7 spots for honeymoon stargazing

7 spots for honeymoon stargazing

Want to lie back with your newly-wed and drink in the universe? Grab a blanket and snuggle up together at one of these 7 romantic spots for stargazing

1. Aoraki Mackenzie, New Zealand

Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve (which covers Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin) is the largest International Dark Sky Reserve in the world, as recognised by the International Dark Sky Association (IDSA). New Zealand's first residents, the Maori, used the night sky not only to navigate to the island, but also integrated astronomy and star lore into their culture and daily lives. The reserve seeks to honour that history by keeping the night sky as a protected and integral part of the area's natural and cultural landscape.

…for daytime delights: do the Kea Point Walk, which gently winds its way through sub-alpine grasslands past the Mueller Glacier and has stunning views of Mount Sefton and the Footstool, the Hooker Valley, Mueller Glacier Lake and Aoraki/Mount Cook.

2. NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

One of Africa's largest private nature reserves is the perfect place to watch the stars in Africa. You don't even have to sacrifice the comfort of a proper bed to sleep out under the stars; the Wolwedans camp has luxurious 'Star Beds' out in the dunes. Or, if you want to get technical, the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge has its own observatory, complete with a Meade LX200R 12-inch telescope. 

…for daytime delights: explore the distinctive habitats (and wildlife!) of the Reserve, from sand dunes to craggy mountains and boulder-strewn plains on a safari.

3. Exmoor National Park, UK

Exmoor National Park, in Devon and Somerset, was designated the first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe.  On a clear night the night sky of Exmoor is simply stunning; good spots are Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake. The National Park has produced a Dark Sky guide to identify what you're seeing; it's available to download from the Exmoor website or to pick up from National Park centres.

…for daytime delights: indulge in creature comforts with a traditional Devon cream tea.

4. Mont Mégantic, Quebec, Canada

The Reserve at Mont-Mégantic was the first reserve to be granted dark sky status by the IDSA in 2007. The park (created in 1994) is the only scientific attraction of its kind in Québec. When night falls there are tent platforms, tent cabins and huts where you can observe the cosmos, or there are astronomy evenings if you want some guidance through the stars. You can also go snow-shoeing by torchlight if you're there in winter.

…for daytime delights: hike some of the 30km of trails up to the two vantage points, the summits of Mont Mégantic (1,105 m) and Mont Saint-Joseph (1,065 m).

5. Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA

Along the south-west of Texas on the Mexican border, clear skies, temperate nights and miles of undeveloped space in the vast and remote Chihuahuan Desert provide an unforgettable stargazing experience. Big Bend National Park covers 801,000 acres and terrain ranges from cactus strewn desert to wooded mountains.

…for daytime delights: hike up to the historic hot springs in the Rio Grande.

6. Atacama Desert, South America

Head to San Pedro de Atacama for some of the best star gazing in South America. The town's restaurants and hotels are geared towards starlit experiences, with open-roofed eateries and astronomy tours abounding. It's a great place to get to grips with the Milky Way, planets, moon craters, Saturn's rings, and other wonders of the universe all under the canopy of twinkling stars.

…for daytime delights: explore the bewilderingly beautiful desert landscape. Feel saltpans crack beneath your feet and watch the El Tatio geysers spurt in the dawn light.

7. Galloway Forest Park, UK

Boasting the title of largest woodland park in the UK, southern Scotland's Galloway Forest Park will set your eyes a-twinkling. Gaze at the Milky Way with the naked eye and spot some 7,000 stars - just don't forget a dram of the local whisky on a cold night. Caldons woodlands and Glentrool Visitor Centre offer top-notch viewing locations, where telescopes can be set up, within the core (darkest) areas of the park.

...for daytime delights: catch up on your sleep at the luxurious Glenapp Castle and savour their sensational cuisine; think Roast Fillet of Ling with Cauliflower Purée, Milk Crumble and Smoked Almonds; Ham Hock Ravioli with Broad Beans; and Banana Soufflé with Rum Ice Cream and Toasted Banana Bread.

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