In continuation of our series of the most environmentally sustainable safari destinations in Africa, we turned the big, glossy pages of David Bristow and Colin Bell’s glorious coffee table masterpiece, Africa’s Finest, and discovered Serra Cafema. Wilderness Safaris has laced the most majestic areas of Namibia with beautifully designed, eco-friendly, luxury camps that lead guests on a journey of desert discovery. Here, right in the country’s most north western reaches, hides one of the most remote safari lodges in Africa. Serra Cafema is not accessible in any ordinary way and requires a 3 hour light air transfer from Windhoek, Namibia’s capital city. The vastness and starkness of the oldest desert in the world spreads out below the wings of the aircraft as it sails through the air until reaching the Angolan border.
Quite unlike anything else, Serra Cafema perches on a piece of the Earth that cannot be compared. The surroundings embody the rust-coloured sand dunes that so typify the great Namib Desert. Typical they may be, but their striking appearance never ceases to amaze fortunate witnesses. At Serra Cafema, guests can have their eyes full of the giant Namibian thirst land, but what is entirely unique is that with a 180 degree turn of the head, one will be facing the antithesis of a parched land. The mouth of the engorging Kunene River spills dark green liquid between Namibia and its northern neighbour, Angola, and offers the luxury of water to the dry riverbeds and the animals that flock to them to drink.
Millions of years old, volcanic rock protrudes through the surface of the Earth after eons of erosion has revealed these fossilised features. These rocky hills plunge toward to the rushing river, depicting a landscape so varied, it seems bizarre that it should occur naturally alongside the endless sand dunes of north west Namibia. The Kunene illuminates its banks with greenery, quenching the thirsty soil and encouraging the growth of narrow, parallel ribbons of vegetation running along either side of the river, colourfully filling the space between drought and indulgence. It is here that Serra Cafema lodge finds its roots, right on the river, in between the trees, overlooking the luscious relief of the Kunene.
A lodge constructed wonderfully of wood, thatch and canvas, offering views and space, and African-inspired beauty; Serra Cafema occupies such a unique patch of land, and it goes to great lengths to preserve it. In operation, the lodge makes use of the sun for solar power and hot water, while the staff who flit around making guests’ visits more than comfortable, are Himbas from the local villages. This region of Namibia is enriched with the culture of the Himba tribe, whose people have lived off the land here for many years. Traditionally, the women’s skin is painted red with a mixture of clay and butter, their attire is an ethnic combination of goat skin, beadwork and other handmade adornments, and their long locks of hair are caked with clay, making them instantly recognisable. Cows, donkeys and goats provide milk, meat, leather and labour, so that these families can survive out in the desert, living a very simple life indeed.
Serra Cafema employs only local people and intend, one day, for the lodge to be owned and operated entirely by Himbas; hosting, guiding, cooking for and entertaining guests from the world around. The revenue generated from this light-impact lodge will be injected into supporting the community and conserving this delicate desert oasis environment.
Families, friends and honeymooners can all enjoy the outstanding views, strangely beautiful landscape, thrilling desert activities and wonderful wildlife viewing. An adjoining family suite or a romantically designed honeymoon villa can accommodate special preferences, while daily dune adventures vary from carefully-guided quad biking, nature walks and game drives. This is an exceptional area of natural contrast and while one day could be spent on the sands of the Namib Desert; another could be enjoyed from the deck of a boat sailing down the Kunene, admiring the abundant presence of crocodiles and water birds; and a third day could offer a hike amid the ancient, eroded mountains that bring such diversity to Serra Cafema’s indecipherable beauty.
Contact us to arrange your trip into the Namib Desert, all the way to the Kunene River, into the luxurious lap of Serra Cafema.