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A paradise for nature lovers, animal lovers, romantics, honeymooners and large carnivores in the OKONJIMA Nature Reserve
Situated halfway between the capital Windhoek and the Etosha National Park, the OKONJIMA Game Reserve is situated amidst the Omboroko Mountains on the Waterberg Plateau, near Otjiwarongo. OKONJIMA (a Herero name meaning “Place of the baboons”) is not just simply a luxury lodge but also the home of the non-profit organization “AfriCat Foundation & Carnivore Care Center”.
The trip through the reserve is thus already a wonderful experience. Here you can already meet the first wild animals.
The former cattle farm of the Brahman cattle breeding is a family-run business. In 1993 the cattle was sold, the Hanssen’s farm house was rebuilt into a lodge and the cattle farm turned into a nature protection project. Wayne, Donna and Rosalea Hanssen bought the farm from their parents and are now living there.
The unconventional concept of the lodge offers a broad range of options and is in our opinion unique. You can stay in the family-friendly Plains Camp, in the wonderful Chalets in the Luxury Bush Camp, in the luxurious Private Bush Suite, in the Grand African Villa or on the Campsite.
With the “AfriCat-Foundation” family Hanssen has set herself the task to protect and rehabilitate the endangered large carnivores such as cheetahs, leopards and lions. Today the 20.000ha nature reserve is the home of numerous cheetahs, leopards, lions, caracals, wild dogs and hyenas. Since 1993 more than 1,000 big cats have been saved and caretaken by AfriCat, 86% of those have been released back into the wild.
The extraordinary design and the lovingly styled interior of the lodge have been created by the family Hanssen and by Shanna. Everything is being designed, created and produced by the OKONJIMA team or ordered in Windhoek. Terrific!
Interview with Manager Shanna Rae Groenewald
We talked to Shanna, the wonderful manager of Okonjima. She elaborately imparts the visitors her knowledge about the beautiful big cats and the vision of AfriCat and Okonjima in a very passionate way. Apart from this she plans individual and dreamlike bush weddings and loves to photograph them herself.
Private Bush Suite
The Private Bush Suite is really stunning and just perfect for a romantic stay for two or with the family, for the honeymoon or the wedding. You have a lot of privacy and pure luxury here!
In the two luxurious bedrooms there is space for four persons. There is a bedroom with sunrise view and one with sunset view, a living room with chimney, a bathroom with a bath tub, an indoor and an outdoor shower, several terraces, a pool, a fireplace and an own waterhole where you can observe the wild animals.
After arriving at the Bush Suite we were heartily welcomed by Claudia and we were directly visited by giraffes, kudus, impalas and wart hogs.
The special extra: An own cook, an own guide with safari jeep and a maid who practically anticipate your every wish belong to the suite. All activities and meal times are being adjusted to your wishes. Where else can you have such a luxury? Simply magnificent!
There is sufficient bird food in the villa for feeding the birds.
Especially in the evening it is dreamily romantic with your own fireplace, the chimney in the living-room and the extremely delicious three course menu made by your own cook. We can hardly imagine something more romantic than sitting nearby the fireplace in the evening and observing the animals pass by the water hole.
All drinks are included. The villa has a kitchen with a well stocked fridge and all kinds of wines and soft drinks.
One cannot awake in a more pleasant manner. And if you want to, you can sleep with open walls, the way we used to do. We loved it! It got a bit chilly in the night but therefore there were enough warm blankets to cover yourself with. For this view and this sunrise we loved getting up early to see animals or to make an exciting game drive.
Grand African Villa
The villa for families or groups is bigger than the Bush Suite but just as stylish though. Over 10 persons can stay here. The family villa is the only one which is situated in the middle of the reserve. It may happen that the large carnivores walk by your place.
Luxury Bush Camp
The Bush Camp consists of eight unique chalets with thatched roofs in African style and a wedding suite. This was being renovated and extended. Pictures will follow soon.
In 2014 the former Main Camp, that used to be the farm house, was extended and the old barn was transformed into the main sector of the Plains Camp.
This family-friendly camp consists of 6 to 10 comfortable en-suite double rooms with garden view and 10 new, spacious rooms with mountain or bush view. The lapa design mirrors with its elaborate details the story of the farm. And super personal: There are pictures of all employees and family members on the walls! There is also a cozy lounge area, a restaurant, a souvenir shop and the pool of the camp – this was formerly the farm’s water cistern.
Africat Foundation and Carnivore Care Center, game driving by day and by night, leopard and cheetah tracking (by tracking devices), hiking with and without a guide, Bushman Trail, photography, birding, observing nocturnal animals, and so on.
