Okonjima Nature Reserve is halfway between Windhoek and the Etosha National Park; a 2 ½ hour drive either way. Therefore; it is an excellent stop en route to Etosha; but it is also; well worth staying over for a night or two.
Namibia is home to the world’s largest wild and free-roaming cheetah population. Due to commercial farming and urbanization encroaching on wild habitats; cheetahs and leopards often roam on the 7 000 odd commercial farms found in the country. Occasionally; they prey on their livestock and therefore; are subsequently killed by the farmers.
Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to the AfriCat Foundation; a Carnivore Conservation initiative. AfriCat takes care of the carnivores until they are rehabilitated and can be released back into the wild. Additionally; it allows them to become completely independent hunters; in a protected area right in the middle of commercial farmland!
Okonjima Nature Reserve is now one of the premier places to be educated about conservation and observe carnivores; and other endangered species; like the aardvark, pangolin, and brown hyaena in the wild. Its’ emphasis on authenticity has made it a jewel in Namibian tourism. Part of the symbiotic relationship is that monies raised through the Okonjima Nature Reserve; help to fund the important conservation research (AfriCat Foundation) programs and education projects.
The Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to and runs extensive research projects on rare and endangered species, big and small.
OKONJIMA NATURE RESERVE CONSERVATION VISION
Their dream is to turn the nature reserve that was once denuded farmland; back to its natural state, last seen 200 years ago. This dream must be sustainable and must benefit local communities for it to survive the tide of change in Africa. This ongoing project is close to removing the majority of internal fences, managing water resources and hides; has opened new bush roads, and is removing undesirable vegetation as part of its de-bushing efforts.
Okonjima’s lodges and The AfriCat Foundation have embraced tourism as both a conservation strategy and sustainable business model. This close relationship has resulted in the creation of this large reserve; providing refuge for some of Namibia’s most vulnerable carnivores; as well as a platform for environmental education and funding for relevant conservation activities.
NO HUMAN / WILDLIFE CONTACT
An increasing number of lodges and volunteer programs keep cheetahs, leopards, and other wild animals in captivity; under the pretense of conservation for the entertainment of their guests. Walking with cheetahs and lions, touching and cuddling cubs, or any direct human / animal contact; is unnatural and often results in poor living conditions; when compared to the wild. Not to mention; the stress placed on the animals; or even possible links to the canned hunting trade. Revenue earned through showcasing and interacting with these captive cheetahs rarely goes back into conservation and; the growing practice of catching wild cheetahs is threatening the numbers of wild populations.
Okonjima supports the conservation of wild animals in their NATURAL HABITAT. The AfriCat Foundation has rehabilitated 86% of the animals that have come through Okonjima however; those that aren’t able to be rehabilitated and released into the wild are looked after in a humane manner; that does not involve any direct interactions with humans.
They become The AfriCat Foundation’s educational species ambassadors. The Foundation has also adopted unwanted cheetahs; when lodge owners or farmers decide they are no longer worth keeping.
Okonjima Safari and birding
Game drives and guided bush walks offer visitors an intimate, up-close perspective of Namibia’s wildlife and especially; its most protected species. The Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to and runs extensive research projects on rare and endangered species big and small.
The landscapes within the Okonjima Nature Reserve; make it the perfect birding destination. With its elevated sandy plateau between the major escarpments of the Omboroko Mountains; mixed woodland and acacia thornveld plains; there are over 250 migratory and native bird species. Alongside predators and diverse wildlife; guests can expect to see up to 100 bird species during a short stay; even more, if the annual rains have recently fallen. Spending hours out in the bush each day; knowledgeable guides make birding on Okonjima an exciting activity; as they share their passion for Namibian birdlife.
Between early morning and afternoon game drives; guests may go on self-guided hikes on one of the three hiking trails. The clearly marked trails vary between four and six kilometers and they meander along with the spectacular landscapes; where wildlife and birdlife abound.
Day visitors will be able to spend a short time at AfriCat’s Carnivore Care & Information Centre; which offers you valuable insight into the work of the Foundation. Your visit to AfriCat will include a short guided drive to the AfriCat Care Centre; to meet some of our carnivore ambassadors.
Some of our self-drive and guided tours either stop or stay at Okonjima Nature Reserve and the Africat Centre.