Natural Habitat Adventures

Okonjima AfriCat Extension

Itinerary

Itinerary Map
Day 1: Ongava / Okonjima Nature Reserve
This morning, travel from Ongava by road on a private transfer to Okonjima Nature Reserve. Located halfway between Windhoek and Etosha National Park, this 55,000-acre conservancy lies within the Omboroko Mountains, interspersed with sprawling plains marked with ancient sandstone ridges. The private reserve is home to the AfriCat Foundation, dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned and injured feline carnivores. Taking care of cats that are too fragile or ill-prepared to be set free, AfriCat's ultimate mission is to return as many of them to the wild as possible. Its success rate is significant: to date, 87% of its animals under care (more than 1,000 individuals) have been fully released. On your visit to Okonjima, witness elements of this program at work as you track rehabilitated animals and observe large cats and other wildlife in their native habitat. 

Check in to Okonjima Bush Camp, our base for exploring Okonjima Nature Reserve. Accommodations are in luxury chalets on the edge of the surrounding wilderness area. Each chalet, with a 180-degree view of the bushveld, is located well away from the others, offering a sense of seclusion in nature.

Day 2: Exploring Okonjima & Observing AfriCat Field Work
The main focus of our activities is Okonjima's carnivores and the work of the resident AfriCat Foundation. A family-run enterprise, AfriCat was founded in 1993 by the Hanssens, who converted their parents' cattle ranch into a conservation project. Namibia is home to the world’s largest cheetah population, though most of Namibia’s cheetahs and leopards face threats from commercial farmers who often kill or trap them when they occasionally prey upon livestock. AfriCat’s strategy to ensure long-term survival of large carnivores includes research and education as well as strategies for economic improvement of affected farming communities. 

Although hunting is instinctive in carnivores, many of the cheetahs under AfriCat's care lack experience, having been orphaned or removed from the wild at an early age. This inexperience, as well as their conditioning to captivity, makes them unsuitable for immediate release. That's where Okonjima comes in. The reserve provides captive cheetahs and other carnivores the opportunity to hone their hunting skills and become self-sustaining, thereby giving them a chance to return to the wild. Captive animals are fitted with radio-collars prior to their release into the reserve, so their welfare can be closely monitored. During your time at Okonjima, you'll accompany staff on tracking missions on foot to monitor the progress of rehabilitated cheetahs and hyenas.

Other wildlife commonly observed include giraffe and both Burchell’s and Hartmann’s mountain zebra, many different antelope, smaller cat species, and a variety of bats. Night drives may reveal nocturnal wildlife such as aardwolf, porcupine, caracal and honey badgers. We may also spot these from the nocturnal hide, where hidden observers watch approaching animals. Guests also have the rare opportunity to do self-guided walks on nature trails to experience this vast wild reserve safely in solitude. The sanctuary is a fabulous location for photography, with plenty of opportunities to capture close-ups of magnificent animals against a stunning desert backdrop. You'll also learn about the San Bushmen, the indigenous inhabitants of this area, and their traditional ways of subsisting within such a seemingly unforgiving landscape. Birding is a highlight, too, with more than 250 species in the reserve, including Namibian endemics like Carp’s black tit, Hartlaub’s francolin and the Damara rockrunner

Day 3: Windhoek / Depart
After breakfast, transfer by road to the international airport in Windhoek for your departing flight.

Physical Rating: Easy

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