Traveling with a purpose is an efficient means for making your trip memorable and fulfilling. And with the last two pandemic-fuelled years causing a spike in outdoor adventure, it’s only natural that a holiday centred around something like stargazing has become increasingly more common. “The AAVSO has certainly seen an increase in interest surrounding stargazing,” Staff Astronomer Bert Pablo tells TZR.
The American Association of Variable Stars Observers is an international non-profit with a mission to encourage scientific discovery through amateur astronomy (or what they refer to as variable star astronomy). “The 2020 shutdown made us all get creative and think about ways to stay entertained and pick up new and ‘COVID-safe’ activities such as stargazing.”
Here are locations around the globe, from the deserts of Africa to the islands of Hawaii, that not only make for excellent travel destinations but also offer the opportunity to bask in the arresting night sky.
Visitors come to Iceland for the Northern Lights, yes, but an unspoiled night sky is an added benefit to making the journey to this ethereal part of the planet. At Hotel Rangá (where there are Northern Lights wake up calls!), astronomy lovers can visit the onsite state-of-the-art observatory where experts guide guests through constellations using high-spec telescopes that gaze through a roll-off roof.
Experience the twinkling night sky from a luxury train car with the Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train. Scotland’s only luxury sleeper train offers bespoke excursions that escorts guests into the wilds of Scotland, including a stargazing journey in the Cairngorms of the Scottish Highlands — one of the darkest skies in Europe. Explore the area with Belmond’s certified astrologer Steve Owens and get acquainted with the constellations while nibbling on a late-night picnic.
Ride camels through the Sahara and stargaze with an expert astrologer on a 13-day Moroccan adventure with TRIPS by Culture Trip. Led by local celebrity astrologer Astro Hamid, adventurers will learn about the desert’s night sky and gaze at clear constellations (a normal occurrence in the region). You’ll also have the chance to discover Casablanca alongside a local architect, hike the rugged Rim Mountains, explore the historic centers of Fez and Marrakech, and dine Berber-style under the stars in a desert oasis — amongst several other itinerary highlights.
To find out more countries that offer the opportunities of spectacular dark skies, go to https://www.thezoereport.com/living/best-stargazing-vacations.