It’s becoming exceptionally rare to find destinations without light pollution where it is possible to see the night sky and the stars in all their glory. International Dark Sky Parks, Reserves and Sanctuaries are places that have been designated as having a “distinguished quality of starry nights.”
Wilderness Travel, an adventure travel company known for its innovative itineraries that delve deep into a region’s food and culture, journeys to many of these incredible lands where city lights seem light years away and visitors can experience the wonders of our solar system from Planet Earth.
“To experience the night sky is an increasing rarity in our urbanized world, and yet it is a profoundly meaningful experience,” says Barbara Banks, director of marketing and new trip development for Wilderness Travel. “Travelers come away in awe of the majesty of the night sky, and the incredible sense of perspective it gives one on our place in the cosmos. It is an unforgettable experience.”
Here are 4 phenomenal enclaves around the world where dark skies still rule.
1. Dark Sky Reserve, Namib Desert, Namibia
Head to the desert to find a remote sanctuary where the night sky is illuminated by thousands of stars, not city lights. The oldest desert in the world, the Namib Desert, has an incredibly clear atmosphere to make stargazing even more satisfying and is the site of Africa’s first Dark Sky Reserve.
Wilderness Travel’s Namibia Expedition spends three days hiking in the remote Namibrand Nature Reserve with nights spent literally under the stars. Beds are are set in the cradle of a dune with thick duvets, comfy pillows and bedside tables with no tents overhead and an otherworldly opportunity to see the Clouds of Magellan, a galaxy beyond our Milky Way, with the naked eye! Trips are timed for the best night sky viewing opportunities. Guests also enjoy sundowners and al fresco dinners by lantern light.
2. World’s Only Dark Sky Reserve Island, Island of Sark, Channel Islands
On Wilderness Travel’s Ancient Britain to the Channel Islands adventure, travelers explore the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, and Sark, the world’s first island designated an International Dark Sky Reserve.
On car-free Sark, guests visit the dark sky observatory for even better celestial views of astral bodies, including the Milky Way, as well as hike to a craggy headland called L’Eperquerie Common, the site of a ruined 16th century fort that guarded against pirates.
3. Star Beds, Zimbabwe
Hop in a “star bed” in Zimbabwe right on the balcony of an elevated safari tent platform. The beds are close to many comforts, but set in the open, below a canopy of stars. On Wilderness Travel’s Great Elephant Migration safari that allows guests to witness the epic migration of 200,000 elephants in Hwange National Park, accommodations include these “star beds.”
During three nights at Jozibanini, Zimbabwe’s most remote safari camp, guests may choose to sleep under the stars for crystal clear viewing of the sky, as well as choose active options by day like riding mountain bikes to see the herds of elephant.
4. County Kerry, Ireland
Picturesque County Kerry, which is near Skellig Michael, the monastery featured in the latest “Star Wars” movies, also has Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. It is one of only three gold tier reserves on the planet, and the only gold tier Reserve in the Northern Hemisphere.
Visitors can see as many astronomical sights via naked eye as those in the Grand Canyon or the desert plains of Africa, including the Milky Way, Andromeda galaxy, star clusters and nebulas. Wilderness Travel ventures throughout County Kerry in the Spirit of Ireland hiking journey and offers hikers multiple opportunities to enjoy the spectacular night sky in places like the Dingle Peninsula and Killarney National Park.