The NamibRand Nature Reserve is the only official Dark-Sky reserve in Africa. The reserve not only protects the unique wildlife of the southwest Namib Desert, but also keeps its light pollution reduced to the point where the Milky Way is visible to the unaided eye.
The International Dark-Sky Association, which has recognised the reserve as one of the naturally darkest yet accessible places on Earth, works to protect the night skies for present and future generations. The association recognises places around the world with “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural, heritage and/or public enjoyment”.
To retain its status as a Dark-Sky reserve, the NamibRand Nature Reserve must adhere to a long list of strict guidelines and lighting management plans, right down to extremely specific scientific measurements of luminance and naked-eye limiting magnitude, which are audited annually.
Kwessi Dunes Lodge, in the heart of the reserve, has taken the Dark-Sky initiative to heart by equipping each of its chalets with beds dedicated to allowing guests to fall asleep watching the stars. So committed are they to reducing light pollution that the game-drive vehicles are not allowed to have their headlights on during sundowners, forcing the drivers to develop excellent navigational skills in the dark.
Also in this reserve is the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust Centre, which teaches visitors, mostly schoolchildren, about the Earth and – of course – the sky.
Read more about Dark-Sky’s mission here.