Picnics Namibian style are just as awesome and sandy as regular ones, but that is where the similarity ends.
Ingredients for a Namibian picnic are as follows.
Take at least 12 of your closest friends, 3 innocent visitors and a few dogs.
Add fishing rods, 4 x 4’s, enough food to feed the 5000 and plenty of cases of Namibian beer.
Blend in umbrellas, chairs, tables, blankets, sarongs and a variety of gas equipment.
Finally add manly looking tools , smelly bait in cooler boxes and water for the dogs.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, and a thick jersey!
Method. Wake everyone up at 5:30 to be ready for the 6:30 am rendezvous in Swakopmund.
We set off from Wlotkasbaken, North of Swakopmund
After coffee in the chilly car park in Swakop, we headed for Walvis Bay, some 30km away. Our first stop, which was to be one of many, was south of Walvis at the salt pan. Tyres pressures were reduced, the weather was discussed and the visitors were encouraged to lick the salt.
Aptly named Sandwich Bay is where we were heading for our picnic.
Following the one lonely sign, we appeared to be travelling in a sandy wasteland shrouded in mist, desolate in the extreme
Finally, through the mist the beach emerged, we stopped and everyone got out. The men headed off to the waters edge with fishing rods while the naive visitors started unpacking the cars. We were stopped by the other woman, they knew the drill.
The guys returned after 5 minutes declaring this section of beach “no good” for fishing today.
This routine was repeated at least 5 times in the next 10km.
We learned to stand around and wait for the inevitable declaration of “no good”. At least the weather was improving.
Just a little further and we will be there, as us visitors nervously took in the thin strip of sand between the sea and the dunes.
The last stop rendered us speechless. Think of every cliche you have ever read regarding beauty, none of them do justice to Sandwich Bay No trace of humans was evident and the natural beauty was unlike anything I have ever seen.
The sound of the sea, the dunes that whistled and shimmered. The dominance of nature over man.
Big sky, endless sea, the colour palette perfectly contrasted and the shades and hues of the blues, greens and yellows assault your consciousness. The largeness of it diminishes you while making your soul soar and your heart smile.
None of these photos do justice to the sensory overload that actually being there creates. A return trip with a top rate camera is a must.
Cars were parked and now we were told, you can unpack, but first, it is customary to run to the top of the dune. It is hard work, but the view is worth the effort. Hmm, we look up, it is HIGH.
Off we go. The sand is already hot, flip flops are a no no. After a few minutes your calves are screaming from the effort as you sink into the sand and seem to go nowhere. Why are we doing this, why, why, why?
Reaching the top, gasping for air we turn and see this. All aches and pains are forgotten.
Running down is the fun part, or rolling in some cases, letting out the laughing kid in yourself.
In no time at all a mini campsite has been created and food and more food and more food is passed around, beers are consumed and more food. That was breakfast apparently.
Some lazed, some swam, balls, bats and other water toys were produced and the mood was good.
Suddenly, we are packing up and have to leave fast. The tide is coming in and there is only a small window period left where there is enough sand to drive out on. The locals joke about not getting stuck while the visitors look a little anxious.
Obviously, we got stuck. Nothing like a little digging while being encouraged by a veteran at this. Visitors nervously watching the tide come in fast and the strip of sand becoming rather narrow.
We made it out and foolishly assumed we were on our way home. No, no, it’s lunch time now. We stopped and more food was unpacked, fishing began in earnest and strange games were made up involving sand dunes, clods of sand and being dive tackled.
Some very potent spirits were poured from a canvas bag on the front of one of the vehicles.
Don’t know what it was, but it made you bulletproof.
Back in the car, obeying some odd “road” signs, several more stops were made, mainly for liquid refreshment and a few games.
A two hour stop was declared for running repairs on one of the vehicles. The tinkering occurred at a leisurely pace between games, discussions, food of course, and shots of the mystery fire water chased down with Namibian beer.
The last stretch of sand resulted in a race between the the various brands of 4 x 4’s and their competitive owners.
Remember the “makes you bullet proof” alcohol? Aish ! the drivers laughed with the freedom of the open sand, we sat white knuckled and prayed. Ours prayers were answered and as darkness descended we hit the tar road to Walvis Bay and on to Swakopmund. The picnic was finally declared “done” when we finished coffee in the driveway of someones house.
Sandy, tired, happy and educated in the ways of picnics Namibian style, our verdict was “very different, cant wait for the next one”