Tag Archives: star-gazing tours

Stargazing Journeys throughout Latin America with Naya Traveler

If stargazing is your passion, travel company Naya Traveler can design the ultimate journey to see the stars throughout Latin America (photo by Joshua Earle)

Long before European explorers set foot in the South American continent and discovered a mysteriously different sky, the indigenous people of the region had already established a scientific understanding and deep spiritual connection with the heavens. For ancient civilizations like the Incas—who at the height of their time controlled the western expanse of the continent—their way of life was dictated by the motions of celestial bodies like the sun, moon and stars. The bright star-strewn constellations were indeed a map of time and spirituality, though their devotion went a step further, identifying and venerating the ‘dark constellations’—the shapes formed in the absence of the stars. 

In Latin America, North has always been South, and the constellations of the night sky map out a mysterious and exciting landscape. Blessed with a diverse range of remote and wide-open spaces, the South American continent enjoys some of the clearest skies on earth, making it the perfect destination for travelers looking to indulge in the bliss of isolation and wander amongst the stars. From the high-altitude desert plateau of Atacama in Chile and the mars-like salt flats of Uyuni in Bolivia, to the dramatic wind-swept terrain of Patagonia, the options to walk amongst the stars in South America are endless. If stargazing is your passion, let travel company Naya Traveler design the ultimate journey to see the stars throughout Latin America. Here are a few of their stargazing itineraries:

Atacama Desert, Chile

An astronomer’s paradise, Chile provides a clear view of the spectacular southern sky, which is largely invisible from countries north of the Equator. With more than 200 cloudless nights per year and a dry desert atmosphere with very low air pollution, the northern region of Atacama Desert—the highest non-polar place on earth—boasts ideal stargazing conditions. During the day, expect to find a surreal lunar landscape, complete with arid desert, infinite salt flats, shimmering lagoons, peering volcanoes and the fruits of geothermal activity. In fact, this is where planetary scientists tested the early prototypes of their Mars rovers. The alien quality of the terrain makes you feel as if you’re hiking on a forbidding yet magnificent planet orbiting a distant star.

Using the oasis of Nayara Alto Atacama as a base, venture out into the Valle de la Luna by day, and explore a series of star-strewn observatories by night. On Saturday, professional observatories open their doors to a select number of guests, offering tours and introductory astronomy lectures. During the visit, your guide will  help you identify planets, colorful nebulae and more mysterious celestial beings, as you peer through the telescope, uncovering a fantastical universe beyond what the naked eye can see. 

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Chile starting at $700USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Bolivia is home to Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. Covering an area of over 10,000 square kilometers at an altitude of 3,600 meters, it’s one of Latin America’s most breathtaking natural wonders. And while a daytrip might be enough to fulfil the dream of what it might feel like to land on another planet, there’s now the option of spending the night under one of the clearest, unpolluted skies on Earth. A collection of six luxurious geodesic domes sitting at the foot of the Tunupa Volcano, Kachi Lodge offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dwell in the glittering white salt plains by day, and enjoy some of the most spectacular stargazing in the world by night.

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Bolivia starting at $800USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Lago Titicaca, Peru

The Andean Altiplano might just be one of the best places for stargazing in the Southern Hemisphere. Geographical factors such as its isolation, high altitude and dry climate all come together to offer pristine clear skies, where one can revel in the wonder of the constellations even with a naked eye. Stargazing in Peru however, is not just an indulgence in the beauty of the cosmos, it’s also an experience that brings us closer to the heart of ancient Incan civilization. For the Incas—one of the most advanced civilisation in ancient times—had great faith in the stars and an unwavering devotion in the events of the astros. Lake Titicaca holds great spiritual significance for the ancient Inca and modern Quechua, hence a stargazing experience in Titicaca isn’t just about xx, but also, about spiritual connection. 

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Peru starting at $900USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Patagonia, Argentina

The Patagonian Steppe might be known for its dramatic landscapes and temperamental weather conditions, yet on a cloudless winter night, nothing beats watching the Milky Way dance over the snow-capped peaks of the Andes and reflect on the icy glaciers. Settling into the cozy comforts of Eolo—a property built on the land where the first creole and European immigrants of the area initially set foot—one can’t help but sense the aura of adventure that the thousands of travelers who journeyed through this area have left behind. Trek the mesmerizing Perito Moreno glacier by day, and trek the other-worldly Southern constellations by night, guided by an astronomer that with unveil the mysteries that lie beyond our galaxy, just as they were seen by the first explorers who settled in the ‘Land of Giants’. 

Naya Traveler curates tailor-made journeys to Argentina starting at $1000USD per person per day, based on itinerary specifics. Rates do not include international airfare or COVID-related travel expenses.

Contact Naya Traveler, 301-358-5096,  [email protected], www.nayatraveler.com.

