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“A haven of joy”

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Little Ongava Lodge
Reviewed August 20, 2013

Little Ongava Lodge was the last lodge we visited as a family of 6 during a trip through Namibia in the winter of 2013 (July), and even after almost 2 weeks of experiencing this beautiful country and its very luxurious lodges, we were still deeply impressed by this place.

Little Ongava seduces from the very moment you arrive. It is situated on top of a hill, above the larger Ongava Lodge, and therefore gives you the best views over the region, and on the drinking hole set in the valley at about 100 meters away from the hill. You enjoy these views from the main building, which is tastefully decorated and where you'll find plenty of very interesting books... and Michael, the manager. Michael is a very interesting, well-read and warm-hearted man and anybody who is open for long conversations about politics, history, culture or nature in Namibia, Africa or the whole world can spend hours with him without ever getting bored.

When you go from the main building to the rooms, you encounter the only slightly less pleasant item about Little Ongava: room 1 is at about 50 metres away from the main building, but rooms 2 and 3 are quite a walk, up to 380 meters for room 3. The reason for this is that they are rather far apart so that every room enjoys optimal privacy. But Michael told us that extra rooms will be built during the low season which will be so far they will have to adapt the walking boards so that they can accommodate small golf carts to make the distance less of a strain.

The rooms themselves are overwhelmingly spacious and luxurious and each one offers stunning views over the Ongava Private Game Reserve. Small birds come to drink from the infinity pool (which unfortunately is unheated and therefore too cold to use during winter time), klipdassies walk around as if they own the place and the large windows give you a great feeling of being part of the surroundings. Nevertheless, Little Ongava is one of the few Wilderness lodges with hot water boilers, so that you can take warm showers or baths whenever you want - a luxury we appreciated very much after several lodges with less effective sun boilers. There even is a second outdoors shower with the same spectacular view as every other place in this lodge.

But I kept the best for last. All the staff at Little Ongava are very kind, gentle and warm, but apart from Michael, no one can outshine our guide Franco. He was available to us at every time of the day and displays a enthusiasm for his job and for the place where he works as if he has just arrived himself. He will be just as much impressed as you are when you stumble upon a large pride of lions or a big white or black rhino. He knows everything about every animal and plant. And he has a gentle and kind spirit that charmed us all deeply.

In short: Little Ongava is a very, very special place, made better even by the people who work there. A small piece of paradise on earth.

Room Tip: Room 1 is closest to the main building, but the views are equally impressive as in the other rooms.
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank AutoBert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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42 - 48 of 69 reviews

Reviewed June 13, 2013

We stayed here for three nights starting May 19th at the beginning of our trip. This lodge is incredible!!! The service, the food, the guiding, the rooms and the entire staff were simply amazing. Let's start with the rooms first. They are absolutely gorgeous, our room had 3 rooms, and outdoor lounging area with private pool and an outdoor shower on a walkway that led you to your daybed, and all of this with a spectacular view of the game concession. The staff were all incredible, very friendly, helpful and always around when we needed them without ever feeling like they were hovering. Michael, George and Tobias were a real joy to be around and it was hard to leave. Wilhem our guide was sensational. His tracking abilities were unmatched (we visited 4 camps following this and he is still the best in our minds). There was great attention to detail at this lodge! The food was some of the best we had too and the chef was always happy to accomodate any request. All in all our stay was amazing and we can't wait to return.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Ddayton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 29, 2013

Nothing can prepare you for the luxury of Little Ongava...

The rooms are simply breathtaking. In the wnter a nice fire is made in your room. A private pool on your terrace. An outside bed. AN inside huge fairy-tale like bed. A bathroom full of luxury and splendour. Remarkable. The surroundings are so beautifull too.

Very nice safari drives. The guide actually tried so hard to let us see lions, he drove into the bushes off the track to let us see 6 lionesses who had just hunted. Very scary but so exhileraating.

The food is of a very high standard and the tent in which is served is warm and welcoming. A telescope on the terrace below let you see the rhinos when they drink at the pothole down below in the evening.

Very attentive service and great guides
An unforgettable 2 days !!!!!!!

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Steve C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2013

Stayed here 6 to 10th of April 2013, we only wished we could have stayed longer. So relaxing and so beautiful settings and houses. The bathroom is to die for. The staff friendly and helpful. Michael the boss know so much and could tell a lot from Namibia and Franco our guide had such passion for the nature and animals. We just loved staying here. Something very different.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Anncha61
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2013

I have had the good fortune to have had great lodge experiences throughout Africa, but Little Ongava really stood out. All great lodges start with management, and Little Ongava is blessed to have Michael, who is so knowledgeable, detail oriented and caring. And then there was our guide Franco! As others have said, he is just amazing, and in a continent full of fabulous, superlative guides, a stand out.

