Call us today from 9:30am: 0117 313 3300
LUXURY

8 of the most luxurious ways to explore our universe

Travellers today are looking beyond our earthly realm and into outer space for their holidays.

Astrotourism is on the rise, and this star-studded travel trend sees travellers venturing to breathtaking off-the-grid locations to experience the unparalleled beauty of our galaxy.

From Namibia to Chile, you can find pockets of the planet cloaked in the darkest, clearest skies in the world, revealing an ocean of glittering stars and constellations.

Spin on the rings of Saturn, fly with the comets, and wish upon a shooting star, as you discover the deepest mysteries of our universe.

A stargazing holiday is an unforgettable experience, and we’ve rounded up eight of the best luxury properties for an astral adventure.


1. Explora Atacama, Chile

explora atacama stargazing observatory

With over 300 days and nights of completely clear skies a year, Chile is renowned as the best place in the world for stargazing.

Head to the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, and you’ll find a Mars-like wonderland, marked by rocky red dunes, ethereal salt lakes and towering volcanoes in the day, and covered in a blanket of dazzling stars each night.

The Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth, with an average of 1mm of rainfall per year, with some areas receiving no rain at all. With a low amount of dust particles and high altitude geography, the Atacama Desert is an astronomer’s haven.

Northern Chile is home to 40% of the world’s astronomic observation centres, and is favoured by NASA and other scientific organisations - among the famed ALMA Observatory’s most recent discoveries is the most distant oxygen in the universe and infant planets around a newborn star. It’s also the best place for astrotourism.

Explora Atacama is a luxurious oasis, set over 17-hectares and surrounded by the striking desert and the Andes highlands. Inspired by the ethereal sand dunes, lakes, salt pans and frozen lava, the hotel was designed to melt into the landscape.

Each room is beautifully furnished, with private jacuzzis and floor to ceiling windows with sweeping views. Along with four swimming pools and saunas, an open bar, an excellent restaurant, and an unbelievable range of adventurous excursions, the hotel is also home to a stargazing platform with telescopes and it’s own private observatory.

Opened in 2088, Explora’s observatory is equipped with an advanced optics telescope, the Meade 16” LX200R Advanced RD, and a main mirror of 40 cm in diameter with incredible resolution and sharpness.

Depending on weather conditions, Explora offers nightly viewings at their observatory, so you can soak up the sparkling skies and learn how to spot stars and constellations with a professional astronomer.

Discover Chile


2. Little Kulala, Namibia

star bed under the night sky at Little Kulala, Sossusvlei, Namibia

Home to the world’s oldest desert, highest sand dunes, second largest canyon, oldest cultures, the biggest conservation areas in Africa, and some of the last remaining desert-adapted animals on the planet, Namibia is an impressive destination.

It’s also a stargazing paradise, with some of the darkest skies every measured on Earth. Combined with low light pollution and frequent cloudless nights, Namibia’s velvet black skies are sprinkled with millions of glittering diamonds.

Head out into the desert, and you’ll be exposed to the breathtaking vastness of our universe, almost every night of the year. The night skies are particularly extraordinary in the Sossusvlei, a massive salt and clay pan, home to Namibia’s iconic red dunes.

With a stay at Little Kulala, you’ll get to marvel at our universe from the comfort of your own rooftop Star Bed. Set within the 27,000 hectare Kulala Wilderness Reserve, this beautiful lodge has exclusive, direct access to the Sossusvlei, and features stunning views over Namibia’s sand sea.

Each villa has private plunge pools, indoor and outdoor showers, and a verandah overlooking the waterhole which attracts a myriad of incredible wildlife. The views are just as spellbinding at night, and you’ll have the best seats in the house with your romantic outdoor Star Bed.

Discover Namibia


3. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas, Maldives

A glittering archipelago of tiny islands set in the midst of the Indian Ocean, far from any major light pollution, the Maldives is an extraordinary place for stargazing.

Renowned for its pristine beaches, vibrant underwater world and glorious sunsets, the Maldives also includes clear starry night skies on its list of wonders.

It’s one of the few places in the world where you can see the nighttime stars from both hemispheres, and you can see it all in supreme comfort.

Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas offers a truly special celestial experience, with SKY, the world’s only overwater observatory.

