Wildlife Group Tour

Namibia Group Tour - Predator Conservation with AfriCat

Lion tracking and a day of big cat health checks

13 days

from £5,295pp
  • Hands-on participation in Africat’s Annual Big Cat Health Examination
  • Expert led by AfriCat, giving a fascinating insight into Namibian big cat conservation
  • Time in the Hobatere Concession, shadowing the lion research and community work of AfriCat North
  • Explore Etosha National Park, home to big game set against vast salt pans

Working exclusively with AfriCat, Steppes offer a unique conservation tour, with hands-on participation at its core. Gain behind the scenes access to AfriCat’s work at two of its locations – the Okonjima Reserve and the Hobatere Concession – focussing on both cheetahs and lions.

At Okonjima, work beside AfriCat's vets during the reserve’s Annual Big Cat Health Check. Gain unparalleled access to cheetahs during the day-long health check, in the company of Donna Hanssen, head of AfriCat’s rehabilitation programme. You will be on hand throughout the day, helping the vets to ensure all cheetahs are vaccinated and given a thorough health examination.

These days at Okonjima are followed by time spent in Etosha National Park, with the chance to spot big game. This salt-pan-dominated landscape is home black and white rhinos, as well as elephants, lions and numerous antelopes.

From here drive west and spend time exploring the Hobatere Concession, accompanied by Tammy Hoth-Hanssen. Director of the AfriCat Foundation and head of AfriCat North, Tammy is an expert in big cat conservation. Join Tammy and her team as they go about their daily activities, monitoring Hobatere’s resurgent lion population.

A number of individual animals have been fitted with tracking collars, allowing the researchers to closely monitor their movements and behaviour. Also meet with local community leaders to gain an insight into what it really means to live side-by-side with lions and other predators.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THIS GROUP TOUR?

It offers expert insight into the conservation work being done by AfriCat and its founder Donna Hanssen with luxury accommodation at Okonjima. While at Hobatere Lodge, the group will be joined by Tammy Hoth-Hanssen, Donna’s elder sister, to learn more about AfriCat's Lion Research Project.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE?

Okonjima Plains Camp is one of Namibia’s most outstanding lodges, while retaining its family-run and welcoming atmosphere. Hobatere Lodge is all about the location and its waterhole. The Hobatere Concession is central to AfriCat’s Lion Research study site and the local pride.

DO I NEED TO BE FIT TO JOIN THIS TOUR?

There is no specific fitness level required.

WHY AFRICAT?

Apart from their obvious work with big cats, AfriCat were one of the first organisations to fully embrace sensitive tourism as an effective means of supporting conservation.

AfriCat was founded in 1991 on Okonjima Farm in Central Namibia (though officially registered as a non-profit organisation in 1993) whose mission is to contribute to the long term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores. AfriCat was created as a result of information gained on Okonjima when it was still a cattle farm losing calves to leopards and the desire and urgent need of sharing this information with fellow farmers. The consequent contact with numerous farmers and AfriCat’s exposure led to the rescue of many trapped large carnivores. Since 1993, 1080 of these predators were rescued. Over 85% were released back into the wild. 

WHAT OTHER WILDLIFE WILL I SEE ON THE TRIP?

This trip focusses on the conservation and rehabilitation of cheetahs, leopards and other predators through AfriCat. Therefore, and due to the necessary protective fencing, no other big game is found within the Okonjima Reserve. However, in the Hobatere Concession, the wildlife is more diverse, with plains game as well as elephants.

The greatest concentrations of wildlife are likely to be seen whilst in Etosha National Park, with many of Southern Africa’s iconic species present here. Look out for large numbers of zebras, oryx and elephants, as well as the occasional leopard or rhino (rarely seen during the day).

 



Departing on:
  • 22nd June 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
22nd Jun 2018 4th Jul 2018 £ 5,295 £ 1,000 £ 440 Donna Hanssen Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All transfers and and transport
  • All AfriCat guides and participation - Big Cat Health Check
  • English-speaking guide throughout
  • Hotel accommodation with meals as stated
  • 12 breakfasts, lunches and dinners
  • Park fees
  • Water throughout

what is excluded

  • Additional Meals
  • International flights
  • Drinks with meals
  • Insurance
  • Visas
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Outbound Flights
The group outbound flight for this tour is:

South African Airways SA235, scheduled to depart London Heathrow at 19:00 on Thursday 21st June, arriving into Johannesburg airport at 07:05 the next day. This connects with South African Airways SA74, scheduled to depart at 09:30, arriving into Windhoek at 10:25.

For those making their own way to Windhoek and not taking the group flight, please try to arrive in the morning or afternoon, so that you can meet up with rest of the group for the meal in the evening.

Namibia's capital, Windhoek, is a vibrant place of many contrasts. Seemingly misplaced German architecture stands side by side with modern sky scrapers, while African drums and wood-carvings from the north displayed on pavements vie with elegant shops offering sophisticated Swakara garments and gemstone jewellery.