One night we were kept awake by a mewling in our room. The next morning we investigated and found a small furry animal in the crevices of one of the walls of our room. We told Michael, who came to look, and identified the animal as a baby genet. After we returned from a lengthy day in Etosha with Franco, we learned that Michael had opened the doors to our room and sat watching for a long time, hoping mama would come for the baby. When that failed, he consulted books to discover the genets nesting habits, and placed baby in a spot outside he hoped would encourage mama to return. This kind of caring is so remarkable and rare today.

Michael's knowledge and love of wine and food was also evident in his careful wine selections and fabulous chef. It was the best food we had in Africa, despite stiff competition from Chef Katrina at Zarafa Camp in Botswana. Little Ongava went out of their way to serve me vegetarian offerings that were innovative and so good, they made my fellow carnivorous guests drool.

Of course the "rooms", small villas, really, are outstanding in every way, and the wildlife viewing was great. Sitting in a blind with Franco watching black and white rhino at the waterhole was a fantastic experience.

Little Ongava, Michael, Franco, they're all a credit to the Wilderness Safaris brand. Truly a stellar experience from top to bottom.

  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SheaG
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 20, 2012

What a beautiful small lodge near Etosha! Only 3 suites , each very private. Each suite has 3 huge rooms, a bedroom, large bathroom and a very large sitting room with fireplace. Each faces out over the game reserve with large window walls, and opens onto a large deck with a lovely plunge pool ( unheated). Well air conditioned in bedroom and bath, though not in the sitting room. A fireplace for cooler times. The atmosphere in the rooms is very out of Africa, comfortable, meticulously designed for comfort and practicality, but with local art objects to enjoy. Very good bed, good bedside lights and side table storage, very good roomy dressing room and storage. Bathroom with tub overlooking reserve, very large shower and good water pressure. A separate outdoor Sala overlooking the reserve for lounging, as well as the spacious deck.
The main lodge room is a delight, open air, old Africa, comfortable seating and good service. A big deck to eat on or to watch the animals at the waterhole through the telescope. The suites are sited right above the main Ongava camp so there is a little gift shop there. But there are dedicated people at Little Ongava, and a separate jeep to take guests into the park. Because there are only 3 rooms the eating and time for leaving for drives is a looser and more personally chosen.
The service was excellent, timed to absences from the room, yet friendly and helpful. Our guide Franco was quite knowledgable and suited where we went and saw to the personalities. The food was really excellent and we looked forward to it after a long drive. The reserve itself, was good, not great as some elsewhere, but a lot of lions, the black and white rhinos and grazing animals it was well worth it. A very, very good experience all in all.


  • Stayed: November 2012
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1  Thank Chicago60604
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2012

This is my third stay with a Wilderness property, previous stays having been at Sera Cafema and Little Kulala. On this trip my partner and I were visiting friends in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and decided to make a side trip to Little Ongava for some time to ourselves. Namibia is my favorite country on earth, so I’m biased , but that said, here’s my experience at Little Ongava.

To start, the lounge staff at Windhoek International Airport were terrific - Anthony, in particular, was friendly and very informative, and they have facilities here to store luggage, as one is restricted to the amount depending on the camp. Little Ongava allows 20 kg. per person, which is plenty. The flights were on time (as always), and the pilots were friendly (as always) as well. They've re-branded the "airline" from Sefofane to Wildnerness. Travel time from WDH to the airstrip for Little Ongava was a little more than an hour.

We were greeted at the strip by Franco Morao, who was friendly and took our luggage for us and who would end up being our guide, and then drove us to the camp. More on him later. At the camp we were greeted by Michael, the general manager, a Namibian born man of German heritage who made it clear that whatever we wanted would be his pleasure to provide, and during the course of the stay, he (and everyone) certainly delivered. With him was Tobias, who worked lunch and the afternoon, and in the evening we met , who worked dinner. Michael was available and visible at all times, from when we left for a safari, and when we returned. And every time we came back there were at least 2 people waiting for us with cold, wet refreshing towels and cool drinks.

