Okonjima & The AfriCat Foundation
Omboroko Mountains, Waterberg Plateau, Namibia
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OKONJIMA RATES: Okonjima
OKONJIMA BUSH CAMP & MAIN CAMP
- WATERBERG PLATEAU, NAMIBIA
vast plains west
of the Waterberg Plateau Park are occasionally broken by the remnants
of ancient sandstone ‘outcrops’, which once
covered large areas of northern Namibia. Nestled among these outcrops,
in the Omboroko
Mountains, lies Okonjima – a Herero name meaning
place of the baboons. It’s much more than a luxury lodge - Okonjima
is also home to The AfriCat Foundation. Africat is known
internationally and was recently featured in an award winning documentary
filmed for the Discovery Channel.
The Okonjima and AfriCat Story
The Hanssen Family purchased Okonjima
farm in 1970 to breed Brahman cattle. The farm Okonjima is located
50 kilometres south of Otjiwarongo,
in the northern region of Namibia. The Hanssen family struggled with
their livestock because of extensive losses to carnivores, particularly
leopard. After having negative experiences with common forms of predator
removal, they developed techniques to protect their livestock from leopards
and dramatically reduced their losses. Slowly, Okonjima became involved
in tourism because of the convenient location between Windhoek and Etosha
and the abundant bird life. At the same time, Okonjima became known as
a place for animal welfare because of the successful rearing of a young
cheetah cub, Chinga. Farmers contacted the Hanssens to obtain advice
and assistance with their own predator problems. The demand for a foundation
that could offer assistance and develop further solutions became clear
and in 1993, the AfriCat Foundation was formally established and the
Hanssens completely switched from cattle farming to tourism. Today, although
the AfriCat Foundation and Okonjima Lodge share Okonjima farm, the two
are separate with a mutually beneficial relationship.
Accommodation For images of Okonjima & The AfriCat Foundation, click Okonjima
• Ten en-suite double rooms
at Main Camp
• Three en-suite luxury, twin tents at Main Camp
• Eight unique thatched, African-style Chalets at the Luxury Bush Camp
• Please note that there is no guide accommodation at the Bush Camp. Guides
will be accommodated at Main Camp
Main Camp was the original Hanssen family
farmhouse, reconstructed as a lodge in 1992. All ten double rooms overlook
garden and the
open-fire entertainment area. The luxury Bush Camp and Main Camp are
Luxury Bush Camp
The Luxury Bush Camp is situated at the edge of
a wilderness area, 3km from Main Camp. Bush Camp comprises eight thatched,
African-style chalets and a Lapa in the form of the indigenous ‘camelthorn’ pod.
Each exclusive chalet enjoys complete privacy, (approx. 80m-100m apart)
and is a unique combination of earthy ochre walls and khaki-green canvas,
under a thatched roof. Each chalet has a mini-bar, a private safe for
valuables, a kettle for that early morning cup of coffee and a telephone.
For those who wish to feel the
closeness of nature, the front 180º of canvas panelling may
be rolled up, inviting you to enjoy your own ‘bushveld’ vista.
In front of each chalet, a birdbath is visited by a variety of birds
and small mammals. The extensive ‘camelthorn’ Lapa, encompasses
the reception and curio shop, a cozy lounge with a rustic fireplace,
the kitchen and dining area – all overlooking a waterhole.
Children under the age of twelve
are regrettably not permitted. This is due to the nature of the
Okonjima and AfriCat activities.
• An early morning
snack is served in the dining area at Bush Camp and at the Lion
Lapa at the Main
• Brunch is served between 09h30 and 10h30 and consists of maize porridge,
muesli and other breakfast cereals, fruit, yoghurt, salami, cheeses
and bread. Eggs, sausage or bacon follow.
• Brunch is served after the morning trail and replaces a conventional
lunch. This is done to make full use of the cool morning hours.
However, guests who still want lunch may make a booking at reception.
• Fresh fruit, as well as hot and cold refreshments, are available
throughout the day.
tea, cakes and savouries are served between 15h00 and 16h00.
• A gourmet, three-course evening meal is served between 19h00 and
• If guests plan to arrive at lunchtime, a light lunch is offered as
part of your full board for that day.
Any ‘special dietary requirements’ may be accommodated,
with prior notice.
• Leopards are frequently
seen, giving guests an opportunity to observe these magnificent predators
from a hide, or ‘radio-tracked’ from
the Okonjima game-viewing vehicles. The leopards roam freely and catch
their own prey within the 4,000 ha rehabilitation area. These cats
notoriously people-shy and sightings are not guaranteed.
