Namibia is full of hidden treasures and Ongula Village Homestead Lodge near Ondangwa is one such treasure. The lodge can be found nestled next to a traditional Owambo homestead and guests staying there are afforded a unique opportunity to experience life in traditional northern Namibia.
Ongula Village Homestead Lodge is community run lodge near the northern town of Ondangwa where travellers who are willing to go out of their way can experience a side of Namibia that most tourists do not ever manage to see.
Ongula in relation to some well-known locations across Namibia.
(Image courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
The whole point of the lodge is to invite tourists, local and international, to take a step back from the frantic urban world and take a peek in to how a rural community in Owamboland lives.
A video briefly explaining how the lodge operates.
(Video courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
The Lodge is built next to a traditional and functional homestead- this is no sterile museum or staged theatrical production- and at Ongula you will be shown exactly how the Owambo people of Namibia’s under-explored northern regions live on a day-to-day basis.
The homestead's entrance.
From the granary, to the kraals, to the central fire pit, visitors are not only shown how the local tribe/community goes about their daily chores but will also be afforded opportunities to take part in some of these daily routines.
A visitor helps grind Mahangu.
Mahangu is a delicious staple found in Namibia’s north.
The focus of the your trip to Ongula will be on getting you immersed in the local culture so that you can get a better understanding of how the community there lives and as such there are several activities that are on offer.
As mentioned you can take part in several of the day-to-day chores that need to be carried out around the homestead on a daily basis. This could include clay-pot making, basket weaving and even cattle herding.
This structure houses an underground traditional clay-baking facility-
you’ll have to visit to find out what it looks like inside!
While at the lodge you will be taken on a tour of the homestead and the basic functions and purposes of all the various rondawels (traditional huts), living spaces and quarters will be explained to you.
This well has serviced the homestead for generations and it is still in use.
In addition to the various package activities that you can enjoy on-site there are also several day trips that can be organised by the staff at the lodge. These trips will show you a bit more of the surrounds if you have a little extra time to explore the greater Ondangwa area.
Here is a list of some of the day trips on offer at the lodge:
A visit to the Nakambale Museum where visitors can learn about the legacy of the Finnish Missionaries who brought Christianity to Namibia.
Onankali village’s Mahangu paper project where the grain is used to manufacture paper for the local community.
A visit to Oonte OVC Organization where a bottle recycling plant is used to benefit 450 orphaned and vulnerable children in the Ondangwa area. This is a perfect place for anyone interested in helping out in a volunteer capacity in Namibia.
If in session you can attend a local communal court proceeding.
A tour to Ondangwa’s open craft market.
Or for those of you who want to get a taste for the night life in Namibia’s rural north why not enjoy a sundowner drink at one of the local “shebeens”.
** When you get to the lodge simply ask any of the hospitality staff if there are any activities you can get involved in. The list of things to do is dynamic and there are always new experiences to be had for those willing to get involved.**
The Lodge has electricity, WiFi, bar and restaurant, credit card facilities and four spacious twin bed rooms with private en-suite bathrooms.
The rooms are appointed with furniture made from recycled materials.
(Photo Courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
**For those of you who can’t get enough of the great outdoors, a camping site is currently under construction at the lodge. If you wish to camp on-site then simply contact the staff at the lodge and enquire as to availability and pricing.**
Getting to the Ongula homestead is not a simple matter of driving on a national road and attention has to be paid to which route you will need to take. On the lodge’s website you can find detailed directions explaining how you can get to the lodge from Windhoek, Etosha National Park and Ruacana Falls.
If you have any questions about how to get there or which route is best for you do not hesitate to call the friendly staff at the lodge.
Getting to the lodge is not difficult, it just requires planning.
The north of Namibia is beautiful and rugged, but it is also quite underdeveloped. As a result there are many community based projects you can get involved with. From schools to shelters for at risk children and adults there are numerous causes that can benefit from your time.
A good way to get involved in some community-based projects in this region is to work through the Ongula Village Homestead Lodge. Check out some of the projects they directly run, and if none of those take your fancy you can always ask them about other outreach projects that are being run in the region.