Though the country was ravaged by war towards the end of the twentieth century and into this one, Sierra Leone is now relatively safe, with all the wildlife, wilderness, and colorful culture one seeks in a West African adventure. At Outamba-Kilimi National Park you’ll find some of the rarest animals in the world, like the pygmy hippo and the bongo antelope — though it’s still best known for its massive population of chimpanzees. Continue your wildlife viewing at the Tacugama wildlife sanctuary about half an hour from the capital in Freetown. You can even spend the night there if you just can’t get enough.
For the more active, you might consider a trek up Mt. Bintumani, a 6,381-foot summit that involves harrowing stuff like crossing rope bridges and stepping across gorges. If you want to learn the culture of this West African nation, the Rogbonko Village Retreat runs cultural exchanges into some of the many small villages scattered around Sierra Leone. Or you can visit the other end of the slave trade on Bunce Island, where over 200 years’ worth of people were sent into slavery across the Atlantic.