Reviews of Onguma Tented Camp
They do not necessarily represent the views of Expert Africa.
Lots of superficial gloss but no substance
This was the only place that disappointed us. When we first arrived, we thought, yes, this is it, but the impression soon changed. It is tastefully decorated and is undoubtedly smart but there is no substance beyond this. I'd say there is a problem with the management here. This was the only place where there clearly wasn't a team. And there was a level of arrogance. When we arrived at every other lodge, we were so warmly welcomed and they all had both our names correct and they had all received a note of my dietary requirements from you.
Here we were down as Mr and Mrs McDowall-Wilson - it's not something that bothers me but I thought it indicative (interestingly enough, when we left, the bill was made out to Mr and Mr McDowall-Wilson, progress of some sort). We were asked if we had any dietary requirements and when I said I can't eat fish or seafood, she said, well, that won't be a problem as there is always a choice. Except that that evening one of the courses was seafood and there was no choice! People don't listen. It's not a problem for me when I travel, you have to be adaptable, and I can be quite happy with a cheese sandwich, but there was an attitude problem here. And anyway the helping was so small that I probably wouldn't have been sick if I'd eaten it.
The food was the best presented on our trip but not the best otherwise. And helpings of meals that were included (we were on half board) were meagre and in some instances minute. At every other lodge or camp they were generous to the point of being copious. The lunch that we had, and paid for, was a huge helping but it was not very appetising: it was a single course of pasta with a mushroom sauce that was just a glutinous mound on the plate. They made a big fuss of their wine cellar but in fact the wine selection was nothing special.
The staff in the dining room were sweet and one of them in particular made a real effort to be helpful but he was clearly out of his depth; he was trying so hard but he was a complete bundle of nerves. We felt that he hadn't had enough training, which of course isn't his fault, and we ended up feeling sorry for him. On top of this there was a language barrier. His name was Portuguese so maybe he was from Angola.
The staff were a complete contrast to all the other lodges we stayed in. Even the guide was not as informative or as knowledgeable. On the morning drive into the park we did see a lot of game but mainly because he was in radio contact with other guides, so he knew where to go.
As we were here on a half-board basis we had to pay extra for everything and none of it was good value. As we'd driven to Onguma from Ongava through the park, we know how much the entry fees are, and they are a tiny fraction of what we had to pay for that half-day drive in Etosha while we were at Onguma. You don't mind paying more than the average for something special but here the prices were very high for nothing that was any better than we'd had included in the price elsewhere, in fact everything was all inferior in quality (and quantity).
There are other minor negative points I could make but I don't want to accentuate the bad. Overall we weren't impressed by the place and wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. It's a shame because it looks so nice but it really is a case of a superficial gloss and nothing much behind it. At other lodges the staff were small in number but they made up for it by working as a team whereas here the tiny number of staff contributed to a strong feeling of niggardliness.
Great spot but not much to do!
This camp is just outside Lidequist Gate entrance to Etosha. Beautiful spot with own waterhole which attracts different antelope species and birds. Very comfortable lodges.
Food above average but limited choice. We had opted to go on rhino expedition in the afternoon at 4.00 but were kept waiting with little information why the driver had not arrived. Then informed he would be another 20 minutes. No show. Then informed another driver was on his way. No show. Then informed it was cancelled. Returned to our lodge. Some 15 minutes later (by now c5.15pm) a driver arrived and asked if we still wanted to go - we said no thanks. No apology offered by staff.
Expert Africa comments
The owners of Onguma have thanked these travellers for their feedback, which helps them to improve their service. They have investigated the complaint and unfortunately it was a case of miscommunication for which they sincerely apologise.
Like all the Onguma accommodation, our 'tent' allowed us to sit and while the time away watching the waterhole - not the most exciting selection of animals, but beautiful all the same.
Service was a cut above and the food was excellent.
Safari chic deserved
Guides not as well trained or motivated as those we met on Wilderness camps.
