Reviews of Serra Cafema
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Remote! Remote! Remote!
Though Serra Cafema is the oldest of the three Wilderness properties we visited, we liked the interior layout and design of its suites the best. Our suite's lounging areas (both interior and exterior) were spacious and comfortable and were smartly separating from the sleeping, dressing and bathing spaces. We understand, however, that Serra Cafema will undergo major renovations and perhaps relocation in a few months, so we will not dwell on its current features.
Activities-wise, we loved every moment of our Himba Village visit (our outstanding guide Timo is from a nearby Himba community and offered us unique personal insights); river cruise; and ATV adventures. Michael and Elroy were outstanding hosts. As well, deWald (who heads Wilderness Safari's Food and Beverage operations in Namibia) was on assignment at Serra Cafema, and we had the pleasure of learning first-hand the immense challenges of provisioning and preparing healthy, varied, and delicious meals in some of the world's most remote locations.
Remote Epic Serra Cafema
The drive from the airstrip through the Hartmann Valley to Serra Cafema is "epically" and spectacularly African! Arrival at the camp is equally as impressive - set alongside the Kunene River in amongst the reeds. This is truly a place to just be - at one with Namibia and with nature. This lodge beckons me back!
Our guide Darius was just brilliant, he was very attentive to our needs and continually amazed us with driving us to vistas better than the previous which we didn't think possible! Taking in the breathtaking landscape whilst having our sundowners on our first night there was the highlight of our Namibian trip! Our boat trip up the along the Kunene river spotting Crocs and having sundowners on the Angolan side of the river was special too.
The staff were very pleasant and accommodating - we were given an upgrade (huge thanks!) and a special, surprise, private lunch right on the river. The tents are very spacious and gorgeous.
The lodge will be undergoing a revamp later this year - can't wait to go back :-)
Beautiful site with extraordinary outings
We must rate the experience extraordinary in spite of some management observations or actions that were less than excellent. The general manager & visiting food manager were sometimes less than fully engaged in their interactions with guests. The later seemed much more attentive to pilots staying over than he did to some guests.
Door closing practices in our room (at turndown) were a bit confusing to us but 2 nights we ended up having a gerbil in our room (who would dash under the platform bed). We did not find this particularly disturbing but my husband went for assistance our first night The visiting manager did not appear to be successful but seemed confident we would have no other problems. On night 2 (somewhat cute) Mr. Gerbil was back in our room. We successfully chased him out. By day 3 one of our ceiling fans was not working. Eventually we were told that would require an "outside" service.
Upon our arrival in our next camp we discovered that Mr. Gerbil had made considerable headway into a woven cloth bag with bagged snacks enclosed.
Amazing place in a very isolated location. The staff is fantastic!
Serra Cafema review
Exquisite remote location
Fabulous guide .
Activities thoroughly enjoyable
Serra Cafema has so much more to offer
For our preferences, Serra Cafema placed too much value on food and drink. Yes, it was thoughtful to be met at the airstrip with champagne, but we would have preferred exploring and photographing the landscape on the drive to camp. While we very much appreciate quality food, not when it is taking time away from the river, sand dunes, rock, wildlife, canyons and mountains we'd come so far to see. Serra Cafema has an environment unlike anywhere else in the world, so why spend so much of the day hurrying back to camp for yet another meal or snack? We'd much preferred to take bagged meals and stay out all-day, but our guide wanted to show us "the Serra Cafema way . . ."
Even on our 'all-day' outing to visit the Himba and the Marienfluss Valley, we had to wait through a sit-down breakfast, but then were in too big a hurry for 'the long-drive ahead' to stop for photographs of landscapes and birds leaving camp. Until our guide realized he'd forgotten our lunches, then we waited for someone on a quad to make the delivery, despite our protestations we could easily survive without a meal.
Unbelievably, we had a cheetah lope across the riverbed in front of us, and rather than stopping to watch and enjoy this incredible sighting, our guide gave chase--needless to say, the cheetah won, disappearing up and over a ridge.
Our visit with the Himba was an incredible experience; their care for clothing and appearances is extraordinary, as they live very simply under the harshest of conditions. We would have loved to have talked with and asked about their lives, instead we were severely limited as our guide used a little translational dictionary to look up the most basic of words. So rewarding, and yet so disappointing at the same time.
