Okonjima Villa: Our full report
Nestled among rolling hills, and overlooking a large waterhole, Okonjima Villa lies within the Okonjima Nature Reserve.This 220km² reserve is home to the AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up to conserve and protect Namibia's wildlife – with a focus on carnivores. From the villa, also known as Okonjima African Villa, visitors get the chance to view some of Namibia's carnivores and other notable wildlife at close quarters and to learn about their conservation.
Usually booked on an exclusive basis for families or groups, Okonjima Villa is the only property on the Okonjima Reserve that sits outside the 20km² fenced “wilderness” area. As such, there is the chance that guests here will see a range of the reserve’s wildlife drinking at the waterhole, perhaps including rhino, leopard and hyena.
We view the villa’s location as a real bonus compared to that of its sister properties, Okonjima Plains Camp, Bush Suite and Bush Camp, which are all within the “wilderness” area.
Surrounded by a low palisade fence that keeps out most wildlife, the villa has two separate, private suites, as well as a “main house”, with two en-suite bedrooms, accommodating up to eight adults and an additional four children of 12 or over. In recent years, when the reserve has been busy, the team at Okonjima have opened the villa as a small satellite lodge, allowing travellers who don’t know each other to stay in the various rooms. This is run on an ad hoc basis and cannot be guaranteed, but if you’d like us to investigate the options for you, please ask a member of our team.
The lovely main house has two en-suite, air-conditioned bedrooms, each with indoor and outdoor showers, and a bath with a very special view. A large lounge and dining area, complete with an open, wood-burning fire contrasts with the modern kitchen, where wine and soft-drink coolers, gas and electric cookers, and a large refrigerator is the domain of a private chef. In the absence of their host or chef, guests are encouraged to help themselves to drinks as they wish, making use of the honesty bar.
Outside the house is a stunning infinity swimming pool, surrounded on three sides by wooden decking, and a walkway to an open, shaded “sala”, which even has a roof fan for days when the air is still!
The two separate and very stylish thatched suites stand either side of the main house at a distance of about 40–50m. They have similar amenities to the rooms in the main house, with air conditioning, high airy ceilings with fans, and heating for the cooler months. Large, glass-panelled folding doors give spectacular panoramic views of the surroundings, with roll-down canvas gauze screens over the open doorways. Each room has WiFi, a work space and a well-stocked minibar. As well as a shower in the en-suite bathroom, there’s an outdoor bush shower – with a view, of course.
As well as a personal host and chef, there's a dedicated guide and private 4WD to ensure exclusive activities here (unless you are booked in when the villa is running on a shared basis). These follow the same patterns as at other Okonjima properties.
The reserve is best known for the chance to track big cats and carnivores, and radio-tracking leopard from open-sided game-viewing vehicles is the main event here – though you will see a range of other animals and birds too. A stay of one or two nights at Okonjima will usually give you the chance to see leopards, and much more, at close range, although even with radio collars, leopard sightings can never be guaranteed.
In addition to leopard tracking, other activities include:
- Nature drives: Guests will usually see many of Okonjima’s 40-plus mammal species and plenty of birds while out tracking leopard or other species. If you’re staying for longer than two nights, you may choose to go out without using tracking telemetry and see what you can find.
- Pangolin tracking: Departing after dark, this has limited availability and is weather dependent. Guests have the opportunity to track radio-tagged ground pangolin on foot, following at a discreet distance; good footwear and a flashlight are essential. That said, pangolins spend much of their time underground so even with tracked individuals sightings are not guaranteed.
- Rhino tracking: Okonjima is home to a small population of southern white rhino that are constantly monitored by the reserve’s anti-poaching team. During this activity guests may often approach the rhino on foot.
- AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre: Visit some of the reserve’s welfare animals – individuals that cannot be released into the wild, but . help with education and provide an insight into the work of the AfriCat Foundation. After visiting the welfare animals you’ll head to the information centre to learn about the history of Okonjima and their ongoing conservation work.