Relaxed intimate setting round ever varying waterhole activity
Onguma Tented Camp review
This was one of the most beautiful camps we stayed at on our entire trip. The central area was large and stylish, the dining area most attractive, overlooking the large waterhole, and the lovely rooms wonderfully sited around the same waterhole. The whole camp was well designed and had many individual touches.
Food was good to very good. Some of the staff had poor English, so it was not always possible to make yourself understood, but there was no shortage of effort, and everyone worked to help us have a good time. Drinks around the campfire was a lovely moment. Dining was separate, although we combined tables with another couple we had met over drinks.
The afternoon game drive we took netted three lions just by the camp, as well as a marvellous pair of bat-eared foxes, jackals and a brooding group of white-backed vultures quite low down in the palm trees. But game was by no means plentiful.
Onguma Tented Camp - the high point of trip
The camp was beautifully constructed and tastefully decorated.
The rooms were spotlessly clean and had Wi-Fi access, a safe and tea-making facilities. The staff were professional and friendly but not overbearing. The guide was knowledgeable and pleasant to talk to. The food was delicious.
We highly recommend this camp. Staying at Onguma was the high point of our holiday.
Great location just by the park gate. Nicely situated next to a small waterhole. But after Andersons and Damaraland camp this was a complete disappointment.
This camp was stuffy and formal, with absolutely no atmosphere, and a poor recommendation for a large family group. The staff were very polite but very quiet and reserved. I wouldn't have liked this camp even if I'd been in a couple. It was just too quiet and restrained - trying to be something that it wasn't.
The rooms are huge , so they were being pretty inflexible insisting that we had to have 4 rooms, rather than allowing the 3 kids to share and having 3 rooms between us - as we did at all other lodges. I wasn't that keen on sharing my room with a very active rodent, which was very happy coming and going through a gap in the canvas - but more concerned that if a large mouse could get in, then so could a snake...
It turned out that the 4 gunshots we heard before dinner marked the demise of a spitting cobra which was trying to attack the chef - apparently it would have been looking for mice - presumably like the one I was sharing my room with. The food was nice, but spoilt by the lack of atmosphere - so all the couples ate in silence and then went. Not comfortable or relaxed.
A real shame, as we were anticipating that this camp would be a real highlight. I imagine it was the most expensive place we stayed, but the least enjoyable. Not a good recommendation. Not sure why they insisted that we had to be accompanied by a guard when going to and from our rooms - yes, of course there are animals out there, but non of the other camps insisted on this. He clearly wasn't armed anyway - and it just contributed to the formality.
Onguma Tented Camp is splendid
What a lovely place to stay.
Great staff, particularly Cacious (sorry if misspelt) who had to deal with a rather unpleasant American and handled it with great dignity.
Luxury at Onguma Tented Camp
The tented camp is a good half hour drive from the entrance on the east side of Etosha, but a good location if you choose not to stay in the park. We had a great room overlooking the watering hole where the smaller antelope and warthogs come down in the early morning.
We drove through the park from Ongava Lodge, spending the day in Etosha, before arriving at Onguma. The evening meal and service was excellent.
Leopard, Lion and Cheetahs
We loved everything about this camp - the peaceful setting around the waterhole (mainly, see below!), the beautiful tents, charming staff & the quality of the activities.
As we'd already had quite a lot of luck in driving ourselves around Etosha, including a leopard sighting, we only chose to do activities with the camp where they were on their reserve - which is afternoon and evening drives.
When you arrive at Onguma they make a big thing about not having as much game as Etosha, which is clearly true, however it didn't stop us seeing both Leopard and Rhino on the Rhino drive, cheetahs on the Night Drive and a male lion on the Sundowner drive. The lion also paid us a visit at the camp waterhole during dinner on our first night, announcing his arrival with the hugest roar that seemed to shake the whole camp. The bird life on the camp rarely gets a mention but that was terrific too. Thoroughly recommended.