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Let’s talk toilets. 

You’re on safari in Tanzania, driving 8 hours or so a day in a jeep on a photographic hunt for the Big Five, religiously downing water to stave off possible dehydration from the African sun. So, what happens when Mother Nature calls (and let’s face it, for some of us she checks in every hour or two).

You have two grownup choices: wear a diaper or drop trou – there aren’t any restrooms out in the middle of the Serengeti. Sure, you could race back to your camp, but that would seriously limit the distance you travel and the chance of seeing more wildlife. It’s much more practical to just get out and ‘water the wheels’ of the jeep. Yes, this means you, too, ladies. (With practically every bush in Tanzania equipped with some pretty nasty thorns, a discreet pause behind the jeep may be a wiser choice!) Just make sure that you give your guide a bit of warning so that he can look for a place that is safe – not near those lions dozing ‘lazily’ in the grasses, for example.

King of the Restrooms, Ngorongoro Crater

King of the Restrooms, Ngorongoro Crater

Even in the few parks where there might be a restroom (like the Ngorongoro Crater, for example) , you may not get the relief you were counting on. On our lunch visit, for example, the facilities were being patrolled alright – but not by a park ranger. A slightly irate male lion had decided to claim this territory as his, and was demonstrating his dominance by doing what he normally does – parading in front of the ‘Ladies’.

Camping in the Serengeti doesn’t mean giving up all conveniences, however. Most safari outfitters use East-African-style tents, which come equipped with a partitioned room at the back that serves as your bathroom. So there’s no need to leave the tent in the middle of the night (a good idea, since those same lions from the afternoon are well-rested by now). Fair warning, though – this is a pit toilet, so expect privacy, not luxury.

But don’t let all this talk of toilets put you off going on a safari! Camping out in the Serengeti is an incredible experience not to be missed, and is often the highlight of a trip that deserves to be on everyone’s bucket list – even if it doesn’t always come with a pot to pee in.

TIP: If you’d like a good read (on or off the toilet!), check out How to Shit Around the World by Dr. Jane Wilson-Howart.

Jane with Hat Tanzania

Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.

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