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Namibia Safari

Okonjima & The AfriCat Foundation

Omboroko Mountains, Waterberg Plateau, Namibia

Okonjima Camp in the Waterberg Plateau region of Namibia is home to the AfriCat Foundation
Return to Map of Damaraland & Etosha                     Image © Okonjima

View images of Okonjima & AfriCat: Okonjima Images

OKONJIMA RATES: Okonjima Rates

Okonjima, in the Omboroko Mountains of Namibia, is home to the AfriCat FoundationThe 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 Images
• 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
Main Camp was the original Hanssen family farmhouse, reconstructed as a lodge in 1992. All ten double rooms overlook a lush garden and the open-fire entertainment area. The luxury Bush Camp and Main Camp are run separately

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 Camp
• 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.

• Coffee, tea, cakes and savouries are served between 15h00 and 16h00.
• A gourmet, three-course evening meal is served between 19h00 and 20h00.
• 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 however, are 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, as well as their conditioning to captivity, makes these animals unsuitable for release. The ten thousand-acre (4000 ha) TUSK Trust Cheetah 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 and have adapted satisfactorily, they can be relocated to a private game reserve, where their progress will continue to be monitored.

Besides giving orphaned cheetahs a chance to return to the wild, the success of this project provides other substantial benefits: it allows 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.

Top           Return to Map of Damaraland & Etosha

For further information about the National Parks of Namibia, click Nam Parks
For History and General information about Namibia, click More Namibia

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