Stellar Spots to Gaze at the Stars
2018 is shaping up to be a big year for space exploration with multiple lunar, solar and asteroid missions set to launch. Since most people’s air miles won’t quite allow for outer space travel (yet), we have put together a list of the next best thing - great spots to marvel at the wonders of outer space from right here on Earth. By searching through the top destinations for stargazing (as endorsed by Booking.com travelers) and matching them with some dazzling and secluded places to stay with unobstructed views and minimal light pollution, we hope to inspire a stunning stargazing esacpe in your not-so-distant future.
Combining a total lack of artificial light with a high-altitude and low-humidity, makes Coonabarabran, on the banks of the Castlereagh River, the stargazing capital of Australia. The best views of the sparkling night sky can be had from the Sliding Spring observatory on the edge of Warrumbungle National Park. Sliding Spring is home to Australia’s largest optical telescope where the Milky Way can be viewed on any night of the year. Make the most of the opportunity and time your trip around ‘StarFest’, the annual stargazing festival in Coonabarabran that takes place every October.
Where to stay: Barkala Farmstay offers travelers the opportunity to stay on a working farm while enjoying spacious, unique accommodation with stunning mountain views. While the on-site café and restaurant caters for all your needs, with barbecue equipment also provided, you can also cook up a scrumptious meal yourself, all under the stars.
Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
Located on the eastern coast of Uruguay, this small village has no main roads and can only be reached through the sand duens either via 4x4 vehicles or on foot. Cabo Polonio has no electricity, no street lights and no towns or cities close by, so the lack of light makes for perfect stargazing conditions. The only electricity comes from personal generators, and most locals actually prefer to use candles for light during dusk. Amazingly, the local lighthouse is the only building connected to the local power grid. As well as stargazing, the area is also endorsed by Booking.com travelers for its sea lion colony and its beautiful, tranquil beaches.
Where to stay: Narakan is a true escape under the stars. Located right on the beach, this hostel is highly rated for its amazing food and hospitable hosts.
Borrego Springs, USA
Borrego Springs is located north of San Diego in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest in California. It has long been a prime location for both professional and amateur star gazers, due to its committed residents and their efforts as a Dark Sky Community to maintain a minimum of urban light. Backyard stargazing parties are a nightly occurrence. With a thriving local art scene, you’ll be sure to spot oversized sculptures on the side of area roads. Or if you prefer something less serendipitous, you can also indulge in an art class at the local Borrego Art Institute. In addition to being a beautiful spot for stargazing, Booking.com travelers also endorse Borego Springs for relaxation and beautiful deserts.
Where to stay: The Borrego Valley Inn is perfectly located for your stargazing escape. With two outdoor pools and a hot tub, there are plenty of ways to pass the day while you wait for night to fall.
Described as an Astronomer's Paradise, the small Chilean town of Vicuña boasts some of the clearest skies in the world for stargazing due to its proximity to the cloud-blocking Andes mountains. Accessed by driving along the Ruta de Las Estrellas, which aptly translates to Route of the Stars, the Mamalluca Observatory just northwest of Vicuña is one of the best places to learn more about the stars. with regular guided tours and nighttime visits so you can make the most of the dark, clear skies. Vicuña is also a popular spot for food and drink, so be sure to sample some local Pisco (liquor) while enjoying your spectacular view of the stars. If you're not packing your bags already, Booking.com travelers also endorse Vicuña for its tranquility and beautiful scenery.
Where to stay: Ideally located for exploring Vicuña and the Elqui Valley, Zaguan Hostal Boutique offers beautiful terrace views to encourage frequent stargazing.
With almost 300 cloudless nights a year, very little light and no wind, Barreal offers some of the best conditions in the world for stargazing. The local area is under strict regulations to limit development to ensure these amazing conditions are maintained, giving you an excellent chance to see shooting stars and even the Milky Way! Complejo Astronómico El Leoncito (CASLEO) has been open since the early 1980’s for astronomical research and offers a limited number of people the opportunity to book one of their monthly nocturnal tours. During daylight hours, you can enjoy the beauty of the Andes Mountains, riding on horseback through the national park and all the natural beauty Barreal has to offer. This location is also highly endorsed for its beautiful scenery and the many opportunities to explore the local nature.
Where to Stay: Ecoposada El Mercedario offers traditionally decorated rooms in the beautiful countryside of Barreal. In addition to an excellent on-site restaurant, there are also barbecue facilities available so that no matter what, you can enjoy a tasty meal out under the stars.