It’s a tricky thing, being off the grid. How disconnected can you be, really? I think that’s why I like Africa so much. Most of the countries that you can travel to have modern cell phone networks and broadband internet connectivity, but you can still find places that don’t.
There are remote regions all over the continent that are well and truly cut off. One of the great things about some of these areas is that aside from a few hours of flying, they are easy to get to in the overall scheme of things.
One such place is the Kunene region in the far north of Namibia. There, tucked in along the banks of the Kunene River, you will find the incomparable Serra Cafema. Most of Namibia seems pretty remote, but as you fly North even the thin ribbons of road and any traces of settlement disappear—you really start to feel like you’re on your own.
You come in to land on a dirt strip in the middle of the Hartmann Valley. For all intents and purposes this may as well be the surface of the moon. Upon getting your feet on the ground you instinctively reach for your phone to find the signal strength indicator staring back at you empty, as if to say “What? Are you kidding!”
I won’t go on about the camp, other than to say it’s what Wilderness Safaris calls a Premier Camp and that’s about an apt description as I can give. Trust me, it’s awesome but that’s not why you come here, the camp itself is really just a means to an end. You come here for, well, for want of a better word, the serenity.
It’s the stark beauty, the quiet and the peace that will get to you once you have dropped your bags and taken a deep breath of air that smells of heat, with just a faint trace of humidity from the river and the far off ocean.
It’s not a wildlife destination; it’s all about being far away in the middle of the trackless Namibian landscape and feeling disconnected, truly out of touch. I think this can be daunting to many, but once you give it a try you’ll find it pleasantly liberating. It’s a strange feeling to suddenly be able to devote all of your attention to something without distraction. Trust me, you need it as your guide brings the desert ecosystem to life or when you visit the amazing Himba herdspeople that inhabit the area. A visit with them is about as authentic and un-contrived a cultural experience as you can have.
And once you get tired of all that contemplative introspection and philosophical musing on the merits of being unplugged, you’ll definitely need all your faculties firing on full as they let you tear around the desert on ATVs.
Dan Achber is one part Trufflepig trip planner, one part desert serenity-seeker, and two parts 4×4 enthusiast.