For thousands of years, human beings have been mesmerized by the night sky. Ancient civilizations in the Middle East, Greece, Rome, and Mexico looked up to the stars (literally and figuratively) where gods resided. They gave birth to constellations with nomenclature while regarding the heavens as sacred and, essentially, discovered full life purpose in the great beyond. The night sky was honored in rituals, and, eventually, it guided sailors in navigation, determined harvesting, and was immortalized in mythology. As civilizations advanced, the science of the sky was truly appreciated thanks to pioneers like Galileo, who rooted observational astronomy into our world. But as the earth keeps spinning, the sky seems to fade. With modern civilization, the night sky has dramatically lost its significance, merely a backdrop in densely populated cities, an airspace for planes, an afterthought for dreamers.
In San Pedro de Atacama, however, the night sky is intoxicating. The off- the-radar desert town in northern Chile is one of the few places in the world where sky-loving travelers congregate for a spectacular display of the heavens at night, a reflection of how our beautiful planet still inspires. The sky here is the main attraction. It is so magnetic you’d think Mother Earth herself gave this remote part of the desert special attention. Due to San Pedro de Atacama’s high altitude and little light pollution, the stars are vivid, appearing so close you feel that you can reach out your hand and graze them with your fingertips. It’s this sort of allure that has inspired me to visit three times now, though it’s not the only place in the world that seduces me with awe-inspiring, man-to-nature connection, and it’s not strictly a star-spangled sky that mesmerizes.
Destinations all over the world are known for their ravishing landscapes and topography that have spellbound visitors for centuries. From the Grand Canyon to the Great Barrier Reef, staggering settings take our breaths away with life-changing, moving natural experiences. These places define a moment in time, giving us reason to trek across the globe to find peace, pulchritude, and absolute nirvana. And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, journeys to stunning, natural places can be the ultimate answer for soul searchers, spurring profound moments of meditation, and connecting body, mind, and spirit.