Ongava Tented Camp has more of a bush feel than other lodges...
Ongava Tented Camp: Our full report
The unfenced Ongava Tented Camp is a small camp nestled in mopane woodland at the foot of a small hill on the private 300km2 Ongava Reserve, and overlooking a waterhole. The reserve borders Etosha National Park on the south side near Andersson's Gate and is an ideal base for exploring the park.
There are just ten large, Meru-style tents at Ongava Tented Camp, some with views over the waterhole. Each of the tents is raised up on a wooden deck and entered through wooden double doors from a large veranda with directors' chairs. Inside, they're comfortably furnished with a central bed, a comfortable sofa and an old-fashioned chair and desk. A dividing wall behind the bed conceals a cupboard, luggage rack and laundry basket.
Although each tent has a ceiling fan, it is not very powerful. More effective is the natural breeze at night, which stirs the canvas walls and keeps the rooms cool, but the tents can be very hot during the day.
The bathroom is at the back of the tent, with the toilet on one side and an open shower on the other. Between the two, his and hers sinks have mirrors and a selection of toiletries. A door leads to an outdoor shower which, although open, cannot be seen from neighbouring tents.
Ongava Tented Camp's stone-and-thatch main area consists of a bar and lounge, and an adjoining dining room with one large table for informal communal dining. In the lounge area is a small selection of books, as well as a photo album showing previous game sightings. Outside, offering great views of the much-frequented waterhole, is a refreshing swimming pool and a veranda. Directors' chairs are arranged in a circle around a firepit – perfect for pre- and post-dinner drinks – and another row of chairs faces the waterhole.
All activities are included at Ongava Tented Camp, and consist of guided walks (including the chance to track white rhino on foot), game drives on the reserve, birding and spending time in hides. Ongava is one of relatively few private game reserves in southern Africa where you have a real chance to see both black and white rhino. Of course there are also half- and full-day game drives in open 4x4 vehicles into Etosha National Park, as well as sundowner drives on the reserve.
Alternatively, guests can always find a comfy seat in front of the waterhole and watch the comings and goings there. Just a few meters from the front of the camp, it is particularly popular with game from the Ongava Reserve during the dry season. On our last visit a group of six lions spent two days snoozing by the waterhole, and in the evening two rhinos came by for a drink during dinner. Needless to say, our unfinished desserts were soon forgotten!
One special feature of Ongava Tented Camp is the camera set up by the waterhole, which automatically takes pictures when movement is detected. After dark it captures images in night vision, so the following morning guests can take a look to see who came to visit while they were sleeping!
Ongava Reserve's proximity to Etosha means that some of the smaller plains game can cross between the two, whilst reintroduction of a large number of species, including giraffe, waterbuck, springbok etc, ensures that game viewing is very good here. On one of our stays at Ongava Tented Camp, we were lucky enough to have two white rhino trot out of the bush not far from us when we were standing enjoying our sundowner drink at the end of an afternoon nature drive!
Staying at Ongava Tented Camp can be a delight – with its homely atmosphere, busy waterhole and luxury bush camp feel. If you're seeking an atmosphere similar to many of the safari camps found in Botswana, and elsewhere in Africa, then this is as close as you'll find around Etosha. The camp is at its best when you take advantage of the organized activities, especially the walking safaris – which aren't possible to do within the national park. Although Ongava Tented can be used as a base for self-drive excursions into Etosha, it's probably not the best choice of place to stay if this is your main aim – being relatively costly, and a little further from the main access road to the park than would be optimum.
Ideal length of stay: 2–3 nights
Directions: The entrance to the Ongava Reserve is on the C38, just before the Andersson Gate into Etosha National Park, on the left when arriving from the south. Once in the reserve, Ongava Tented Camp is clearly signposted along a gravel road, about a 30-minute drive during which you are likely to spot antelope such as kudu and oryx.
Owner: Wilderness Safaris
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Food quality: The food at Ongava Tented Camp is varied and tasty. Breakfast consists of a delicious buffet of freshly made bread, fruit, cereals and muffins with a choice of juices or tea and coffee. A hot breakfast is freshly cooked for each guest.
Lunch is usually a varied salad served with some fresh bread, followed by fresh fruit.
Dinner is a set menu for starter and dessert, with the main being a 'help yourself' option. On our last visit we ate biltong paté with melba toast, followed by a very tasty game stroganoff and chocolate and vanilla cheesecake.
Tea and coffee are available in the afternoons, along with a homemade cake. On our last visit mini pizzas were also there to tempt us.
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Indoor and Outdoor Dining
Cost of meal e.g. lunch: Included
Drinks included: Included – except for premium brand and imported wines and spirits.
Birdwatching: Birding on the Ongava Reserve and in Etosha is very good with over 300 species of bird, including ten out of Namibia's 14 endemics, such as the violet wood-hoopoe, bare-cheeked babbler, red-necked falcon and Carp's tit.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Namibia
Walking safaris: Sharing the same property as Ongava Lodge, Ongava Tented Camp organises guided walking safaris within the private reserve, focusing on tracking white rhino. Black rhino are also resident, as well as lion, Hartmann's zebra, black-faced impala and eland. Your guides will be well trained and armed, ensuring you get the best out of your walking safari.See more ideas for Walking safaris in Namibia
Wildlife safaris: Within the Ongava Reserve, and with Etosha National Park on the doorstep, Ongava Tented Camp offers wonderful wildlife viewing including the opportunity to see black and white rhino, elephant, lion, cheetah, leopard and a plethora of plains game.See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in Namibia
Attitude towards children: Ongama Tented Camp welcomes older children
Generally recommended for children: Yes – for older children
Notes: Children must be under parental supervision at all times.
Power supply: Generator
Communications: A central phone and internet service is available in reception for emergencies, but there is no mobile reception.
TV & radio: None
Health & safety
Malarial area: Yes
Medical care: Staff at Ongava Tented Camp are all first-aid trained. There is a small clinic at Okaukuejo that can treat minor complaints, but in more serious cases patients would be airlifted out. The nearest doctor is in Outjo.
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Security measures: There is an armed guard to escort you back to your room at night as game can wander through the camp.
Fire safety: There is a fire extinguisher in each room.
Disabled access: Not Possible
Laundry facilities: Laudry is included here.
Money: You cannot change money at Ongava Tented Camp.