This is desert country. The Kalahari and the Namib dominate Namibia, with rugged South Atlantic coastlines to the west and veldt in the east. There are sights here you’ll find nowhere else on earth, like the vast red dunes of Sossusvlei, so if you’re into photography, Namibia’s the gap year destination for you. Equally, if you’re looking for a walk on the wild side, this parched land has a breathtaking grandeur you won’t forget.
In Namibia, adventure travel is everywhere. The country has become a centre for extreme sports: you’ll find desert quadbiking, parachuting, camel safaris and surfing both on waves and sand dunes. You can sleep in the desert under a sky so huge that it will take your breath away, or head for Etosha National Park where wildlife roams against a dramatic white backdrop of a salt pan. And then there’s the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon – 160km long, up to 27km wide and 550m deep.
This is a young and developing country so it’s ideal for adventurous student travel – you’ll be sure of a warm and enthusiastic welcome from a nation keen to share their way of life. As well as viewing the wealth of wildlife, much of it specially adapted to the extreme conditions, you can explore the country’s heritage. The capital of Windhoek may be a little quiet, but Lüderitz, a timelocked colonial German town, is good for a chilled Stein or two and the beach resort of Swakopmund will keep you busy (or, if you prefer, not).
If you want to undertake volunteer work in Namibia you’ll find lots of conservation projects working with the wildlife of the region, including cheetah, elephant and baboons, both in sanctuaries and onsite.