Namibia’s NamibRand Nature Reserve has been declared Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), offering outstanding star-gazing opportunities for visitors.
&Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, situated in the NamibRand, has a dedicated observatory and full-time astronomer on-site, and played an instrumental role in getting the Reserve declared the world’s newest IDSR by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).
It is the first IDSR to be awarded Gold Tier status which describes nighttime environments that have little to no impact from light pollution and artificial light.
"Viewing the pristine night sky over the NamibRand is an unforgettable experience. Being recognised as a Gold Tier IDSR will serve to promote and protect this valuable resource. This is a significant accomplishment not just for &Beyond and the NamibRand, but also for Namibia and all of Africa," says Dr George Tucker, one of the Lodge’s international resident astronomers who led the certification effort.
With the nearest town 140km away, there are no sources of light pollution and the reserve’s sky is one of the darkest yet measured. The absolute silence and dramatic landscapes contribute towards making Sossusvlei Desert Lodge one of the best settings in the world for stargazing.
The Lodge also boasts a state-of-the-art observatory, complete with a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope. Guests are invited to join the resident astronomers either before or after dinner to unlock the mysteries of Namibia’s skies.
Winter (April to September) provides the clearest skies. Darkness descends at about 6pm, and at this time of year the full splendour of the central region of the Milky Way is displayed.
This creates a visual feast with star-clusters, galaxies and the southern constellations of the Southern Cross and Centaurus clearly visible. Summer provides its own selection of breathtaking night sights, including a globular cluster known as 47 Tucanae – a several-billion-year-old cluster of over a million stars.
An astronomer is always available at the Lodge to spend time with guests and to share stories about the constellations, as well as unbelievable views of the moon and planets such as Jupiter or Saturn.
Stargazing is not limited to the lodge’s observatory, however, and each desert suite also features a large skylight above the bed in each of Sossusvlei Desert Lodge’s 10 stone and glass desert villas.
For more information, visit www.andBeyond.com or call +27 11 809 4300