Okonjima Plains Camp...
Okonjima Plains Camp: Our full report
Just south of Otjiwarongo, Okonjima Plains Camp (formerly Okonjima Main Camp) was the original Hanssen family farmhouse that was converted into the first lodge on this farmland. Since then, they have opened several sister-camps on their same large ranch – Okonjima Bush Camp, Villa and Bush Suite - all of which are relatively close together (within 5-10km). Between them they offer a range of accommodation to suit most travellers level of luxury and purse! However Okonjima’s raison d’être is the AfriCat Foundation. A stay here gives you a wonderful opportunity to learn about the big cats and other carnivores and to see then up close and personal.
Activities at Okonjima Plains Camp are varied. You can walk around the enormous ranch on your own if you wish, hop on a guided 4WD or follow the ‘Bushman Trail’ with one of your hosts to get an insight into how these ancient people survived, set up their homestead, made fire and learn about their hunting techniques. There is also a night hide for spotting the more elusive nocturnal animals such as porcupine and honey badger.
Having said that, the chance to track some of Namibia's big cats and carnivores, either in a vehicle or on foot, is the main attraction here.
The AfriCat Foundation, was set up to conserve and protect threatened cheetah, leopard, and other wild carnivores of Namibia. Namibia has over 20% of the world’s cheetah population – the largest concentration in the world. Since 1993 AfriCat has rescued over 1000 cheetahs and leopards on Namibian farmland. Over 85% of these animals have been returned to the wild.
Depending on your length of stay at Okonjima, your activities could include a visit to AfriCat’s 'Information & Carnivore Care Centre', which offers you valuable insight into the work of The AfriCat Foundation. You may also radio-track’ leopard and/or spotted hyena from game-viewing vehicles and participate on foot in the radio-tracking of the rehabilitated cheetah/wild dog. On one of our visits here we were able to track cheetah on foot and were lucky enough to get to within 10m of a male and female pair. A few of the cheetah at Okonjima where either orphaned or removed from the wild at a very young age and therefore do not know how to hunt and take care of themselves. These are in the AfriCat welfare programme and help to give visitors an insight into the Cheetah rehabilitation here.
A stay of one or two nights here will usually give you the chance to see big cats at close range although sightings can never be guaranteed.
The focal point at Okonjima Main Camp is the huge ‘lapa’ (an open-sided, thatched main area), and the open fire just in front of this. This whole area is reminiscent of a traditional Ovambo homestead – the garden rooms and lapa being enclosed by fence of long vertical sticks. Towards the back of the lapa is a comfortable lounge with leather sofas and chairs to relax in, plus a library cabinet full of interesting books on Namibia and big cats. Adjacent to this is a well-stocked bar and the main dining area. This has beautiful hand-crafted wooden dining tables and is where all meals are served. Tea, coffee and fruit are always available here too. The interior has a strong African theme throughout - with statues, masks, pots, wood carvings, African print fabrics and great pictures of cats adorning the walls.
There is also a curio shop which is open when guests are in camp.
Scattered around the beautiful gardens are wooden chairs with comfy cushions, tables and sun umbrellas - a perfect place to while away time between activities. A lovely swimming pool is tucked away in a quite corner of the grounds which is surrounded by deck chairs to relax in. There is also a small garden where afternoon tea is enjoyed.
Okonjima Main Camp has two types of room – the more rustic Garden Rooms and the larger, more modern View Rooms. Both offer a comfortable stay; however the View Rooms are larger and brighter and have, as the name suggests, good views.
Our viewOkonjima Plains Camp is a great place, with a relaxed, informal and friendly atmosphere. It is an ideal base for those wanting to visit the Africat Foundation, and stay in tasteful accommodation with all the amenities and facilities that go with a good quality lodge but without a very high price tag. It offers great photographic opportunities for the big cats (plus some smaller creatures too!).
Ideal length of stay: Two nights is ideal as you then get the opportunity to do most of the activities. However even with one night you can get an idea of what the AfriCat Foundations does and hopefully see some cats.
Directions: 48km south of Otjiwarongo on the B1 you will see a clearly marked signpost for Okonjima. Head west for about 24km along this track and follow the sings directing you towards Main Camp.
Accessible by: Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Owner: Owned by the Hanssen family
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: On our last visit, the food at Okonjima Main Camp was of a very high standard.
Before setting out on our early morning activity, we were offered tea/coffee and muffins to keep us going until we returned, when a full brunch was served at 10:00. This consisted of vast selection of cereals, bread, cheese and cold meat, fruit, yoghurts, and a full cooked breakfast of your choice (anything from eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushroom, omelet, pancakes).
A light lunch is available for those on a ‘full board’ basis. For those on a half board basis this can be paid for in camp – the price varies according to what you eat.
Dinner at Okonjima is a real treat. When we last visited we were seated at individual tables however depending on the numbers in camp it can be quite a sociable event where you dine with others. We had a tasty soup with freshly baked bread rolls still warm from the oven, followed by beef roulette with broccoli, carrots and spicy rice and finished with a wonderful plate of poached pears with vanilla ice cream drizzled with red wine syrup. All the dishes were beautifully presented and we got to meet the chef during the main course.
Okonjima has a good selection of local and South Africa wines to compliment the lovely dinners.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Tea and coffee are included, all other drinks are extra. Drink on activities are included.
Further dining info: No
Birdwatching: Here you can spot birdlife typical of Namibia’s Central Highlands. The guided or self-guided walks pass by a variety of watering points, including dams, lakes and even bird-baths – making a lovely addition to a Namibia birdwatching break.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Namibia
Photography holidays: For close-up shots of the big cats – especially leopard and cheetah – Okonjima Main Camp should be high on your list. Given that the camp's activities work on a two-day cycle, allow yourself at least two days here to maximise your chances of good photographs.See more ideas for Photography holidays in Namibia
Wildlife safaris: Okonjima does fascinating work with big cats; visitors will usually have the chance to view the big cats at much closer quarters than possible in most national parks. Obviously most of the animals seen are not truly wild, they are habituated to humans and hence you can approach them closely.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Namibia
Walking: There are guided and self-guided walks around Okonjima, and if you chose the latter you’ll be able to take a radio in case of emergency. This is a good spot for walking in Namibia and exploring some African bush on foot.See more ideas for Walking in Namibia
Attitude towards children: OK if over 7 and well behaved.
Property’s age restrictions: No children under 7 years of age are accepted.
Generally recommended for children: No
Notes: No children under 7 years of age are accepted.
Power supply: Mains Electricity
Communications: Central telephone and fax. There is mobile phone reception at Okonjima.
TV & radio: No
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: No
Medical care: Nearest doctor is in Otjiwarongo, about 40 minutes' drive from Okonjima.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: Armed guards at the entrance gate.
Fire safety: Fire extinguishers in each room and in central areas.
Disabled access: On Request
Laundry facilities: Laundry can be done at an extra charge and costs between N$10 and N$40 per item depending on what the item is.
Money: They can change cash, but not in large amounts. There are two large central safes available to store valuables.
Accepted payment on location: They accept payment by Visa, Mastercard, Amex and cash (N$, ZAR, US$, €, £)