The importance of a sit-down lunch? Only to speed down the road--braced above the seat to save my back--the moonscape quilt of colors--rocks, vegetation, mountains, erosion--blurred as we flew back to camp. What was the hurry? So we could watch as our guide covered his turnaround tracks from the morning? (Especially when there are quad tracks leading and circling everywhere!) Or to spend time waiting in our room?
Serra Cafema is an older camp. Beautiful plate-glass windows and deck overlooking the river, but not maintained with the attention to detail we've become accustomed to in most camps. Our room had a cracked mirror, spiders and cobwebs occupied corners, trash remained below the deck for duration, broken chain left without repair; in the dining area bits of vegetation remained on the floor, toothpicks and other small trash not picked up. Nothing horrible, but I felt a sense of pride was missing. While at Desert Rhino Camp it was difficult to carry our own bags--someone was always offering, literally removing from our hands--here at Serra Cafema, after much lingering and awkwardness, the offer would come half-heartedly. I felt most individuals, especially dining and serving staff, wanted to do well, but there was a rigidity obstructing a relaxed pleasant atmosphere.
Serra Cafema review
Serra Cafema is in the far north of Namibia, set on the banks of the Kunene River and on the border with Angola. The flight to its airstrip is spectacular, particularly if you fly over the Skeleton Coast. The airstrip is a long way from the camp but the journey is again spectacular and full of photographic opportunities. The welcome at the airstrip was exceptionally good.
The camp is approached along a board walk and hugs the river bank. It is very spacious and comfortable with plenty of different dining areas both inside and outdoors. We ate at a different location for each lunch and evening meal - the camp goes to a lot of trouble to look after you and give you surprises and the menus and hospitality are excellent.
Activities include trips into the desert, walks, visiting a Himba village, boat trips on the river , quad biking etc. Everything is very photogenic and tailored tp your requirements.
Individual lodges are spacious and well equipped.
My only disappointment with the camp is that the diesel generator used first thing in the morning and in the evening is noisy and intrusive to the rooms closest to it. This would be rooms 1 and 2, we were in 1, and if we return (likely) i would insist on a room further away. The camp manager altered the start time for the generator from 0500 to 0600 but for a camp of this quality, the generator should be further away and better sound proofed.
Overall though an exceptional camp and a great experience, particularly the interaction with the Himba people, the quad biking and the breath taking scenery.
Serra Cafema review
Without doubt, our stay at Serra Cafema was the highlight of our trip. Not only is the location unrivaled, but also the guiding, the service and the ambiance.
Gert, our guide, deserves special mention, since he was a most professional, knowledgeable and kind, especially to our 12-year old son. We enjoyed all activities with him and learned much about the Himba culture, geogolgy and wildlife in the area.
Without exception, all the staff were excellent. We will remember their friendliness and smiling faces for many years to come. Clement, the deputy manager, is an fantastic host who made us feel most welcome.
The attention to detail is outstanding, so that even out in this remote wilderness, Easter was not forgotten. The surprises laid on by the camp ensure that no day is the same. The three days here went all too quickly!
Serra Cafema review
This place is amazing. It really is in the middle of nowhere and the setting is sensational.
Everything we did here was exciting from the scenic drive where we found a horned adder, to the quad biking which was fantastic. Who would think that quads would go up and down sand dunes as they did. This was the camp where we felt we would spend more time very happily.
The camp is so beatifully positioned and well run that time goes too quickly. It is very expensive and we ended up there courtesy of Wilderness Safari's generosity. We were unable to go to their Skeleton Coast camp as it did not open on time so happily accepted an upgrade to Serra Cafema. We were so glad we did.
Serra Cafema review
A wonderful place to finish our sightseeing trip. Once more we were given special treatment, champagne on arrival at the airstrip, the honeymoon suite, special private dinner in a pavilion, and more champagne at the end of the stay.
Such delightful people, especially our guide, Gheradus and our waitress, Gina. Gheradus made sure we saw as many birds as possible, all of which he knew at a glance, and took us for two exciting boat trips, one of which resulted in us seeing at very close hand, a crocodile take a cow from a group drinking in the river.
We were so pleased that Wilderness's CEO was staying there and we were able to express our appreciation for everyone's efforts and attentions, including our travel agent in London!