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14 Awesome Places to Sleep Beneath the Stars

“Twinkle twinkle little STA(r), how we wonder what… you… are.” All together now! “Up above [Ant: one second, just popping over to Google]… the world… so high; like a diamond in the sky. Twinkle twinkle…”

That’s right, folks. From a very early age, we’re instilled with a beautiful sense of allure towards inky night skies, generously speckled with stars.

workcampers :P

Did you know, more than half of Mongolians live in felt-lined tents, called gers. But can you name them all? | Photo by laihiu

But with street lights creeping across the lands and staining the darkness with an eerie orange glow, are there any accessible places left on earth where you can still kip under a thick night blanket? You can bet your bottom twinkle there are, and ode to your year of travel, I’m about to share with you some of my darkest secrets.

The World’s Most Amazing Places to Sleep

Hold up! Don’t forget, before you settle in for the night we want to hear what you think in the comment thread below. Don’t just stand on the sidelines, get involved and share your opinion!

Greek Islands

Imagine settling down for the night — after an ouzo-fuelled evening of dancing under the moonlight — on the warm deck of a sailing yacht, anchored a few miles off the colourful Greek coastline, where your ‘bedroom’ floor is carpeted with stars reflecting off the warm Mediterranean Sea. If that hasn’t set you up for the following night sky experiences, I recommend Horlicks.

Fraser Island, Australia

Fraser Island, off Australia’s east coast, is almost completely devoid of light pollution. With just a handful of buildings and a whole heap of sand, this is the ideal place to drift off. Looking for a refreshing wake-up call? Listen out for the Dingo Alarm Clock; before taking a dip in the Champagne Pools (natural rock pools, filled with foamy sea water!)

San Ignacio, Belize

Imagine peering through the a curtain of lush green canopy, into a sky lit up by a hundred thousand stars. It’s possible at San Ignacio, set on the west bank of the Macal River, just 30 minutes from the Belize/Guatemala border and surrounded by some of the region’s most interesting Maya ruins, including the revered Cahal Pech.

5/52

Wave your t-shirt in the air if you love sleeping under the stars! | Photo by Nikko Russano

Arctic Circle

With a bit of luck, the constellations will provide a mere sideshow to your journey north in 2012, as the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) steal the headlines for some unforgettable evenings. Need a snug spot? Check out the glass igloos of Hotel Kakslauttanen in northern Finland! Heading south instead? Grab a date with Aurora Australis, its southern sister.

Sinai Peninsula, Egypt

Keep your eye on FCO advice for Egypt’s Sinai Peninsular; but if it’s good to go, it’s good to go! Tighten up your bootlaces shortly after midnight, for a pilgrimage up Mount Sinai (where Sir Moses received the Ten Commandments from Our Father Who Art in Heaven). Take a perch, slam down a prayer and ark your vision towards those heavenly night skies. Sleep? Save it for the donkeys, you’ve got a glorious sunrise to soak up.

Sossusvlei Desert, Namibia

You may not have heard of Namibia’s Sossusvlei Desert, but you’ve almost certainly seen its iconic orange dunes on a Windows desktop! Parts of the dunes are over a billion years old, and make the perfect stage for peering skywards and pondering life’s questions. Fancy peering upwards via a crack in the door? You can count on the Sesriem Canyon to perfectly frame your experience.

Morning almost breaking

The Sossusvlei Desert homes some of the world's oldest dunes! | Photo by Namibnat

Jaislamer, India

Slip outside of India‘s Golden City, Jaislamer and you’ll be crunching the famous sands of the Thar Desert. For a spine-tingling view of the bright night skies, get aboard a camel train and hot hoof it into the heart of the Thar for a night of camping beneath the stars. And you thought India was all about the chaos? Pah!

Mount Everest

If you want the purest views of the sky at night, you’ll need to get up high; where the air is thin and the lights are dim. Where am I thinking? Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC) is a breathtaking spot, and surprisingly accessible outside of winter. Accessible via Tibet or Nepal; make the ascent by foot or by road, and get to see the world’s most magnificent mountain take a shower of stars.

The Gobi, Mongolia

Not only is Mongolia one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries on the planet; it’s also home to the starlight gobbling Gobi desert. Gallop around the Gobi on horseback, before retreating to the hearty warmth of a nomadic ger and a peek out to some of the deepest, most-fulfilling night skies you are ever likely to see.

The Outback, Australia

Australia’s formidable Outback might be more famous for the deep red expanses of its landscapes; but spare a moment for the legend-heavy night skies that quietly cloak the empty hollows of the country’s Red Centre. Pick a spot beside Uluru or Wolf Creek, and see stars so bright, they appear like 3D bullets.

Antarctica

The White Continent is famously devoid of urban sprawl, which paves the way for the Starlight Express to roll across the continent with incredible results. Look out for the opportunity to ‘Sleep under the Stars’; this is where fortune favours the brave with a face-full of diamond lights.

Atacama Desert, Chile

It’s safe to assume, that should you stumble across four Very Large Telescope (VLT) units in a remote area of the driest desert in the world, that you’ve wound up in the Atacama Desert; one of the world’s best places for stargazing. Pitch up in the desert, or retreat to the small town of San Pedro de Atacama for easy access to the nightly spectacle.

