Like checking the ground carefully for landmines around your tent! Well, not the military kind, but those dropped by cows who munch contentedly around your campsite.
This was the scene recently in Guinea, West Africa: long grass in a meadow (a soft bed); a tall tree (shade during the day); tinkling cow, and goat bells (soul-soothing); and scenery, unobstructed by houses.
But evening dew softened the cow's calling cards I leave the rest to your imagination!
Another night we woke to snuffling and scuffling around our tents on a Sierra Leone beach.
The sound of gently lapping waves was disturbed by growling and snarling.
The tent quivered. Had a pride of lions wandered into camp? No, it was the pack of dogs who live on the shoreline, feeding off scraps from restaurants, having an altercation outside our abode.
Another night we camped in the veld. A fire had swept through some days before. Everyone put up their tents on the blackened patch but my tent mate and I chose a distant spot in the thorn scrub which had escaped the fire.
We then found we had pitched it over an ant colony. An ant can get into any niche, even with all the zips closed. One day when we set out our fold-up tables and chairs and began preparing lunch under a huge, spreading tree.
The locals wandered over to warn us there was a hive of bees in the tree.
So what? We were hungry.
Then several members of the group began yelling, waving their arms, and frantically running away. The bees had struck; the locals smirked but did their best to fight off the angry honey-makers.
We set up further down the road, only to have other locals gesticulating angrily. A passing cyclist informed us we were desecrating the land where people were buried.
Lunch that day was a long time in coming!
For sheer hardship, I recall a truck trip through Africa where, in one area, for 10 days we had water to drink and cook with, but for our personal ablutions and cleaning teeth were given just one mug of water.
As we were all in the same boat, nobody was aware of any unpleasant odours, but when we finally got to a campsite with showers, we noticed the water running off our bodies was a mini tidal wave of mud.
On that same trip, I woke beneath my sleeping net suspended from the branch of a tree to the buzzing of a demented mosquito.
All night I flashed my torch on and off, hoping to locate the pesky creature which somehow had found an opening.
It turned out the mosquito was infected. I did not get malaria but some other horrid malady.
My face swelled, my facial bones ached - which meant a visit to a mission hospital.
Despite such misadventures there is nothing to beat sleeping in a tent, with the flysheet thrown back and the night breezes wafting through the gauze windows, looking up at the night sky.
In Senegal recently, I woke in the night to a familiar call. A hyena was lamenting the hardness of life.
Here in a busy village, it still managed to survive. It was a hauntingly beautiful reminder of why I love Africa so much.