Our experience at Ongava Tented Camp in Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Having been lucky enough to enjoy many African safaris, I was unsure what to expect of Etosha National Park. However, staying at Ongava Tented Camp was a real highlight of my trip to Namibia. This classic safari camp is situated in the wild, 30,000-hectare Ongava Game Reserve, bordering Etosha, which allows guests to visit the national park itself as well as explore the private reserve by vehicle or on foot.
On arrival, it immediately became clear that there was a huge amount of wildlife in the area. My tent, one of eight, was furthest from the main area and, as a guide showed me to my room, he casually mentioned that there was a pride of lions sleeping under the bush just a hop, skip and a jump away. Looking over, I spotted two females and four cubs. I loved my cosy abode. It felt as though I had walked back in time to colonial East Africa: a huge, ensuite, Meru-style tent that was simple but extremely comfortable. I left my bag and headed out again, keeping a firm eye on those cats.
The stone, canvas and thatch communal area looked on to the most productive waterhole I have ever seen. During the afternoon, my feline neighbours made their way over to the lagoon to rehydrate. I couldn’t believe how close we were to those exquisite creatures. As I watched them from eye level, they were just 50m or so away, with only a small wooden fence separating us. Later in the evening, five white rhino gathered for an evening drink, accompanied by a tiny baby; and after this, a magnificent male lion joined the party. It was unbelievable.
Guests of Ongava can go on game drives, guided walks or birding outings as well as visiting hides to encounter wildlife up close. The reserve is famous for its high densities of lions, white and black rhino and plains game. In fact, this is one of the few places in southern Africa where guests can see both black and white rhino.
On one afternoon game drive, our brilliant guide, Michael, spotted a crash of five white rhino in the distance. He stopped the car, cut the engine, grabbed his gun, and soon we were quietly approaching them, each one weighing a whopping two to three tonnes. Michael knows the animals well and is one of the few guides qualified to take guests on foot, so we were very fortunate to be with him. It was a truly breathtaking experience.