Investigating the skies from our humble place on earth is a fascinating and mind bending experience that opens our eyes to the world that extends beyond our atmosphere. This week we are feeling other-worldly and to satisfy our craving for stellar experiences, we are visiting some of Africa’s best star gazing destinations. Quiet nature, wide open spaces, vast landscapes and zero light pollution; some of these destinations offer far more than solitude and safari, bringing scenery of outer space right into our vision. First up, we’re at Kalahari Plains Camp in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve, star spotting in velvet night skies.
Star gazing until your eyes gently close and you fall asleep under the vast openness of the African night sky. This star bed experience envelops you in the magic of the galaxy and lulls you to sleep with the hypnotic twinkling of the deep blue blanket overhead, and you wake up rejuvenated and invigorated after a raw and immersive night spent in nature. Loisaba Starbeds in the Laikipia Plateau are built raised on a rocky outcrop; 4 poster beds, hand crafted from wood and draped in decadent bedding to create the utmost cosy comfort for this unbeatable star gazing experience.
Where else on Earth does the Milky Way paint the sky in such shimmering detail than over the unpolluted expanse of the living desert? The Namib is the world’s oldest desert and its history is decorated with both human and animal movement and activity. Ancient stories of these bone dry dunes on the Atlantic coast haunt Namibia today, but its unmistakable beauty penetrates the soul. This is the far north of the desert, where the Kunene River courses its way through the crevasse between Angola and Namibia, and when we look up we see what the nomadic Himba people have seen for centuries. Glittering parts of our galaxy strewn across the deep blue sky, telling stories and bearing images our ancestors relied upon for guidance. This is star gazing at the supreme Serra Cafema, which is surely one of the country’s most luxurious retreats.
Not a space in the sky over Zambia’s South Luangwa as this phenomenal image of Earth’s galaxy so clearly depicts. An utterly awe-inspiring vision above our heads as we sink into a nature-infused state of relaxation at Bilimungwe Bushcamp, which is nothing short of perfect. If you (like us) are in search of sheer wonderment, tranquility, and wild surrounds to be enjoyed with only a handful of good souls and expert guides, this is the place you’ve been looking for. Don’t attempt to count the stars… or do, but risk being stuck under the midnight sky forever.
The magnificence of Africa’s largest and oldest game reserve – Selous – is attributed to the vast riverine habitat, diversity of both well know and lesser known species, and the experience of expert safari guides. But, have you looked up? The aerial display presented by southern Tanzania’s night skies is worthy of a reputation to match this iconic reserve’s terrestrial abundance. What an astonishing encounter of the world beyond our atmosphere, twinkling, glistening, and shimmering over our heads for the entire planet to see, but not everywhere on the planet can offer a view quite like this. This is special to Azura Selous.
Another sparkling sky, alive with the wriggling glow of restless stars, burning bright in the deep blue overhead. This is the splendour of Kenyan skies near the famous peak, Mount Kenya, and below it’s glowing embrace lies Ekorian’s Mugie Camp. Named after the Olive tree in the Turkana language, this stellar sanctuary is located at the northern end of the Laikipia Plateau where opportunities for wildlife viewing and bird watching are abundant. Not to mention the obvious wealth of star gazing opportunities.
Tree Island in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, glowing with life in an otherwise silent and still expanse of land on the edge of the world renowned salt pans. Visitors travel across the globe to see this enigmatic part of Africa, where the wide horizon is a seemingly endless spread of white saltiness, and during the rainy season, transforms into a massive inland lake. This mobile safari excursion sets up camp at the brim of the famous Makgadikgadi Pans, beneath some of the only trees around, and soaks up the wash of stars overhead. Without any other source of light for kilometres around, the stars of Makgadikgadi burn bright, and it is spectacular.
Some phenomenal astro photography churning the speckled sky into a starry swirl above the surface of the earth. What a brilliant depiction of nature’s artwork: space and time captured in motion and frozen in a moment. Heading into the weekend at the start of the craziest time of year, remember to take a minute to freeze frame a beautiful moment and reflect on the beauty of the magnificent natural world we have the pleasure of living in.