New research from Booking.com has revealed that travellers are looking to push the limits on where travel will take us in 2019. In fact, they’re looking to push the limits as far as outer space, with 40% of global travellers excited about the prospect of space travel in the future and 38% open to considering the experience for themselves.
Although space travel might not be a reality just yet, enthusiasts can still catch a glimpse with this list of incredible destinations for stargazing at any time of the year.
Sutherland, South Africa
Home to the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, Sutherland is the perfect spot for observing the night skies. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is located at the South African Astronomical Observatory – Sutherland Observing Station, recording distant stars, galaxies and quasars that are too faint to be seen with the naked eye. It also offers night tours for those hoping to catch a glimpse of the cosmos above.
Where to stay: Situated in the Great Karoo in Sutherland, Skitterland Guesthouse is the perfect place to rest your head after a night of stargazing. The guesthouse boasts a prime location for your visit to the nearby observatory providing electric blankets to warm you up after your excursion under the stars. During the day an outdoor pool will keep you entertained while waiting for the sun to set and the stars to come out.
With some of the clearest skies of Catalonia, Montsec in Ager is the ideal destination for those wanting to marvel in the beauty of the night sky. It was recently declared a Starlight Tourism Destination by UNESCO, and nearby villages have swapped out conventional street lighting for amber-colored LED and sodium lamps to minimize light pollution.
Where to stay: The Parc Astronòmic Montsec is just a short drive from Ager itself and only slightly further from La Caseta del Montsec, making it the perfect holiday home for your next stargazing trip. This detached property is nestled in the mountains, offering breathtaking views when the sun is up too.
Known as the astronomy capital of Australia, Coonabarabran in Warrambungle Shire is home to Siding Spring, the country’s premier optical and infrared observatory. Just a short drive away in the Warrumbungle Mountains, the observatory has several telescopes, including the world famous 3.9-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope. Once a year it hosts StarFest, an extravaganza of events including lectures and open days over a long weekend in October.
Where to stay: With a terrace made for stargazing, Barkala Farmstay in Coonabarabran offers guests the perfect opportunity to enjoy the area’s famed night skies, as well as a peaceful stay in a rustic accommodation with an outdoor pool and barbecue facilities, surrounded by forests and horse paddocks.
Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
Renowned locally as the quiet home to hippies and fisherman, Cabo Polonio is also known to have the darkest sky and the brightest stars on the Uruguayan coastline. Whilst this quaint village has grown to offer stores, hostels, restaurants, it remains off the conventional electricity grid. Some more upscale dwellings have solar energy powered electricity, but many homes are lit by candlelight at night, often produced at the local shop, meaning light pollution in the area is particularly low and perfect for stargazing!
Where to stay: Despite its rustic location, the Narakan hostel boasts a 24-hour front desk, offering convenience and great amenities, with hot showers and an onsite restaurant. With the property located on the beach, some of the hostel’s shared dorms even offer a sea-view. Star gazers can find themselves listening to the crashing waves in bed after a night spent on the beach admiring the cosmos above.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Identified as an emerging destination for 2019, Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is luring cosmos fans from around the world. Out in the heart of the southern Jordan desert, Wadi Rum offers visitors the stunning contrast of bright, golden dunes in the daytime and a vast array of starlight at night
Where to stay: Wadi Rum Sky Tours and Camp
Wadi Rum Sky Tours and Camp provides accommodation in the protected and tranquil area of the desert, away from the village and other camps. This peacefulness provides the perfect backdrop for stargazing when all you have to do is step outside your Bedouin tents. The camp offers a cozy communal area where guests can enjoy a glass of traditional Bedouin tea or a delicious home-cooked meal.
Do you have an interest in Astronomy but don’t know where to start? Learning about the night sky can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! With a little patience and these astronomy tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming an astronomy expert in no time.