Wild Camping (and baboons)

I have often thought about going wild camping off the beaten track in the mountains with friends. My biggest fear is actually setting up camp at sunset and cooking a meal and later on a family of baboons come to investigate, and then get hangry.

Someone told me earlier this week that baboons do not venture outside after sunset as they have poor eyesight.

And that got me thinking, I often visit a friend’s holiday house in Pringle Bay over the last 10 odd years and we see baboons patrolling often around 9am with their troop. But I have never seen a baboon at night.

Do baboons venture after dark?

Baboons are terrestrial (ground dwelling) and are found in open savannah, open woodland and hills across Africa. Their diets are omnivorous: they eat grasses, roots, seeds, leaves, fruits, insects, fish, shellfish, rodents, birds, vervet monkeys, and small antelopes.[9] They are foragers and are active at irregular times throughout the day and night. They often raid human dwellings, and in South Africa, they have been known to prey on sheep, goats and poultry.

Hope that helps;once had a encounter with a troop of baboons on a day hike;I just stood still for them to pass by.

Thanx Paul

Yeah I have often seen them on hikes, luckily I have not encountered any face to face.
Has anyone seen baboons after sunset is my real question?


We’ve wild camped quite a few times within earshot of a troop of baboons, but never had any issues with them at night. It’s usually the mice and genets that come and do camp inspection in the dark, so it’s a good idea to hang your off the ground, if possible, or seal it up tight.

Awesome to hear Arno
Much like hiking through USA and Canada then, keep food in a bag hung up in a tree. Not that this will deter baboons as they will get to it. But I reckon this should be safer than in the tent where they will smell it.
Baboons don’t generally just attack humans from what Ive seen and heard.

On the subject of baboons…

  1. A while back they came into the camp and I warned my neighbour that they where there, so if he left windows open he better go and close them, So another person overheard me telling my neighbour, decided to play a trick on me and went to my site and stripped my dusbin out ETC ETC, as if the baboons had gone through my place…

But I found out…

So I broke into his place’s toilet and wrapped cling-wrap over the toilet under the seat… :innocent:

You can guess the rest from there… And he was a rather large sort of fella… :grin:

I grew up in boarding school… I was the president & sole member of a very secrete society. Called floodem and bustem … There is a long story involving the urinal drain on the third floor, a half a roll of bog paper and a flooded 3rd floor bathroom on a number of occassions… Ironically every time I had prefect punishment… :japanese_ogre:

OK so to point 2 about babbons…
When I go to town by way of the farm roads, in my Landy / Toyota and go past the troop stripping mielies in the field, they just sit there and look at me…

But when I use the owner’s WHITE TOYOTA BAKKIE they run screeming & barking for the hills

Seems they have learnt… White toyota bakkie = guns

Now I’m not saying you need a White Toyota bakkie to go hiking with… :tongue:


I’ve camped in baboon territory many times. Troops tend to be more careful at night, but i have woken up one night to see a baboon between myself and a friend about 2 meters away. We just stayed still and watched him until he left. The baboon took nothing, but our food was in a cage, specifically to keep it save from baboons. In my experience, you need to worry about one baboon, the leader. He will come first. Places where baboons cause trouble is where they have learned it’s worth their effort. So basically the wilder you go with your camping, the less trouble I think you’ll have with them.


What @Herman said :ok_hand:

Monkeys are way more trouble than baboons.

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…and resist the temptation to smile at babs, not a grand idea…

Just found this very useful bit of info
Very glad to know baboons sense of smell is not as good as I originally had thought

Monkeys and apes do not have the rhinarium (wet nose) that dogs and cats have, and without this feature they have to get very close to something to smell it. Many people assume that baboons have a keen sense of smell because of their dog-like face, but in fact their sense of smell is not very different from our own!


Ok so to answer your question
Firstly I think it needs to be said that I don’t go around terrorising animals, over many many years of travelling into and camping in the bush across Southern and Eastern Africa, you tend to encounter things and learn how to overcome them.
Across Africa, Baboons are a nuisance because humans have allowed them to see our habitats (temporary or permanent) as sources of free food.

Secondly, there are always exceptions especially in wildlife, that said:

Baboons generally are diurnal, at around sunset they’ll head up to a place of safety and nest /bed down for the night. they are hunted by nocturnal predators - Leopards & Owls so seek a place of refuge where they are safe from these.
Whilst wild camping on the doring river we had a troop at Gifberg extensively active during the day that definitely took to the cliffs at night and were no bother at all.

