Imagine a soaring sand dune, rising 1,200 feet, its red surface cutting into the dark blue sky. Or an endless, winding canyon, plunging 1,600 feet, along its 100-mile reach. This is the scale and majesty you’ll find in the natural beauty of Namibia – the place Hollywood comes to when they want that “real” desert look.

But Namibia holds mountain ranges and seascapes waiting for your discovery as well. And the wildlife here is superb, said to be one of Southern Africa’s best destinations for game viewing. The big cats roam these plains as well as the elephants and you’ll find Africa’s largest population of rhinos – free-ranging along the vast stretches.

The country derives its name from the Namib, its iconic desert, the oldest on the planet. Come to this neverland of sweeping auburn rows of towering dunes, some of them sloping right to the sea. You can sandboard down these shifting hills in a reality-defying moment of natural wonder.

And then there is Sossusvlei. Maybe Namibia’s most famous and photographed attraction. Surrounded by iconic red dunes, Sossusvlei contrasts with its large, expanse of white salt, smack in the middle. Add to this barren white salt plain, dotted patterns of forlorn blackened trees. Too outrageous to be designed by a human mind, this spectacular natural setting is beyond stunning.

The landscape here constantly surprises. Head to the Spitzkoppe, a range of bald granite peaks also in the Namib desert. You can scale up to the highest point at 5,600 feet and take in the endless flat plains below, panning out in all directions. The area also boasts rock paintings done by the local Bushmen.

Wildlife viewing is different in Namibia and rather special. Instead of going on game drives, chasing about for a glimpse of the animals, here you just plant yourself next to a watering hole and watch as the wildlife arrives. And they’ll come in droves – springboks, gemsboks, elephant, zebra, giraffe… and lion! All freely mixing, as if getting ready to board the Ark.

But many visitors find that the most engaging part of their experience here is their interactions with the native Namibians, the San and the Himba people. The San, also known as Bushmen, are an ancient people, originally hunter-gatherers in the region. The Himba are a semi-nomadic, pastoralist tribe. Meeting these original people of this special land can be transforming just as a visit to Namibia is justifiably memorable and always emotional.