If you’re longing to gaze at star strewn skies then you’re not alone. A new type of tourism is on the rise – Astro Tourism. So what is it and where to experience it?
The past few years have seen a rise in astro-tourism with travellers seeking out destinations where the clearest, darkest skies in the world act as a canvas for marvelling at incredible galaxies and constellations.
So where to experience this ASTRO TOURISM? Booking.com, with more great places to stay in the world than any other travel brand, has looked at some of the most popular accommodation in destinations endorsed for stargazing so be prepared to be completely star-struck.
1. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Stay: Hotel Pascual Andino
It’s very fitting that one of the best places on Earth to view the stars also happens to bear an odd resemblance to the Red Planet. You can almost always count on clear skies here as some parts of the Atacama haven’t seen rain in 400 years.
Popular among travelers who endorsed San Pedro de Atacama for stargazing is the boutique Hotel Pascual Andino which features cozy but elegant rooms. Enjoy a soak under the clear sky in the Jacuzzi or alternatively, if you want some privacy you can admire the starry night from your own private terrace.
2. Merzouga, Morocco
Stay: Kasbah Azalay Merzouga
The Saharan dunes of Merzouga reach some 350 metres in height and a camel ride here with the welcoming Berber population is a real once-in-a-lifetime experience. But it’s dusk when the show really begins – the stunning desert sunset is only a prelude to a night sky spectacle that will leave you star-struck at the beauty of the universe.
Kasbah Azalay Merzouga is beautiful stay, a short journey from the centre of Merzouga and only a quick walk away from the golden Erg Chebbi Sand Dunes. The concierge can organise camel riding and sand duning to make the most of your desert escape and when you’re not exploring the desert you can soak up the Moroccan sun relaxing by the poolside.
3. Sedona, USA
Stay: Amara Resort & Spa
Though it can get pretty chilly out in the Arizona desert, it’s worth it to get away from all that light pollution and see the beautiful night sky revealed. In Sedona you can discover cosmic wonders like the Andromeda galaxy but it’s best to grab a tour with a telescope so you can marvel in the sight of binary stars, the Orion nebula and a whole lot more.
Located along Oak Creek and offering beautiful views of the Red Rocks is the Amara Resort and Spa. The spa here is award winning and the hotel offers stylish and modern rooms with balconies where you can enjoy stunning desert views. Take advantage of the free morning yoga classes and enjoy sun salutations under the Arizona sun. Afterwards you can cool off in the stunning infinity pool or enjoy a cocktail out on the sun terrace.
4. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Stay: Tekapo Holiday Homes
Mt John Observatory ticks all the boxes – it’s located in the world’s largest dark sky reserve, its home to New Zealand’s largest telescope and it also has gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
Book Tekapo Holiday Homes are scattered around the stunning Lake Tekapo Village and are only a short drive to Lake Pukaki. The holiday homes have great features including balconies overlooking the stunning mountains and offer cozy fireplaces where you can warm up after an evening under the stars.
5. Wadi Rum, Jordan
Stay: Kempinski Hotel Aqaba
It might also be known as The Valley of the Moon but it’s the stars that really steal the show when night falls on the deserts of Wadi Rum. The spectacular sandstone formations are amazing but for a truly transcendent experience head out with a Bedouin guide and spend the night under a breath-taking canopy of stars.
The Kempinski Hotel Aqaba is only a short walk from Aqaba city and is perfect for those seeking tranquillity. The rooms are bright and airy and offer views overlooking the gorgeous red sea. The pool is spectacular and borders white sandy beaches where you can relax away from the world under bamboo trees. If you can tear yourself away from your comfy sunbed try out the water sports such as jet-skiing, banana boat riding, parasailing, and scuba diving.
6. Vilaflor, Spain
Stay: Hotel Rural San Miguel
One of the best places in the northern hemisphere to stargaze is the Observatorio del Teide in Vilaflor, Spain. Scientists from all over the world come here to study and as a visitor you can have a free tour and add your name to the list of those who’ve seen through the mammoth telescopes scattered here.
Far from the town centre amongst pretty gardens you will find Hotel Rural San Miguel. The hotel is made up of two 17th-century country houses and the rooms still have old century décor but with all the comforts of modern living. This is a great stay for those after rejuvenation as in this peaceful hotel you will find a sauna, hot tub and even a hot spring bath – you’ll unwind in no time.