Stargazing

The spectacular southern night sky above the Namib Desert.

Relish the finest stargazing experiences imaginable when traveling across Southern Africa.

Because of the subcontinent’s proliferation of wilderness areas and vast expanses of undeveloped land, opportunities for stargazing abound. For the least light pollution and the greatest variety of stargazing destinations, your top choices are South Africa and Namibia.

South Africa is a particularly stellar destination, as it is home to SALT – the Southern African Large Telescope, which is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and among the largest in the world. The observatory pops out of the stark landscape of the Great Karoo near the sleepy town of Sutherland. Sutherland is an astronomy hotspot. Its arid climate and remote location make its night skies among the clearest and darkest in the world.

The Karoo in general is ideal for stargazing. The semi-arid desert stretches across great portions of the interiors of South Africa’s three Cape provinces. As the towns are small and scattered far and in between, electric lighting is negligible, and the Milky Way triumphs above it all. Beyond the Karoo, guests visiting the immense wilderness of the Greater Kruger National Park will delight in starry safari experiences. With only a handful of camps and lodges dotting the near-two-million-hectare landscape, the skies are as wild and captivating as the animals that inhabit the earth below it.

North west of South Africa, you’ll find the colossal Namib Desert, stretching over 2000km and also meeting the Kalahari Desert at its southern point. The great majority of the Namib rolls across the country of Namibia, which boasts the lowest population density in the world after Mongolia. The result? A firmament that comes alive at night – an effervescent silver that stretches as far the eye can see.

You’ll find that the country’s top destinations – Etosha National Park, the Fish River Canyon, Swakopmund and Sossusvlei – all offer spectacular stargazing opportunities. However, the most otherworldly tableau is that of Sossusvlei, where the stars and planets seem within physical reach. Certain properties offer star beds, which means that you can fall asleep under the never-ending twinkling of the Milky Way.

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