Having flown back from Serra Cafema to Doro Nawas, we were reunited with our hire car and after a swift drink on the balcony, which has the most superb views, we headed out for the drive south to Okonjima. After an hour of the usual bumps and just west of Khorixas, a mirage appeared about a mile away; jet black and glistening in the sun was the most beautiful site. Tarmac!
We briefly stopped to check the tyres – always a good idea when leaving a shale road and going on to tarmac, as anything sharp caught in the tyre will be pushed in further – before pushing onwards through Otjiwarongo, where we swung south to our final destination, Okonjima. Just like I had ‘reservations’ about going back to Serra Cafema, I had similar feeling about Okonjima, as it was the first lodge that I visited as the soon to be owner of (what is now) Signature Safaris, some 17 years ago. How much had it changed?
If the controlled access was any guide, it had certainly grown up. What used to be a single unmade track back in 2000, was now a more formal approach road with manned gates and key pad controlled automatic gates now bisecting the Okonjima Reserve.
We were due to stay at Plains Camp but there was an imminent huge wedding, taking out the entire camp and as preparations were in full swing, we were moved to Bush Camp, the smaller and more intimate of the two principal camps now offered. The other two being the Grand African Villa, ideal for family groups, and the Private Bush Suite which offers honeymoon couples an exclusive experience away from the bigger camps. Ask Brad and Angelina; maybe not though…..
The Okonjima Reserve is home to the Africat Foundation which has, for many years, done a sterling job in rescuing, treating and relocating or homing on their reserve injured large carnivores, principally leopards and cheetah but also lion and wild dog. This work still goes on but education of future generations now forms a bigger part of what they do.
Our accommodation was a comfortable Bush Suite with a bedroom and en-suite as well as a separate open fronted lounge. Both facing out towards the part of the reserve that did not contain any predators, hence it was safe to walk from our room to the main area without the need for an escorting ranger. We saw a lot of wildlife from both rooms – black backed jackals, giraffe and kudu to name but three.
Parking our vehicle next to our accommodation was somewhat unusual but it kept luggage lugging to a minimum.
That evening after dinner we headed out to the night hide in the hope of seeing a leopard or perhaps a honey badger. Alas it was not be but a porcupine put in a sterling effort in almost finishing all the food placed outside the hide before departing at a noticeably more pedestrian pace than he arrived.