Onguma Forest Camp: Our full report
Just 15 minutes' drive from Etosha's eastern entrance gate, and about 12–13km from the main road, the established ...... and comfortable Onguma Forest Camp (formerly known as Etosha Aoba Lodge) stands in tamboti forest on the private Onguma Reserve, which shares a boundary with Namibia’s foremost wildlife park.
The Onguma Reserve dates back to 1998, when one farm here was proclaimed as Fischer's Pan Private Nature Reserve. Other farms were added in 2007, and more than 200km of internal fences were removed – so that the reserve now covers 340km².
The original Etosha Aoba Lodge was opened in 1994, making this the second oldest camp in the area. Its entrance, however, was moved when it came under the Onguma umbrella in 2009, and it now shares a gate with the other four properties on the reserve: Onguma Bush Camp, Onguma Tented Camp, Onguma Tree Tops, and Onguma the Fort . As a result, the driving time from Forest Camp to Etosha National Park was considerably reduced.
Onguma Forest Camp has 11 thatched en-suite bungalows in four different styles: Bush suites, Explorer bungalows, Heritage bungalows, and a honeymoon bungalow. Each has a small outside area with a birdbath and a couple of chairs, and many have private verandas that overlook the Omuramba Ovambo – a dry riverbed.
- The four Heritage bungalows are the smallest of the room types.
- Three Explorer bungalows are the newest and arguable the nicest rooms a camp. These boast slightly larger bedrooms and bathrooms, than the Heritage bungalows, and have parking space alongside. Inside the rooms are furnished with old travel trucks, zebra skin rugs and other safari inspired furniture.
- The Honeymoon room is the most private room at the camp, and is tucked further into the surrounding bush than the others. Aside from the addition of an outside bath and shower, it is the same as the Explorer bungalows.
- The three large Bush suites are also lovely and have both a bedroom and a separate lounge, where a couch can be added for up to two children to sleep.
The main area of Forest Camp focuses on a large open-sided restaurant, partly under thatch, with a bar to one side and a terrace overlooking a small waterhole, where meals are sometimes taken. Simply decorated and furnished, in one corner is a wine cellar where guests can taste the wines and choose a bottle to enjoy with dinner. A small curio shop and a library complete the indoor facilities, while outside is a swimming pool.
We understand that kudu, giraffe, duiker and warthog are regular visitors to the waterhole in the drier months now, but we did not see much on our last visit in 2018. However, it is hard to judge from just a relatively short visit rather than an overnight stay. That said, the game in the reserve usually pales in comparison with that in the national park – although the reserve does offer good birding.
Onguma Forest Camp offers its own activities, but most visitors use the camp as a base for self-drive safaris into Etosha National Park. If you don't want to drive yourself, there are game drives from the camp in an open vehicle with a professional guide. These usually last around four hours and are offered both morning and afternoon.
On the Onguma Reserve itself, there are sundowner drives, and the option of a one-and-a-half-hour morning nature walk.
Onguma Forest Camp offers comfortable, affordable accommodation in an unfenced environment and has a great bush feel to it. We like the rustic feel of the camp and lack of pretension, and it can be a good base to spend a couple of nights in order to explore Etosha National Park.
- Etosha National Park, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- Two nights would be ideal here.
- The entrance to Onguma Forest Camp is next to the Von Lindequist Gate, on the eastern side of Etosha National Park. The camp lies about 12–13km from the main road.
Onguma has its own airstrip for guests who are flying in.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Half Board
- Food quality
- We did not get the chance to eat here on our most recent visit, but the menus are similar to when we stayed previously.
A buffet breakfast included homemade croissants (rather small!), as well as cereals, fruit, yoghurt, jams and spreads with a choice of tea, coffee or juice. A hot breakfast was cooked to order.
Lunch was a set menu of salads, toasted sandwiches or light hot dishes.
Dinner is a three-course set menu. When a member of our team last stayed, their meal started with stuffed mushrooms with coleslaw and tartare sauce. For the main course they had chicken stuffed with feta cheese and spinach, served with rice, beetroot and gem squash and sage sauce. Dessert was a poached pear and peach with a ginger cream sauce.
- Dining style
- Individual Tables
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- Drinks included
- Drinks are not included here.
- Attitude towards children
- Onguma Forest Camp is not fenced, and does not accept children under seven.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under seven years of age. Children aged over ten years may join guided game drives into Etosha National Park, but families with children aged 7-10 will need to book a private vehicle and guide.
- Special activities & services
- It is possible to add a sleeper couch for up to two children in the Bush suites.
- Generally recommended for children
- Onguma Forest Camp is unfenced and we do not recommend it for children under about ten years of age.
- The camp is not fenced and neither is the pool, so children absolutely must be under the supervision of their parents at all times.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Onguma Forest Camp
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Onguma Forest 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
- Back-up generator
- There is a central phone and internet access in the main area, with free WiFi available throughout. Cellphone reception is good.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- The bungalows have flush toilets and the showers are plumbed in.
Oshivelo Farming and Onguma Anti-poaching Unit
As well as providing excellent safari lodges, in 2012 The Onguma group set up a large-scale sustainability project, Oshivelo Farming, which successfully provides jobs and income for many of the local people - at present there are over 180 permanent, plus another 100 seasonal employees. They have cultivated and developed a farm that has grown in size over the years, which now produces a vast array of vegetables, so much so that several hundred tonnes of vegetables are currently sold monthly. Currently it’s one of the top five vegetable producers in Namibia! Through the project, they are also able to help the local Oshivelo community with equipment etc. for the school and they also built the village soccer field.
Onguma are also involved in conservation and as such run the Onguma anti-poaching unit, on the reserve to help protect the endangered population of rhino. Since its introduction, the poaching of rhino on the reserve has dramatically decreased, which is great news!
See more great sustainability projects in Namibia
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The nearest doctor is in Tsumeb, an hour's drive away. The camp also has a basic first-aid kit on site.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The main entrance gate is locked at night.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in all the rooms and around the main area.
Guided walking safari
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- There is a laundry service provided at an extra charge.
- Each bungalow is fitted with an electronic safe. Currency exchange here is not possible.
- Accepted payment on location
- Payment may be made in South African rand or Namibian dollars cash, or by Visa or Mastercard.
Other lodges in Etosha National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.