Five Destinations to Experience The Lunar Eclipse
In 2022 the night sky will be full of cosmic wonders. The next eclipse of the moon is a total lunar eclipse and will darken the skies on May 15th, and into May 16th, across North and South America, Europe and Africa. Nicknamed the ‘blood moon’ for the dramatic deep shade of red the moon turns when bathed in the earth’s shadow, it will be visible to billions.
With more than three quarters (78%) of global travelers saying that mentally unwinding is their motivation to travel,* constellation-filled skies around the world are drawing an increasing number of astro-tourists who seek to disconnect from daily life and connect more deeply with nature. Whether travelers are drawn to these destinations for the eclipse – or just want to marvel at the night skies – we have selected five of the best locations to witness the celestial wonders of the world. From the cool arid desert in South Africa to the mountains on a balmy night in South America, travelers can pick their preferred star of the show and connect with nature at its finest.
Sky-watchers across South America will get to see the entire eclipse from beginning to end. Famed for its tropical rainforest and mountain peaks, the wonders of this continent continue after dusk, with sun-bleached deserts and salt flats providing a front-row seat for some of the best stargazing on the planet. The province of San Juan, in west-central Argentina, is a pollution-free part of the country which rarely sees cloud cover and a popular eclipse destination. Travelers can visit El Leoncito National Park where, nestled in rugged mountains and ancient poplar tree groves, two world-renowned astronomic observatories – CESCO and CASLEO – provide top-notch astronomical tours. A 40-ton telescope allows visitors to see shooting stars, satellites and an astonishingly clear Milky Way. By day, no trip to San Juan is complete without a visit to the Valley of the Moon, an otherworldly landscape and area of mesmerizing clay formations. The area, near some of the country’s top wineries, is also a great base for wine-tasting.
Where to stay: A good base in the city is Pircas de Puyuta, a calm oasis away from the hustle and bustle. With charming country-style rustic rooms all with garden views, the hotel boasts a swimming pool and is surrounded by luscious greenery. Guests can borrow books from the library or enjoy drinks from the bar on the terrace. With a Travel Sustainable badge for its robust sustainability measures, including its use of 100% renewable energy and ban on single-use plastic, it’s an ideal place to respect the natural world.
The remote location of Stewart Island, situated less than 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of the South Island across the Foveaux Strait seaway, means it’s virtually free of light pollution, making night views experienced there of an exceptional standard. In the Maori language, the island is called Rakiura which means ‘the land of the glowing skies,’ and its outstanding landscapes and rugged scenery combine to make the eclipse experience second to none. In 2019, Stewart Island was declared an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, only the second island in the world to achieve this global recognition awarded to areas that possess a special quality of starry nights; helping to ensure light pollution levels are controlled to safeguard the unique skies for future generations. A dream for nature lovers, Stewart Island is made up of pristine beaches, wetlands and native forest, and is one of the best places to observe New Zealand’s finest wildlife from penguins to kiwi birds.
Where to stay: Staying in the Aurora Lodge holiday home at Halfmoon Bay will put travelers in the heart of the celestial action. This three-bed sustainable property boasts a balcony, private garden, barbecue and parking as well as incredible sea views. Visitors have a good chance of spotting the aurora australis, the green and purple swirls of the southern lights, which often appear in these magical southern skies, or New Zealand’s most famous constellation, the Southern Cross. A stone’s throw away is the Observation Rock Viewpoint, which offers spectacular views both during the day and at night.
With vast skies free of pollution and dry winter evenings, nightfall is nothing short of spectacular in South Africa. Cities are not usually the best places for stargazing, but Cape Town is an exception with spots that will leave travelers enchanted. Visitors can trek the Lion’s Head mountain, starting the 1.5-hour hike around sunset to view the sky in all its glory at the peak. Or an evening Sunset Cruise will provide travelers with magnificent views of Cape Town’s legendary skyline and the ability to stargaze from the sea. A four-hour drive away in the Karoo desert lies Sutherland, the astronomical heart of South Africa and regarded as one of the world’s prime stargazing destinations. It’s home to the South African Astronomical Observatory where the Southern African Large Telescope is located – among the largest in the world. Just remember to bring a blanket and dress warmly, as Sutherland is the coldest town in South Africa!
