By Melanie Lieberman
January 08, 2016

Cheetahs can accelerate to 70 mph in as few as three seconds, but are still critically endangered. For more than 20 years, the Cheetah Conservation Fund has been working to protect Namibia’s big cats, while simultaneously educating and employing locals. Get up close to Africa’s cheetahs, like GLP Films, by joining a voluntourism program—an opportunity that will get you even closer to the animals and to the stark desert than your typical safari. Instead of just passing through, you’ll help count the wild populations of cats and warthogs, feed the cheetahs in the early mornings, and even release them back into the wild. Brave visitors can even pet the conservancy’s cheetahs.

As for the destination itself? Namibia is something like another world, with scorched earth and clay-colored dunes. Its famous Skeleton Coast is known as The Land God Made in Anger by bushmen, though its name is a testament to the beached whale bones, degenerating ships, and abandoned diamond camps that have perished on the shores. A remote stay and exhilarating experience don’t even begin to cover it.