Epic Air Safari: Etosha to Hartmann Valley

In the oldest desert on the planet

16th May

Today we had a “short” flight, just under two hours.  Another 239 miles down, 4,679 to go….  The flight to Hartmann Valley is one of my favorites.  This valley is on the border between Namibia and Angola.  So hard to describe: red sand in a mountain valley… a Mars landscape with a massive river, the Kunene.  This is the homeland of the Himba, a nomadic tribe capable of living, like the oryx, in the very harsh conditions.


To be back at Serra Cafema is a great pleasure.  This is one of my favorite lodges.  (I hope it will take my recommendation to use Campi ya Kanzi as a model and become 100% solar.  If we have done it in the cloudy Chyulus, they can certainly do it in this place, which is hit by the sun 365 days a year.)  The lodge is stunning, the hospitality graceful.  Charming Alice, an Italian young lady who is passionate about Africa, makes us feel at home.

In the afternoon, we all enjoy a great boat ride on the Kunene, spotting a couple of crocs which drive away any desire to swim in the river.  We watch a superb sunset with our feet on the sandy river bank, which is technically in Angola.  A few Himba ladies watch from not too far off, as the village is just a couple hundred yards away.



17th May

Sunrise is poetic.  The rapids of the river make me feel alive.  What a contrast having this massive river in the middle of one of the driest deserts.

This is the paradise of geology.  Some rocks are 2,600,000,000 years old.  Yes, you read it right: 2.6 billion years old.  Intimidating.  But the valley of the Kunene was created by a glacier when Rodinia (the original single continent) came back together after a first splitting, thus creating Gondwana.  That was 280 million years ago.  Here you can see rocks that range in age from 2.6 billion to 750 million to 550 to 280 years old… a fantastic opportunity to read the story of our planet.  And how nice to do it with a walk in the morning — going up the dunes, down into the Kunene Valley, and then along the river.

In the afternoon, we have the thrilling experience of quad biking.  Incredibly beautiful, climbing the valley of the Kunene and reaching the sand plateau of the Hartmann Valley.  The views are amazing.  This scenery is impossible to find anywhere else: sand dunes, mountains, and an immense river.  The superb day ends in a magnificent way: a bush dinner under the stars near the rapids of the Kunene river.  What a marvelous way to bid farewell to Serra Cafema.