Okonjima Bush Suite: Our full report
Okonjima Bush Suite is tucked away on the 220km2 Okonjima Nature Reserve, just south of Otjiwarongo.From this exclusive private camp, with just two bedrooms, guests have the opportunity to learn about Namibia’s big cats through the AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up to conserve and protect Namibia’s threatened cheetah, leopard and other wild carnivores. The opportunities for viewing them from close quarters are also excellent.
The Okonjima Nature Reserve no longer act as a release site for former captive cheetahs, therefore cheetah tracking is no longer offered as an activity. Please see the activities section below, for more information on this as well as the other activities on offer.
The smallest of the properties on the reserve, the Bush Suite is usually booked exclusively for one family or two couples travelling together. It lies about 500m from its nearest sibling, Okonjima Bush Camp. Other camps at Okonjima include the equally exclusive Okonjima Villa, and the larger Okonjima Plains Camp.
At the heart of the Bush Suite is a spacious living area, whose cosy sunken lounge has comfortable leather couches, a fireplace, and coffee tables hewn from treetrunks. There’s an indoor dining area, too, though you can take your meals outside on the extended deck under the cover of natural shade or, when it’s a bit cooler, in front of a log-burning fire with views across the plains. A 13m swimming pool, shaped like a mokoro, is an attractive bonus.
Set either side of the living area are two air-conditioned en-suite bedrooms, each with two queen-size beds and beautiful photographs of leopards and cheetahs, taken at Okonjima, adorning the walls. For a night under the stars, the beds from one of the rooms can be wheeled out onto the terrace. Both bathrooms feature two sinks, indoor and outdoor showers, a bidet and a bath with a view of the bush.
Okonjima Bush Suite comes with a personal host or hostess, a private chef to prepare your meals – though guests staying here also have the use of a modern kitchenette should they wish to prepare a snack between mealtimes – and a private guide. Thus a stay at the Bush Suite means that you have some flexibility with mealtimes, meal choices and the pace of your activities.
As home to the AfriCat Foundation, Okonjima is passionate about the conservation of Namibia’s big cats and other carnivores. Namibia boasts over 20% of the world’s cheetah population – the largest concentration in the world. Since 1993, AfriCat has rescued over a thousand cheetahs and leopards from Namibian farmland, returning over 85% of these animals to the wild. A few of the cheetahs at Okonjima were either orphaned or removed from the wild at a very young age, so do not know how to hunt for themselves. These are cared for within the AfriCat welfare programme.
As with the other properties on this reserve, a stay of one or two nights at the Bush Suite will normally provide excellent opportunities to see big cats at close range, as well as being able to learn more about these fascinating animals. Sightings are never guaranteed, but on privately guided activities you might radio-track leopard and/or spotted hyena from game-viewing vehicles. We were very fortunate on our most recent visit to the Okonjima Reserve, when we tracked a beautiful young leopard in the afternoon; then the following morning, following a lengthy drive across the reserve, we finally successfully tracked two cheetah on foot to within about 15 metres.
As of February 2019, cheetah tracking activities are no longer possible on the Okonjima Nature Reserve. We understand that this is because of a lack of success in the survival of former captive cheetahs that were released to live wild in the reserve. These are the animals which are radio-collared to enable the post-release monitoring. Within the large fenced reserve the competition with hyenas and leopards has increased to a point where the Okonjima Nature Reserve has now been judged to be unsuitable for the release of these cheetahs.
Guests may also visit to AfriCat’s Information & Carnivore Care Centre, which offers a valuable insight into the work of the AfriCat Foundation;
or follow the ‘Bushman Trail’ with a guide to get an insight into how these ancient people set up homesteads, made fire and hunted their prey.
Additionally, you may take the marked walking trails on your own, perhaps keeping a look out for birds along the way. After dinner, there is also the option to go on a guided 4WD night drive.
Okonjima Bush Suite is a small, luxurious and very personal base from which to explore the Okonjima Reserve, which offers superb opportunities to learn about Namibia’s big cats – and see them at much closer quarters than is normally possible. The ultimate luxury, though, may lie in the privacy and flexibility made possible by a private chef, a private guide and a host dedicated to meeting the needs of guests here.
- Okonjima Nature Reserve , Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- At least two nights is best to do most of the activities, particularly tracking leopard and cheetah. However, if you are limited for time, a one-night stay should give time to get an idea of what the AfriCat Foundations does, and with luck to see some cats.
- 48km south of Otjiwarongo on the B1 you will see a clearly marked signpost for Okonjima. Head west for about 24km along this track and follow the signs directing you towards the Bush Suite.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Guests at Okonjima Bush Suite have their own personal chef who will discuss the menu with them and cook their meals.
- Photography holidays
- The opportunity to take close-up shots of big cats, especially cheetah and leopard, are maximised at Okonjima, where the Bush Suite offers a high level of flexibility. Do note, though, that many of the cats are radio collared
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Wildlife safaris
- Visitors on a Namibia wildlife safari at Okonjima Bush Suite have the opportunity to find out about the work of AfriCat, and will have a private guide to see at close quarters the big cats they fight to protect.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Private villas & houses
- The Okonjima Bush Suite is a private house that is fully staffed and suitable for up to four people travelling together. It consists of two en-suite bedrooms, with a long plunge pool and is an ideal spot for visiting the AfriCat Foundation.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- This luxurious two-room property complete with spacious living area is typically booked for exclusive use. Guests staying at the Okonjima Bush Suite will enjoy a 13-metre swimming pool and the chance to get up close and personal with the cats of the Africat Foundation.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- Children over the age of three years are welcome at the Bush Suite, but participation of younger children in activities is limited. Children between the ages of three and seven may visit the Africat Information & Carnivore Care Centre, but only well-behaved children aged six and over are allowed on activities conducted in a vehicle. There is a minimum height restriction for tracking cheetah on foot, so the age limit will depend on the height and age of a child.
- Property’s age restrictions
- There is a minimum age limit of three years at the Bush Suite.
- Special activities & services
- Generally recommended for children
- We think the Bush Suite is a great option for families with children over the age of about eight years. They’ll be able to participate in most activities and should come away having learned a great deal about Namibia’s big cats.
- The pool is not fenced. Children must be supervised at all times by their parents.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Okonjima Bush Suite
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Okonjima Bush Suite 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
- There are plug points in the suite for charging batteries and electronic equipment.
- WiFi is available at Okonjima Bush Suite. There is usually cellphone reception.
- TV & radio
- Water supply
- Water supply notes
- In each en-suite bathroom the bathtub, indoor and outdoor showers are plumbed in. Each has a flushing toilet.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Medical care
- The narest doctor is in Otjiwarongo, about 40 minutes' drive from Okonjima. In a medical emergency, the camp can arrange for travellers to be flown to Windhoek.
- Dangerous animals
- High Risk
- Security measures
- The whole reserve is fenced and there are guards at the main entrance gate.
- Fire safety
- There are fire extinguishers in each room and in the central areas.
- Disabled access
- On Request
- Laundry facilities
- A full laundry service is included. Items collected in the morning will usually be returned the same day, weather permitting.
- There are no currency-exchange facilities available. There is a safe for storing valuables.
- Accepted payment on location
- Okonjima accepts Visa or MasterCard credit or debit cards. Payments can also be made in cash with Namibian dollars, South African rands, US dollars, euros or pounds sterling.
Other lodges in Okonjima Nature Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.