A pedestrian-friendly city with a cosmopolitan outlook, Windhoek makes for a wonderful stopover. This is modern Africa at its most fascinating - a melting pot of modernity, colonial echoes and African tradition.


On arrival, you will be met by your guide.


Have a light lunch (included) at a local restaurant, before taking a short tour of the city.


In the evening, have dinner at a local restaurant (included).


You will be staying at Villa Violet, Half board

Day 2

Drive from Windhoek to Okonjima Nature Reserve


The journey is just over 200 kilometres and should take around three hours.


Located midway between Windhoek and Etosha National Park, the Okonjima Nature Reserve was established as a protected area in which orphaned cats can be rehabilitated. Entirely fenced and covering a vast area of wild savannah, this important reserve is home to leopard, cheetah, spotted hyena and wild dog.

Founded by AfriCat, Okonjima is part of greater conservation project in which the rehabilitated carnivores roam freely. Radio-tracking, health checks and research gathering are all part of a concerted effort to learn more about these threatened species.


Big Cat health check-up briefing
After lunch, you will be transferred to the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre for a tour of the clinic and information centre, where a vet will explain what will be expected of you on the following day.


You will be staying at Okonjima Plains Camp, Full board

Day 3

Day of Health Examinations
Spend the day helping AfriCat staff with the Big Cat Health Examination. This is a unique opportunity to experience hands-on big cat conservation work. Be on hand throughout the day, helping the vets and field operatives. Ensure that all cats are vaccinated, given a thorough health examination, weighed and have blood samples taken.
It is impossible to assign tasks in advance, as each person's capabilities and strengths need to be assessed once the examinations are under way. However, everyone is expected to play an active role in assisting with this essential work.

As well as providing expert information on the health of AfriCat's animals, these examinations allow for comparison with large carnivores in other captive facilities. Some of this information can also be used to gain insight into the health of large carnivores in the wild.
The data from the captured cheetahs and leopards is invaluable to researchers. It gives some idea as to the geographical distribution and demographics of the wild cheetah and leopard populations living on Namibian farmland. Similarly, biological samples taken offer an insight into the health, as well as the genetic make-up of the populations.


You will be staying at Okonjima Plains Camp, Full board

Day 4

Track Big Cats with AfriCat
Track cheetahs or leopards alongside AfriCat's experts. Set out on foot or in a 4x4, depending on which carnivores are known to be in the area. The big cats within the reserve have all been fitted with radio collars, allowing them to be closely monitored and for researchers to record their welfare, condition and hunting successes.

AfriCat's large carnivore rehabilitation programme was initiated in 2000 to return captive cheetahs to their natural environment. Since then, the project has expanded and accelerated, with the ultimate aim of returning more large carnivores to the wild.

Day 5

Drive from Okonjima to Etosha National Park


Driving time is around three and a half hours, but the journey may take longer, depending what game is spotted once in Etosha National Park.


Etosha National Park is one of Southern Africa's finest and most important game reserves.

Situated in northern Namibia, Etosha, meaning 'Great White Place', is dominated by a massive shimmering mineral pan, which is flat, rugged and, for much of the year, dry and dusty. All the same, it supports some of the best game viewing in the whole of Southern Africa.


After lunch at the lodge, have time for an afternoon game drive.


You will be staying at Onguma Bush Camp, Full board

Day 6

Days at Onguma
Take game drives through the Onguma Private Nature Reserve, which is home to more than 300 bird species and 30 different animal species. Look out for kudus, giraffes, elands, hartebeests and impalas, as well as predators, such as lions, cheetahs and leopards. There is also the option to drive into the eastern part of Etosha National Park.


You will be staying at Onguma Bush Camp, Full board

Day 7

Drive from Onguma Reserve to Etosha Safari Lodge


Game drive through the park. This is a journey of around four hours, depending on what wildlife is spotted en route.


You will be staying at Etosha Safari Lodge, Full board

Day 8

Explore Etosha National Park
Spend time exploring this vast area of wilderness, in search of numerous species of mammals and birds. The dry Etosha salt pan occupies the northern reaches of the park, with the southern landscape covered by dry grasslands and mopane woodland.

Waterholes dot the park, offering excellent vantage points for spotting thirsty game. Endangered black rhinos are found here, as well as lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, plains game and ostriches.


You will be staying at Etosha Safari Lodge, Full board

Day 9

Drive from Etosha to the Hobatere Concession


Travel through western Etosha and into the Hobatere Concession, looking out for game en route. Driving time is around four hours, depending on what is spotted.


The Hobatere concession is located on the south western boundary of Etosha National Park and on the northern perimeter of the Khoad-Hoas Conservancy. The land was set aside at the end of 2014 to protect the population of lions (and othe big cats) that roam across this area and is key to the research being conducted by AfriCat North, in their attempts to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.


