Since it sits just south of Libya, between Niger and Sudan, many people think of Chad as a giant swath of North African desert. Not the case, as only about half the country is desert — the rest is dry and spotted with green, a little like Texas (without the constant reminder that you’re in Texas).

Chad is home to some of the coolest bodies of water in the world at the lakes of Ounianga, 18 lakes that vary from blue to green to red, each contrasting brilliantly with the sands of the Sahara Desert. You’ll also do well to stop at Lake Chad, one of the largest inland bodies of water in the world — and once the center of Africa’s salt trade. You can also watch camel races in Chad, in the Tibesti Mountains, or just enjoy a beer at the Gala Brewery in Moundou. They produce over a million barrels a year!