Reviews of Okonjima Plains Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Okonjima Plains Camp review
Wonderful place, but the modernisation it has undergone now lacks some of the charm of our pervious visit three years ago.Read more about the whole safari
This is a convenient place to spend a night either on the way to or from Windhoek and there is a considerable amount of game to see, some of it seemingly almost tame, so it's probably a good place for first-timers. The trouble is that a lot of it has been introduced and isn't native to the area so you'll see animals that shouldn't really be there - it feels like they've been put there for the tourists rather than for anything to do with conservation, as if it were a safari park in Europe. We were offered a choice of three tracking drives, one for cheetah, one for leopard and one for wild dogs. Tracking collared animals still doesn't guarantee a sighting, so we chose to go on the wild dogs drive, partly because we knew everyone else would choose the cats and partly because we'd never seen wild dogs.
So we had the vehicle and guide to ourselves, and he was a very good guide, but there are only two wild dogs in the conservancy. There was a third but he had met his demise. Neither three nor two make a pack. Herein lies the problem, I think. They aren't native to the area and aren't being prepared to be returned to the wild somewhere else. We had the impression they were 'placed' there as a tourist attraction. We had expected a pack so initially we were disappointed when we were told there were only two to see. However, our guide was so good that he made the experience fascinating and adventurous all the same and we ended up really enjoying the outing (and seeing both dogs at close quarter).
The staff were, as ever, welcoming, helpful, friendly and efficient, but there was little warmth there and you felt as though you were just another client passing through, which indeed you are of course, but you were never made to feel a guest. Some of the food was very good but some of it was not (the main course at dinner was kudu and tougher than boot leather!).
The accommodation was spacious and comfortable enough, if a little spartan (or just lacking in character), but there was a huge plate glass window overlooking the bush, which couldn't be opened and which caused huge amounts of solar gain in the room. It would be very uncomfortable in summer. The main area (called the barn, and a barn it was) also has one side entirely glazed and apparently birds do fly into it. The overall feeling was that something was missing, that the place had no charm. It's difficult to put your finger on it but it's not somewhere we'd choose to go back to.
Fabulous camp and activities
Accommodation is first rate. Staff relaxed and welcoming.
We tracked leopards and cheetahs, great fun!
Of limited interest
Good facilities but next time we would choose a more convenient stopover on the way to or from Etosha.
Of limited game interest with exception of released cheetahs and leopards.
One night would have been sufficient for us.
Okonjima Plains Camp review
Slightly frosty welcome, told twice that we were late even through we arrived at 4.30. Think that they meant that we were too late for afternoon drives at 4.00.
New accommodation at Plains camp was good, central barn with restaurant and barn was nice but reminded me of a farm, which I suppose it is. Slightly lacking in atmosphere. Told when and at which table we had to eat, no choice of food. Saw leopard on the early morning drive, guide quite pushy to sell further drives.
Good for stop off between Windhoek and Etosha. Arrive before 4pm if you want to go on the afternoon drives.
Okonjima was very good
Great rooms and 2 very good game drives. Food was very ordinary but a most enjoyable stayRead more about the whole safari
Amazing leopards at Okonjima
The view rooms are very well appointed and designed. We had a wonderful view of the bush from the bed and verandah. The food was good.
However, the highlight was the drive to see the leopards. We saw 5, an amazing experience. The next morning we went on a drive to see the cheetahs and visit the Africat Centre.
Again, a wonderful experience. Our guide on both drives, Peter, was excellent.
This reserve is situated 23kms off the B1 - not 10kms as stated in some literature - but the track is quite firm (sand based) and an easy drive.
The Plains Camp (standard room) chalet was very spacious including 2 double beds, large shower/ washing area, plenty of clothes storage, large viewing window (overlooking the plain) and own veranda. Own private parking just outside. Telephone to reception (not working - reported to management but not rectified during our 1 night stay).
Seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to track the radio collared cats but were eventually rewarded with excellent views of leopard and cheetah - 3 resting after a kill.
Good eating/lounge area - food above average.
Okonjima Plains Camp review
Friendly and helpful staff. Larger scale lodge and less luxurious than others we stayed at. However rooms furnished well, great location, and guided drives excellent. Well worth the trip to hear about Africat foundation and to see leopard and cheetahs.
A very special place - add it to your list!
If you want to see big cats up close, this is the place for you! Due to time and budget constraints we could only stay here one night, but we packed everything we could into the time we had. We would strongly recommend two nights here!
Approaching the main lodge area is a lot of fun. You pass through three nicely decorated levels of gates, the fences of which serve as the boundaries of the Okonjima Game Reserve. The main lodge area looks like it belongs in Architectural Digest - it's a converted barn which serves as the reception area, lounge, dining room, and gallery. It overlooks an expansive plain with a waterhole frequented by warthogs, guinea fowl, springbok, and other creatures.
We stayed at the Plains Camp and had a plains view room. Again gorgeously furnished and decorated, with a lovely view. It was about a 7-minute walk from our room to the main lodge, but the path is well marked and well lit.
We arrived just in time for afternoon tea and cake, and then to join the evening leopard drive and sundowner. The Land Rover this time was full, and it goes without saying that some people can be extremely irritating! At first the guide was accommodating to these people by answering all their inane questions and stopping for every bird and springbok (which are wonderful of course but we were on a leopard drive and they can be very hard to find so that should have been the focus) but eventually he got them under control. Anyway we did eventually find a leopard who was lying near his recently-killed warthog.
The food at Okonjima was probably the best we had the whole trip. Elegantly plated, delicious, and not as heavy as what we had been eating the rest of the trip. The service was a bit hectic - most of the time the server didn't tell us what we were eating! We had to ask. But it was all tasty. Breakfast was good too, though not much different from what was on offer everywhere else we'd been.
Early the next morning we went cheetah tracking, which was a lot of fun. Again you go with a guide in a Land Rover some distance until they locate the cheetahs with a radar. Once you are near enough, you actually get out of the car and walk (quietly and carefully) up to the cheetahs. We found a group of three siblings, who were in the middle of tracking zebras to hunt. They made the chase, and we chased them! Being cheetahs they were too fast for us, but unfortunately for them they missed the zebra and we found them panting under a tree. We were able to get quite close to them then.
After breakfast back at the lodge we took the Africat Foundation tour. There we got to see another leopard and some cheetahs which are currently being rehabilitated. We then went to see the small lab where the veterinary work happens and learn more about the work they do there. We highly recommend this tour because you get to be so close to the cats and understand more about the challenges the cats face and what Africat is doing to try to solve the problem.
If there is a downside to this place it is only that it is popular and the jeeps will almost always be full on the game drives (depending on the time of year I assume), which means your chances of going on drives with people who are annoying goes up a bit. But it's definitely worth it. They do amazing work there and the cats are gorgeous!