Starry Night at Paranal

V for Very. L for Large. T for…? Answers on a postcard/comment thread!| Photo by European Southern Observatory

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Envelop yourself in a hammock on Fiji‘s Yasawa Islands, for a dream audience with the legendary night skies of the South Pacific. Wrap yourself up in the warm air rising off the pleasant sands, and grab a slow drink to seal the moment.

Mount Cook, New Zealand

Mountains around the world, rise up! Mount Cook, on New Zealand’s South Island, is leading the charge on sleeping with the stars. Head into the Aoraki Mount Cook Village to grab your bunk, then slope out to the high-tech observatory for a goggle at the galaxy.


Wakey wakey! I suddenly feel, all, sleepy. While I slope off to get my head down, why don’t you tell us about your favourite places in the world to sleep beneath the stars?
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Showing 23 Comments

  1. Rhodri Thomas

    I spent a month in Namibia and spend a few nights under stars. Amazing experience !

    1023 days ago
    • Nick Smith

      Sounds incredible!

      960 days ago
  2. Mteej

    Great list. Having spent nights beneath the stars in West Texas and Utah last summer I would have put these places on the list, especially Monument Valley.

    1022 days ago
  3. Climb Kilimanjaro

    Fantastic list, on the top of a high altitude mountain like Mount Kilimanjaro is amazing, feels like the stars are all around you!

    1022 days ago
  4. Roisin Mulligan

    The most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen was whilst camping near George town in South Africa.

    I’d never seen so many stars, not to mention this was where I first ever saw a shooting star!

    Beautiful!

    1022 days ago
    • You will never forget that, Roisin. Thanks for sharing your magical experience with me and the readers — how was it to camp near George Town? Were there any other highlights, beside the shooting stars?

      1020 days ago
  5. I thought I would not have been at any of your exotic places, but lo and behold, I do recall sleeping on the deck of a sailboat in the Cyclades so I could see the stars. Another awesome experience was camping beside the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. On the night of a full moon, we had a couple of hours when it was too light too sleep, but the moon soon went beyond the walls of the Canyon.

    1022 days ago
    • Two great stories, Vera. Thanks for sharing. The Grand Canyon would be an incredible place to stargaze; were you hiking or rafting?

      1020 days ago
  6. ian hill

    You don’t have to travel the world to see amazing stars!

    We have them here in Britain.In September 2011 my wife and i hired a VW Campervan and toured around the Scottish Highlands,every night the sky was full of bright stars.

    The best spot we found was on a remote beach called Sandwood bay.The walk starts at Blairmore North West of the Hamlet of Kinlochbervie on a single track path that winds its way over the coastal moors between the lochs onto the barren sand dunes.

    We camped on the beach overnight with our pop up tent and the few possessions that we managed to carry. When the sun went down the beach was illuminated by the star studded night sky. The Sea was calm, beach was deserted the bay was truly a magical place.

    But be ware if your going to follow in our tracks because the bay as a ghost! A sailor from a Spanish Armada Gallon that foundered on the rocks thereabouts many moons ago!!!!!

    1022 days ago
    • I was right with you, up until your closing sentence, Ian. Then you scared me off! Still, Scotland is a great suggestion; and a destination readily accessible from other places in the UK.

      1020 days ago
  7. hannah

    On a yacht in the Caribbean – simply beautiful! So many shooting stars…

    1020 days ago
    • Where were you in the Caribbean, Hannah? Sounds like a truly priceless experience.

      1020 days ago
  8. Camping for four days across the Taklamaken desert in Western China, no light pollution, the stars were so bright, and so many, shooting stars going off like champagne corks, and the milky way so so clear… Just beautiful.

    1020 days ago
  9. Tilly

    I’d love to check all these places out. When camping in wanaka in new Zealand I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the stars, id never seen such an amazing nights sky. I bet these places are even better.

    1020 days ago
    • While I believe these are some of the world’s best places to be dazzled by starlight, Tilly, I’m pretty sure that on a good day, anywhere far enough away from the bright city lights can have the desired effect. Thanks for sharing!

      1019 days ago
  10. Brian

    Really was hoping to see somewhere in USA or Canada on this list! Not even Alaska? The reason I was hoping for it is because I would love to travel to one of these places. I saw some pretty incredible stars at the Grand Canyon, but I’m sure they don’t compare.

    1019 days ago
    • Really good additions, Brian, thanks for taking the time to share them. Alaska would be a beautiful place to see the sky at night; some of the world’s greatest wildernesses, with heaps to offer adventurous travellers. And the Grand Canyon would be equally amazing. Thanks again.

      1018 days ago
  11. mary

    The pic of the boy’s silhouette,where’s that?! I need to stand there! :-)
    it’s hard to tell where it is with it being sandwiched between descriptions of two different locations. Spectacular though.

    1017 days ago
    • Isn’t it, just! Although, we have it on good authority that it’s not a ‘real’ sky, but that a little tinkering of the electronic ivories has given it a cosmic glow.

      1017 days ago
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  13. Sarah Restorick

    Not sleeping under them but climbing Volcano Tajamulco, Guatemala (the highest point in Central America) a couple of weeks ago. Set off at 3:45am from base camp to get to the summit before sunrise and the stars seemed to be all around us. We were very lucky to have a cloudless night and it was amazing!

    737 days ago
    • Lisa Crowther

      Sounds like an incredible adventure Sarah. That 3.45am start time must have been a killer!

      735 days ago

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