“This most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o—erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire”
— Hamlet, Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2, William Shakespeare, c. 1600.
Ever dreamed of traveling into space, see all these sparkling stars, nebulas and planets? No Problem. Your journey begins only 370 km away from Cape Town in the middle of the Karoo in the sleepy little village called Sutherland. Far away from any city lights, a high elevation, it’s crispy fresh air and 80 % of cloudless sky lies one of the best spots on our planet to visit space. The milky-way wraps engulfs the night sky, only a hand’s breadth away, the Southern Cross points the way to whom that are lost and Scorpius lies in wait for Orion.
Sutherland is definitely the place to go if you are a star gazing enthusiast….and if not, it is the perfect place to become one. So, what to do in Sutherland?
We spend the weekend with some friends at the Rooikloof Guest Farm and would highly recommend it. Their beautiful Renosterbos self catering cottage accommodates 6 people, wooden floors a huge kitchen, fireplace, a little windmill, braai facilities and everything you need for a cozy weekend. You can go hiking, watch the night sky (of course), enjoy the silence….or even play a table tennis match.
One of the highest Trip Advisor recommendations was the Sterland Stargazing. It was …OK… You stand with about 40 people around 4 telescopes and Jurg, the owner is telling you stories about stars via a microphone. I don’t know if it was the weather or something else, but I have looked through better and sharper telescopes. In the end you’ll get a little power point presentation and you are forced to watch a strange DVD about Sutherland from the 80′s.
18 km away from town you can visit the SALT, the South African Large Telescope….which is really large and very impressive.