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STARGAZING IN NORTHERN CAPE’S KALAHARI CRACKS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S BEST TRIPS 2020 LIST

Stargazing at !Ae!Hai Kalahari Park and enjoy a stay at !Xaus Lodge. - Photo by Jacques Marais.
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The Northern Cape’s Khomani-San owned and staffed !Xaus Lodge and the vast !Ae!Hai Kalahari Park where it is based at, have drawn universal acclaim. The twinkling night sky and the thrill of the stars that envelope this Kalahari Desert destination, glitters in the National Geographic Best Trips 2020.

The flagship network that is largely nature oriented and boasting a TV audience of 85 million people across the globe, released the list of the planet’s 25 best trips on its National Geographic Traveller newsletter, the digital issue and is also expected to be in the print version that is set for the shelves by the 26 of this month.

“One of only a few International Dark Sky Sanctuaries, the vast 120, 000-acre !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park is among the world’s darkest places. Year-round stable temperatures, extremely low humidity, virtually zero light or sound pollution, and lack of cloud cover make the park one of the planet’s best stargazing destinations.

“Stay inside the park at the 12-chalet !Xaus Lodge, staffed and owned by the Khomani San and Mier communities. Use the telescope on the open deck to observe the Southern Cross and other night-sky sights unique to the Southern Hemisphere,” asserts Ana Hogas of Nat Geo Travel.

For those ready to disconnect from today’s modern lifestyle and enjoy the Dark Sky Sanctuary, She recommends a two nights stay in between August and September.

!Xaus Lodge and the park are part of a string of tourism enterprises found along the Northern Cape’s Red Dune Route which boasts a large number of hotspots that are owned by the sector’s previously disenfranchised. In a land claim settlement some 19 years ago, the South African government bought 6 farms for the province’s indigenous Khomani-San.

“It is a positive new tourism story for South Africa. We are thrilled that a community owned tourism operation is adding to the good news stories of great places to visit in South Africa,” enthused Eleanor Muller of Transfrontier Parks Destinations.

The United State’s Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona which has also been featured in the list of 25 had to play second fiddle to the Kalahari’s Dark Sky Sanctuary’s marvelous stargazing experience in a poll conducted via the National Geographic’s Facebook social media platform.

By Thabo Mothibi

 

Stargazing at !Ae!Hai Kalahari Park and enjoy a stay at !Xaus Lodge. – Photo by Jacques Marais.

 

Picture: South African Tourism – Janik Alheid.

 

Picture: Melanie Van Zyl

 

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Thabo Mothibi is a former broadcast journalist (TV and Radio) – with specialist reporting experience; SABC Political/Parliamentary and TRC Teams over a period of five years (1995 to 2000).

One key foreign assignment - is the 11-nation African Connection Rally – overland journey from Africa’s northern-most pole in the coastal Tunisian city of Bizerte to the southern-most pole in South Africa’s Cape Agulhas. From the journalistic years, Thabo then delved into Government media liaison and serving two former Ministers and three MECs. He became the Northern Cape Provincial Government’s first department based Communications Director at Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development - 2008-2010 – where he also served as Head of Ministry from 2003 – 2008.

As a former anti-apartheid activist, his political background and professional training aided him in spearheading the Northern Cape ANC’s 2004 National Elections media and publicity campaign and that of the 2006 Local Government Elections.

Whilst based in Waterkloof in Pretoria -2010 to end 2011, he consulted for Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence, then returned to the Northern Cape in 2012 to date, to consult independently and pursue other entrepreneurial interests in media and communications through KwaVuko Communications and Marketing.

Thabo Mothibi obtained his NQF7 through Wits University’s Graduate School of Public and Development Management (P&DM) in Johannesburg, a Unilever Mandela Rhodes Academy for Marketing and Communications Academy (UMRA). The goal of the NQF7 programme was to educate and train public and private sector professional communicators and marketers in government communications..