• The Cheetah Project offers guests a valuable insight into the welfare
work of The AfriCat Foundation.
• On the Cheetah Tracking Trail, you are invited to participate on foot
in the radio-tracking of the rehabilitated cheetahs.
• The Bushman Trail. Experience a day in the life of a Bushman:
it constitutes an easy walking trail and is highly informative. You
get to learn about the art of making traditional artifacts and how the San
people adapt and survive in an unforgiving wilderness environment.
Participation is welcomed!
• Self-guided walking trails of up to 8 km, for those of you who want to
spend some time alone in the solitude of the Okonjima wilderness.
Birding - identify some of the more than 250+ species in the area, including
Namibian endemics – Carp’s Black Tit, Hartlaub’s
Francolin and the Damara Rock Runner.
• At the nocturnal hide you may view after-dinner 'Nightlife' such as porcupine,
honeybadgers and caracal, amongst others.
• Swimming Pool - Guests are welcome to make use of the pool at any time
of the day or night.
The AfriCat Foundation
Namibia is home to the world’s
largest cheetah population. Namibia also has approximately 7000 commercial
farms on which the majority of the country’s leopards and cheetahs
exist. These large carnivores occasionally prey upon calves, sheep and
goats that roam unprotected in the veld. As a result, carnivores are
often regarded as vermin by the livestock and game-farming community
and are deliberately trapped. AfriCat has had to take on a large number
of cats no longer wanted on other establishments.
Among the carnivores being
researched and rehabilitated by AfriCat are cheetahs and leopards.
The 4000-hectare (10,000 acres) TUSK Cheetah Rehabilitation Camp
was completed in 1999 and stocked with game by mid-2000. The
first cheetahs, three orphaned, sibling males, who had been with
AfriCat since they were two months old, were released in November
2000. These cheetahs were monitored daily. They were successful
in sustaining themselves almost from the start, with hunts that
included kudu, impala, scrub hares, hartebeest, zebra, steenbok
and duiker. After 7 months, it was heart breaking to lose 2 of
the cheetahs and tests ruled ‘anthrax’ as the cause
of death. The remaining cheetah has been monitored closely and
hasn't suffered any ill effects. What happened has no bearing
on the success of the project: ‘Three orphaned cheetahs
had the instinct to hunt and were able to sustain themselves'!
On the morning of 9th May
2002, the next 4 cheetahs were released into the camp with the
hope that they would
achieve the same success: with the end goal being to relocate them
to a game reserve or game park, thereby giving them a second chance
in the wild, where they belong. At the end of August 2002, an opportunity
arose for one of the pairs to be relocated to a 25,000 ha private
game reserve in Namibia. Their well-being has been monitored on
a regular basis and they are doing very well. The other pair of
cheetahs are still monitored daily in the rehabilitation area,
by radio-tracking them on foot.
Guests are invited to participate
in the tracking of these rehabilitated cheetahs on the AfriCat "Cheetah
Tracking Trail." Although hunting is instinctive in carnivores,
many of the cheetahs at AfriCat lack experience due to being
orphaned or removed from the wild at an early age. This inexperience,
well as their conditioning to captivity, makes these animals
unsuitable for release. The ten thousand-acre (4000 ha) TUSK
Rehabilitation Camp provides these cheetahs with the opportunity
to hone their hunting skills and become self-sustaining, thereby
giving them a chance to return to the wild. The cheetahs are
fitted with radio-collars before their release into the camp
so that their
welfare and progress can be closely monitored. The objective
is that once they have proved that they can hunt for themselves
have adapted satisfactorily, they can be relocated to a private
game reserve, where their progress will continue to be monitored.
giving orphaned cheetahs a chance to return to the wild, the
success of this project provides other substantial benefits:
the opportunity to assess whether ‘rehabilitation’ is
a successful means of conserving an endangered population and
also allows for the number of cheetahs in captivity to be reduced.
• Due to the increasing numbers of tourism
lodges holding cheetahs and other wild animals in captivity for
entertainment purposes, Okonjima does not allow cheetahs on the
lawn in front of the lodge in order to discourage this activity.
Photographers are advised that the leopards and the rehabilitated
cheetahs in the ‘Tusk Trust Cheetah Rehabilitation Park’ have
been fitted with radio-collars, as part of a research project.
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