Considered among the best in Namibia, the luxurious Onduli Ridge, named after the resident giraffe of the area, is found at the base of two south-facing granite outcrops that are connected by a ridge. Within a private concession that forms part of the Doro !Nawas Conservancy and in the heart of Damaraland’s semi-desert wilderness, the location allows for magnificent views of Namibia’s Brandberg Mountain – the country’s highest, and the strewn cathedral-like granite inselbergs for which the region is known.
Anchoring an Ancient Land
One of Namibia’s most dramatic wilderness areas, Damaraland is a place of stark plains and rugged mountains that turn from rust to purple with the setting sun. Plains and wooded river valleys form part of a land filled with geological wonders and fascinating desert-adapted wildlife. Onduli Ridge is within striking distance of all this, with key attractions being the Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and Twyfelfontein. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Twyfelfontein features abundant petroglyphs carved into the rocks that date back 1,000 – 6,000 years, the best known being the White Lady – a 40 cm frieze depicting a lady in white holding a bow and arrow in one hand and a flower in the other.
Named after the Doros Crater, Doro !Nawas means ‘the place where rhinos roam’ in the Khoekhoegowab language, and the area is home to desert-adapted black rhinos, elephants and predators, and an underworld of fascinating plants, insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals. You will also find the critically endangered desert lion in this region as well as various endemic desert plants such as the photogenic (but poisonous) Euphorbia virosa and the ancient Welwitshia mirabilis.
Sleep among Granite Boulders
Onduli Ridge was always planned with the intention of allowing nature and its boundaries to determine the camp’s design and outcome. Built with the extraordinary landscape in mind, and with just six luxury suites, the luxury safari camp does seamlessly blur the lines between indoors and nature. Hidden among granite boulders, it optimises the views from the king-size bed, partially open-air bathroom and desk which all double up as observation decks. The beds are the perfect place for afternoon siestas and can be rolled out onto your private deck for a night under a billion stars.
The camp exudes character with meticulous attention to detail in the libraries and reception areas, a large pool and plenty of places to relax between activities all interconnected by elevated wooden walkways. All guests have use of state-of-the-art Swarovski binoculars during their stay. Food is based on local ingredients and meat, fresh vegetables and fruits, with homemade pizzas, freshly baked bread, and big portions – as is the Namibian way. Committed to treading lightly on the surroundings, the camp is 100% solar-powered and throughout every effort is made to preserve the surroundings.
Desert Adapted Activities
Venture out across rocky plains and dry riverbeds to track one of the world’s only two groups of elephants that have adapted to surviving in the desert. With elongated limbs and broad soles, they are able to withstand the extreme environment, rock and sand, travelling huge distances through the dry river beds in search of water. Also to be found here is the world’s only naturally occurring population of black rhinos that co-exists with the Damara communities, and the giraffe after which the lodge is named. You’ll be accompanied by a master tracker who will teach you about these remarkable and the efforts in place to protect them.
Onduli Ridge’s specially-designed safari vehicles feature additional rooftop seats, ideal for photography enthusiasts looking for uninterrupted views to capture the perfect safari images. You might be lucky enough to encounter other wildlife including steenbok, kudu, and mountain zebra as well as lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas lounging in the sun after a successful night of hunting. Nature walks slow the pace as you explore the unique landscape and follow clues left by animals. Head out on e-bikes, fully powered by solar, and traverse the vast plains and rocky outcrops that provide fun terrain to ride along. Drive into the mountains and view the rock art at Brandberg which offers insight into the lives of our ancestors, as well as the attractions beyond.
Green is the Heart, Conservation Initiatives
A positive impact is felt through the pro bono philanthropic work that Onduli Ridge and Ultimate Safaris are involved in through their Conservation Travel Foundation. Funded by guest bookings, they support projects in the area such as rhino and predator conservation and the improvement of school buildings in rural and remote areas. Onduli Ridge partners with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in securing desert-dwelling Angolan giraffe populations and with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) and Pack for Conservation, established to provide field uniforms and anti-poaching gear. Sustainability forms the foundation of the property and all power is produced by solar, water is run through a sophisticated reclamation plant and other waste is sorted according to recycling guidelines.
The extraordinary camp was built that should it one day be removed, the site will be returned to its original pristine condition. Although we definitely hope it will stand for years to come and welcome many guests to stay in this scenically rich natural wonderland.
What we love about Onduli Ridge
- Onduli Ridge’s dramatic setting and exclusivity. That it hosts only a lucky few, in carefully placed suites that merge so completely into the surroundings, at a time. The team, dedicated guides, and delicious food.
- The range of activities in the area from desert elephant and rhino trekking to nature drives, guided walks and visits to the remarkable Twyfelfontein and other geological attractions such as the Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes and Doros Crater.
- The far-reaching work by Ultimate Safaris’ non-profit foundation, their positive impact on conserving this beautiful part of Namibia, and the practical support and efforts in the region. Something supported just by staying there.
- We agree with the minimum two-night stay, although would suggest three to do the place justice.
- Onduli Ridge welcomes families and offers numerous child-focused activities. The intimate size of the camp makes it ideal for a takeover by a group of friends or family.
Onduli Ridge is located in Northern Namibia on a private concession in the Doro !Nawas Conservancy in the heart of Damaraland. Access is by light aircraft from either Windhoek, Swakopmund or an alternate part of Namibia. The lodge has its own airstrip, which is where you’re met by your guide and transferred the 20 minutes to camp. For self-drive travellers, the meeting point remains the airstrip, with a camp transfer from there.
As recommended by AMADI, a conscious luxury travel brand that designs conservation focussed journeys for like-minded travellers across Africa. AMADI supports the ongoing work by Onduli Ridge to preserve the sensitive Damaraland region. A visit should form part of an extended Namibian itinerary that includes at least Sossusvlei, the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park. Given the vast distances, a 10-12 day tour is recommended. Connect with AMADI for additional information and for assistance with booking your travels.
Contact me for more details or to book your stay.
** Read my other articles for AMADI as featured in Hamaji Magazine.