Three of a kind

Sat, Nov 3, 2012, 00:00

Hotels for stargazing

KAKSLAUTTANEN HOTEL AND IGLOO VILLAGE, FINLAND

Kakslauttanen, Kiilopaantie, Saariselka, Finland,

tel: 0035-816667100, Kakslauttanen.fi

The collision of energetic charged particles in a high atmosphere. But enough about holiday activities in your Arctic glass igloo, this describes the phenomenon of the Northern Lights, or Aurora borealis. Once those fizzing particles are suitably charged they produces a swooping light display that will put spectators in the “oh” zone.

Glowing Auroras swirl in a great greenish glow above the northern horizon, sometimes changing colour to a warm red. This cosmic show can be best appreciated as you lie in your thermal glass igloo at the Hotel and Igloo Village Kakslauttanen which is 250 kilometres north of the Arctic circle in the Finnish part of Lapland, far from light pollution.

Aurora Borealis displays between late August and late April and while it is not guaranteed, the hotel keeps an eye on the sky and posts up Northern Lights predictions.

Rooms: accommodation includes the 20 glass igloos, as well as snow igloos and log cabins. Other cool experiences include ice swimming and ice carving. The igloo village is 10 kilometres from Saariselka. Doubles from €177 per person sharing.

AMANGIRI, UNITED STATES

Kayenta Road, Canyon Point, Utah, US,

tel: 001-435 675 3999, amanresorts.com

Stars and planets that dazzle above Utah’s crystal-clear dark desert skies include Saturn, Orion Nebula, the Andomeda Galaxy and Hercules Cluster. The sky’s the limit in terms of celestial appraising possibilities at the Amangiri resort surrounded at earth level by 200-million-year-old mesas and rock formations dotted with dinosaur fossils, but should you wish to do it in comfort, you can lounge and marvel from a private sky terrace.

To get more intimate detail, visually and mentally, guests can borrow the hotel’s star-gazing kits, which include a sky chart, binoculars and book.

Each Monday, astronomy expert Rob Sourek gives talks on the Utah sky using the hotel’s telescope (an Orion Sky Quest XT10g Dobsonian, to be exact). If you want to make a date with the stars, upcoming heavenly performances include the Leonids meteor shower on November 17th/18th, the conjunction of Venus and Saturn on November 27th, a complete lunar eclipse on November 28th and Jupiter at Opposition on December 3rd.

The Amangiri resort is in an area where the indigenous tribes are the Navajo and Hopi. Day trips can be made from here to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Bryce and Zion national parks.

Rooms: Amangiri has 34 suites: 13 Desert View suites, 14 Mesa View suites, one Terrace suite, two Mesa Pool suites, two Desert Pool suites, the Girijaala suite and the Amangiri suite. Prices start from $1,050 (€810) in a desert view suite.

MADIKWE RIVER LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA

Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province, South Africa, tel: 0014-778-9000, madikweriverlodge.com

Zoo animals roam uncaged around the reserve that this lodge is set in, as do exotic birds, but other wonders are to be perceived in a heavenly direction.

In the vast expanse of sky above the Madikwe Game Reserve the Milky Way makes itself clear, as do other constellations such as the Southern Cross (or Crux), which can be seen at almost any time of year in the southern hemisphere, and the dazzling cluster of the Jewel Box.

Madikwe Game Reserve meets the Dwarsberg Mountains to the south and Marico river to the east and its land runs from acacia savannah to riverine which many species call home: including wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, buffalos, elephants and white and black rhino.

Rooms: Madikwe River Lodge has 16 thatched chalets, all en suite with private viewing decks. The lodge has three double rooms, six family rooms, six twin rooms and a suite (with an outside shower). Doubles cost from ZAR 1,400 (€124).


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