After an environmentally sensitive rebuild, Wilderness Safaris' Serra Cafema Camp, in Namibia's extreme north-west, has reopened. Located in one of the most remote regions in southern Africa, on the banks of the Kunene River in the Hartmann's Valley, Serra Cafema will show off its desert location, while ensuring ongoing biodiversity protection and positively impacting the local community.
The camp is part of a joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and the 300,000-hectare Marienfluss Conservancy—owned primarily by the Himba people, who are amongst the last semi-nomadic peoples on the planet.
Serra Cafema is not just about luxurious hospitality, says Alexandra Margull, Wilderness Safaris' Namibia managing director. “It's about exploring and conserving the vast, wild space of the Kunene area, gaining insight into the ancient-yet-evolving culture of the Himba people, and looking inward, where guests are given the chance to reconnect with the earth and themselves,” she said in a written release.
The new, 100 percent-solar powered Serra Cafema is comfortable and modern, incorporating fresh elements, while retaining the heart and soul of the original Serra Cafema. Natural materials that reflect the surrounding landscape have been used throughout the camp; for instance, stone sourced from the adjacent valley was used for feature walls and prominent defining structures. Each of the eight guestrooms overlook the Kunene River and mountains of Angola; they include a sunken seating area, an extra-large bed with a canopy and netting, indoor and outdoor showers, and a large, private deck.
The central area also overlooks the river and has a lower-level seating area, which is ideal for star gazing. Intended to emulate the structure of a Himba village, the buildings connect to each other via different outdoor spaces, ensuring pockets of privacy within a larger, cohesive whole. This arrangement allowed for the existing ana trees to be preserved and utilized as necessary shade.
The details within the camp are also uniquely Namibian. The servers and tables for the dining area were built by craftsmen and women at TABLED, a social enterprise that gives orphans a future by involving them in crafting design furniture. In keeping with the Himba tradition of wearing and using leather, Wilderness commissioned Myeisha, a Windhoek-based company that provides training and employment for previously unskilled local laborers, to produce leather menu, wine and room folders. Another local company, Mbiri, has, in partnership with a group of Himba women, developed a range of products based on the tradition of sustainably harvesting the resin from the Omumbiri tree and using it as perfume. From their harvester-owned processing facility in north-western Namibia, Mbiri has developed its first bathroom range, which will be launched and used exclusively at Serra Cafema.