Finding a vacant toilet in the bush

To most outdoor enthusiasts that is going to sound ridiculous. After all, nature is one big bathroom . . . for everyone and everything. Not so in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari. There, a very strictly enforced rule states that you may not get out of your vehicle, or dangle any part of yourself outside your vehicle, for any reason. Why? Well, it’s really not safe out there. Even though it may look as if there is nothing there, there could well be a lion (or two) just around the next bush. As the warning below indicates, you’re just not going to be able to run fast enough.

Warning posted at Nossob Camp

So what does one do with there being a driving time of two plus hours between camps? Very thoughtfully, SANParks (South African National Parks) have set up picnic spots with little bathrooms on the longer stretches of road. Situated in open, flat areas with good 360° visibility and often a couple of trees for shade, these are popular with visitors to the KTP.

Picnic spot on Twee Rivieren - Mata Mata road (©2009 WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com)

Close-up of toilets (©2009 WMB/notesfromafrica.wordpress.com)

There is just one little – or sometimes not so little – problem. One can’t always get to use the facilities. You are warned, even at the picnic spots, to look around you when you get out of your vehicle. And to check that the toilets aren’t occupied before you enter them. Here the park authorities aren’t talking about occupied by other humans, they are talking about occupied by the wildlife! You see, humans aren’t the only ones that like wide open areas, with good visibility and a bit of shade. Although they have done a good job of barricading the actual buildings, sometimes you still get this kind of situation.

 

From Weg! Magazine (February 2010) Photo: Geo Jooste

From Weg! Magazine (September, 2009) Photo: Theuns & Elize Naude

These photos were taken on two separate occasions (one of them being in September 2009) by visitors to the Auchterlonie picnic area and museum. We were there in September 2009!  The buildings are situated up on a level ridge i.e. there is very good visibility. We just didn’t look behind the little buildings. NOT going to make that mistake again!

For those of you who can read Afrikaans, you can click HERE (Weg! magazine, December 2009) and HERE (Weg! magazine, February 2010) for copies of the two articles. In the first article 11 lions were spotted next to or near the building. In the second article 10 lions were spotted. So these are probably photos of the same lion pride.

If you haven’t been following the Kalahari Series on my Photoblog, go and check it out. You can access the post index page by clicking HERE.

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Categories: Lifestyle/Travel, Nature/Environment

Author:lisa@notesfromafrica

I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)

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13 Comments on “Finding a vacant toilet in the bush”

  1. December 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Wow–Don’t know what I would do–Sara laughs at how often I need to use a toilet! Could make a really bad joke here, but I’ll restrain myself.

    I’m wondering though if these are Western/European style toilets. I had to learn to use the “squat toilets” common in Southeast Asia–what you would find were you off the beaten path in Vietnam.
    What do the actually toilets look like? Just curious.

    Happy Holidays to you and Willie!

    • December 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

      LOL I really need to watch my fluid intake when we’re there – which is difficult because it’s hot.

      The toilets in the southern half of the KTP are regular Western-style flush toilets. The little bathrooms are neat and well-maintained. In the far north of the KTP there is a picnic spot with a chemical toilet (like they use on building sites etc). Which because it’s in a little stone house you don’t realize until you get inside. Apparently, I have since I was a young child had a thing about clean, non-smelly toilets! 🙂

      Happy holidays to you and Sara too!

  2. December 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Well, I guess they are public facilities after all, aren’t they? Gosh, I don’t like public loos at the best of times, but seeing those lions would make me steer clear and knyp for dear life! 🙂
    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Lisa – much happiness and many blessings to you
    Sunshine xx

    • December 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

      Yes, this is one time that the outside of the toilet is more of an issue to me than the inside. Maybe the reason these toilets so clean and neat, is that no human ever gets to see the inside?! 🙂

      Merry Christmas to you and your husband too! I hope you have a lovely weekend. Stay warm!

  3. December 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Ha, non-discriminatory public amenities! It makes checking under the seat for redback spiders in Australian outhouses look decidedly tame!

  4. March 29, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    I would be cat food…

  5. March 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Wow… this is a sobering thought… Normally, when driving in the veld, one just assumes it’s quite safe to pull over and … um … you know…

    • March 31, 2011 at 6:34 am #

      Yes, this makes planning for “bathroom breaks” very challenging! 🙂

  6. July 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    I must admit this is not something I had thought about.

    • July 31, 2011 at 3:33 am #

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s something that any of us have considered before! 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Finding a vacant toilet in the bush (via Notes from Africa) « Notes from Africa | photoblog - December 23, 2010

    […] To most outdoor enthusiasts that is going to sound ridiculous. After all, nature is one big bathroom . . . for everyone and everything. Not so in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari. There, a very strictly enforced rule states that you may not get out of your vehicle, or dangle any part of yourself, for any reason. Why? Well, it’s really not safe out there. Even though it may look as if there is nothing there, there could well be a l … Read More […]

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