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14 Travel Namibia Moro >> News · views · people · places · conservation · community · wildlife · culture Photographic gems have been displayed by Namibia Tourist Board to commemorate the centenary of the day a diamond was first discovered in the country. Budding photographers from within the tourist industry were asked to submit their favourite snaps. The winners were displayed at the World Travel Market in London in the autumn. First place was awarded to Michelle Laruccia of Imagine Africa for her picture entitled ' The parting of the Namib sea'. She said: " During my time guiding I had managed to escape from my passengers and leave them with a local guide. I took some time to drink in the beauty of this vast emptiness in perfect solitude. In my eyes it looked as though the dunes had parted like a great sea, and all that was left was the dry bed of the Namib desert - Dead Vlei." Michelle won a flying photographic safari with Wilderness Safaris, staying at Desert Rhino camp and the Skeleton Coast. Sparkling snapshots Michelle Laruccia's winning picture of Dead Vlei The runner up: Matthew Vlemmiks' shot of a Himba hut Runner up in the competition was Matthew Vlemmiks of Audley Travel with his shot of a Himba hut in Kunene. He said: " I was staying near the border with Angola. The village consists of no more than 20 people and a lot more goats, but I will never forget the levels of hospitality and humour." The competition was run in celebration of railway worker Zachanias Lewela's discovery of a diamond in 1908 near Luderitz; One hundred years later diamonds still make up 40 per cent of Namibia's exports.

-- If you are visiting Windhoek's former township Katutura, don't leave without visiting Penduka - a fabulous project which helps hundreds of women across Namibia. The women are trained to use the craft skills they already have to make marketable products, for which they are given a fair price. Priority is given to women with disabilities and women suffering from tuberculosis or infected with HIV. In the Oshiwambo and Otjiherero languages the word Penduka means ' wake up'. The project aims to encourage women to take charge of their own lives. Penduka products are also on sale at Amber Moon on Bismarck Street in Swakopmund. Travel Namibia 15 The entire coast of Namibia is now protected following the creation of a new National Park called Sperrgebiet. It is the biggest national park to be created in Africa in the last 25 years. It runs from Oranjemund, on the border with South Africa, to some 72km north of Lüderitz. Sperrgebiet means the ' forbidden zone' and travel into much of this 26,000 square kilometre region of southwest Namibia has been banned since the early 1900s in order to protect the diamond industry that thrives there. Because of the lack of human intervention in the last century, the flora and fauna are particularly diverse. Some 1050 plants are known to occur - that's nearly 25 per cent of the entire flora of Namibia in less than three per cent of the country's land area. The new national park also has 80 terrestrial and 38 marine mammal species, 215 bird species, almost 100 reptile species and 16 different frogs. As a national park, the area will be opened up for limited, heavily- controlled tourism. Now Namibian authorities are talking about the possibility of merging all the country's coastal parks to form one large park, provisionally called The Namib- Skeleton Coast. It would stretch 1570 km along Namibia's coastline from the Orange River in the south to the Kunene River in the north. At its narrowest point, on the Skeleton Coast, The Namib- Skeleton Coast National Park would extend just 25km inland, while at its widest, in the Naukluft area, it would be 180km across. If created, The Namib- Skeleton Coast Park would be the eighth- largest protected area in the world and the largest park in Africa, covering an area of 107,540 square kilometres. The new park would not exist in isolation. In the south, across the Orange River it borders the Ai- Ais/ Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Area. To the north, across the Kunene River, it borders the Iona National Park in Angola. Wake up to Penduka The town of ? Lü ????? derit ?? z h ????? ?? opes to benefi ?? t ?? from increased tourism to the Sperrgebiet that surrounds it mary askew Two decades on, mystery still surrounds the overnight collapse of what was one of Namibia's best- known landmarks - a twelve metre high sandstone pillar called Mûgorob. The remains of the 450- tonne sandstone pillar at the Weißrand escarpment near Asab was discovered on the morning of 8 December 1988 by farmers. At the time it was thought that the rock, also known as God's finger, had been toppled by heavy gusts of wind. But geologists Roy Miller and Karl Heinz Hoffmann and geophysicist Louis Fernandez have since come to a different conclusion. They believe that the mudstone base of the pillar, much worn down already, was further weakened by the previous days' rain. Finally it yielded to the constant pressure of the heavy pillar. It is possible that the shockwaves of the devastating earthquake which hit Armenia in the morning of 7 December 1988 also helped to tip the balance. The shockwaves were registered by the seismological station in Windhoek. A gem of a new national park The mystery of Mûgorob Mûgorob just before it toppled Gondwana Colection