Exploring Namibia's Starry Skies
Namibia is one of the top destinations in the world for stargazing. Its dark and clear night skies are amongst some of the most pristine in the world and below are four reasons why we think you have to go stargazing while visiting Namibia.
The moon rises in the clear winter sky.
(Image via I Dream of Africa)
1. Dark Sky, Bright Stars
In 2012 the NamibRand Nature Reserve was selected by the International Dark Sky Association as an official dark sky reserve on account of its low light pollution and cloudless night skies. And indeed the whole of Namibia has some of the darkest skies measured on earth allowing stargazers to gaze deep into the night sky on just about every night of the year.
Many lodges around Namibia take advantage of the unusually dark skies in the country and have their own telescopes. All you need to do is enquire at the reception of wherever you are staying to find out if your lodge has such facilities.
Starry sky over the desert.
(Image via I Dream Africa)
2. Photographing the night sky
The night sky over the Land of the Brave lends itself incredibly well to photography. Countless photographers, amateur and professional, travel from all over the world to capture astonishing images of our universe.
Below is a particularly stirring video made from a collection of over 16,000 still images of the Namibian night sky.
The award winning Namibian Nights by Marsel van Oosten.
(Video ©Marsel van Oosten Squiver Photo Tours)
3. Guided tours
The great thing about visiting Namibia is that you can always find someone willing to take you on a guided tour of its attractions. The night sky is no different. There are several tour operators around the country that offer guided tours of the night sky.
Taking a guided tour of the night sky is perfect for the whole family.
(Image via I Dream Africa)
The local guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the stars that shine down on Namibia and they are always more than willing to share their stories with visitors from near and far. Below are a few tour operators who offer stargazing tours.
Solna’s stargazing experience.
Rob Johnstone has been an astrology enthusiast since 1986 and his company SOLNA (Space Observation Learning in Namibia) offers two guided tour options for visitors.
Guests at the SOLNA viewing site.
(Image via SOLNA)
The first is just 29km south of Windhoek at the Gocheganas Nature Reserve. If you wish to book a tour at the reserve then email email@example.com or telephone Gocheganas at +264 (0)61 224 909.
SOLNA also works in partnership with Wilderness Safaris with whom they organise stargazing tours throughout the whole of Namibia. It is best to get in contact with Wilderness Safaris if you want to organise a stargazing trip and you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
A picture of Saturn taken from the SOLNA viewing site.
(Image via SOLNA)
Stargazing tours near Swakopmund
Stargazing Adventure Namibia is a company run by Dr Ansgar Gaedke and Lynette Gaedke that is based in Swakopmund. Dr Gaedke is a professional astronomer who graduated from the University of Hamburg in astrophysics and astronomy and now gives tours to visitors interested in astronomy.
Photographs of one the company's many star tours.
(Image via Stargazing Adventure Namibia)
They have several activities for would-be stargazers and you should check them out here to see which tour suits you. They also have a great gallery of photographs to whet your appetite ahead of your stargazing adventure.
Hakos guest farm
Just west of Windhoek on top of the Gamsberg is the Hakos guest farm. On this farm the German-based International Amateur Observatory maintains an impressive collection of telescopes and other equipment for stargazing enthusiasts. There are several tour options on the farm and you can view them here.
The guest farm is specifically geared towards giving guests a memorable astrological experience in an environment that is largely untouched and unspoiled by man.
One of the farm's many pieces of advanced equipment (L).
The isolated location of the farm (R).
(Images via Hakos guest farm)
4. Sossusvlei by night
If anyone needed another reason to visit Namibia’s iconic Sossusvlei, here it is: The stargazing opportunities at Sossusvlei are simply incredible. The sky is clear almost always and there is almost no light pollution out in the desert near the vlei.
A tree on the vlei against a slowly rotating starry sky.
(Image via Rhino Africa Safaris)
The Sossusvlei Lodge was in fact recently ranked amongst the top 12 stargazing hotels in the world by CNN Travel. But this is not the only lodge in the area and there are also several other lodges that offer stargazing opportunities.
The Sossusvlei Lodge by night.
(Image via Sossusvlei Lodge)
Below are three of the top-rated lodges that offer stargazing activities at or near Sossusvlei.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
No matter where you are in Namibia the night sky is simply beautiful, and if you are visiting Africa from the Northern hemisphere then you should not miss out on this opportunity to see a totally different set of stars on the other end of the world.
Quiver Trees by Night - Florian Breuer
(via Florian's Photographs)