Stargazing In Namibia – Don’t forget to look up!
Namibia, a land of ancient deserts and vast national parks, is one of the world’s top destinations for stargazing. The dark nights and unobstructed desert panoramas create optimal conditions for viewing the southern constellations, whilst enjoying a Namibian holiday off the beaten track. Suitable for both amateur astronomers and complete novices, Namibian lodges have the location, luxury and expertise for a stellar stargazing holiday.
A combination of the Namibian climate and landscape make the stars truly shine in this part of the world. The dry cloudless sky, particularly during winter months, and minimal contamination by artificial light and air pollution are excellent for stargazing. With views of the Southern Sky, stargazers will be able to spot some of the most famous constellations and galaxies, including the Southern Cross, Orion’s Belt, the Jewel Box Cluster and Omega Centauri.
The optimal areas for stargazing are the Khomas Hochland and Gamsberg areas to the west of Windhoek, which have the third clearest, least polluted skies in the world.
The Gamsberg, Namibia’s largest table mountain, has a 2.5 km long and 800 m wide plateau. With extremely low air disturbances, the area offers approximately 220 suitable stargazing nights per year. Visitors to Gamsberg can make use of the facilities at the German International Amateur Observatory, which is equipped with a 70cm telescope for observations and photography.
In Hakos, 20km from Gamsberg, the Hakos Guesthouse offers stargazing and somewhere to sleep. Run by Walter Straube, who worked for the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, the guesthouse offers 2 observatories, stargazing equipment, comfortable accommodation and tours of the surrounding area with insight into the local flora and fauna.
Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. It’s the start and end point for most Namibian holidays and is a unique city to explore of itself. With food and architecture influenced by German culture, it’s not uncommon to spot a cathedral spire amongst the skyline or German sausage on the menu. The streets buzz with an African vibe, however, and the malls and markets are great for shopping.
Whilst in Windhoek, stylish boutique accommodation can be found at the Olive Grove Guest House. Olive Grove features 12 elegant rooms set around a peaceful veranda and a refreshing plunge pool. At the hotel’s wellness centre they can ease out any knots you may have from all the stargazing and desert trekking.
Further afield, the Sossus Dune Lodge is the only lodge that sits within the Namib Naukluft National Park. The Lodge’s thatched roofs blend seamlessly with the surroundings whilst offering comfort and style within. 13 chalets come with views of the dunes and 12 overlook the mountains and canyons. Sunset drives and stargazing strolls are arranged by the lodge on request.
Namibia also offers the chance to explore the oldest desert in the world. Sossusvlei, in the ancient Namib Desert, is a striking clay pan surrounded by some of the highest sand dunes in the world. Desert Homestead, situated at the entrance to the Sossusvlei dunes, features 20 luxurious thatched chalets, which boast jaw-dropping sunset and sunrise views. There’s also a relaxing pool on site and the opportunity to explore the desert on horseback.
A holiday to Namibia would not be complete without a visit to Etosha National Park, a 22,270 square kilometre game reserve situated in the north of the country. Dominated by a huge mineral pan, Etosha National Park is a breathtaking, shimmering white landscape, which is home to a large number of black and white rhinos, elephants, lions, zebras and birds that congregate around the waterholes.
When it comes to stargazing, sunsets, deserts and wildlife there is nowhere quite like Namibia.
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