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Holiday River Expeditions Introduces Curated Stargazing Adventures by Raft, Mountain Bike

Holiday River Expeditions is introducing new star-gazing adventures by raft and mountain bike, monthly from May through October.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Once a month from May through October, Holiday River Expeditions shares the mystery and romance of the Dark Sky with star-struck guests who are participating in one of this veteran travel company’s 2018 Stargazing adventures.

“It’s easy to get excited about this special trip series. Seeing how it has deepened our guests’ understanding and our guides’ awareness of the night sky is reason enough to offer these trips. The inexplicable boundlessness you feel staring up at the stars is just a bonus,” said Lauren Wood, Holiday Trip Director.

“Salt Lake City’s Clark Planetarium has been our partner in this popular program for three years. Their expert staff will join us for each stargazing trip to help bring the sky to ‘ground level’ and explore some of humanity’s most timeless questions. And to further our commitment to the natural world, Holiday is now a partner in the International Dark Sky Association, the premier organization fighting for dark skies around the globe,” Wood explained.

Tom Beckett, board chair of Clark Planetarium and part-time guide for Holiday River Expeditions adds, “Each night on these bike and river trips we will attempt to find and identify stars, constellations, planets, galaxies, nebulas, clusters and satellites. More importantly, we’ll use those objects to talk about the structure of our galaxy, the origin and future of the universe, and our place in the cosmos.”

“Much of Earth is losing its dark night skies to light pollution and many Americans never have a chance to see the Milky Way,” shares Beckett. “However, the rivers we run, and the trails we bike are all remote and far from cities. They have some of the darkest night skies on the planet.”

Departures ranging from three to eight days are filled with Holiday River’s signature activities: whitewater rafting, hiking and mountain biking. A participation fee covers stargazing interpretation and equipment, guide fees, meals and more. The 2018 Stargazing Trips are:

May 12-15, 2018 4-day White Rim Trail and Oct 3-5, 2018 3-day White Rim Trail —  Guests on these adventures will have access to binoculars and a telescope at night to view the heavens. This legendary mountain biking trip leads through Canyonlands National Park in Moab, UT, recently certified as a “Dark Sky Park” by the International Dark Sky Association. Bikers summit 1,000 feet above the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. The per person three-day rate is $795; $900 for four days.

June 9-13, 2018 5-day Yampa River – In the heart of Dinosaur National Monument the Yampa River runs wild and free, unregulated by dams. Spring runoff in May and June offer exciting rapids by day and piercingly dark sky canopies by night. The focus is on whitewater rafting with exploratory side hikes to rock art, waterfalls and ancient sacred sites. The per person (minimum age 8) rate is $1,075.

July 9-13, 2018 5-day Cataract Canyon — Cataract Canyon, carved by the Colorado River, cuts through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Days are spent luxuriating in the sunshine, exploring side canyons and facing some of the biggest whitewater rapids the river has to offer. Nights open up to whole new worlds as guests explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn constellations. The per person (minimum age 8) rate is $1,150.

Aug 4-7, 2018 4-day Lodore Canyon — This Whitewater river trip through Lodore Canyon peeks behind the scenes in Dinosaur National Monument, currently recognized by the National Park Service as a “Sanctuary of Natural Darkness.” This trip connects to ghosts of river runners and canyon dwellers of the past, with escapes into deep-red cliffs and exhilarating whitewater rapids. During the day guests float on the Green River through Whirlpool Canyon and at night peer into the Whirlpool Galaxy. The per person (minimum age 8) rate is $980.

Sept 9-16, 2018 8-day Extended Hiking & Rafting in Cataract Canyon – This extended 8-day float begins on the Green River as it meanders into the confluence with the Colorado River and then through the mighty whitewater rapids of Cataract Canyon in the soul of Canyonlands National Park. Hiking enthusiasts can anticipate hiking into the Maze District and the fanciful Dollhouse, enjoying the depths of Dark Canyon as well as the unforgettable rapid “cataracts” of Cataract Canyon. The per person (minimum age 12) rate is $1,595.

(See http://www.bikeraft.com/dark-sky-stargazing-trip-series/)

New this year is a partnership between Holiday River Expeditions and Road Scholar, the world’s largest and most innovative creator of experiential learning opportunities. In 2018, Road Scholar is offering three multi-generational Stargazing trips with Holiday. The 9- and 10-day trip dates are June 9-17, July 7-16 and August 4-Aug 13.

Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City (www.clarkplanetarium.org) is one of the world’s leading centers for space and science education.  Clark Planetarium’s mission is to create and present stimulating educational programs that effectively share astronomy and space exploration information with Salt Lake County residents, Utah students, educators and families, and visitors from around the country and the world.

Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters.. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with 50+ years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation’s wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a commitment to protect the environment through education and conservation, and uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2018 catalog call 800-624-6323, Email: [email protected] or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/. 


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