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by Ginger Mauney
A new experience awaits the tourist travelling in Namibia. It is graceful and grand, and if you thought home is where the heart is, be prepared for a change of heart. Okonjima’s grand, new African house, The Villa, has opened its doors and what lies beyond and around those doors is a perfect, private paradise.
The Villa was created for travellers who want their African safari to have privacy, seclusion and luxury. It is the only lodge at Okonjima that lies within the 20 000-hectare private cheetah rehabilitation park and is a true ‘home away from home’, complete with a rambling series of beautiful thatched buildings, an infinity pool, waterhole and plenty of space – pure, luxurious space.
Here small groups of family and friends can gather to enjoy the bush in privacy, and set their own agenda for indulging in the many activities available at Okonjima. A private guide and personal vehicle are in standby to take The Villa’s guests to view leopards, track cheetahs, meander along nature trails and visit AfriCat, the on-site cheetah conservation and welfare programme, to learn more about its fascinating work.
The feeling of absolute exclusivity starts to materialise as you approach the surroundings of The Villa. Guests won’t bump into any people, vehicles or other trappings of a tourist destination. They can simply take their time and look for steenbok darting through the bush and graceful kudu peering through the trees, accompanied by the sounds of the African bush.
Upon arrival at The Villa the exclusivity intensifies, starting at the front door of the Grand African House and ending somewhere in the infinity of the bush. Though utterly luxurious, the décor and design blend seamlessly into the surroundings, making you feel immediately comfortable. Natural wood and fibres are accented with art and artefacts in deep ochre, grass green and honey yellow. A CD player with samplings of light music and a library full of African reference and photographic books provide endless enjoyment for guests.
The Villa consists of a large main house with two separate, private suites, and can accommodate eight adults and five children. A personal host or hostess and chef is in attendance during their stay.
The Main House extends from the front door to the edge of the magnificent infinity pool overlooking a natural waterhole. A teak deck surrounds the pool and meanders off to an open-air, shaded ‘sala’, offering the ultimate setting for relaxation, birding or napping.
Between these exceptionally pleasing features and contained within the grace and elegance of the Main House is a very modern chef-designed kitchen with gas and electrical cooking facilities, vast refrigeration space and a permanent ice supply. Two separate wine coolers and a soft-drink refrigerator add to the professional feel of the kitchen, while an outdoor braai and cooking area expand the dining potential. And again, mealtime is anytime.
The living spaces of the Main House are free flowing, with a spacious lounge, wood-burning fireplace and dining room all opening out onto the deck. Two en-suite bedrooms are nestled in one wing of the house for added privacy. Decorated for comfort and luxury, the master bedroom has the added extravagance of a king-sized bed that can be rolled out onto the terrace for guests to sleep under the stars.
Bedrooms, both in the main house and in the nearby suites, have en-suite bathrooms with stunning views of the bush. From a sunken bath or inside shower, the surrounding natural environment is ever present, while the outside bush showers take the concept further.
High, spacious thatched roofs and fans crown each bedroom, but if requested, air-conditioning and heating facilities are provided. Surrounding foldaway glass-panelled doors provide access to the all-encompassing vistas of the surrounding bush. The glass doors can be substituted by roll-down canvas with heavy-duty gauze screens that enhance the outdoor ambience while maintaining comfort and safety.
Each bedroom has ample workspace and dial-up Internet facilities for connecting with the outside world. In this beautiful ‘home away from home’, however, you may want to forget that the outside world even exists. Exclusivity, supreme luxury and tangible earthiness combine to provide an experience like none other. The Villa at Okonjima is irresistible, the ultimate paradise, built just for you.
This article appeared in the May/June ‘06 edition of Travel News Namibia.