where big cats are rescued and rehabilitated
Okonjima, this unknown place Namibia located between the Etosha National Park and Windhoek, will remain forever in your heart thanks to the beauty of its landscapes, to the kindness of its staff and to the charm of its carnivores.
Okonjima is a private natural reserve that extends for more than 22,000 hectares of which 20,000 are devoted to the rehabilitation of big carnivores, especially cats, hyenas and wild dogs that are rescued in different parts of Namibia from mainly from farmers. The remaining 2,000 hectares host the accommodation facilities ( a camp, two lodges and a villa ) and the headquarter of AfriCat Foundation, the foundation whose mission is to contribute for the conservation of Namibia's large carnivores.
In fact, Okonjima and Africat Foundation are the two souls of the same reality: the first one takes care of administration and fund raising ( mainly through tourism ) while the second uses all the resources for conservation purposes.
Okonjima - the lodge
Okonjima offers different kind of accommodation:
- Omboroko Campsite for camping lovers
- Plains Camp for nice rooms with an amazing view of the savana
- Bush Camp for luxury in the nature
- Grand Africa Villa for who doesn't have a budget.
We stayed at Plains Camp lodge and we can say that it was a great experience, everything was really nice from our room to our dinner ( one of the best in our Namibian road trip ).
Okonjima Plains Camp standard room is a huge bungalow with a nice view of the savana, as a matter of fact the bed is in front of a big window that let you admire the reserve animals wondering around throughout the day.
Dinner here in Okonjima is truly fantastic. It is served in the central building, where all the activities start and end. Menù is based on meat and is really tasty and is particularly refined.
In the central building breakfast is also served, you can enjoy a welcome dring at your arrival, you can relax in the swimming pool and you can do some shopping at the Africat Foundation shop.
Okonjima - Activities
In Okonjima there are many interesting activities that can be done during your stay. Here we are going to talk about the ones we took part in.
Leopard Viewing: it consists in a classic safari on comfortable jeeps looking for leopards and other predators that, during the last phase of their rehabilitation process in Okonjima, roam free in the 20.000 hectares reserve. These animals wear radio collars that help Okonjima staff in monitoring them during the rehabilitation process and in localizing them during these safaris. However, the view of leopards it's not guaranteed since they are very shy and solitary and they can move in such a huge area that sometimes it's difficult to spot them. In our experience, we managed to see a female leopard trough the thick forest while she was cleaning herself and relaxing after a hunt. Viewing leopards is, however, the icing on the cake of an interesting activity in Okonjima that offers you the opportunity to see amazing landscapes and many different animals ( wild dogs, antelopes, impalas, warthogs ... ).
The Cheetah Project: at a first glance this activity seems the least interesting of all the ones available in Okonjima, but it turned out to be one of the best ones in our entire Namibian road trip. You will be introduced to the AfriCat Foundatiton world thanks to a guide that will make you know what AfriCat Foundation does to achieve its mission devoted to change farmers and local communities attitude towards predators in order to prevent big cats extinction. During this activity you'll see the first phase of the rehabilitation process, when cheetas and leopards rescued and then kept in an enclosed area to be monitored and fed. Some of these animals are just waiting to reach the next step of the rehabilitation process when the will be freed in the 20.000 hectares area, others, on the contrary, due their age or to the severity of their problems will always remain in this area of Okonjima playing the important role of AfriCat Foundation ambassadors..
Among the other activities at AfriCat Foundation and Okonjima, you can find a cheetah tracking on foot, that, although it might seem a bit dangerous, it is actually safe ( unless you're doing it with your children ) since cheetas are afraid of human adults, being to big for them.
If you can't stay overnight here in Okonjima, keep in mind that you can organize a Day Visit at the AfriCat Foundation in order to discover more about it and its activities.
the AfriCat Foundation
The AfriCat Foundation was born in 1993 thanks to the Hanssen family and since then has always been devoted to the protection and conservation of big carnivores in Namibia saving more then a thousand among cheetas and leopards and financing research and cultural projects to help local farmers in dealing with predators and making them aware that wiping out the carnivores is not the best way to defend their cattle.
AfriCat Foundation has also developed educational projects for kids in order to promote and environmental friendly attitudine making people aware of the fact that big carnivores can be a great resource for local communities.
If you want to know more about this nice organization that is trying to save amazing animals from extinction, click and visit the website of AfriCat Foundation.
out thoughts about okonjima
Even if seeing cheetas, leopards and lions in their natural environment during a safari is surely something incomparable, the Okonjima and AfriCat Foundation experience it is close to that despite the fact that animals are radio controlled and are undergoing a rehabilitation process. Moreover during this experience you'll be assisted by people, that being experts at dealing with predators, will make your visit at Okonjima more interesting and pleasant.
Try to spend at least one night in this place, but two nights is the best solution.