Set amongst shady trees on the banks of the Kunene River, Serra Cafem is one of the most remote camps in southern Africa, its Portuguese name originating from the mountains that dominate the northern skyline. Guests fall asleep to the sound of rushing water, while by day they explore one of the driest deserts in the world. The dining room and pool look out over the Kunene River.
In extreme northern Namibia, mountains of folded metamorphic rock are severed by the Kunene River that forms the border between Namibia and Angola. The Kunene River, the only permanent source of water in the region, is lined with a narrow belt of riverine vegetation and palm trees. Away from the river the vast Marienfluss and Hartmann’s Valleys, that in rainy years become grassy expanses, comprise part of the vast 303 400-hectare (749 641-acre) Marienfluss Conservancy Generally their flat topographies are covered by soft sand broken only by a few tough grasses, toxic euphorbias, mysterious ‘fairy circles’ and sheer granite inselbergs. Wildlife such as gemsbok, springbok, brown hyaena and Cape fox occur sporadically, while the smaller creatures impress within this surreal setting. The Kunene River also harbours Nile crocodile and vibrant birdlife.
The camp’s eight unique canvas and thatched chalets, each with its own en-suite bathroom, show great attention to detail; the elevated decks and simple structures of wood, canvas and thatch create a camp that is at one with its surroundings.
The Kunene Region, formerly known as the Kaokoveld, is situated in north-west Namibia. It is one of the harshest environments on the planet, with endless vistas across stark plains, ancient valleys, rugged peaks and desolate coastline. The ephemeral rivers that bisect it form linear oases as they meander their way west towards the sea. The vegetation that fringes their courses provides sustenance to a diverse array of superbly adapted desert wildlife like black rhino, elephant, springbok, gemsbok, giraffe and Hartmann’s mountain zebra. The most reliable source of water here is the fog created when the icy Atlantic waters meet the warm air of the coast.