Picturesque places I’ve peed

Peeing 'on top of the world' on Africa's Stellenbosch Mountain near Cape Town

Peeing 'on top of the world'  

Firstly, a confession. Backpacker, cheap hotel and bus-park bathrooms have been the bane of my existence for the last six months.

I eventually stopped carrying around my own bleach-wipes (mainly because I couldn’t find new ones to restock with in sub-Saharan Africa) and I am proud of myself for learning to become far more chilled about toilet cleanliness – but still… travel toilets – not fun.

Unless, of course, you’re referring to the side of the road, impromptu, must-stop bush pee. This is when travel peeing not only becomes fun but also picturesque. Here’s my personal pee proof from every country Steve and I visited in Africa over the past six months.

We were travelling on a little used road between Dakhla Oasis and Luxor. Nature called and once out of the car I ran behind a sand dune. I looked up and realised that in front of me as far as I could see was absolutely nothing but miles and miles of yellow and pinky-white slowly shifting sand dunes.

The scene was dramatic and exhilarating and it suddenly occurred to me how absolutely amazing it was that this was the view out of my ‘bathroom window’. I fell in love with the bush pee there and then.

A broken down bus in the middle of the night – not the best thing in the world – but a wonderful opportunity to pee surrounded by the huge, scratchy long leaves of unknown bushes; the only light a canopy of a million stars.

At nature’s call I had not yet reached the most picturesque part of this national park – the place where the towering trees form a canopy for monkeys to frolic and a shaded green lounge for thousands of rainbow coloured butterflies to flutter. However, what could beat looking out from my place in the trees, through the spider web with its blue-flecked long-legged owner, to the dirt track, seeing my wonderful husband Steve, long stick in hand, eyes peeled, armed protection from any of the many local baboons who might look askance at this marking of territory!

This isn’t technically a bush pee but it does demonstrate what I loved most about Nigeria: Nigerians.

Coming back from the Drill Monkey jungle reserve on the Nigerian-Cameroonian border was no simple step. We’d already travelled scores of kilometres on the back of motorcycles through red-dirt mountain and jungle tracks and then been squeezed into a five-seat Toyota Corolla with nine other people (I was in the front seat with three others).

Now, several hours later, in the small regional town of Ikom we were waiting for a shared taxi to fill up. It was an open car park surrounded by little ramshackle food and clothing stands but none that offered toilet facilities. I went searching for a loo and in my search found a wholesale fish market. My first job was in a fish market so I immediately felt at home. I told the man sitting at the door – who turned out to be the owner – about my predicament. Instead of letting me use the factory facilities he phoned one of his kids, the young boy came and picked me up and walked me around the corner to his home sitting away from the road behind high walls and a garden with statues. It was nothing flash inside but very nice and homely and I was extremely grateful for his very practical hospitality.

In the north of Uganda is an absolute powerhouse of a waterfall. Murchison Falls’ strength is such that it creates foam so structured that kilometres downstream this foam has still not broken up and dissolved. Instead clumps of it persist creating the illusion that the giant river creatures, perhaps the hippos or the crocs, are taking a bubble-bath at regular intervals.

It was here, the deafening noise of the falls as my backdrop, that I perfected the ‘hanging pee’ by grabbing on to and hanging off the side of a boulder (feet still on the ground). Very fun.

A broken down bus again, rolling hills of blue-green grasslands and in the distance a mud and thatch village – a remote, wild adventure and nature’s call provides the opportunity to step away from the bus crowd and take it all in.

We were only in this mountainous little country a week and the travel distances were not long so no  bush-pee opportunities I’m afraid.

I had to argue with the safari driver about this one. He didn’t want to stop but I couldn’t hold on. I crouched behind a very small rise on the side of the long straight highway (only just shielding me from my fellow safari-ers), looked out onto the vast flat landscape and drank in the drama of knowing where I was and what was near me. Could I be interrupted by a herd of zebras or even a lion? I wasn’t but it was still a surreal place to pee.


A scheduled pee break on a random stretch of road, the site suitable for the purpose only because of the way the ground on both sides rose up and then quickly dipped providing some privacy from the freeway.

Men are directed to the right side of the road, women to the left. There is something comforting about the communal, open-air, privacy-free pee. Something that speaks to the oneness of humanity.

Almost all the landscape we drove through in Mozambique was beautiful – green fields and orange dirt punctuated by huge mango trees and kaleidoscope granite boulder-mountains ripping into the air from the flat surrounds. It feels good to be out of the bus and part of this landscape.

What with South Africa’s on-board bus toilets and wonderfully clean rest stops there’s not really been any opportunities for a bush pee – so I had to work really hard to find this one.

Forty-nine kilometres out from our final destination of Cape Town after four hours and one vertical kilometre of uphill scrambling and hiking, a bad graze on my hand as proof, final leg of the 1,175m summit about to be attempted it’s time for a spectacular bush pee. It’s a glorious sunny day, in front of me I can see acres of vineyards, South Africa’s famous Table Mountain and the curve of the white sand and brilliantly light blue bay – the freezing waters home to white sharks, whales and pods of dolphins – one group of which I had walked along the sand following at sunset at the world famous surf spot of Jeffrey’s Bay.

I feel like I’m peeing on top of the world and memories of our wonderful trip come flooding into me; filling me up like a happy balloon.

Thank you Africa, on top of the challenge, the freedom and above all the education, on top of all of that, thank you Africa for providing me with six months of beautiful bush pees. 

Chrisanthi Giotis