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View from truck on a game drive in Kruger National Park, South Africa

How To Pee, Part Two: Back to Nature

By Jane McLellan

Last updated: 4th October 2011

Well, I’m back on the topic of how to pee… yes, yes, I know you already said you can do it yourself, but believe me there is more than one piece of advice needed when it comes to peeing around the world!  I’ve already covered the delights of the squat toilet in my other blog post (it’s helpful advice, honest!) but now I’ve got to get on to the (literally!) more thorny issue of peeing in the bush.  Whether in the Australian outback with creepy crawlies, on a freezing mountainside or in the African bushveld with the big five breathing down your neck, there may be occasions when you have no alternative but to get back to nature. It’s an unfortunate reality of travelling, especially when you are backpacking. Normally this is a rather straightforward exercise; however, when going to the toilet outdoors on your travels, there are other matters to consider – most notably the things going on around you.

I remember one night in Kruger National Park in South Africa. It was dark but our guide gave us permission to jump off of our jeep so we could spend a penny. I was half way through doing my business when the guide shouted ‘be calm, but get yourself back to the jeep now, there is a hyena stalking you’. Well as you can imagine, I quickly stumbled back to the truck with my trousers around my knees and a severely increased heart rate. So do take care when peeing in the Bush and, where possible, have a friend standing nearby or, even better – a guide with a gun!

And a word of advice – take notice of what the locals say. One time I was camping on Fraser Island in Australia. There were no toilets at the campsite so we were told to go to the toilet in pairs so we could protect ourselves from the wild dingoes that inhabit the island. One morning at 6am, I woke up bursting for a wee. I looked in my tent and everyone was asleep so I decided to break the toilet rule and go by myself. I found a suitable bush by a sand dune to hide behind, but just as I was about to go, I heard something. I looked up and there were a pack of dingoes standing watching me. At first I froze then, resisting the urge to say ‘nice doggie’, I slowly stood up and ran like mad back to my tent. As it turned out, I was fine and they didn’t follow me but I learnt my lesson and needless to say, I didn’t break the toilet rule again!

I have to admit, there are some advantages to peeing in the bush. During my Mount Kilimanjaro climb the only option was a makeshift long-drop. It was disgusting. It was basically a hole in the wooden floor and obviously there was no water and no flush system so there was people’s messy business all over the floor. The smell alone made me gag.  From then on, when I needed the toilet, I hid by a tree or went behind a suitably sized boulder. It was cleaner, less smelly and I could enjoy the stunning sight of the snowy peaks while doing my business.

I have lots more outdoor toilet stories but I’m gradually getting better at it, so hopefully through my trial and error you will avoid some of the common pitfalls.  My top tips for al fresco peeing are…
• Remember to go to the toilet before you go out, this will limit the number of times you will need to bare all.
• Always carry tissue or toilet paper with you otherwise you may have to find some soft leaves.
• Before you get desperate, start considering where would be a good place to go. Trees and rocks are great to hide behind. Make sure you are not too close to any pathways and look around you to check that you are sufficiently hidden. Remember to look up as well. I once got very embarrassed when ten porters on Kilimanjaro started laughing and pointing at me. I had failed to look at the pathway on the hill above me. They thought it was very funny but I can’t say I shared their amusement! 
• Don’t forget about gravity. If you have to pee behind something that is on a hill, then girls you should face uphill side and boys aim downhill.
• Avoid peeing in tall grass so you reduce the risk of nasty creatures like ticks, ants, snakes or spiders biting your butt, or worse!
• Don’t go to the toilet near a water source like a stream or river.
• If you need to do a number two, you should try and dig a small hole to do it in and then kick the mud back into the hole. Experienced outdoor toilet goers will also place a rock or stone over the covered hole to warn others that they shouldn’t dig there or they will get a nasty surprise.
• Don’t be a litterbug. If you use tissue, put it in a plastic bag until you can dispose of it in a bin. As a last resort you could burn the paper, just make sure the fire is out before you bury it. If you have to use leaves then you should try and bury them afterwards.
• If you have to go at night, take a friend with you. Not only will they keep you company, they can also keep an eye out for unwanted guests.
• Take some antibacterial gel with you so you can wash your hands afterwards.

Now you’ve heard all my trusty tips, you’ll be relieved to learn (in more ways than one) that you’re finally ready to go off and pee alone in the wild… happy camping! 

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