Sandwiched between the coastal towns of Swakopmund and Luderitz and protecting an enormous swathe of unspoilt Namib Desert, the 50 000km² Namib Naukluft National Park is one of the largest conservation areas in the world - a fitting testament to the word 'Namib' which means 'vast' in the local Nama language.

It's an effortlessly beautiful landscape that encompasses the undisputed draw card of the Namib Desert, the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei. Other features range from seasonally dry river valleys and salt pans to baking gravel plains and isolated mountain islands. The park extends to the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean and also incorporates bird-filled lagoons and deserted, wave-battered beaches.

Scenic it may be but the Namib Naukluft National Park also boasts a range of animals and a Namib Desert safari can be surprisingly rewarding. Several antelope species - kudu, gemsbok and springbok - can often be found in the more vegetated river valleys, and a keen eye might spot a caracal or even a leopard. Other animals to look out for in the Namib Naukluft include mountain zebra, black-backed jackal, both spotted and brown hyena and a number of smaller nocturnal mammals.

Namib Desert safari accommodation, especially in the vicinity of Sossusvlei, is plentiful and most lodges offer sumptuous living quarters, fine cuisine and expert guides. These guides will open up the secrets of the Namib Desert to you, bringing the world's oldest desert alive on game drives and interpretative walks. And of course no visit to the Namib Naukluft National Park would be complete without exploring the magisterial sand dunes of Sossusvlei, located at the heart of the park and providing sensational photographic opportunities.