You will be staying at Hobatere Lodge, Full board

Day 10

AfriCat Hobatere Lion Research Project
"The AfriCat Hobatere Lion Research Project has gained momentum and now boasts seven lions fitted with GPS-Satellite collars (four males and three females). We have been able to deploy more camera traps in the study area and now have a good idea of the lion population within the Hobatere Concession Area as well as the movement of lions between Hobatere, western Etosha and the surrounding farmland. Soon we will be expanding the project further afield, into the surrounding communal farmland and other protected areas." - Tammy Hoth, AfriCat North.

Join project researchers on their daily activities in and around the Hobatere concession on the western boundary of Etosha National Park. A degree of flexibility is required today to allow Tammy and her team to react to anything urgent that might arise on the concession.

The day may involve checking or setting up trail cameras, tracking the collared lions using GPS and/or VHF telemetry (no guarantee of finding them as the lions can move into western Etosha National Park and at times they are in inaccessible areas), collecting scat, carcass remains etc. for analysis, or setting up baiting stations.

The small Hobatere pride (nine lions at present) are the only resident lions within the Hobatere north concession.


You will be staying at Hobatere Lodge, Full board

Day 11

Spend the day visiting local communities
Meet local communities and learn about human-wildlife conflict. Visit a Livestock Protection Project, close to Etosha's western border. Here, meet with community leaders and farming families and see first-hand the challenges faced by these people in protecting livestock from predators.

AfriCat are helping communities with building mobile kraals to protect livestock from night-time attacks. Instead of predator removal, AfriCat now offers farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better guard their livestock. Farmers are encouraged to become predator tolerant so that resident predators can remain in place.


You will be staying at Hobatere Lodge, Full board

Day 12

Drive from Hobatere to Windhoek


At a pre-arranged time you will be transferred from Hobatere to Windhoek by your driver. The drive will take approximately seven hours.


In the evening, have dinner at a local restaurant (included).


You will be staying at Galton House, Full board

Day 13

Inbound Flights
The group inbound flight for this tour is:

South African Airways SA77, scheduled to depart Windhoek at 15:00 on Wednesday 4th July, arriving into Johannesburg at 17:45. This connects with South African Airways SA 236, scheduled to depart at 20:30, arriving into London Heathrow at 06:55 the next day.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Onguma Bush Camp

Onguma Bush Camp

Onguma Bush Camp is set in the midst of Etosha National park in the Onguma Game Reserve region, which is considered to be one of Africa's best kept secrets....

View Accommodation

Okonjima Plains Camp

Okonjima Plains Camp

Okonjima Plains Camp is nestled amongst the Ombokoro Mountains - a Herero name meaning, 'place of the baboons'....

View Accommodation

Hobatere Lodge

Hobatere Lodge

Hobatere Lodge was rebuilt and reopened in 2015....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Namibia

Illona Cross, Travel Expert

"Illona was quite simply brilliant. She listened and carefully noted what we thought we wanted, made suggestions and came up with an itinerary which suited us down to the ground."

"Excellent personal service; well-informed local knowledge; dependable outcome; quality of experience."

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Jackie Devereux, Travel Expert

"Every part of our trip was the highlight and it is not possible for us to point out just one thing, event or place."

"However, we received a magnificent surprise of a helicopter ride between camps in Botswana which meant a flight over the delta and an opportunity to see the delta and how it is formed. It was a wonderful surprise organised by Jackie and we were both absolutely overjoyed with the opportunity. I do not believe that there was more that could have been done as we had a magnificent trip."

"Jackie was excellent- she listened and was very knowledgeable."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

Donna Hanssen

Donna Hanssen
The passion for all things wild, coupled with the determination to find workable solutions to the farmer-predator conflict in order to protect and conserve carnivores, led to Donna and her siblings starting AfriCat on the farm at Okonjima, in 1993. Through their dedication and determination, the Hanssen siblings have guided AfriCat from its humble beginnings to become one of Namibia’s most effective carnivore conservation organizations. "Okonjima – home of AfriCat is a place where people are still practicing a way of life that is in harmony with nature and the natural world. Something modern societies have drifted away from in the quest for material wealth and progress."

Tammy Hoth-Hanssen

Tammy Hoth-Hanssen
Tammy’s passion for wildlife and the 'bush' started out on the family farm in the rugged Khomas Hochland (the Highlands south-west of Windhoek) and grew to become a passion when her parents and siblings moved to Okonjima, where AfriCat was born. After studies in Botany, Zoology and a teaching career, she left urban life for the wilderness of Namibia’s north-west where Tammy and her family (including son Janek and daughter Tyla) bought the Hoth family livestock farm. Sharing a common border with the Etosha National Park, the Hoths found themselves within the human-wildlife conflict zone, losing large numbers of livestock to lions and spotted hyeana. The Afri-Leo Foundation was established, aimed at finding solutions to this farmer-predator stalemate.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:

Group Size:

Min 4 / Max 8

Tour Expert:

Donna Hanssen, Tammy Hoth-Hanssen

Departure Date (S):

  • 22nd June 2018
Africat

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