Two black rhinos ambled over, joining us for a drink. We were up on the deck, sipping gin and tonic; they drank from the waterhole, and didn’t even notice us. After drinking their fill, one waddled over to the salt lick. I could hear the scrape of his tongue with each taste.
This is Ongava Lodge, just outside Etosha National Park. You’ll be distracted from your delicious meals, snacks and drinks, all taken on the lodge’s deck overlooking the waterhole, by the arrival of eland, oryx, lion, and rhino (both white and black). You’ll learn the true nature of your travelling companions as you discuss who you favour in the circle of life — predators or prey.
If you can pull yourself away from the waterhole, a guide (armed, just in case) will take you on safari through the privately-owned Ongava Reserve. You’ll see Hartmann’s mountain zebra, blue wildebeest, giraffe, black-faced impala and other antelopes. The white rhinos are as large as tanks, the back ones smaller but in a fouler mood. The lions like to lie on the sandy road — the males nap while the females keep a watchful eye on the tourists, wondering if anyone is stupid enough to put their foot out of the 4×4 and become dinner.
The lodge has just twelve chalets, each with a large bedroom, large bathroom, plenty of closet space and a deck with an outdoor shower (in case you were bored with the indoor shower). Some have views of the waterhole, best from July to October when there are fewer leaves on the trees. There’s also a swimming pool (from which dassies like to drink, perhaps thinking they’re too small to brave the waterhole with the other animals).
Ongava bills itself as “probably the most exclusive destination in Namibia“. With their beautiful lodge and chalets, delicious meals, attentive staff and stunning location, flora and fauna, I think they’re right.