The main lodge features tables and chairs overlooking the Ongava lodge but, more dramatically, overlooking the Ongava game reserve; it’s high on a hill, at the very top, overlooking a couple of watering holes and the vast reserve itself. It also has a telescope for zeroing in on the animals. From this vantage point we saw white and black rhino, kudu, giraffe, and I could go on all day. Bird lovers will find plenty to occupy themselves, too.

Michael took us to our room, #3, which was the farthest away from the main lodge. Completely private, the “room” is really a small house. We entered the living area, which features a fully stocked minibar and invisibly replenished ice, books to read (on local flora and fauna to popular paperbacks), seats, a desk with lamp, a fireplace – just beautiful. Through double sliding doors one enters the bedroom, which features 2 double beds, nightstands, beautiful furniture, and behind the bedroom is a luggage area and bureau for storing clothes. Each night before we went to bed we’d throw our dirty clothes into the hamper in this area, and each evening the cleaned/laundered clothes were waiting for us upon our return. Then there was the bathroom – opulent, featuring sinks in the middle, a claw-footed bathtub overlooking the park, and shower. There is also an outdoor shower one can access by a door in the bathroom. Also in the bathroom is a bureau with towels, soaps and shampoos, bug repellant, and an air horn (the kind one uses on boats) to summon staff in the case of an emergency.

The vast deck overlooked the game reserve; pictures cannot do it justice. There is a private infinity pool overlooking the game reserve as well, and an outdoor daybed. Finally, it should be noted that all the walls that face the game reserve, from the living room, to the bedroom, to the bathroom, can be opened/slid out so that there is nothing between you inside the building and the game reserve below.

Now for Franco. Franco is hands-down the best guide I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good guides – Toni at Sera Cafema and Agnes at Little Kulala, were 2 of the best, and they’re still in the top 3, but Franco takes the award for most patient. Our first afternoon/evening, Franco drove us and the other 2 couples staying at the lodge to the game reserve, where we saw a rhino with a horn at least 2 meters in length. Beautiful. As the sun was setting, the vehicle has warm ponchos rolled up and stored at each side of all three rows of benches, so as it got colder out (and it gets cold in the desert!) we could stay warm.

The next morning, we went into Etosha National Park. I’ll leave the details to that to others, as this is a review of Little Ongava, but I’ll say I love that park.

For the afternoon drive, we opted to stay in our room after lunch, and enjoy the sights from our suite. Very relaxing, and we met up with the others for sundowners and dinner.

The next day was an all-day trip to Etosha and the salt pan, and 4 hours into it I could feel my skin burning. We had forgotten our sunscreen! But guess what?! Franco was carrying sunscreen with SPF 50 in our vehicle, and the day was saved – we would have had to turn back to go to concession stand near the park entrance for sunscreen, and if they didn’t sell it, back to Little Ongava because it would have been dangerous in that sun to keep going. The day was saved and one of the most memorable drives of our lives was a success because Franco / Wilderness are that prepared for things that can go wrong.

Franco seemingly knows everything about every bird, animal, insect, everything. That he works for Wilderness is a testament to them.

On our last night we were the only 2 at the camp, and we stayed up after dinner talking to Michael, and it felt like we were catching up with an old friend.

I’m not sure in what parallel universe someone is living to say anything about this camp losing its way; it sets the standard for the way to run a high-end camp, and I hope I can go back to this one.

Room Tip: -There is no fitness center. -We never asked to eat in our room, though I suspect had we asked for...
  • Stayed: May 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank William G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Little Ongava Lodge

Address: | Ongava Game Reserve, Etosha National Park 9000, Namibia
Location: Namibia > Oshikoto Region > Etosha National Park
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #23 of 36 Specialty Lodging in Etosha National Park
Price Range: $5,825 - $10,990 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Little Ongava Lodge 5*
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Little Ongava is perched on the crest of a hill commanding magnificent vistas of the plains beyond. Arguably Namibia's most civilised and certainly most comfortable accommodation, Little Ongava offers an extraordinary experience as the focal point of an Etosha journey.This intimate camp has only three spacious suites each with its own plunge pool, en-suite bathroom, sala, and outdoor 'al fresco' shower. These and the lounge and dining area have wonderful views of the waterhole below the camp and the latter lends itself to relaxed, stylish dining under the African Sky. Guests at Little Ongava share a dedicated guide and vehicle, ensuring the best possible nature experience at one of Africa's great wildlife destinations. Day and night wildlife-viewing drives, visiting hides overlooking waterholes, walks and rhino tracking with experienced guides can all be enjoyed exclusively on this reserve. Game drives and day trips into nearby Etosha National Park are also offered. ... more   less 

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