Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye : 2019-01-12

Escape : 23 : 23


aged man in grey slacks, a white shirt and neat coat walks quietly with a bag of groceries. Thinking we will see a town soon where he bought his goods we are shocked to never find a town where he had come from. And like a ghost he disappears again into the bush. As you wind your way deeper into the desert the landscape changes from hills and rocky outcrops and deep valleys into soft sand. The country is well set up for camping, with clean and reasonably priced sites available. Campsites inside and outside of Namib-Naukluft National Park are well maintained and efficient. It is important to time your trip well – the gates close to the dunes and if you are camping outside the park you need to exit before dark. Just as important is to time when you drive in to look at the dunes – make sure you have water and a way to pump your tires. There are three main dune sites – Dune 45, Sossusvlei and Deadvlei. It takes a good 20 minutes to drive in while abiding the speed limit, and it is exhaustingly hot by midday, making it virtually impossible to enjoy the dunes. Early morning and late afternoon are best. Time your trip so that you have ample time to walk, as all sites require a large amount of hiking to get to photographic vantage points of dead trees on the salt plains. While your main goal might be to see the salt pans, the drive into the park is equally enjoyable as the massive dunes in the distance create a serene calming view, while yellow sand twirls and snakes across the road, whipped up by the wind. Gemsbok with 85cm horns roam the area in plentiful numbers. The unique creatures have adapted to survive – with white bellies, turning carbs into water and using cooled arterial blood to their advantage. At Dune 45, the dunes change shape and shift with the wind, striking an intimidating pose on the horizon, but if you are looking to get in for a closer look, there is parking at its base where you can leave your vehicle and climb the 70m escarpment. It is tough going but a once in a lifetime opportunity to conquer sand that’s five million years old. SKY HAS NO LIMIT AT THIS RESERVE The NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of Africa’s largest private nature reserves. It was originally created to help protect the unique environment and wildlife of this part of Namibia. Since then, the nature reserve has added a new element to its mission – to preserve the night sky above, making it one of the most spectacular stargazing destinations in the world. The reserve’s efforts to preserve both the ecology of nature and the dark skies have been recognised by the International Dark Sky Association at the gold tier level, which awards the darkest skies around the world. Its clear skies are thanks to the region’s dry air and almost zero air and light pollution. On moonless nights thousands of individual stars fill the skies, with the Milky Way very clear. You can also see Magellanic clouds and seldom seen zodiacal light, a triangular glow created when tiny dust particles orbiting the inner solar system scatter sunlight. The Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust Centre offers educational programs for children year round, or you can stay in luxury at the &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in the adjacent Namib-Naukluft National Park, with rooms that open up to the night sky and subtle downward lighting around the resort to enhance the darkness above. a 23 TOWNSVILLE EYE, Saturday, January 12, 2019 V1 - EYEE01Z01MA PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED BY PRESSREADER +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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