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.

Priest walking along on ledge outside Abuna Yemata Guh cave church.
Reach new heights on your pilgrimage to Abuna Yemata Guh, Ethiopia © Philip Lee Harvey / Lonely Planet

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.

Liberia, Cape Mount, Robertsport, surfer walking on the beach
Surf's up in Liberia © John Seaton Callahan / Getty Images

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.

Walvis Bay, Namibia, Africa
Get sand in your pants for free near Swakopmund, Namibia © Richard Du Toit / Getty Images

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.

--« Mariette Vogel - Shutterstock_1
Meet Harar's hyenas after dark for a once-in-a-lifetime experience © Mariette Vogel / Shutterstock

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.

Namakwa, South Africa --« Mark Read - Lonely Planet _1
See South Africa in bloom in Namakwa © Mark Read / Lonely Planet

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.

--« Dietmar Temps - Shutterstock_1
Who's your money on? © Dietmar Temps / Shutterstock

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.; Maralal, Kenya; free.

Man jumps into Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls. It looks like she will be swept over the waterfall but a thick lip of rock keeps people safe. Victoria Falls is nearly a mile wide and 360 feet deep and from the air, looks like the earth has been ripped in two. Zambia, Africa.
Jump into the Devil's Pool and you're in for one hell of an adrenaline rush © Yvette Cardozo / Getty Images

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).; Livingstone Island, Victoria Falls, Zambia; May-Oct; US$95.

--« Christophe_cerisier - Shutterstock_1
The Jade Sea is an oasis in a volcanic landscape © Christophe_cerisier / Shutterstock

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.

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