You will find the complete activity program here.
Tracking cheetahs and leopards with the passionate guides is a truly unique experience! Thanks to direction-finding transmitters you can get really close to the animals and above all, you can find them. Our guide Mike was really awesome and he was engaged with his heart and soul for the matter. You could feel his deep love for the animals and it was all a huge fun with him!
The following species belong to the carnivores: leopard, cheetah, caracal, small-spotted and large-spotted genets, spotted hyenas, wild dogs, aardwolves, bat-eared foxes, ratels, zorillas, slender, zebra and dwarf mangooses, red meerkats …
But you can also find other animal species: antelopes (kudu, orxy, eland, impala, red hartebeest, steinbock, blue wildebeest, springbok, duiker, Kirk’s dik-dik, porcupine, warthog, pangolin, giraffe, aardvark, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, Burchell’s zebra, cape baboon, dassie, spring, bush and Jameson’s red rock hare, dassie rat, real ground squirrel, dormice, bats, turtles,… and more than 250 bird species.
True to the motto „Conservation through Education“ AfriCat dedicates itself to the protection and preservation of the carnivores in Namibia.
Carnivores are an important part of the ecosystem and also an important economic factor for the tourism. By informing and educating the local farmers and cattle drovers the foundation asks for more understanding, in order to weaken the conflict between man and carnivores – understanding prevents destruction! An awesome and absolutely impressive project!
OKONJIMA supports R.E.S.T. (Rare and Endangered Species Trust) and the Perivoli-Okonjima Country School because children are the future in a more sympathetic cohabitation of man and animals.
Further information from the passionate and truly engaged manager Shanna:
Do you want to help? Such a foundation is very costly. With a donation you can help the AfriCat Foundation with its great work. For 240,- EUR per year you can for example adopt a cheetah. Adopt a carnivore here!
We love Okonjima!
We are still highly impressed by our stay in this unbelievable and fascinating dream lodge. The stylish and cozy atmosphere, the extraordinary design, the passion and heartiness of the staff and the love for the beautiful carnivores and other animals struck you in an unspeakable way. We have met here only people who inspired us, who work devotedly and who want to achieve very much.
Nature and animal lovers
There is no better place in Namibia where you can observe cheetahs and leopards. We were overwhelmed by the number of wild animals that you can observe from the next nearness.
Romantics & honeymooners
There is hardly anything more romantic than the Bush Suite with its fireplace, the chimney and the great view. The wonderful atmosphere, the heartiness and the feeling of being pampered the whole day by the team are the absolutely perfect frame for a dreamlike and romantic time for two. Awakening in the morning with open tent walls and the incredibly beautiful sunrise is an absolute dream!
Manager Shanna organizes a customized dream (bush) wedding for the couple. There are not too many weddings being held here. Big weddings just once a year. A legally recognized ceremony is pretty effortful in Namibia, but it is possible. Easier is a symbolic ceremony. But if you wish, Shanna takes care of the paperwork. We would also like to get married here again! This vastness, the wild animals and the nice people can make this day nothing but perfect.
Air temperature: -1 – 40 degrees
Water temperature: 12 – 14 degrees
Best travel period: May – September (rainy period January to March), End of April and May is the best weather. Best time for safaris: September-October (end of the dry period)
Price: from 175 – 380 EUR/night for a double room in Plains Camp, from 535 EUR/night for a Bush Camp Chalet, from 915 EUR/night for the Private Bush Suite including full board, guide, cook and maid.
Catering: self-catering on the Campsite, for all other half board, full board or dinner, Bed & Breakfast incl. soft drinks and wines
Total ranking: ******
Specialties: Absolutely unique design and concept, wonderful nature, innumerable wild animals, romantic and relaxing atmosphere, super friendly staff, super interesting game drives with leopard and cheetah tracking, great animal preservation project.
Okonjima is situated in a malaria-free and ebola-free area!
PO Box 793, Otjiwarongo, Namibia
Tel. +26 67 687032/3/4 or +264 81 142 1195
Fax +264 67 687051
The World Travel Award for 2004
The Amarula Africa Award 2003
The Silver Otter Award 2002 – UK, 2nd place
The WWF Green Trust Award 2000
The Genesis Award 1997 – Discovery Channel, BBC
Note: Many thanks to OKONJIMA for upgrading us into the Private Bush Suite. The views expressed in this article are, as always – our own! To 100%!
We are looking forward to your comments and we hope you feel now inspired to visit the Lodge or to support AfriCat with their precious work!