 😉  Since it’s a short weekend, we’re taking the guest tent this trip, so it will be ready for your visit! I was a little bummed, because I really wanted to try our tent mansion, especially with that weather-shelter patio!

Speaking of tent mansions, I was recently in Outdoor Warehouse here in Pretoria, checking out their tents.  I texted Kurt a photo of the tent with cots, but he nixed that idea.

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A couple of nice looking tent cots I was longing for.

I spent a couple hours in that store, wandering the aisles and drooling over camp showers and toilets, mosquito-netted picnic tents, and all manner of doo-dads, whatsits, and safari wear.

But in the end, a mat was my only purchase—acknowledgment of this annoying arthritis that just doesn’t enjoy the ground as much anymore. It feels so grand, this bulky mat for under my sleeping bag. It feels like we are gentrifying our great outdoors a little bit. But it’s just a simple mat, not the grand Hilton of tents in that store, some so decked out that they actually did include the kitchen sink!

travel Africa camping tent
[This one had a sink, cooktop stove, table, chairs all on an enclosed “veranda” separate from the cots and dresser in the bedroom. Wonder how long it would take to put THIS up? ]
Compared to our early years, this camping feels so stylish we may as well own an RV! And if it’s not bad enough that we feel like we’re splurging with our fancy tents and ground mats, Kurt’s septuagenarian parents still travel cross country with nothing but bread, pb&j and a couple gallons of water, sleeping in their car.

Do you tent camp?

Love, Marla

5 thoughts on “Our Tent Mansion

  1. Enjoy your weekend. We have a tent mansion similiar to yours and I love it. I had never even been camping before we moved here and now I am hooked. We have a queen size frame bed with an inflatable mattress so it is quite cozy tho more stuff to lug around. I love looking at all the gadgets too, good thing we are pretty much maxed out for room in the Jeep !

  2. No – your sister didn’t miss that part – I, too , have fond memories of all of the above, and a spouse who isn’t really big on tenting except for the ‘saving a buttload of money’ part.’ Remember dad trying to dump the rain off the tent in the middle of the night with a hammer and the leak that followed? Good times Good times 😉

  3. Is it weird I feel oddly happy when I hear the sound of a tent zipper? I vaguely remember bits and pieces of camping trips through the years, but nothing really sticks out. I figure the happy feeling must mean I enjoyed it. (Or I was thankful morning had come so I could get out of the frickin’ thing?……) Hahaha

  4. “Meeemoriiiieees, light the corners of my mind…”
    Tents look awesome! My better half has never embraced the “roughing it” side of road trips, as you well know. I, though, really miss those miserable, wet, windy, fold the tent soggy, might-as-well-piss-yourself-you’d-be-drier camping trips!!
    Seriously…I really do! (Notice I left out “fight with your sister setting up the tent)!! 😉

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