Many people travel to experience the light-filled days of their international destination, however, for some of us, the real fun begins when the sun goes down.
If dark skies, bright stars, and planets fascinate you, then why not make 2022 the year for a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical experience? Luckily, we are familiar with many of the most unique destinations around the world that offer unbeatable views of constellations, planets and galaxies - so that even the most amateur of astronomers are guaranteed unbelievable sights.
Read on for our pick of the world’s greatest stargazing destinations…
Atacama Desert, Chile
Excluding the North and South Poles, Northern Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth. And, while these extremely dry conditions aren’t compatible with plant or animal life, they’re perfect when it comes to stargazing. In fact, many astronomers consider this to be the best place in the world to stargaze.
A high altitude, very few clouds, near-zero light pollution, and minimal radio interference give the Atacama Desert all the perfect conditions for near-perfect visibility of the night sky.
Here you can experience crystal-clear views of the most famous constellations of the Southern Hemisphere sky including the Tarantula Nebula, the Fornax Cluster of galaxies, the Southern Cross, and even the Large Magellanic Cloud - a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.
Pic du Midi, France
Located in the French Pyrenees mountains, Pic du Midi is a base for NASA scientists who take photographs of the surface of the Moon in preparation for the Apollo missions. So, if it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for us too!
You can take a cable car from La Mongie to the summit, where a mountaintop observatory, which dates from the late-19th century, is perched above the clouds. Here, 2,877 metres above sea level, you’ll experience the earthly and celestial realms above and around you. Visit the Charvin Dome where you can look through a 400 mm Smith-Cassegrain telescope for even more spectacular views.
The reserve also encompasses both a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Pyrénées-Mont Perdu) and a French national park (Pyrénées National Park), and from the observatory, you get the most beautiful panorama of the Pyrenees. Be sure to get up nice and early if you want to see the majestic sunrise over the Pyrenees.
Sossusvlei desert, Namibia
With its vast red sand dunes, dating back 5 million years, you could be forgiven for confusing Namibia's Sossusvlei desert with scenes from Mars. There’s no wonder the literal translation of its name is "the marsh of no return".
The Dark Sky Reserve here is so far (over 80 miles) from any human center, that the light pollution is non-existent, meaning the night skies are among the darkest on Earth. But, what's so amazing about the dark sky here is how bright it actually is. With the Milky Way stretching overhead and the bursts of light from the Magellanic Clouds around it, you are able to see the brightest and most beautiful constellations imaginable.
There is a good selection of lodges to stay at in Sossusvlei, but the andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge offers one of the most luxurious and astro-inspiring stays. Featuring its own observatory and expert resident astronomers, it’s the ideal place to gaze in awe at the galaxies up to 60 million light years away.
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Wadi Rum is a massive expanse of undeveloped desert land. The sky overhead is unbelievably dark and undisturbed – making it a first-class spot for galaxy gazing.
The terrain of Wadi Rum is somewhat unearthly, making it a very popular canvas for sci-fi movie makers. Featuring unique sandstone cliff formations scattered through the barren desert landscapes, some with old world petroglyphs of great cultural significance, it’s easy to see why one would choose this for telling a story based on another planet.
Here, you can choose an overnight stay in one of the Martian Domes (Inspired by the film The Martian), where you can sleep under the stars for the ultimate out-of-this-world experience.
If this article has sparked your curiosity for some serious stargazing, then get in touch with our Untold Story team to find out how we can curate the most amazing private luxury experience for you.