Where to stay: Boutique-style guest house CB-ONE Luxury Stay features self-catering open-plan apartments situated in the upper slopes of the fashionable Camps Bay. Boasting panoramic sea views and a solar heated infinity pool, this modern and luxurious accommodation is located right at the foothills of the iconic Table Mountain – a perfect backdrop to watch the lunar eclipse. This Travel Sustainable property uses 100% renewable energy and provides guests with information about local ecosystems, heritage and culture.
One of France’s wildest and least populated regions, Cévennes is an International Dark Sky Reserve, meaning it possesses an exceptional nocturnal environment and quality of starry nights, and is protected for its heritage as well as for public enjoyment. A magnet for both amateur and professional astronomers, the unspoiled Cévennes National Park, located between the Massif Central and the Mediterranean, remains one of the darker spots in southern France and is an ideal spot to watch the lunar eclipse. It’s also a paradise for adventure lovers and nature enthusiasts. The water-scoured canyons of the Tarn Gorge draw boaters and hikers and, with over 2,000 animal species, travelers can spot endangered golden eagles by day and eagle owls at night. For those craving culture, head to Monpellier, an hour’s drive away, for a City Tour to explore the cathedral, Three Graces Fountain, Triumphal Arch and Fabre Museum.
Where to stay: In the heart of the Cévennes National Park, bed down at holiday home La Coutinelle in a tranquil hamlet at 700m altitude. With stone walls and rustic décor, this period holiday home sleeps three and comes with a private terrace and all the latest amenities including a barbecue and coffee machine. Surrounded by chestnut trees, and with magnificent views of the Cévennes mountains, it’s a quiet and tranquil spot for astro tourists, nature lovers and hikers to unwind and disconnect.
Located in the center of Ohio, Columbus is awash with exciting after-dark activities. Travelers can enjoy the nightlife of the culturally rich Short North Arts District or disconnect and get up close and personal with nature instead. In the heart of the nearby Hocking Hills, the John Glenn Astronomy Park is arguably the best stargazing spot within an hour of Columbus, untouched by light pollution. Just after sunset on May 15th, the park’s team will turn its powerful telescopes towards the moon for a powerful guided tour of the eclipse. The observatory features a retractable roof to permit night sky viewing; those visiting during the day can inspect the Earth’s closest star, the sun, with telescopes equipped with special filters. Back in town, the Columbus Scavenger Hunt Tour is a fun, interactive way to explore the city; travelers craving a culture kick can answer trivia and solve riddles to discover the Topiary Park, Lincoln Theater and Columbus Museum of Art.
Where to stay: Located in the heart of the Short North Arts District, the Graduate Columbus is a quirky stay with rooms worth writing home about. The hotel has a kitsch modern feel and offers a 24-hour fitness center and rooftop terrace from which visitors can view the night sky. Guests can grab a coffee or cocktail at onsite restaurant Poindexter, a café by day and bar by night. Just a stone’s throw away is the Ohio Theater and Capitol Square, the cornerstone of Ohio’s capital.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 48,413 respondents across 31 markets (2,000 from USA, 1,864 from Canada, 1,999 from Mexico, 2,003 from Colombia, 2,005 from Brazil, 2,002 from Argentina, 1,020 from Chile, 1,777 from Australia, 818 from New Zealand, 1,999 from Spain, 2,002 from Italy, 1,998 from France, 1,990 from UK, 2,005 from Germany, 2,003 from Netherlands, 985 from Denmark, 999 from Sweden, 910 from Croatia, 918 from Switzerland, 1,986 from Belgium, 998 from Russia, 953 from Israel, 1,999 from India, 1,990 from China, 901 from Hong Kong, 1,775 from Thailand, 1,001 from Singapore, 975 from Taiwan, 1,800 from Vietnam, 1,757 from South Korea, 1,001 from Japan). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once for business or leisure in the past 12 months, and planning to travel in 2022 and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in January 2022.