Reviews of Okonjima Plains Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
We were upgraded from the main camp to the more exclusive Bush Camp!
Lovely room which opened down one side straight onto the open bush. We had Helmeted Guineafowl and Hornbills sitting outside waiting to be fed!
We all ate at big tables, which gave us a chance to talk to the other guests, who were mainly Dutch, German and Swiss, all speaking excellent English!
Two amazing trips out with Rohan , tracking both Cheetah and Leopard, with really close sightings of both. Should have stayed another night!
Okonjima Plains Camp review
We were attracted to this place because of the work of the Africat Foundation and it didn't disappoint. Leopard and cheetah sightings were virtually guaranteed because many of the reserve's residents have tracking collars. We enjoyed the prolonged stays and close encounters we had with both a leopard and some young cheetahs as well as a few minutes with wild dogs.
On the second afternoon we went to see the work that the Foundation is carrying out. This was the only disappointing part of our stay here - a short talk and a chance to look at some small photographs didn't really enthuse us (they need some advice about how to conduct educational tours). This trip, however, did enable us to get close to some captive cheetahs who were being prepared for release into the reserve and their "ambassador" leopard.
We enjoyed good quality food here and the whole wonderful experience was topped off by a bottle of sparkling wine to celibrate our anniversary.
Okonjima Bush Camp review
We were upgraded to the Bush Camp where we had a rondavel surrounded by guinea fowl, warthogs and hornbills.
A lovely place, with wonderful big cats. The leopard tracking and cheetah tracking were very special - did leopards twice.
Arrived in time for afternoon tea. After a slightly stressful journey as our car had been damaged in Etosha it was lovely to arrive to the relaxed hospitality of Okinjima. We were the first residents in 1 of the new view chalets. Amazing acoomodation with panoramic windows. Enjoyed afternoon watching oryx and warthogs
Dinner was very good and enjoyed the company of others during the meal. Went on the after dinner drive in search of cheetah - no luck but did see a pangolin
Exceptionally comfortable night's sleep
Okonjima Main Camp review
Okonjima is a place that gave us mixed feelings.
It gives the opportunity to get close to cheetah and leopards, big cats you won't see at Etosha except when you're lucky. The Africat Project is very informative and does a good job it seems. On the other hand it sometimes gives the impression of a commercial fenced in safari park.
The accomodation is good but not so impressive as the glossy brochures and website show. The bungalows are concrete buildings with less attention to style than other lodges in Namibia. The food is good but nothing more than that, we got much better food in most other places. Maybe travelling in Namibia got us spoiled an bit?
The tracking of cheetah and leopard is obvious less exciting than finding animals in the wild. They only track a few leopards they know they can find rather easy, although this still is not a guarantee. Tracking cheetah seems to be easier.
It was clear that at least our guide only wanted to track the animal you payed the activity for. Finding the other cat was for the next activity to pay, although he sometimes mentioned 'to stay in the car because there was a leopard close by'.
The visiting of the evening hide is a joke. In fact the guides only empty a bucket and then the waiting porcupine chases every other animal away (I saw a flash of a genet cat). There is no chance to stay there waiting for other animals, because the (noisy) guides want to return as soon as possible to the lodge! This gave us a very uncomfortable feeling...
Okonjima Main Camp review
A taste of paradise. Everyone was enthusiastic about the camp and activities. The upgrade was definitely appreciated.
The bird seed was great for attracting the birds and although a small gesture was appreciated as we saw a huge amount of birds attracted by the food.
The safaris to search for the cats were well run and successful. The porcupine hide was an amazing bonus and a recommended activity
Okonjima great for cats
On arrival we were informed that we had been upgraded to Bush Camp.
Staff were slightly business like when we arrived but guides very friendly, and after initial welcome all staff very friendly. We did not arrive in time for evening game drive which did not matter as we were there for 2 days, but it would have been helpful to have been alerted to this if we had only been staying one night.
Good accommodation although I repeatedly fell over an unmarked, unlit step in our room (light present but no bulb).
Excellent viewing of cheetah and 2 leopard at close quarters (although we were warned there was only 50% of seeing leopard). Also porcupine and honey badgers at night hide.
Obviously everything here is a bit more "laid on" and not so genuinely wild but it does mean you have a good chance of seeing leopard which it would be sad to miss. Starts to bring you back to civilisation before the last drive to Windhoek.