Baboons are intelligent and learn - As Antiquated says in Farming areas Baboons learn the sound of the vehicle that comes along with a bunch of blokes in the back shooting at them and scatter rapidly.
They can tell the difference between men children and women and (in the wild, non habituated or Capetonian baboons) will not hesitate at charging females or children (up to about 15) but will shy away from men.
They also learn exceptionally quickly that catapults (slingshots) are to be avoided and will scatter at the twanging sound.
Putting your food in sealed containers inside your tent will be the best source of safety from baboons and hyena’s.
Genets are incredibly curious and between them and Civets Ive had many a scare getting into my tent when Ive not zipped it up. Now I always zip up a tent if its not zipped up theres a bloody Genet in there.

Understanding the Baboon troop structure is useful, they have a strong hierarchy, with one Alpha male, he won’t back down to most things, and has a point to prove, so don’t challenge the big dog. Rather “challenge” a lesser huge male baboon, who will back down and then the whole troop moves off.
Baboons require the use of Binocular vision for survival, they need the depth perception to effect escape through the tree canopy or cliff face. You will not see a baboon with one injured eye, its essentially a death sentence, so they are super protective over their eyesight. If you shoot a small stone at them with a catapult, you won’t cause anything more than a stinging sensation with a body hit, but they understand the consequence of an eye shot and run immediately.
If you pull out a massive wooden mallet, or even a Panga, they won’t see this as a significant threat in the same way they will a slingshot! (Ive tried all of the above)
There is always a spotter - one sitting at the highest point on a cliff face or in the tree tops, their eyes just above the tree canopy keeping a look out - a well placed stone at that one and they will all scatter.

Lastly Baboons use sex (nonconsensual) to establish hierarchy within the troop. I stood naked outside my tent one hot “glorious” morning, and learned that Baboons have small willies and I don’t think liked the idea of us asserting our dominance on them sexually.

Bottom line you should have many more concerns about many other things before concerns about baboons at night you’re very very unlikely to come across a baboon at night


Some really cool stuff here, many thanx
But I sure as hell am not gonna drop my pants and shake my willy around should I encounter a troop :rofl:

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In almost every case with wild camping you can be certain that baboons head for the cliffs at night time, primarily because of leopards in most South African mountain environments.
Also if you encounter them in a wilderness area away from most tourists they are generally frightened or will move away.
Areas where they invade local homes, they are usually not easily frightened away, as they are used to people, but in the mountains nearby, they dont try to steal your food but allow you to walk past in peace.
National parks (or equivalent) are generally the place where they become problematic. I have had bad experiences in Cape Point, Augrabies, Natures Valley, Harold Porter and Naukluft etc where stealing food is quite common.
The only danger with baboons in wilderness areas is when they purposely throw rocks on you below, but this is rare activity but is known to happen…


The rock throwing is true;that I have experienced at Rustig hiking trail.

Last Monday I hiked from Eikeboom via Sneeuberg hut to the Maltese cross, slept at the Cross and hiked back on Tuesday.

At the Cross there was a troop of baboons feeding (about 50m or so on the Sneeuberg peak side of the Cross).

They did not make any sound as I walked by, just carried on feeding - this was around 17:00 or so.
As I set up camp on the opposite side of the Cross and started getting my stove and food out they grazed (is that the correct term to use?) towards me moving around the Cross and down the mountain, always about 40 - 50m from me and not really showing any interest in me except for one big male occasionally looking at me for a few seconds.

This was different to what I am used to in the Cederberg where normally they have a big male lookout who will bark loudly when humans approach and they will keep a close watch but move away.
I have never had a Cederberg troop that close to me when wild camping.

Maybe the heavy traffic in that area towards the Sanddrif side has made this troop more used to humans than those on the more remote parts of the mountain - I do not know.
I really hope people have not started feeding them like they do with the baboons at Du Toit’s Kloof, Sir Lowry’s etc. as these can be rather aggressive towards humans.

Having grown up on a bushveld farm, seeing what baboons can do to a fully grown male leopard, I have to say I was a bit uneasy but by sunset they have moved further down the mountain out of earshot and I did not hear or see them again before the hike back the following day.


That is so weird, I’ve been to Cederberg 4 times now and have never seen any baboons or droppings anywhere. Except once, one baboon at the Sanddrif campsite in 2019 trying to break open a cottage window with his bare hands.

I honestly thought he was the only baboon in the Cederberg

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I visit the Cedeberg a number of times a year over the last 12 years, either biking or hiking, including two Wolfberg Arch hikes from Gabriel’s Pass last year and the hike mentioned above early January this year.

Droppings can be seen on every hike.
Baboons spotted often after one barked a warning, but they are usually far away and not easy to spot.

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