Remember those stunning documentaries you once watched about Bushmen who communicate only by clicking? Welcome to the Kalahari, Namibia's starkest feature, and home to some of the most unusual tribes and unending plains in the world. Of course, that's not all you're in for: Namibia's reputation for striking wildlife is colossal, while the city markets and rugged coastlines are something to shout about, too.
Plenty of people have Fish River Canyon down as one of Africa’s most awe-inspiring sites. This 160km long and 550m deep scar across the face of the country is like an African Grand Canyon, and (despite new restrictions on hiking), the place to become utterly overwhelmed by the forces of nature. If the Canyon’s not enough of a draw, the gentle town of Ai-Ai’s allows you to immerse yourself in bubbling hot springs right in the thick of it.
At the other end of the scale, teeny capital Windhoek is a charming city littered with German colonial architecture, and even features sporadic beer gardens and coffee houses, though you’ll find the daytime bustle fades to a surprisingly tame nightlife. If you want to party, head for the coastal town of Swakopmund, also heavily German influenced, and home to some of Africa’s most spectacular surfing.
To see those startling dunes, head out to Sossusvlei, where you can stumble around on horseback, out into the vast expanses of the orange-sanded deserts, and search for the unusual windswept ‘star dune’, one that’s been battered by the wind from every direction. The desolate skeleton coast - named for its rusting shipwrecks and the stranded sailors low survival chances – is a haunting experience, with its seemingly endless sands, both along the coasts and stretching into the inland deserts.
As if that’s not attractions aplenty, other Namibian mainstays include the notorious Diamond Mines, ancient rock art, astonishing wildlife and an almost untouchable 300 days per year of intense sunshine. Throw in a large glass of Windhoek Lager and a farmer’s sausage, or perhaps a traditional watermelon wine in your wilderness hut, and you might even up sticks and come and live here, instead.