10 tips for camping in the rain

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This weekend we went camping up in Ngare Ndare Forest, despite the ominous weather. We’ve been camping in the rain before, but I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about this trip, given the flooding we experienced in Nairobi on Friday. But you never know with the weather in Kenya – you might have torrential downpours in one spot, and be dry as a bone just a mile or so away. So we decided to pack up our gear and take our chances with camping in the rain.

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Let me skip to the end – we had a lovely weekend. And yes, it did rain. But we took a few precautions to help make sure we had a fun, dry weekend, despite the weather. Here are our best tips for having lots of fun and staying dry while camping in the rain!

  1. Plastic bags are your friends. We brought LOADS of plastic bags – from zip-locks to plastic shopping bags to trash bags. We used small zip locks to keep our matches dry (SO important), and used the shopping bags and trash bags to contain wet clothing, and especially wet shoes. For me, the most challenging part of camping in the rain is going in and out of your tent and dealing with wet, muddy gumboots!IMG_9020
  2. Pitch in the right spot. Upon arrival, we scouted the entire clearing and carefully chose a spot to pitch our tent. We looked for flat, level ground, and avoided depressions or dips that might turn into puddles in a downpour.IMG_9016
  3. Watch out for puddles. We always use a groundcover beneath our tent, which is mainly used to protect the tent floor from wear and tear, and from being torn or punctured by sticks or rocks. We were very careful when we laid out our tent on top of the groundcover that there were no parts of the tarp sticking out beyond the footprint of the tent, else it would act as a big water collection system and collect rainwater under the tent, which would make camping in the rain a pretty miserable experience.
  4. Keep your tent dry and cosy. Once our tent was up, we put down a couple of water-resistant picnic blankets inside, on the floor of the tent, both for insulation and to help absorb any condensation in the tent. These worked like a charm!
  5. Don’t touch! We made a very clear rule with the kids (and Jesse, who has been known to contravene this rule) – NO TOUCHING THE WALLS OF THE TENT. Touching the walls of a tent when it’s wet outside will just get you drenched inside the tent. Big no-no. Also, make sure when you pitch your tent that your rain fly does not touch the roof of your tent at all, else water will drip from the fly through your roof and into your tent, perhaps right onto your child’s head in the middle of the night. (ASK ME HOW I KNOW.)
  6. Pack some indoor fun. We packed plenty of distractions in case we got stuck in our tent waiting out the rain for a while. This can come in especially handy when camping with kids. We packed Claire’s Memory game, a bin full of arts and crafts, travel Scrabble, and a charged-up laptop with a couple of family movies on it. In the end, we didn’t really need it, but it would have come in handy if we had a lot of rain during the day.IMG_9034
  7. Make sure you can start a fire. We brought some fire-starter balls I found at a Christmas Fair one year, and also some old newspapers to use as kindling. I have to say, the rangers in Ngare Ndare were pretty amazing and helped us start a fire using the dry wood found around the campsite. I thought the wood was drenched, but these guys have mad skills. In the event you don’t have super MacGyver rangers helping you, some dry newspaper can come in really handy to use as kindling when the available wood is wet.
  8. Hang up your raincoat. Our tent comes with a divider that we never really use, but we put it up on this trip and used it as a makeshift clothesline for any damp gear we didn’t want on the floor of the tent overnight. Great for hanging raincoats!IMG_9042
  9. Make a mudroom. One thing we didn’t do that I wish we HAD done was to pitch a tarp outside the entrance of our tent. Our tent doesn’t have a vestibule, so if it’s raining outside, there’s no place try to stand while removing muddy shoes and raincoats. Next time, we’ll definitely pitch a tarp to use as a mudroom for all of our wet, mucky gear.
  10. Master the art of the tarp. Luckily, it wasn’t raining when we set up camp, but if it had been, then pitching a large tarp over the area where you’ll pitch your tent can help to keep your tent dry until you get it up and get the rainfly on.

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Rain happens, but rain doesn’t have to ruin your camping adventures. Wet weather doesn’t necessarily have to ruin an outdoor experience – rather, it can actually be part of the adventure! Life is too short (and the rainy season is too long) to stay home in fear of a few raindrops. I hope these tips help you stay happy and dry when the rains start to fall!

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Hello long weekend!

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What are you up to for the long weekend? We’re finally going camping in Ngare Ndare Forest – a place I’ve been dying to visit since I read about it on The Kenyan Camper a couple of years ago. There’s an incredible suspended canopy walk, and (the real draw, for me) some crystal blue pools and waterfalls – melt off from Mount Kenya. I really can’t wait! Here’s hoping we don’t get washed away in a flash flood or freeze solid in the night. Wish us luck!

PS – Have you seen this terrific article about wild camping in Kenya, from South Africa’s Getaway magazine? Ngare Ndare is featured, among other great sites I’m dying to visit!

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Worldwide InstaMeet Nairobi

Check out this fun video made by Trevor Maingi (aka The_Mentalyst) about this weekend’s Worldwide InstaMeet in Karura Forest. Keep your eyes peeled about 30 seconds in – you’ll find that Claire makes a cute little cameo! Remember how I said that I unknowingly met Trevor when he took some photos of Claire shaking raindrops out of a tree? Foreshadowing. 🙂

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Earth Day in Kenya

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This weekend was Earth Day, and we celebrated by going for a long walk in Karura Forest, hosted by Kenyan Instagrammers as part of a Worldwide InstaMeet. Worldwide InstaMeets are events where tens of thousands of photographers (both amateurs and pros) all over the world come together to explore and take photos together. The theme for the day was Life on Earth, in celebration of Earth Day. Continue reading

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The most delicious homemade salsa

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When I visit family in the US, one of the first things I always do is go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Little Mexico. The food is delicious, but what I really love are the complimentary tortilla chips and salsa. The chips are always warm, fresh out of the oven, and the salsa is just mind-blowingly yummy. Continue reading

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The comeback can: a (mostly) easy project!

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Here’s another fun and (mostly) easy project to keep your kids busy during the school break. Have you heard of a comeback can? It’s a can that you roll away from you, and when you call it, it rolls back! Okay, it sounds like magic, but in fact, it’s just a simple science project that uses a rubber band to store energy. I used to make these when I was a Girl Scout! (Today, I followed the instructions here, but you might want to check out the video at the end for an easier setup!) Continue reading

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Life lessons in the village

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Claire had a sleepover with her cousin at Jesse’s mother’s house in the village last week, and had a terrific time! She and her cousin are such close, wonderful friends – no matter how long it has been since they’ve seen each other, they instantly bond and it’s like not a day has passed. We wish they could spend more time together! Continue reading

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Have a lovely weekend…

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What are you doing this weekend? Jesse is taking the day off from work today, and we’re driving to his mom’s place to pick up Claire. She spent the night there last night with her cousin! I’ll write more soon about why I’m so keen to have my kids spend time in the village. Continue reading

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The easiest kids’ butterfly craft

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It’s school holiday, and we’ve been working on keeping the kids busy and happy. I love getting the extra time with them both at home, but there are also moments when they’re fighting over nothing and making me crazy! We’ve been filling most of our days with playdates and visits. The other day we did this fun (and really easy!) craft with the girls – butterflies on a string! Continue reading

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A lovely morning in Karura Forest

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Jesse has been out of town for work the past couple of weeks, and we’ve all really missed him. This was our first family weekend since Easter, and we spent it together, doing all the things we love! We headed up to Karura Forest for a family brunch and a nice walk in the woods. Continue reading

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