Ancient Serenity – Get Lost Among the Stars of the Cape Karoo
Deep in the desert of South Africa, The Cape Karoo captures the imagination of everyone who visits. Here, you’ll discover a thriving town named Beaufort West, miles away from the glaring lights of the city. Instead of city lights, something else illuminates the landscape—the stars. Beaufort West, aside from being an enchanting town to visit, is located in The Cape Karoo, the best and most famous place for stargazing in South Africa. If you want to see the night sky in all its glory, step back into time, and unravel the mysteries of space, then head to the dusty town of Beaufort West in The Cape Karoo, South Africa.
Beaufort West was founded in the early 1800s when settlers found the surrounding area ideal for farming and raising sheep. The entire Cape Karoo area is a desert landscape, but it’s still hospitable to such agricultural pursuits. The resulting towns grew up around the sheep industry, but today they survive mainly on the tourism generated by the interesting environs of The Cape Karoo area. Much of that tourism centres on the amazing stargazing offered by the region.
The Cape Karoo is known for its dark skies and bright stars, and it is here that many night-sky junkies have set up their homes for the purpose of stargazing night after night. Each town in the area has its own claim to fame when it comes to stargazing, but the best place of all for watching the night sky is Beaufort West. Why? Because of The Karoo National Park, the natural area adjacent to the civilised portion of the town. If you’re hoping to do some serious stargazing when you’re in The Cape Karoo, then staying in Beaufort West and driving to The Karoo National Park is the best way to go.
Just a short six-kilometer drive from Beaufort West, you’ll find yourself in the middle of The Karoo National Park. The open plains of the park, plus dark skies and uninterrupted skyline, make for the perfect stargazing spot. Here, you’ll see the entire display of the southern hemisphere: in the summer, our old friends Orion, Perseus, and the Great Bear are clearly visible. In the winter, Scorpius, Hercules, and Sagittarius gleam brightly in the sky. In autumn, Leo and Hydra make their appearance, while in the spring, Andromeda and Aquarius watch Pegasus fly through the night sky. At any time of the year, one can spot the Southern Cross and Centaurus circling the South Pole.
The best season to see the night sky is December through March, which is summer for South Africa and also is the dry season. You won’t have to worry about clouds blocking your view of the stars if you visit at this time of year. Even July and August, the South African winter, you can still get great views of the night sky. If you’re lucky enough to visit after a rain, when the air is crisp and clear, you can see some of the most brilliant stars that you’ll view in a lifetime.
If you’re hoping to do some stargazing in The Karoo National Park, you can stay up late watching the night sky in the park and then head back to your hotel in Beaufort West. Despite the relatively small size of the town and the remote location, there are several excellent hotels and guest houses to choose from. You can stay in ultimate comfort between nights of stargazing, and during the day, you can explore the town itself. There are many interesting attractions to keep you busy as you wait for the stars to come out: dinosaur footprints in The Karoo National Park, a tour of an olive groove, or shopping at the antique store. You can also take a historic tour of the town, which takes visitors through the Village Museum and the historic Dutch Reformed Church.
There’s no doubt about it: Beaufort West is an ideal destination for stargazers from all around the world! Visit The Cape Karoo to make your starry dreams come true. When it comes to enjoying the night sky, you won’t find anywhere better.
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