Returning to Namibia, after more than a decade away, I find it little changed. Downtown Windhoek is a collection of new buildings and a bustle of construction. The roads are as they were, the streets more crowded than before. Shopping provides greater selection through more vendors than I’ve ever seen. After a whirlwind of provisioning we travel to our first home headquarters at Omujeve Hunting Safari’s main lodge.
It is a spacious complex overlooking a small valley with a varied population of resident plains game. The lodge itself is of rather new construction with the typical thatched roof and interior pole design. A series of a dozen, or more, eight foot wide paired french doors allow for a full view to the valley beyond. The lodge is home to the main dining room with seating for up to twenty guests. Flanked by a pair of lounges, one area is paired with a large bar, the other with a central fire pit and hood. Shoulder and life-size animal mounts, along with European style horn mounts, adorn the walls and rafters.
The entire property provides three substantial owners residences, separate professional hunters quarters in another cluster, four guest suites in yet another building, and finally a pair of guest suites above the office complex, where we reside. There are also complete facilities for trophy preparation, and Omujeve does their own dip and pack onsite with their own personnel, in a new multi-roomed collection of buildings to meet strict Namibian export standards.
In sum, the main headquarters and their two adjacent farms comprise around thirty-five thousand acres of rugged high desert terrain. See their website Omujeve Hunting Safaris for details on their extensive private reserves, concessions of Omatendeka and Ivory Camp (Caprivi Strip), and more.
Corne Kruger his wife, their two lovely daughters, his parents, Elsada and Nic Sr. all reside on site and participate in the management of their vast operation. Omujeve serves as the hub of their safaris business. Guests arrive here from the Windhoek airport and then proceed on to the hunt area best suited for their selected trophy game, except in the case of Ivory Camp. A one thousand acre “sanctuary” valley directly in front of the lodge is home to many species. Eland, roan, nyala, waterbuck, and monster red lechwe to name a few.
In the predawn hour guinea fowl chatter their vocal greetings to the day. Not long after the sounds of weavers and lovebirds join the chorus. The first rays of the sun gently probe our suite as we dress and make our way down to coffee and breakfast in the lodge before loading up into a cruiser and heading out onto the veld. Life is good here!
It is cold on this July morning about three degrees centigrade (37 degrees F). The jacket and gloves are appreciated, their layers offering much needed protection. The game is calm in the early morning cold, a dozen blesbok are still bedded and reluctantly rise to gaze upon us as we pass. A curious giraffe, twenty-five yards distant, stares our way as the low sun highlights his facial features. A lone eland bull moves slowly away, he presents the perfect shot opportunity, but we let him go. We are after specific targets of opportunity, including gemsbok and blue wildebeest.
The gemsbok are switched on, they see us long before we see them. They are moving away at a slow pace. It is deceptive. They cover ground faster than you can jog, and the chase is over before it is truly begun, as they disappear over the horizon. We repeat the process three more times on different groups over the course of the morning. At the lunch break the score is dismal, Gemsbok 4, Hunters zero. We retreat to a hot lunch at the lodge and a brief rest before taking to the field for the afternoon campaign. The afternoon is a replay of the morning. More close encounters, more failure to achieve a shootable position on a good trophy.
The evening camaraderie is welcome. Two separate small groups of hunters gather in the lodge for evening drinks and each takes a turn in recounting the days events from their perspective. The results were mixed. Success and failures. Everything that makes safari the adventure it is. Good or bad, each day is as unique as life itself. Everyone who has experienced it wants more, those that have not, the adventure of a lifetime awaits!