As of next year a new research and visitor’s centre will be constructed at one of Ongava’s renowned four accommodation establishments, Andersson’s Camp.
Currently, Ongava Game Reserve has four accommodation sections, namely Little Ongava, Ongava Lodge, Ongava Tented Camp and Andersson’s Camp, which will cease its operations by December this year.
This follows a new concept that has been developed whereby tourists will be able to experience how nature conservation is applied first hand.
In an interview with New Era on Monday, Ongava brand manager Meke Imbili said they are not revamping Andersson’s Camp – instead it will be discontinued on December 31.
She explained Ongava would embark on a new lodge project called Andersson’s @ Ongava, which will integrate with the future Ongava Research Centre campus.
Asked what prompted Ongava to decide to cease the camp’s operation, Imbili said Andersson’s Camp has reached its life expectancy and Ongava has narrowed its strategy to focus more on the luxury market.
“This allowed our operations to focus and specialize more on luxury travellers and conservation,” Imbili noted.
When asked on the costs involved in the new project, Imbili said Ongava management is still busy working on the project and therefore costs are not yet finalized.
She said the opening date for the new project is set for March 15, 2019 and Andersson’s @ Ongava will be integrated with the new Ongava Research Centre campus.
Ensuring a high value and exclusive experience, she said, the Andersson’s @ Ongava Camp will only have seven guest units and a family unit, accommodating a maximum of 18 visitors instead of the current 40 guests.
Andersson’s Camp is where the original farmhouse was restored and turned into accommodation for tourists.
It currently has 20 luxury tents and three guide rooms with en suite bathroom facilities.
One of the main attractions at Andersson’s is a big waterhole where herds of wild animals gather to drink.
Next to the waterhole is a hide, which is renowned among photographers as the best spot to photograph wildlife.
With the research centre guests will be able to learn more about conservation, for them to know that tourism and conservation go together.
Ongava will thus like to see an interaction between tourists and researchers.
Further, Ongava plans that the research centre will also be ideal for pupils and students who want to learn about conservation.
It is also envisaged that post-graduate students will be involved in the new initiative and they will be expected to interact with guests.
Ongava trains their guides to become field guides, through a South African academy.
In the early 1990s a group of Namibian, English, American and South African partners clubbed together and bought 30,000 hectares of land on Etosha’s southern boundary.
The aim of this venture was to create Namibia’s finest private game reserve and create a buffer for Etosha along its southern boundary.
Ongava (meaning rhinoceros in Herero) was born, and a massive rehabilitation and restocking program took place. White rhino was introduced and over time black rhino migrated into the reserve.
Many thousands of animals are now found at Ongava, including elephant, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, red hartebeest, eland, wildebeest, zebra and the rare black-faced impala. Lion, leopard and cheetah have also moved back into Ongava. Accommodation at Ongava Lodge consists of 13 chalets and one family room, attractively built out of brick, rock and thatch. Each chalet has an en suite bathroom with flush toilet, shower and double handbasins. Air-conditioning and overhead fans keep guests cool in summer. Mosquito nets are fitted to the windows and each room features a tea or coffee station and a safe.
The rooms have glass-fronted doors which lead out onto a private, covered veranda overlooking the plains.