Niger—not to be confused with its neighbor to the South, Nigeria—is a mainly undeveloped country in the far-reaching wilderness of West Africa. From the sparsely populated desert in the North to the savannahs in the south, Nigeriens boast a diversity of cultures, languages, and ancient ways of life. In recent years, political, socioeconomic, and environmental difficulties have threatened a modest tourism industry. Modern facilities and infrastructure are limited, but open-minded travelers who've braved a few days in this republic are pleasantly surprised at the warmth that locals bestow upon visitors. Westerners are strongly advised to do their research and think twice before planning a trip to Niger; neither tourists nor officials are immune to the dangers here. Whether you decide to try your luck as a tourist or wait until the situation resolves itself, don't hesitate to learn more about the simplicity and natural beauty of Niger.

01Explore the Bustling Capital City

Niamey skyline from François Mitterrand avenue, Niger mtcurado / Getty Images

The capital city of Niamey is the perfect place to begin your Nigerien adventures. Drop your luggage at one of the modern hotels and take a taxi to the Grand Market. Merchants carry all kinds of goodies, from shoes to vegetables to live chickens. Pick up some genuine African textiles or an energizing snack of kola nuts before heading to the turquoise-domed Grand Mosque. Non-Muslims and women are welcomed inside, just be sure to tip the warden for a guided tour and access to the minaret for some impressive views. End the night at one of several restaurants for a delicious meal and drinks, or find a bar with a DJ and celebrate your time in Niamey with the locals.