- Night drives: As many of Namibia’s animals are exclusively nocturnal, night drives offers the chance to head out into the bush after dinner to try and find species that you’d usually miss during the day.
- Self-guided walking trails: For those who’d like a break from bumping around in a vehicle and/or would like to stretch their legs, there are several well-marked walking tails within the fenced “wilderness area”. These offer the chance to look at the smaller things and spot some of the reserve’s many bird species.
Okonjima Villa is a luxurious and very personal base from which to explore the Okonjima Reserve and learn about the work of the AfriCat Foundation. The reserve offers superb opportunities to get up close to a range of Namibia’s endangered species. The ultimate luxury, though, lies in the privacy and flexibility of the villa when booked on an exclusive basis.
Country manager: Namibia
- Okonjima Nature Reserve, Namibia
- Ideal length of stay
- At least two nights is best to give you time to enjoy the Okonjima Reserve. However, if you are limited for time, a one-night stay should give time to get an idea of what the AfriCat Foundation does, and with luck to see some cats.
- The villa lies on the Okonjima Reserve, which is off the B1, about 48km south of Otjiwarongo.
- Accessible by
- Self-drive or Fly-and-Transfer
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board & Activities
- Food quality
- Although we haven't stayed at the villa itself, we know from experience that Okonjima's kitchen produces food of a very high standard, and we would expect the food here to be both delicious and very well-presented. Those staying on an exclusive basis have complete control over the menu and mealtimes.
- Dining style
- Group Meals
- Dining locations
- Indoor and Outdoor Dining
- Further dining info, including room service
- In-room dining can be arranged on request although this is not round the clock.
- Drinks included
- Bottled water, soft drinks, local beers and spirits and a limited selection of house wines are included. Champagne and imported wines and spirits will cost extra.
- Photography holidays
- For a private guide and great, close-up shots of some of Namibia’s most endangered species – especially leopard – Okonjima Villa should be high on the list for keen photographers in Namibia. Note that many individuals will be radio collared for research purposes.
- See ideas for Photography holidays
- Wildlife safaris
- The exclusive Okonjima Villa has the added bonus of a location within the main reserve. For a great end to a safari in Namibia, keep watch at the waterhole, and expect to be able to view big cats at close quarters.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Private villas & houses
- Okonjima Villa is an amazing private villa that is fairly secluded from the main property. Suitable for a group or family of up to eight adults and four children travelling together, it guarantees a very exclusive feel to your stay at Okonjima.
- See ideas for Private villas & houses
- Okonjima Villa offers the luxury of an exclusive safari holiday, with a private host, chef and guide to take care of your individual needs. A sparkling infinity pool and a shaded outdoor daybed are perfect places to relax between the day’s excitements.
- See ideas for Luxury
- Attitude towards children
- No children under the age of 12 are permitted to stay at Okonjima Villa.
- Property’s age restrictions
- No children under 12 years.
- Special activities & services
- Two of the rooms have day beds or fold-out sofas that can sleep older children.
- Generally recommended for children
- As the villa is in the main reserve, there is a high chance of predators in and around the property. We’d suggest Okonjima Plains Camp or Bush Suite as better options for families travelling with younger children.
- Children staying here need constant supervision.as, despite the fence around the villa, it is fairly open to the bush, and the pool is both unfenced and unguarded.
Our travellers’ wildlife sightings from Okonjima Villa
Since mid-2018, many of our travellers who stayed at Okonjima Villa 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
- The villa has a back-up generator. There are plug points in the suites and main house for charging batteries and electronic equipment.
- WiFi is available at Okonjima Villa.
- 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 nearest 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
- Fire extinguishers are 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 are safes in the rooms for storing valuables.
- Accepted payment on location
- Okonjima accepts Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards. Payments may also be made in cash with Namibian dollars or South African rand.
Other lodges in Okonjima Nature Reserve
Alternative places to stay in this same area.