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Africa's first international Dark Sky Reserve
Conservation is needed not just on the ground but above us in the sky. Namibia’s NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of Africa’s largest private nature reserves and has expanded its conservation role to include the preservation of the star-filled sky above its famous dunes, canyons and mountains…
These efforts led to the NamibRand Nature Reserve earning the highest of honours from the International Dark-Sky Association in 2012 – becoming Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The Executive Director of the International Dark Sky Association, Bob Parks explains: “The night sky over the NamibRand Nature Reserve is exceptional, as are the efforts the reserve has taken to modifying its lighting for the sake of its wildlife and visitors.” Dr George Tucker, a retired professor of Physics from the USA, who identified the NamibRand as a potential Dark Sky Reserve said: “Viewing the pristine night sky over the NamibRand is an unforgettable experience. Being recognised as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Reserve will serve to promote and protect this valuable resource. Achieving this status is a significant accomplishment not just for the NamibRand, but also for Namibia and all of Africa.”
Gold Tier is the term used to describe reserves with night time environments that have little to no impact from light pollution and artificial light. NamibRand’s nearest neighbouring communities are small and lie some 60 miles distant, so the reserve’s sky is one of the darkest of those that have been measured. The importance of education is personified with a dedicated centre running education programmes. Among the recipients of these initiatives are local school children who have the chance to sleep in specially designed units allowing them to view the night sky from their beds. Outreach programs are also in place for those unable to get to the centre. With continued education it is hoped that children will begin to realise just how unique it is to have such a dark sky.
Nils Odendaal, the Chief Executive Officer of the NamibRand Nature Reserve realises just how important this issue is: “We hope to use our influence as a leader of tourism and conservation, not only in our area, but also on a national level to change this and raise the awareness of this important environmental concern.” He continues to say: “We hope that this IDA designation will generate international support, publicity and targeted research both for the NamibRand and for Namibia as a whole”. To learn more about the IDA Dark Sky Reserve at NamibRand visit: http://darksky.org/idsp/reserves/namibrand/
We recommend staying in the following lodges for star gazing:
Wolwedans Dune Camp – an intimate, wilderness experience in an unspoilt setting. One of the most exclusive options in Sossusvlei
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge – a boutique, luxurious option with its own observatory, offering the perfect spot to star gaze with a resident astronomer on hand too!