Namibia : Waterburg & Central Highlands
Namibia's gentle rolling hills between Etosha and Windhoek are divided into huge farms and ranches, many of which now sustain wildlife rather than cattle. The Waterberg Plateau offers wonderful scenic hiking and has great wildlife. Another highlight in this region (just three hours north of Windhoek) is the AfriCat Foundation, a predator rehabilitation centre which cares for cheetahs, leopards, lions and endangered wild dogs and where you can get up really close to the cats either in the enclosures or in the larger enclosures by tracking their radio collars.
Erongo Wilderness Lodge nestles into the rocks and is set in an amazingly impressive part of the world. On arrival you leave your car and are driven up an almost impassable steep track over giant boulders and between the towering granite outcrops which dominate the area. There are 10 tented chalets set on stilts, en-suite and with shaded balconies. There is a lovely friendly feel to Erongo with enthusiastic staff, and it's a very relaxing place to sit by the pool or on your balcony and just soak in the scenery. There are lots of walks around the area and the guides give a fascinating insight into the desert plants, birds and animals of the area. Climbing to the top of one of the granite outcrops is definitely worth the hike and one of our favourite sundowner spots.
“Delicious meals, staff very friendly and helpful, knowledegable and experienced guides. We loved fine dining under the Southern Cross, the wonderful views from our deck and the sunsets!”
Jonathan and Marjory, Edinburgh
"A very enjoyable, relaxing few days. We just loved walking by ourselves in the surrounding area."
Stuart and Alison, Stirling
Okonjima is home to the Africat Foundation and gives you the incredible opportunity to get closer to the big cats and learn about their survival. Although the main emphasis is on seeing and learning about the cats, there is plenty of other wildlife around the farm and some lovely birds, and it’s a very relaxing place to spend a couple of days. Okonjima has opened various camps on the ranch – the Main Camp, the Bush Camp, the Bush Suite and the Villa – all of which are individual in character but offer similar activities.
Okonjima Main Camp was the original Hanssen family farmhouse, rebuilt as a lodge in 1992 and the first lodge to be built on the farm. It is a very nice informal and affordable option for visiting the Africat Foundation. There are 10 new mountain-view rooms and six smaller garden rooms set in lush manicured gardens, all of which have en-suite bathrooms. As well as the main area for dining, there is a large social area outside with a fire pit for catching up with other guests before dinner. There is also a secluded swimming pool surrounded by beautiful gardens where a variety of birds and animals mill about, and plenty of secluded corners to read your book and relax between activities. Activities at Okonjima include guided or self-guided walks around the enormous ranch and guided 4WD tours. There is also a night hide for spotting the more elusive nocturnal animals such as porcupine and honey badger.
"A very well run place with another beautiful room with a great view. It was fantastic learning about the Africat Foundation."
Michael and Julia, Kent
Three kilometres from the main lodge is Okonjima's luxury Bush Camp, which has a much more open, closer-to-nature feeling. It is a very comfortable and luxurious camp and is run separately from the main lodge. It has eight luxury, thatched en-suite rooms with ochre walls at the back, while the front is tented and can be rolled up to open the suites up to the wild and natural surroundings. Each room has a fan and a mini bar and a birdbath at the front so you can watch birds and small mammals coming to drink. A nice touch is they provide bird seed to scatter in front of your room and a myriad of birds appear out of the dry bush for a free feed. There is also a new Honeymoon Suite (completed in 2008) boasting a stunning view, a comfortable en-suite lounge with fire-place, a bath and outside 'bush' shower. Activities are the same as the main lodge.
The Bush Suite is for those who want totally privacy. It is half a kilometre from the Bush Camp but has its own staff, chef and guides. It is uniquely designed and open-fronted like the bush camp rooms, with blinds which can be pulled down at night or left open to look at the stars, and has a lovely pool in the shape of a boat. It has two en-suite rooms but is also perfect for a couple. Activities are the same as the main lodge.
The Villa is 10km from the main lodge and is an amazing luxury home-from-home in the African bush. With private host, chef, guide and safari vehicle it is a unique exclusive experience, and the perfect place to go with your family or a group of friends. There is a main house with two en-suite rooms, a dining and living area with open wood-burning fire, and there are two stylish en-suite thatched rooms set on either side of the main house. In three of the four rooms, you can wheel your bed onto the terrace and sleep in a mosquito net under the stars, and there is a stunning infinity swimming pool overlooking a waterhole.