Reviews of Onguma Bush Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Just a fence away from the Etosha
We enjoyed out brief stay here, with comfortable rooms and helpful staff. The post-Xmas quiet period had set in so there weren't many other guests. We saw our first sign of the rains here, with dramatic electric storms. The waterhole beside the main building attracted surprisingly few animals, even though the rains were only just upon us, though the staff nurtured a large population of turtles/terrapins in the pool. We took a trip with one of the Onguma guides into Etosha and this was really a very good experience.
The guide was extremely knowledgeable, and was able to guide to a waterhole where he thought that black rhino might be present and in due course they were. We also had the absorbing experience of sitting by a pride of 7 or 8 lions, and then when they all got up and moved off, our guide said he thought they were heading for a waterhole so we set off to get there before them. We then had quite a dramatic period at the waterhole where there were several giraffe including a very young male. We couldn't see the lions but the giraffe almost certainly were aware of their proximity so there was a tense hour of so while we waited to see what developed. This was slightly marred by another tour vehicle with a young Englishman who talked talked loudly and incessantly about trivia - until we asked him to shut up.
Staying outside Etosha (but v near) was very good as it meant we saw things like the lions which we probably wouldn't have done on our own. Spending time at the eastern end of Etosha meant we saw Skinners Pan, where the near permanent water hosted a variety of water birds and particularly flamingos.
A wonderful 2 nights
The driveway to Onguma is located just outside the Von Lindequist Gate of Etosha Park. Before we arrived we spent a fantastic full day driving across the park (with a wonderful finale of animals at Klein Namutoni including a litter of hyena pups and too many giraffes to count) so we arrived at Onguma just before dusk. It is no joke that the animals wander into the roads at dusk - our drive from Namutoni camp to Von Lindequist Gate was extremely slow going because giraffes, kudus, springbok, zebras, etc. were coming out for an evening graze.
Anyway, we were greeted at Onguma by friendly staff who offered us cool towels to freshen up and gave us a tour of the beautiful grounds. In the Bradt Guide the Bush Camp is described as the "budget option" which is good for families with children. Both of these things were mildly concerning for us, but we agreed to stay here because we were too late to get our first choice accommodations and staying within our budget was important. Perhaps it was the time of year, but we did not see many children during our stay here.
We did ask to stay in the room at the very end of the camp so we could have peace and quiet just in case there were a lot of children around. They were able to accommodate that request which was great. Our room was simple but elegantly furnished. I would certainly not call it "spartan" (as the Bradt guide did) by any means! While we were out for dinner our bed was turned down each night with a goodnight story based on local traditional storytelling which was a nice touch.
Based on what we'd expected to find here, Onguma was such a pleasant surprise. The grounds are lovely with green lawns (though we did wonder how they managed to maintain the lawns in such a water-thirsty climate), luscious blooming trees, a swimming pool, a big waterhole (particularly comedic are guinea fowl and warthogs), and a very welcoming main lounge area with multiple rooms for dining, having a sundowner, or relaxing with friends and family, in or outside. We spent several hours on our second day just relaxing in front of the waterhole with some wine while we caught up on postcards and journal entries, or just chatting with other guests as the sun set.
Dinners here were among our favorites of the whole trip. There was an aura of sophistication to dinner time, with many guests dressed more formally than we saw at other camps. The tables were elegantly set and the service at a higher standard than we had become accustomed to. During dinner service our server would tell us what our options were for the next day.
The two activities we participated in with Onguma were a morning game drive in Etosha, as well as a night drive. We thoroughly enjoyed both. The weather was overcast and mild on the morning of our Etosha drive, so not many animals were visible early on. However we did see a lot (including a rhino which walked right past our vehicle) and learned a lot from the guide. We concluded the drive at the Chudop watering hole where we saw giraffes, hyenas, elephants, a jackal, a warthog, zebra, impala, springbok, kudu... and probably more. Incredible. The same goes for the night drive. We saw creatures we never imagined we'd see (including a gannet, a bush baby, spring hare, and finally a lion) so it was well worth it!
Onguma Bush Camp far exceeded our expectations and we highly recommend it for a truly relaxing and elegant time while still being close to Etosha.
Onguma Bush Camp
Onguma gave us the only disappointment of the holiday. We were expecting a waterhole room, looking directly at a waterhole, whereas the reality was such that the only animal we might have seen at the waterhole was a giraffe, as we couldn't actually see the water beyond the swimming pool. If we paid extra for the luxury of a waterhole room, it really wasn't worth it!
Onguma also let themselves down as on our arrival the first activity on offer was the following evening as all drives were fully booked, which was poor.
Ignoring the waterhole aspect, the rooms were lovely, and the food was good. We did our own drive into Etosha the following morning.
A lovely peaceful welcome at Onguma
A beautiful peaceful place, with shade and green grass, The staff were very attentive and the spacious room was excellent.
Superb position at the Eastern Gate of Etosha.
Onguma Bush Camp review
Though camp close to Etosha quite a drive to reach gate. Didn't do any drives in reserve other than to get to Etosha.
Enjoyed sitting in dining room area and lounge overlooking small waterhole especially at sunset
Note: These guests camped at Onguma Bush Camp. Here's what they said about it:
Just outside Etosha and mostly about the Lodge. However, the adjacent campsite is very nice, wonderful private facilities, and full use of the Lodge communal areas.
We also took a night drive within their reserve which was productive. When one of our party was ill on our departure day, the staff were very helpful.
Great overnight stop at Onguma
If you don't stay inside the park at Namutoni, this is the place to stay to explore the eastern side of Etosha. Onguma's Bush Camp is much improved - last time we stayed here it seemed to have pretensions that it couldn't live up to, but on this visit we found the rooms, food and service all very good. We recommend the waterhole / pool view rooms.
If you're driving to Onguma from Etosha close to sunset, watch out for the speed camera on the road that leads to the gate.
Onguma bush camp
This is a really lovely place to stay. We were a bit anxious having read some reviews in travel books, but the cabin we had was lovely. Think there are 2 styles of accommodation and we stayed in a cabin on the outskirts of camp on river. Spacious and comfortable accommodation, good shower, comfortable bed.
The main communal area was probably the nicest of the whole trip. Lovely spaces to relax and watch the water hole. The night we arrived there were 3 giraffes drinking. Food and wine very good and staff friendly and helpful, especially Sandra on reception. although we did the night drive, as usual we did not see much - but that was our experience everywhere on the trip.
I had my birthday there and the staff made a special desert for our table and sung happy birthday to me. Highly recommend for visiting the eastern side of the park.
Relaxing 2 days at Onguma
Beautifully located just outside Etosha's Eastern Gate. It had its own waterhole, swimming pool and viewing platform, and a nice garden. An excellent lodge to relax at after Southern Namibia and Etosha. Food was a bit below par, though the service was excellent, but the same bottle of wine that we had had at Okaukeujo was double the price - N$140!
The evening trail drive is to be recommended as we saw a number of species of nocturnal game that we wouldn't otherwise have seen.
However in trying to reconfirm our flights from Windhoek, the manager didn't know how our laptop could link up with his own group network. Not very helpful!!
Onguma Bush Camp review
The rooms were very comfortable, and the central area really well thought out overlooking a lovely waterhole.
We took the night drive and the guides worked hard to make sure we saw plenty of game, including two Cheetahs , two lionesses and two cubs. Well placed for driving into Etosha as the main gate is very close but very luxurious to come back to in the evening.