We’re just outside the Etosha National Park in Namibia and we’re having a blast in a township shebeen bar.
Actually, we’re at the Etosha Safari Camp, which is about 10km south of Andersson Gate, on the C38 between Outjo and Okaukeujo in the Etosha National Park. It’s one of a number of places that have sprung up on the edges of Etosha since Namibian Wildlife Resorts upgraded the accommodation inside the park in 2007 – and then put its prices onto a spaceship and launched them into the stratosphere. I mean, honestly, how many of us can afford to pay R2000 to R4000 a night for two people in a chalet, or even enjoy forking out R450 a night just for the privilege of pitching your own tent?
But as any optimist will tell you, there’s always some good that comes out of bad things – and our discovery of the Etosha Safari Camp’s Oshebeena Bar is one of them. Styled like a typical township bar, it’s chockful of interesting décor touches like corrugated iron sheeting, paraffin lamps, bicycles hanging from the ceiling, 40-gallon metal drums masquerading as tables, even a 1950s-style car door serving as wall decoration. There are lots of old signs advertising anything from BP and Cobra Wax to Windhoek lager and JÃ¤germeister. Even brown beer crates and old metal street signs make a fashion statement in a mish-mash that’s bold, bright and oddly appealing. Need a chair? Try an old enamel bath cut in half, mounted on a wheelbarrow base, painted in bright primary colours and fitted with a cushion for comfort.
We down a pint of Windhoek lager and chat up the attractive Owambo barmaid, soaking up the atmosphere. Crooked walls, a tin roof, a ten-gallon drum punctured with holes to serve as a lampshade, a few ladies bras hung on a string and you have a taste of African vibrancy that’s hard to resist. There’s even a sense of humour in the graffiti: “˜White men can’t jump, black men can’t swim; white men can’t eat mopane worms.’
If you’re planning to visit Etosha, spend a night or two here. The campsite is green and shady, there are some chalets if you’re not the camping type, and you can either venture into Etosha in your own car or catch a ride on one of the daily game drives with a guide. But whatever you do, don’t miss having a drink in the Oshebeena Bar.