Okaukuejo Camp: Our full report
Okaukuejo Camp (formerly known as Okakwiju), meaning a woman who bore a child each year, stands at the western ...... end of the famous Etosha Pan, about a half-hour drive from the Andersson Gate, the southern entrance into Etosha National Park. Although a larger camp than most we feature, it is a popular choice due to its well-established waterhole, which attracts a variety of game in large numbers.
Okaukuejo officially opened for visitors in 1957, and is the oldest and largest of the three former government-run rest camps in Etosha – the other two being Halali Camp and Namutoni Camp. All three camps are now operated by the para-statal Namibia Wildlife Resorts.
Okaukuejo's main attraction is a large, floodlit waterhole, which receives exceedingly regular visits from a wide diversity of wildlife. This includes herds of antelope, lion, family groups of elephant, and black rhino, which are seen remarkably frequently. It's not an over-statement to say that this is probably the best place in Africa to observe black rhino in the wild as a number of individuals often come down to this waterhole to drink at night.
The spectacle starts at dawn and continues throughout the day, with visits from herds of zebras and springbok during the afternoon. It's especially fun to sit back after dinner with a bottle of wine, watching the water's nocturnal visitors and their interactions.
That said, the game viewing at Okaukuejo’s waterhole can vary dramatically according to the season and the amount of rainfall received. On our most recent visit in October 2018 it was well into the dry season and there was an almost constant procession of zebra, springbok and oryx down to the waterhole, but on previous visits we’ve arrived following a few months of good rain and much of the wildlife had moved away to take advantage of the lush grasses covering the surrounding area.
Besides the waterhole, the landmark stone tower at the heart of Okaukuejo rest camp is an excellent spot to relax and watch the sun go down behind the distant mountains.
Okaukuejo Camp boasts a total of 102 chalets in five different types, which vary according to location, size and facilities. All are equipped with air conditioning, fridges and tea stations, and prices are reasonable.
- Five Premier Waterhole chalets are set in close proximity to the waterhole (chalets 34 & 35 afford the best view). On the ground floor, the double-storey buildings have an en-suite bedroom with two single beds, a small lounge area and the tea/coffee station and fridge. Stairs lead to the main bedroom, where a queen-size bed in the middle of the room faces wide glass doors that open out onto a private patio with twin sunloungers. From here, or from the bed, you have partial views of the waterhole and its wildlife activity. This bedroom has his and hers washbasins, a flush toilet, a shower and a wardrobe situated behind the bedroom area.
- 30 double en-suite Waterhole chalets at Okaukuejo are somewhat misnamed, as only numbers 1w, 2w, 9w and 10w have views of the waterhole. These four are considerably smaller than the rest, however, and do not have a private outside space. Conversely, while the other waterhole chalets have no view of the waterhole, they are situated close by and they are considerably more spacious, each with its own private verandah.
- Two self-catering Family chalets are very spacious with a large living area with plenty of seating space, two en-suite twin bedrooms and a large well-equipped kitchenette with a stove (with four hotplates and an oven), a microwave, a large fridge, tea station, cutlery, crockery, pots and pans, kitchen knives, and braai (barbecue) utensils. Each has a braai area adjacent to a shaded veranda with outdoor tables and chairs.
- 25 Bush chalets have one large double bedroom, a compact bathroom, and a lounge area. These rooms can be made up into triple rooms with a mattress on the floor for children up to 12 years. Outside there are barbecue facilities and a seating area.
- 40 Double rooms set in two blocks of twenty which are simple, but comfortable, with armchairs and a coffee table, a tea and coffee station and en-suite bathrooms. These rooms do not have their own private outside space. Two of these rooms, set close to the waterhole, offer disabled access, and have spacious double bedrooms with wide doorways suitable for wheelchair access. The toilet and shower have handrails, and the shower also has a pull-down seat.
Three swimming pools include two large pools and a smaller, shallower pool for children. Okaukuejo also has a tourist shop, selling basic food items, a curio shop, a post office, a fuel station, and a tourist centre, displaying the ongoing park research.
Etosha National Park was set up as a reserve for visitors to drive themselves, with a network of very well-marked and signposted roads. The vast majority of guests at Okaukuejo come in their own cars, and drive themselves around the park. If you plan to self-drive in the park you will need to collect a park entrance permit at the Andersson Gate and then pay for the park fees at the Okaukeujo Tourist Office. Permits are issued daily and are valid for 24 hours, so you’ll need to make sure it covers the length of your stay in the park.
