Africa may be justifiably famous for its national parks, but some of the wildest experiences take place elsewhere – on a dizzyingly-high cliff face; amongst magical sand dunes which hum as you walk; or at the lip of the continent's most gawp-worthy waterfall.
Push your boundaries with these unforgettable, budget-friendly options from The Best Things in Life are Free.
Visit the world’s most dangerous church
Carved into a sheer cliff face many centuries ago, the church of Abuna Yemata Guh requires visitors to climb a 6m-high vertical wall with no ropes and negotiate a narrow ledge over a 200m drop. Tips for local guides expected.
Abuna Yemata Guh, Tigray, Ethiopia; US$7 plus tips.
Surf swell in Liberia
Ride some of the best breaks on the continent with a growing cast of Liberian surfers. The golden beaches stretch to the horizon, and at night the crashing waves glow with phosphorescence. Pack your surfboard!
Robertsport, Liberia; free.
Dune-walk in Namibia
While huge swathes of the Namib’s famous dunes sit within national parks, those just south of Swakopmund do not. Head out on the road to Walvis Bay and explore. Unique characteristics of the sand make some dunes hum as you walk along the crests.
Swakopmund, Namibia; free.
Hyenas of Harar
The adventurous can take to the narrow alleys of Harar’s old town at night to catch glimpses of the city’s hyenas. Or shell out US$2.50 and you can watch them being fed outside the 16th-century walls each evening – double it and you can feed them yourself…
Harar, Ethiopia; evenings; free.
Wild flowers of Namakwa
The semi-desert of Namakwa erupts in a cornucopia of colour each spring when wildflowers carpet the landscape. Let’s be clear, this is not a flower show or a larger-scale version of your granny’s garden – it is one of Africa’s most impressive sights.
Namakwa, South Africa; Aug-Sep; free.
Maralal International Camel Derby
Join spectators to witness these epic cross-country camel races. Mingle with the crowds, attend the notorious parties and, if you’re game, rent a camel and ride in the amateurs’ race.
Take a dip in the Devil’s Pool
Drop into the Zambezi and swim in a natural pool on the edge of Victoria Falls while water slides past you and plummets over the 100m drop. Free it is not, but it’s so wild it is worth the splurge (an incredible breakfast is included).
Set eyes on the Jade Sea
The lake’s eastern shore at the village of Loyangalani may be at the end of an incredibly long and uncomfortable transport-truck journey, but the volcanic landscapes, Jade Sea views and vibrant Turkana people are out of this world.
Lake Turkana, Kenya; free.