“A pioneering hilltop lodge specialising in rhino tracking at the heart of the Ongava reserve, 5 hours north of Windhoek”
Twelve of the lodge's chalet-style rooms stretch north from the main lodge in a double tier. Numbers 1 to 8 have a front-row position with the best line of vision down to the water hole: rooms 9 to 12 aren't really in the same league, having less of a view and decks in the public eye (they give on to the path which leads to the rest of the chalets). Rooms 13 and 14 are the only double-bedded rooms and are further down the hill from the lodge: they have a more private feel, are closer to the water hole and have the added treat of a double showers where your ablutions can be à deux.
The chalets are big and airy, and stylishly combine thatch, canvas and pole with high ceilings and polished screed floors. Sliding glass doors lead out to a deck where there are chairs and a table as well as a sun lounger: this is where you'll spend most of your time at Ongava. The decorative style feels very safari with Casablanca-style ceiling fans, mozzie netted twin beds, campaign furniture, block-cut prints and photos of Ongava's best-known residents, the rhinos. And the chalets come with all the trimmings: a tea and coffee station, air-conditioning, safety box, luggage rack, masses of wardrobe space and - one of my personal must-haves - a writing desk.
Expect a swish bathroom with twin sinks set into a big run of mosaic surface, indoor and outdoor showers, soft white towels and flannels, cotton bathrobes and a big range of natural bath products. You'll find a big cotton bag hung next to your towels: all laundry is included during your stay.
Ongava's dining room, with its high thatch ceiling and soaring views, makes for a memorable venue for meals. Whenever the weather allows, tables are moved down to the big run of deck which spans out above the surrounding foliage and overlooks the lodge's twin watering holes.
All meals follow a buffet formula. Breakfast gets on the go from 5.30am: if you're heading into Etosha you'll need to make an early start. Your first feast will include fresh fruit salad, yoghurts, cereals, cold meats and cheeses as well as homemade bread and jams. Guests help themselves to tea, coffee, juices and - a nice touch during the hotter time of year - iced lemon water. An order is then taken at your table for the cooked breakfast of your choice.
Packed lunches are provided if you plan to spend the day in Etosha, whilst back at the lodge a light buffet is on offer. This will include soup (hot or cold according to the season), a selection of cold meats and salads, maybe a quiche but no dessert.
Dinners are much more substantial. Ours began with a delicious hot butternut squash soup served at our table. We then helped ourselves to a big spread of hot dishes and salads, which included a choice of white or red meat. We opted for the springbok fillet which was served with root vegetables and a mushroom and port sauce: it was excellent. A tarte au citron followed by coffee wound things up on the right note and the included house wine was good even though it was whisked straight from the fridge. If you prefer, you can choose a finer wine from the small selection of South African listings.
No children under the age of 12 are accepted. Room 12a and 12b can be linked in and so are ideal for a family with older children. Rooms 1 to 11 are all large enough for an additional single bed to be added, but a teenager will be charged as an adult.
Teens (over 12)
Extra Beds Available