By Staff Reporter WINDHOEK Namibians can towards August end enjoy a rare outdoor experience in the Etosha National Park. As part of the Etosha National Park’s centenary celebrations, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) will for the first time in the history of the park that turned 100 years this year open up for limited ‘moonwalks’ on the Etosha Pan. For three nights only, visitors to the 100-year-old park will be able to hike under the stars before camping overnight on the edge of the pan. A maximum number of 20 people per group leaving from each of the three resorts, namely Okaukuejo, Namutoni and Halali, on each of the three evenings, will be accompanied on the hike by an area warden and at least two armed environment staff to ensure visitor safety. MET Permanent Secretary Dr Malan Lindeque said in a statement the ministry has chosen August 26, 27 and 28 to coincide with the full moon, which is set to take place on August 28, offering spectacular moonlit vistas of the pan and its surroundings. The first 180 visitors can pre-book a 12-km hike departing from Okaukuejo, a six-kilometre hike from Halali or an eight-kilometre hike from Namutoni. Participants will be responsible for the cost of their park fees on arrival in the park, which will be an additional fee to the cost of the hike, which is N$250 per person. Hikers will be required to be self-sufficient, providing their own transport, food, water, bedding and camping equipment. They will be permitted to camp under the stars without tents if they want to maximize the moonlit experience. Staff will provide cooking fires and long-drop toilets and care will be taken to ensure that no environmental scars are left as a result of the activities. During the night, armed staff of MET will be at hand to ensure visitor safety. Lindeque said this is the first time this activity is being offered, with initial preference given to Namibian citizens and permanent residents who are older than 18 years of age. Single reservations will only be accepted. Reservations will only be confirmed on payment and once proof of citizenship/permanent residence and age have been provided. After a cut-off period, the hikes will be open to other residents and tourists to fill up numbers. The price for non-Namibian citizens or permanent residents is N$500.
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