African Toilets: All You Need to Know

Most tourists taking safaris in Africa find it strange to use the usual toilets in Africa. To many, these latrines are referred to as the “long drop loo”. Here is all the information you need to know about these toilets and if at any time you want to use it, you will not find any problem.

Warning: This blog contains graphic language that may not be suitable for children or for the squeamish of heart.

That being said, I have learned a lot in my months here about the various types of latrines and the various things to know for proper usage. Keep in mind that this is written from a female point of view. I will first take you on a guided tour of four different types:

#1 – The Typical latrine: a hole

This is the style of 95% of latrines in Uganda. If it’s not in a building, this is generally what you’ll see.

#2 – The elevated, yet not so elevated, latrine bowl

In this style, it’s the mock version of the toilet bowl, and may be easier to use because of its “wideness.” It also flushes, and therefore allows less smell to putrefy the air.

#3 – The typical-fancy style which is located in most middle/upper class venues

This one is nice because it provides a designated area for your feet to go and has more of a shield for the “spash zone” as I like to call it. Plus, it also flushes.

#4 – The awkward hover-bowl (never comes with a lid)

This one is actually the least desirable. It has no comfort features, and causes an awkward hover effect to have to take place. This one is usually not chosen if given the option.

And last but not least, by popular request, I have concocted my very own Latrine 10 Commandments:

1. Thou shalt first survey the Latrine and its surroundings to find out what the proper approach must be.
2. Thou shalt remember thine own toilet paper
3. Thou shalt do thy best to clear away as many of the bugs and/or creatures that may provide distraction or fear while in the vulnerable position
4. Thou shalt hold thy breath as best as you can, otherwise, the urge of vomit might come upon thee.
5. Thou shalt lift up thine skirt, not down, in order to prevent traumatic events from occurring (pants are most difficult, but still do-able).
6. Thou shalt position thy body over the hole accordingly, depending upon the type of waste that needs to be eliminated
7. Thou shalt position thy feet far enough away from any possible “splash zones”
8. Thou shalt not do both excrements at the same time. The hole is not big enough to handle that.
9. Thou shalt never ever leave thine excrement on the latrine floor if it has missed the hole
10. Thou shalt provide thine own hand sanitizer

For those of you who use latrines regularly, or have at some point, does this seem to about cover it? Are there others I’ve missed?

Posted in Travel Tips.