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Etosha National Park

Price: £569.25 (including 15 % tax)

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The salt deposits collected in the shoreline cavities of this lake in Namibia’s Etosha National Park seem to form startling shapes of bizarre plants and animals when seen from the sky. Encompassing an area of 8,685 square miles (22,270 km2), this park is Africa’s largest protected space. It surrounds the Etosha Pan, a great basin of 2,160 square miles (5,600 km2) covered with salt, which transforms into a lake for a few weeks out of each year during the rainy season, from November to April. Its water, although repellent to mammals, allows the growth of a blue-green algae, which attracts tens of thousands of flamingos. When the basin dries up, it is covered with grasses on which the park’s great herbivores feed. Namibia’s national parks make up one-fifth of its territory, and environmental conservation is among the chief objectives in its constitution. Today the world includes about 102,000 protected areas, covering more than 7.2 million square miles (18.8 million km2), 12.5 percent of the Earth’s land; this is almost quadruple the area protected thirty years ago. Some of these areas, however, are protected in name only and are still exploited: agriculture is practiced in nearly half of them.

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