Friday, May 13, 2016

Namibia: Serra Cafema Camp and Scenic Drive

Other Posts: Trip Overview, Little Kulala Lodge, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, Sesriem Canyon And Scenic Flight, Swakopmund Sandboarding, Walvis Bay Dune & Sea Tour, Doro Nawas Camp, Damarland Sites, Damaraland Living Village Song, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, The Skeleton Coast, Hoanib Game Drive and Lions

It's always a bit sad to leave a camp or area that has provided so many great experiences. We would miss Hoanib but we were looking forward to pressing north for the final camp of our trip - Serra Cafema. When booking the vacation This leg was a choice between Etosha, a large and popular game area, or the desolate northwestern corner of Namibia. Etosha could offer some incredible game viewing at the expense of crowds, but we chose Serra Cafema for its quiet pace and chance to experience a little bit of the nomadic culture of the Himba.

Three others were on our flight, Andrea, a solo travler from Switzerland we've overlapped some nights with, and our new arch-nemes─ôs Tony and Valerie (more on them later). On the ground below the dark brown mountains gave way to lighter color stone as the sand turned from white to orange/red in places. After landing we exited the plane and found nothing. Truly nothing but open land, sand, small mountains, and three vehicles: two jeeps (open air vs. closed-in types) meeting our flight and one jeep managed by another camp outfit sitting there empty. The Wilderness Safari guides had tables with snacks, drinks, and champagne set up for us. We were assigned to Albert, along with Tony and Val, while Andrea had her own guide.

The ride to camp would take about an hour. No biggie except for the fact that the wind was picking up - a lot. Valerie in her infinite wisdom pulls out her bound itinerary book and it blows out of her hands. As we are watching the desert claim it she yells to Albert to get it. He dashes off and actually does retrieve it, but he looks beat. After that we knew it was going to be a long ride and we ordered beers from the cooler. Maybe not the best thing to drink while getting pelted with sand. Aside from the sandstorm the ride was quite pretty and there is an unveiling moment when you cross a hill and get the first view of the LUSH RIVER AREA. Other than the ocean this is the first water we have seen this trip.

A little more about Tony and Val: they are British and in their 70's. He's quiet and she states things all the time: her opinions, tidbits about her travels (in a Commander McBragg fashion), and other facts. Mostly she yells at Tony. One night at dinner he got it for at least 30 minutes about getting HIS steak with the offered sauce on it vs. on the side. Another time they show up to breakfast ten minutes before we were to depart and ordered eggs and such instead of having a quick buffet. What really got us was when we were sitting in the tiny pool with drinks and she dives in splashing pool water into our beverages. Both of them were completely oblivious to their environment. It was fun though to watch her take pictures on her point-and-shoot fully zoomed in while the jeep was going full speed.

The camp was decorated in the classic safari camp style of the 20's. Wood and leather was all the rage back then. All tents were along the river. The pool had a great view of the mountains while meals were often served on the river deck overlooking Angola. The walkways over the grounds provided shelter for the Himba donkeys that stayed by the river for a constant water supply. As an anniversary surprise the camp placed us in the honeymoon suite. Our tent was situated with a view of both the mountains and a small waterfall in the river. We had a deck big enough to entertain the whole camp! Lots of birds around camp vs. our former locations.

Front of our tent - both roofs

This is not a game viewing area. Only animals up here were a few starving oryx (heart-breaking to look at) and crocodiles in the river. The main activities at camp are: scenic drives, scenic boat rides, scenic walks, Himba visits, fishing, and quad-biking. Our first night in camp we had no activity so we sat on the deck and watched the river go by (great night), but the next night was a scenic drive with Tony and Val.

This picture was taken with an improper white balance setting. Did the best we could to get the rocks right but the sky is purple.

Our cocktail stop for the evening was at the base of a really cool rock formation. We had our drinks and witnessed the moon rise from behind another set of unusual rock formations. We played around a lot with the GoPro.

This was an unplanned shot but awesome. Love Albert and Tony staring off in other directions.
Tony was an unintended surprise
Tony and Val keeping to their own schedule again.

Our dinner that night was poolside. Luckily we were at a table for two and not with our jeepmates. This was the night Tony was getting it for putting sauce on his steak.

We have not yet mentioned how great the camp staff is at Serra Cafema. Everyone was constantly checking up on us and sharing a bit about their lives with us. Very service oriented and friendly.

This last picture was posted by our camp's parent company's Instagram Account. About a month after we left it rained in the area for the first time since 2012. It's amazing to see specks of green in all the places we viewed as vast seas of brown.



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