Starry, Starry Nights in a Mercedes-Benz GLA | Inspire
Starry, Starry Nights in a Mercedes-Benz GLA
Places to Go
Places to Go

Starry, Starry Nights in a Mercedes-Benz GLA

Two exceptional celestial events are happening this month, and the best seats in the house are in Sutherland, SA's star-gazing capital. Enjoy an effortless trip there in the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Did you watch the lunar eclipse? Do you fancy spotting up to 100 meteor showers an hour? In an occurrence that won't be repeated for another decade, both are happening within just four days of one another. The Perseid meteor shower occurs as Earth passes through the trail of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet last passed us in 1992 and will only swing by again in 2126. The Perseid peak is expected on 12 August, just four days after skywatchers in Africa, Australia and Asia experienced a partial lunar eclipse when the Earth's shadow passed over the moon on 8 August. If you aren't already planning a trip to SA's star capital of Sutherland in the Northern Cape, you’d best get on it sharpish.


The Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 4MATIC is the ideal car for the journey. An attractive crossover, it offers compact efficiency with premium practicality. It's 127mm longer and 59mm taller than an A-Class, which means there's space for five adults plus 421 litres of boot capacity for telescopes, bags and binoculars. Best of all, it can be tailored to urban or extra-urban environments thanks to AMG Performance (15mm lower than stock) or Offroad packages (30mm taller than stock).

A smooth 130kW/350Nm 2.2-litre diesel motor, seven-speed auto and permanent all-wheel-drive is just what you want when the black ice warning pops up on the dash. It's relaxing and refined to drive, and thanks to a clever gliding mode it quaffs just 5.0L/100km on a cruise, meaning 1 000km-plus off a single tank.


Even if you don't exactly have stars in your eyes you can't go all the way to Sutherland and not check out SALT – the South African Large Telescope – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Find the observatory 18km out of town, 1 704m above sea level on the High Karoo's Great Escarpment, where there is there is zero light or air pollution. The facility offers free tours on the hour, every hour, and booking is essential. 

Adventure types can seek out Ouberg Pass, with its scenic 360-degree and steep 1:5 gradient for a mindful "only-soul-left-on-earth" experience. You're going to want all-wheel-drive for the ascent and a regular downhill speed for the descent. Good thing the GLA 4MATIC has both.

And if you want to get in touch with the real Sutherland, visit the NG Kerk and the Louw House Museum where two Afrikaans poets – brothers NP van Wyk Louw and WEG Louw – were born.


Head through town to the original Ou Meule, now converted into an atmospheric restaurant and pub with just the right amount of rustic to satisfy all cravings. Excellent lunch and dinner served. 


Overnight at Blue Moon Restaurant & Guest House, where each of the five rooms is equipped with electric blankets and heaters. In the morning, there's a full English breakfast and plunger coffee on offer. Bliss.

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Images: Peet Mocke.  

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