In 2018, Anantara unveiled it’s one-of-a-kind observatory, complete with a luxury cocktail bar, and the most powerful telescope in the region, a research-grade 16” Meade LX200 telescope mounted on a super-giant field tripod.

With 360˚ movement, this advanced telescope allows you to get out of this world, and there’s a resident Sky Guru (an expert astronomer) on hand to point out the rings of Saturn and the belts of Jupiter as you sip champagne on a circular daybed.

With nothing but the ocean waves beneath you and the open night sky above you, you’ll be wrapped up in the bewitching beauty of our universe.

For the best stargazing experience, head to the Maldives during the dry season, between November and April. You’ll find less frequent and less dense cloud cover, and perfect sunny days.  

Discover the Maldives


4. Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, New Zealand

starry night skies over mt cook lakeside retreat, lake pukaki, new zealand

New Zealand is a celestial paradise, with some of the best stargazing locations on Earth.

With frequent clear, cloudless skies and remote landscapes with virtually no light pollution, the country is perfect for star-chasing, but it also holds some of the most unique astronomical opportunities in the world.

You’ll see the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, including the Southern Cross and the Milky Way’s satellite galaxies, and can watch satellites flying with shooting stars in the clear skies.

You can even see the spectacular sister to the Northern Lights, the Aurora Australis, known as the Southern Lights.

New Zealand is also home to the gold level Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only 13 International Dark Sky Reserves and the largest reserve in the world.

With a stay at Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat, you’ll be located within Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.

Just 40 minutes from Lake Tekapo and a 2-3 hour scenic drive from Wanaka or Queenstown, you’ll have full access to the best stargazing spots in the country.

The retreat is set right next to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park in the stunning Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Area, surrounded by dense forest and overlooking the striking blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

From your luxurious room, you’ll have uninterrupted views from Lake Pukaki to the Southern Alps and Aoraki Mt Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand.

Venture to the onsite Pukaki Observatory and you’ll go deeper into the universe, spotting moons, clusters, nebula, constellations and planets such as Saturn and Jupiter with the observatory’s 6" refractor telescope.

You can even keep your eyes peeled for the Aurora Australis at their dedicated viewing spot, with the opportunity to photograph this rare phenomenon.

If you’d like to learn more about our universe, you can join a Wine Cellar Observatory Experience, with drinks and nibbles served in the wine cellar, before moving to the adjoining Observatory to see the wonders of the Milky Way through the telescope, or expand your astrophotography skills.

The retreat also offers special starlit experiences, such as stargazing from a hot tub under some of the darkest skies in the world. Gaze out at the inky heavens as the tranquility of the mountains envelops you, for a truly captivating experience.

Discover New Zealand


5. Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Tanzania

infinity pool at singita faru faru lodge tanzania

Venture off the beaten track to the northern reaches of Tanzania, and you’ll be able to contemplate the same “fireflies” as Timon and Pumbaa from the Lion King.

Pumbaa: Hey, Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
Timon: Pumbaa, I don’t wonder; I know.
Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?
Timon: They’re fireflies. Fireflies that, uh… got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.
Pumbaa: Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.

Singita Faru Faru Lodge is set on a 350,000 acre private reserve in Grumeti, part of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem.

The lodge is the ultimate embodiment of eco-friendly, relaxed luxury in the wilderness, with beautiful airy suites and spectacular views over the river and savannah, where you’ll see plenty of visiting wildlife.

Singita offers plenty of incredible wildlife viewing adventures, include game drives and safari walks, but there’s only sighting they guarantee, and that’s on their star-studded safaris.

Look up into the jet black skies of the African bush, and you’ll be mesmerised by the radiant show of stars and constellations.

Your guide will point out astral objects with a laser pointer, and with zero air and light pollution, you’ll be able to see stars and planets not usually seen with the naked eye.

You’ll be taken on a heavenly journey into space as you guide tells stories of Scorpio and his eternal pursuit of Orion the Hunter, and how ancient astronomers used the constellations to guide their paths.

When you return to the lodge, gather by the cosy firepit under a blanket of stars, or head to your room equipped with a Swarovski telescope, to continue your celestial adventure.

