Alan Murphy
Australia AU
Jul 12, 2015 July 12, 2015

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

Category: Travel Disaster Worth Sharing

A sting from a paper wasp is painful. But a sting from a paper wasp on the head, now that is really painful!

I had the day planned so carefully. My wife was flying into South Africa for 10 days to join me on my research trip. I planned to pick her up from Nelspruit airport and drive to a lovely outdoor restaurant nearby.

Its front deck would catch the breeze in the hot summer afternoon. We drove into the car park and pulled in under a large shady tree. I got out of the car and before I had swung my door closed felt a hot burning sensation at the back of my head.

I grabbed instinctively at my hair and pulled what looked like a bee or wasp out of my hair and flung it to the ground. And one thing I now know (that I wish I didn’t) is that getting stung on the head is painful! We sat on this great deck enjoying South Africa’s finest culinary treats with the back of my head throbbing.

I shoved food into my mouth with one hand and held an icepack with the other! I had been concerned about what had bitten me but the staff assured me it had been a paper wasp. It will be painful they said but no lasting damage. And here I was trying to show the best of South Africa to my wife – at least it hadn’t bitten her! I can report though, the best medicine for such a shocking incident is cold beer...