One million trips to the zoo cannot compare to the sights, sounds and smells of a safari. Lions roam uncaged. Large, wild beasts loom at every turn. And, outside the safety of the safari lodge, people are just as vulnerable as the next gazelle. The danger of animal watching in Africa is part of its allure.
Originally billed as big game hunting expeditions, safaris today are the ultimate in animal appreciation, giving adventurers the chance to stand face-to-face with animals they have only seen in books: springboks, wildebeests, zebras, ostriches and giraffes, to name a few. Of course, the real stars of a safari - lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, cheetahs and leopards - are more appealing when viewed from a safe distance.
While South Africa does not have a monopoly on the great beasts of Africa, it certainly boasts numerous nature preserves, both national and private, and safari lodges for any style and budget. High rollers, couples and families can stay at all-inclusive lodges, which include hot showers, fluffy beds and most of the modern comforts of home. Independent or more active travelers who prefer to rough it may instead opt for simple tent lodging. No matter the accommodations, the excitement of witnessing nature take its course is unmatched by most vacations.