SERRA CAFEMA – MARIENFLUSS CONSERVANCY – NORTHERN KUNENE

Set under trees on the banks of the Kunene River bordering Angola, luxurious Serra Cafema is one of the most remote camps in southern Africa. The lodge enjoys a mutually-beneficial partnership with the Marienfluss Conservancy which is owned primarily by the Himba people – the benefits include lease fees, employment and skills transfers.

Serra Cafema has just eight chalets which are set on elevated decks and crafted in wood, canvas and thatch to create a unique camp that is at one with its surroundings and celebrates the culture of the Himba people. The Ozonganda – Herero meaning ‘main area’ offers spectacular views over the Kunene River.

You can disconnect, unwind and relax to the sound of rushing water and explore one of the driest deserts in the world. Experiences on offer include respectful interaction with the semi-nomadic Himba community, fascinating nature walks, boating (water levels permitting) and low-impact eco-sensitive guided quad-bike excursions.

LOCATION

The lodge is set on the banks of the Kunene River within the Marienfluss Conservancy in northern Kunene on the Angolan border with Namibia.

Access is via light aircraft flight landing at Hartmann’s Valley Airstrip which is around 60 – 90 minutes’ drive from camp.

CAMP

Serra Cafema is situated under large, shady albida trees with uninterrupted views of the Kunene River valley and desert.

The eight luxury tents are set on elevated decks and crafted in wood, canvas and thatch to create a unique camp that is at one with its surroundings and celebrates the culture of the Himba people. The tents are linked to the main area by elevated wooden walkways.

Each tent has ensuite facilities with separate toilet, double vanity basin, both indoor and outdoor shower, an indoor lounge area, private viewing deck with outdoor sala and shaded seating area with loungers, luggage rack, mosquito net, electronic safe, hairdryer, Olympus equipment (includes a pair of binoculars), writing desk and chair, mini-bar and tea and coffee making facilities. Please note that there is no air-conditioning – each room is equipped with a pedestal fan and a ceiling fan. There is complimentary WIFI in each tent.

The family unit has two ensuite bedrooms – the main bathroom and second bathroom each with an indoor shower, outdoor shower, double basin vanity and separate toilet. The bedrooms have separate entrances and a shared outdoor deck with outdoor sunken lounge area/outdoor sala.

Bath robes, slippers, liquid soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion, room spray, insect repellents, washing powder (for smalls) on request, sewing kit, shower caps, vanity kit with two cotton tipped swabs and cotton balls, tissues dispensers and laundry bag are supplied in each tent.

The camp is 100% solar powered with a generator for emergencies and has 220V multi-plug adaptor charging facilities for mobile devices and additional charging facilities for the use of sleep apnoea machines. Purified drinking water (through reverse osmosis) is supplied and

The main area houses various dining and lounge areas, sunken viewing decks and bar under thatch and on an elevated wooden deck, as well as a Safari Trading Store and a reading area with a selection of reference books. During winter months a gas heater is stationed in the main area and chenille blankets are provided during dinner.

Outside there is a swimming pool and in-tent spa treatments are available at extra cost.

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ACTIVITIES AND WILDLIFE

In the country’s far north, the Kunene River – the only permanent source of water in the region and the border between Namibia and Angola – is lined with a narrow belt of riverine vegetation and palm trees. Perpendicular to this northern border lie the enormous Hartmann’s and Marienfluss Valleys, which comprise part of the vast 303 400-hectare (749 641-acre) Marienfluss Conservancy.

These valleys run for miles between the Hartmann and Otjihipa Mountains, largely folded, dark metamorphic rock which, when exposed over time to the sun, wind and temperature extremes, cracks and rusts into reddish-brown gravel plains. In rainy years, the enormous Marienfluss and Hartmann’s valleys become grassy expanses, but generally their flat topographies are covered by sand broken only by a few tough grasses, toxic euphorbias, mysterious ‘fairy circles’ and sheer granite inselbergs.

The principal, albeit minimal, source of water comes from the famous Namibian early morning mists, generated when the icy water of the Atlantic Ocean meets the hot desert air of the Skeleton Coast. This daily cycle of airborne moisture rolls inland along the various depressions and canyons formed by ancient rivers. As the dew settles, it is eagerly harvested by plants, animals and insects before the sun burns it off.

Wildlife such as gemsbok (oryx), springbok, brown hyaena, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and Cape fox occur sporadically, while smaller creatures abound in this surreal setting. The Kunene River also harbours a population of Nile crocodile and vibrant birdlife. Desert plated lizard, Kunene racer, Namaqua chameleon and horned adder are some of the reptiles to be seen here.

Burchell’s courser, bokmakierie, pririt batis, Stark’s lark, Rüppell’s korhaan and Benguela long-billed lark are among the characteristic bird species to be found in this area.

Visits To a Himba Community – in this isolated area the Himba people continue their traditional semi-nomadic way of life and when they are in the area guests have an opportunity to learn about their lifestyle and customs.

Guided Quad Bike Excursions – one of our highlights, guided quad bike excursions through the fragile environs, is done with utmost care along specifically allocated pathways, so as to tread lightly on the dunes and preserve the unique and delicate habitats of this landscape.

Boating Trips on The Kunene River – offers the opportunity to venture through the lush riverside oases. Crocodiles and waterbirds seem out of place in this surreal, lunar-like landscape.

Nature Drives and Walks in Hartmann’s Valley – informative nature drives in open Land Rovers to experience the Namib wildlife and environment while walking provides unique opportunities to see the smaller denizens of the desert, from the famous fairy circles to the desert chameleon.

Full-Day Outing to Marienfluss Valley with A Packed Picnic Lunch – explore the vast expanse of the Marienfluss Valley with your guide.

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GIVING BACK

With the utmost respect for the Himba peoples and culture, Serra Cafema has been able to establish excellent relationships with the Himba when they move into the area and stay for a while in one of their village sites. Guests are able to experience traditional Himba culture in a respectful interaction to the benefit of all.

Serra Cafema is driving sustainable conservation by helping rehabilitate the island on which the camp is built. A nursery project has been initiated, replanting trees and shrubs indigenous to the area, such as mustard bush, ana trees and sandpaper fig. Invasive plant species (seeds are washed down when the Kunene River floods periodically) are also identified and eradicated in the area. This is an ongoing and determined process as these invasive species have a long-lasting seedbank and occur along the entire length of the river.

The Marienfluss Conservancy will, in time, also form part of the outer reaches of the Skeleton Coast Brown Hyaena Project. This is the first official density survey for brown hyaenas in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and which was initiated at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp.

Wilderness Safaris Namibia and Serra Cafema are also providing logistical support for the SCIONA project which aims to strengthen cross-border ecosystem management and wildlife protection in the Iona-Skeleton Coast Transfrontier Park through co-designing and implementing conservation monitoring technology with the park authorities and surrounding communities.

SERRA CAFEMA IS OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND

THE CAMP WELCOMES FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN AGED 6 YEARS AND OLDER – FAMILIES TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN BETWEEN THE AGES OF 6 AND 12 YEARS PRIVATE ACTIVITIES NEED TO BE BOOKED

THE MINIMUM AGE FOR WALKING ACTIVITIES IS 13 YEARS AND QUAD BIKE ACTIVITIES 16 YEARS

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Call +44 1386 830264 or Email [email protected]

Our expert staff are on-hand, happy to assist with any enquiry you have.

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