Founded in the early eighties, the Cederberg Astronomical Observatory has become a popular destination with amateur and professional astronomers alike. It’s situated high in the Cederberg mountains and offers unpolluted skies and magnificent mountain views.
The general public can visit on Saturday nights, when a few hours are set aside for astronomers to guide amateur stargazers, except on full moons when not much else is visible. You’ll also be treated to a slideshow about the southern hemisphere’s night skies.
Situated near the borders of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, Pafuri in the Kruger National Park is already well known as an excellent bush escape.
It might be famous for the US$30 million Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, but Sutherland is also the amateur astronomer’s paradise because of its cloudless, pollution-free skies and elevation.
Though the public can’t use the SALT, tours of the observatory are available.
Luckily, several private establishments offer stargazing opportunities. At Sterland, for one, you can explore the night skies at their Muisbos Amphitheatre. You’ll get to see the Magellan Clouds, Southern Cross and several other heavenly bodies through a selection of telescopes, each with its own GPS.