Okaukuejo does, however, offer a range of guided activities in the form of morning and afternoon game drives and – a recent introduction – night drives. A significant advantage of the morning and night drives is that they allow access to the park before/after the gates are closed to the public, when even those staying within the park are not allowed to drive. The morning drives leave around an hour before the park gates open to the public, and the night drive is entirely after the park closes for the day – so you will have the park to yourself. On a previous visit, we went on an afternoon game drive from Okaukuejo, and were pleasantly surprised by the guiding. Although we visited waterholes we could have driven to ourselves, we enjoyed the expertise and explanations from our knowledgeable guide.
As a large, formerly government-run camp, Okaukuejo still has rather a resort-like feel and does not reach the same standards as the smaller, private camps outside the park. However, its excellent waterhole and convenient location inside the park make it well worth consideration, and its prices are reasonable.
Finding space at Okaukuejo
The fantastic waterhole makes Okaukuejo a very popular choice for travellers to Etosha, and it can get very booked up, especially from July to October. Expert Africa holds two rooms throughout this period – usually two-person Bush chalets – reserving them for travellers who visit Okaukuejo as part of a fly-drive holiday with us. This means that sometimes we have space, even when the camp will tell you that they are 'full'.
- Etosha National Park, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- 2-3 nights
- From Windhoek, take the B1 and turn onto the C38 from Otjiwarongo through to the Andersson Gate into Etosha National Park (about 400km). Okaukuejo is situated 17km from the gate.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Bed & Breakfast
- Food quality
- Okaukuejo Camp has a restaurant, providing buffets for breakfast (5,30–9.00am during winter, 6.00–10.00am in summer), lunch (midday–2.00pm), and dinner (6.00–9:00pm in winter, 7.00–10.00pm in summer). Although we didn't eat here on our last visit in October 2018, on previous visits we've found there was a fairly good choice of dishes on offer, but the food itself was plain and a little reminiscent of school-dinners..
Okaukuejo's Family chalets are self-catering and have well-equipped kitchenettes and braai (barbecue) areas. The Bush chalets have barbecue facilities as well.
- Family holidays
- Inside Etosha National Park, overlooking a prolific waterhole, the fenced Okaukuejo Camp is a good option on a family safari. It’s also one of the more economical options in the area, although it can be a little rough around the edges.
- See ideas for Family holidays
- Wildlife safaris
- Okaukuejo Camp's large permanent waterhole attracts vast numbers of animals coming to quench their thirst. Black rhinos, zebra, lion and herds of elephant are frequent visitors in the evenings, and guests have stunning opportunities to observe them at close range.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- Children are welcome at Okaukuejo Camp, but children under the age of six are not permitted on the game drives which are run by the camp. That said, most families here will do their own drives, in their own cars, and this flexibility is great for families.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There are no age restrictions.
- Special activities & services
- With three swimming pools, Okaukuejo offers space for children to let off steam.
- Generally recommended for children
- Yes, but children must be supervised at all times. It is especially important that they are quiet at the waterhole.
- The presence of dangerous wildlife, and the unfenced swimming pools mean that parents must keep their children under constant supervision.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Okaukuejo Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Okaukuejo Camp have kindly recorded their wildlife sightings and shared them with us. The results are below. Click an animal to see more, and here to see more on our methodology.
- Power supply notes
- Okaukuejo has a backup generator in case of power cuts.
- Cellphone reception is available throughout the camp, and there's a phone in the main area. WiFi is available in the main building for a small fee.
- TV & radio
- There are no radios or TVs in any of the chalets and rooms.
- Water supply
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- There's a basic clinic on-site with two nurses. A first aid box is available at reception.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- There's a low fence and a wall in-between the flood-lit waterhole and the chalets, to reduce the chances of dangerous animals from entering the camp.
- Fire safety
- There is a fire extinguisher in each room.
- Disabled access
- In Place
- Laundry facilities
- Full Laundry Service – Extra Charge
- There are no safes in any of the rooms at Okaukuejo.
- Accepted payment on location
- Visa cards are accepted but it is much faster and easier to pay in cash. Payments may be made in Namibian dollars, South African rand, GB pounds and US dollars.
Other lodges in Etosha National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.