Discover Tanzania


6. Soneva Kiri, Thailand

illuminated observatory under a sea of stars at soneva kiri, koh kood, thailand

Between February and October each year, Thailand lights up under the full grandeur of the Milky Way. It’s the official star-chasing season, with optimal conditions to explore our twinkling universe.

While your best bet is to head to the high and dry regions in northern Thailand - particularly national parks with little light pollution - you can also venture to Koh Kood for spectacular stargazing opportunities.

Located 40km off the mainland, Koh Kood is accessible from Bangkok, and despite being the fourth largest island in the country, it’s also one of the least developed.

Turquoise waters and powdery white sand beaches skirt the dense tropical jungle, and its remote location means the skies are just as impressive.

Soneva Kiri is a lavish, eco-friendly beach resort, with luxurious beachfront bungalows and a myriad of thrilling adventures including diving, snorkelling, trekking and treepod dining. You can even venture into the sky at their state-of-the-art observatory.

You’ll spot stars and planets, pointing out Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons with the help of their resident and visiting astronomers during the nightly viewings.

You’ll also get to the soul of the skies, learning how to read the constellations that our ancestors used for navigation, storytelling, planting and harvesting.  

Discover Thailand


7. Nayara Springs, Costa Rica

view from nayara springs overlooking arenal volcano, costa rica

Costa Rica is an extraordinary destination for stargazing. Located just above the equator, the country’s prime astronomical position allows you to both the northern and southern hemisphere constellations, and a myriad of unique wonders of the Milky Way.

During the dry season of December to April (with the best months being February and March), you’ll have the opportunity witness spectacles such as the constellations of the Southern Cross, the Eta Carinae Nebula, and Omega Centauri.

It’s also one of the few places in the northern hemisphere where you can see the two irregular dwarf galaxies known as the Magellanic Clouds. Made up of the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, these clouds of stars and gas are believed to have formed 13 billion years ago, around the same time as the Milky Way galaxy.

La Fortuna, a small town northwest of José, is a gateway to a natural wonderland of active volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls and lush rainforests filled with thriving wildlife.

It’s also the best place in Costa Rica for stargazing and witnessing the Magellanic Clouds, thanks to its regular clear skies and nearby Arenal Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

With a stay at Nayara Springs, you’ll have a panoramic view of Arenal Volcano and the dazzling night skies.

The romantic villas feature a four-poster bed, indoor and outdoor shows, and a private plunge pool fed by natural mineral hot springs and surrounded by gorgeous tropical foliage.

The wraparound wooden terrace with a daybed and hammock is the perfect place to sit back and gaze up at our wondrous universe. You can even venture out into the jungle at night on guided nature walks, for an immersive experience under the silky black skies.

8. Leobo Private Reserve, South Africa

With vast, remote skies free of pollution, and dry winter evenings, South Africa is a magnificent destination for stargazing. Throughout the country, you’ll have brilliant views of the shimmering stars, constellations, the Milky Way and faraway galaxies.

A few hours outside Johannesburg, within the stunning Waterberg Mountains, you can take your safari experience to dizzying heights, with star-studded adventures in the sky.

Leobo Private Reserve, set on a 20,000 acre estate, is home to the award-winning Observatory Private Villa, renowned as one of the best safari houses in Africa. The luxurious property is characterised by exceptional architecture, deluxe rooms and a homely, exclusive atmosphere, with the villa only open to one group at a time.

The property’s crown jewel is the Waterberg Observatory, with fully automated dome houses that are equipped with two different types of telescope - an 8 inch Hydrogen Alpha scope for looking directly at the sun, and a 20 inch corrected Dahl Kirkham for looking at stars, Planets and Nebulae.

There is almost zero light pollution in this remote area, and it’s possible to see objects down to Magnitude 7.4 (the limit of the human eye is normally Magnitude 6), making for some of the best stargazing in the world.

Amateur astronomers will marvel at the clear night skies, while experienced astronomers will be able to produce world-class astrophotography with the advanced equipment. You’ll experience an incredible tour of the cosmos, and you can also head out on an exhilarating Starlit Safari with a local astronomer.

Discover South Africa

From Our Blog

Talk to the team

Find out more and tailor your perfect trip with the help of
our specialist team on 0117 313 3300