Burnt sand gliding across dunes, a herd of springbok startled by a rustling bush, a night sky full of ancient stories told around a crackling fire - the Kalahari Desert is a place that exists outside of time.
One of South Africa' most magical destinations, it received high praise for making it onto National Geographic's list of best trips to take in 2020 - specifically !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park and its status as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
READ: A guide to the Kalahari Red Dune Route
Hailed as "one of the darkest spots on the planet," stargazing in the Kalahari is almost unbeatable, with very little sound or light pollution due to its isolation and distance between towns and villages.
It also forms part of the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape, which became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018, and protects the cultural legacy of Southern Africa's first inhabitants.
National Geographic also recommended a stay at !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is owned and managed by the ‡Khomani San and Mier communities, and made up of 12 chalets that overlook a saltpan and watering hole.
But there are hundreds of accommodation options in this magical landscape to fit all tastes and needs -a place that every South African should at least visit once in their lives.
ALSO SEE: How to have a Kgalagadi bushwhacking experience on the cheap
Here are some of the other National Geographic recommendations.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Almost destroyed by war, 2020 marks 25 years of peace in this Balkan region, where abandoned buildings have turned into art projects and much restoration has been done on ancient monuments.
Guizhou Province, China
This area used to be quite inaccessible to the rest of the world, but it has been turned into a tech hub while retaining the simple village aesthetic that makes it beautiful.
This is the place to go to escape the big crowds that Tokyo will be attracting with the Olympics, and is a natural haven where few international travellers wander to.
READ: Japan Reloaded: A pre-trip guide if you’re heading to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo
National Blue Trail, Hungary
While not as well-known as other European treks, this was one of the first long-distance walking routes for the continent, starting at Irottko Mountain to Hollóháza.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it's almost like visiting Florence in Italy resplendent with Renaissance architecture.
Abu Simbel, Egypt
Tourism is still slowly growing in Egypt since the Arab Springs revolution, which means you can hang out with pharaohs without being jostled by crowds.
WATCH: How to travel back in time in Egypt
Fort Kochi, India
The waterfront district of the old European settlement has been turned into a thriving art hub full of galleries and exhibits.
Zakouma National Park, Chad
The northern African country is normally a little forgotten when it comes to safari destinations, but it's a haven for elephants and other animals, once almost wiped out in the region due to poaching.
This is one of the greenest destinations in Australia, and while it takes a little time to get here, it's natural beauty makes up for the long journey.
QUICK GUIDE TO AUSTRALIA: Red outback sands, colourful reefs and modern cities
Mendoza Province, Argentina
An underrated wine region, Mendoza is well-known for its Malbec wine, produced from wineries that are more than a hundred years old.
If your travels are guided by your stomach, take a detour to this elegant city for cheese, ham and cultural splendour.
MAPPED: Treat yourself to a foodie road trip filled with traditional Italian treats
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