So you may or may not have seen the northern lights yet (know more about Places to chase the mysterious Northern Lights), but you can surely visit these phenomenal places for a stunning, no we change that – mind boggling view of the night sky. Here we go:
1. Atacama Desert, Chile
Being one of the driest places on earth (it receives only a millimetre of rain every year), Chile’s Atacama Desert is a cloudless landscape. Add to that an altitude of 8,200 feet and what do you get? One of Earth’s best places to stargaze from!
HolidayMe Recommendation – Go to the Paranal Observatory in Chile and enjoy an undisturbed view of the Southern Hemisphere sky. You have the option of either staying in the luxury of a hotel nearby or camping under a canopy of stars.
2. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Apart from being a very popular holiday destination thanks to its pristine beaches and volcanic mountains, Tenerife has recently been named one of the best locations in the world for star-gazing because of its low pollution level and unspoiled night-sky conditions.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Leave for the famed Tenerife observatory or simply set up a camp in the Teide National Park (awarded the title of ‘Starlight Tourist Destination’ and ‘Starlight Reserve’) to see our Milky Way, nebulae and shooting stars.
3. Kerry, Ireland
Ireland’s Kerry County is the latest addition to the small list of Gold Tier International Dark Sky Reserves around the world. Situated on a picture-perfect landscape, with Kerry Mountains on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other, Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve gives you a spectacular view of the dark sky, and also offers basic astronomy classes and workshops throughout the year.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Check into one of the many guesthouses, self-catering homes, or caravans available for stargazers in the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve.
4. Hawaii, USA
At an altitude of almost 14,000 feet above the sea level, the volcanic summit of Mauna Kea holds a high risk of frosty temperature and altitude sickness, but wow! Is the view from the peak spectacular or what? Besides Atacama, this dormant volcano is a heaven for professional as well as amateur astronomers.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Make an early drop in at the Mauna Kea Visitor Centre (it closes by 10 pm!), or prepare for a memorable camping night at the nearby Haleakala National Park.
5. Namibia, Africa
How about mixing a bit of incredible stargazing to your safari trip in Africa’s Namib Desert? Considered to be the “darkest location the International Dark Sky Association has ever designated”, the country of Namibia is undoubtedly a jewel to view the heaven above.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Travel to NamibRand Nature Reserve, a private reserve that offers stargazing along with safaris. What’s more, you can also opt for an open-air lodging to have a direct access to the stars.
6. Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand
This mountainous country, aside from being a popular tourist destination, is also home to the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, world’s largest dark sky reserve, spanning nearly 1,700 square miles.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Choose from any of the four companies offering stargazing trips to the reserve located in the picturesque Mackenzie Basin.
7. Alberta, Canada
The second largest dark sky preserve in the world, Alberta’s Jasper National Park Dark Sky Preserve give you heart-stopping views of the universe. Imagine standing on the famed Glacier Sky Walk and viewing the stars above. Yep, that should definitely be on your bucket list! The Vermilion Lakes, located in Banff, is another place no stargazer should miss.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Prepare for a starry night in your cozy camp with family and friends, and make the incredible Jasper National Park Dark Sky Preserve your home for a night!
8. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland
At Scotland’s Galloway Forest Park (did we mention it was the United Kingdom’s first dark sky destination?), you can have a heavenly glimpse of more than 7000 stars, constellations and planets post sun down.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Vote for the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory if you’re looking for professional guidance on astronomy. Else, just sleep under the stars for a change!
9. Sutherland, South Africa
A minuscule town having less than 2,000 residents, South Africa’s Sutherland is located in the semi-desert area of the Karoo region. The town’s low population, remote location, and high altitude (mixed with low rainfall of a semi-arid region), makes Sutherland an unusual but an exemplary place to perceive the universe.
HolidayMe Recommendation – Go for that giant optical telescope – The South African Large Telescope (SALT) which again, is one of Sutherland’s many charms. Stargazing or not, viewing the celebrated SALT in person would be an experience in itself!
10. New Mexico, USA
One of America’s southern-most states, New Mexico is blessed with rugged topography and scant population, which in turn gives the state clear skies most part of the year.
HolidayMe Recommendation- Climb the Sacramento Mountains, considered one of the very best places to go stargazing in the USA. The New Mexico Skies Observatories located there are an ideal place to gaze at the stars and other celestial bodies.