I really love the world we’re living in right now, but I can’t stop feeling bad for us at the same time. After all, the brilliant inventions and technologies that allow us to be more connected than ever also restrict us from staring into the vastness of the night sky adorned with twinkling stars, celestial wonders, and a window into our own history. But even though we aren’t able to see freely into the sky anymore, without some degree of light pollution obstructing our views, the globe is still peppered with spots offering unparalleled views of the cosmos. Here are five that are especially amazing for every stargazing enthusiast but unfortunately, all quite some distance away from good old, densely populated Europe or the UK.
1. Warrumbungle National Park, Australia
In the heart of Australia, the Warrumbungle National Park stands as an astrophotographer’s dream and a stargazer’s paradise. It’s been recognised as Australia’s first Dark Sky Park and offers an incredibly immersive celestial experience in the southern hemisphere. Here you can have a free vision of the Southern Cross, Magellanic Clouds, and the absolutely ethereal beauty of our Milky Way. Visitors can participate in guided night sky tours or simply lay back on the vast expanse that is the Australian outback. If you’re planning to take us up on this first destination, make sure you’ve got a tourist visa going from the UK to Australia and check vaccinations you need to enter the country.
2. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, New Zealand
We’re staying in Oceania for the second one and are hopping over to New Zealand. Here you’ll find the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, named after what we’re looking for here, so you know that it’s going to be good. It is home to the iconic Aoraki Mount Cook, the tallest peak in the country, which offers a truly exceptional celestial panorama. The reserve’s commitment to minimising light pollution ensures that visitors can witness all of the southern hemisphere’s constellations and, once more, especially the Magellanic Clouds in all their glory. And as a bonus there is no visa needed to go to New Zealand, so off you go!
3. Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Nestled atop the volcanic slopes of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the Mauna Kea Observatories boast some of the clearest and darkest skies on Earth, thanks to its height. Rising an impressive 13,769 feet (or around 4.2km) above sea level, this dormant volcano is home to a whole cluster of state-of-the-art observatories, as the name already suggests. You can take in stargazing tours, guided by astronomers who work to unravel the mysteries of the night sky. The thin atmosphere and minimal light pollution create an ideal environment. Oh, and don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the sunset! As Hawaii is part of the United States, getting a permit to enter requires a bit more work, so be sure to plan accordingly.
4. Atacama Desert, Chile
Following down the landmass to South America, we’ll find Chile. Across its arid landscapes the Atacama Desert stands as one of the driest places on Earth. But with its high altitude desert plateaus, such as the Valle de la Luna, it also offers unrivalled stargazing experiences. The clarity of the night sky here in Atacama is simply stunning, with minimal atmospheric interference and light pollution. It is perfect for marvelling at the Milky Way and witness constellations come to life. It’s not just a feast for the eyes but also a wonderful testament to the harmonious convergence of nature and the cosmos. And again, there is no visa needed.
5. NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
Last but by no means least, in the heart of Namibia’s vast desert expanse lies the NamibRand Nature Reserve, another designated International Dark Sky Reserve. This distinction signifies the reserve’s commitment to preserving its pristine night skies, so you know it will be worth a visit to one of them. The absolute absence of artificial lights allows you to witness our wonderful celestial tapestry perfectly, where the Milky Way casts its glow across the dunes, creating an almost surreal experience. You’ll find some lovely luxury lodges for extra comfort during your stay. And once again, no visa for a stay in Namibia is needed either.
Happy dreaming among the stars!