Is it a safari park ?
We had the experience of cheetahs 2 metres away, a leopard palyng with it's cub and also eating its kill up a tree - unbeatable photo opportunities; although the area is fenced and the animals used to human contact, the area is large and you'd be pushed to get a closer view of leopards in the (semi) wild.
The lodge itself is excellent.
Okonjima Main Camp review
I loved the imaginative yet simple accommodation. It was inspirational.
I had on arrival gone out on a very successful expedition looking for and finding a leopard. This was followed by a delightful evening meal. The next morning an early start for another expedition when we found a family of cheetahs, 1 sister 2 brothers. They had become estranged after an early morning hunt and the sister of the 2 brothers was calling for her brothers by putting much effort into a "meow" that had a powerful vibrato sending it long distance. I walked ahead of the group of people and close to the female cheetah. I wanted to talk to her but didn't. She knew I was just a few metres behind her and she and I both,were comfortable. She was reunited with her brothers and there was much joyful licking going to and fro. This was an experience of a lifetime for me.
After that we rode in the truck and the driver/guide managed to find a Leopard and her cub. This too was a memorable experience.
Okonjima Main Camp review.
I have mixed feelings about Okonjima.
First of all our stay there was very brief and everything was extremely rushed - this may have been because we stayed at a previous location a night longer than originally planned and so had to discard a night somewhere else. Because of the rush I may be a little more harsh in my judgement than is fair.
Okohjima sounded a very interesting nature reserve and we were looking forward very much to spending the last night of our holiday there.
We arrived at lunch time - taken to our room which was well appointed, spacious & had a fantastic view.
We then returned to the restaurant & along with another couple tried to get some lunch. This proved quite difficult & took up some considerable time but eventually some food did arrive.
It was quite to rush to join the afternoon safari in search of leopards (which we didn't find) & then got back quite late to rush for supper followed by a rush to the waterhole to wait for the arrival of Porcupine. The last of the evening was taken up with packing for a pre-breakfast departure for the airport.
Some of my feelings about Okonjima may have been different had there been more time to spend there.
As it is I do not feel they have their act together somehow - the reality of the place does not live up to their very glossy brochure.
The room was good.
The service was almost non-existent.
The Leopard safari was hugely disappointing - when eventually the guide admitted he was unable to get any signal on the radio device he told us there were only 2 animals that wore the transmitters & if, as they probably had, mooched off to the distant hills, he would not be able to find them. This was said as if he was used to saying it! Despite what the brochure says - I wonder how often a visitor actually sees a Leopard & how big a part does Photoshop play in the production of photographs on page 2 of their brochure?!!
The food was poor.
The waterhole was simply awful! Looking at the stunning photographs in the brochure I can't help but wonder if maybe the standard of waterhole goes down with the standard of the accommodation?!!! After the relaxed atmosphere around the waterholes of Etosha it came as a surprise to be led down a track and into a hut to peer out at a dimly lit manky tank in the ground. Our guide then emptied a bucket of kitchen waste beside the hole & proceeded to tell us all to 'Be quiet - be quiet' whilst he went on talking loudly to a friend. Whilst we waited he clearly knew something we didn't - that regardless of any noise the Porcupine would turn up for the evening meal they knew he would bring them!!!!
It was a very sad end to a wonderful trip.
Expert Africa comments
In order to fully experience and appreciate Okonjima, we would recommend our travellers spend a minimum of 2 nights there. However, due to time constraints this is not always possible. A stay of just one night can make a stay there seem a bit rushed, which appears to have happened here. In future, Expert Africa will make sure we are more forceful with our minimum two night recommendation here.
Although by no means compulsory, most guests are happy to visit the night hide with the hope of spotting porcupine, brown hyena, honey badger and genets. The animals are free to come to eat the kitchen scraps (that would otherwise be wasted) but are not dependent on them, as demonstrated by the fact that they don't always come to the hide. The animals come when they want an 'easy meal' but are not a guaranteed sighting.
The same is true of the leopards - when out on a leopard tracking activity guests can and do see leopards, but again this is not guaranteed. With just one night guests have just one chance to spot a leopard, another reason why we would urge our travellers to stay at least two nights here. In the case of these travellers their guide tried hard to spot a leopard for them, but was hindered by thick bush and mountainous terrain.