No safari trip can guarantee sightings of lionesses with cubs or charging bull-elephants but the whole experience is as exciting as it ever was.

Most trips booked from Britain involve staying in traditional-style bush camps or safari lodges in game reserves. Accommodation is either under canvas, or in semi-permanent thatched structures with en-suite toilets and "bush" showers open to the sky. Food is generally good and the experience of wining and dining at dusk as an elephant strolls by is hard to beat.

Transport around the parks is by minibus or four-wheel drive vehicle. Note, though, that jeep-and-lodge tours can easily cost pounds 200 per day per person. Walking, canoeing, horse-riding (or even elephant-riding) safaris are available as alternatives.

Another cheaper possibility is to fly to the country and then book a "mobile" or "camping" safari on the spot (around pounds 50 per day), in which you'll travel round with a guide, taking your own tent with you and sleeping anywhere in the park. You might get ripped off, you won't get a shower everyday, and there'll be nasty insects, but the flexibility is fun.

Finally, if you are on a tight budget, you can avoid packages altogether, and instead just drive or hitch into safari parks by yourself, staying either in National Park accommodation, safari lodges, or your own tent on campsites.

Some of the best game reserves:

Kenya. Maasai Mara, in the southwest of the country, near Tanzania. A hunk of grassland 2,000m above sea level, this is possibly the finest place for viewing wildlife on earth. It is often possible to see up to a dozen species of big game in a single panoramic sweep, as well as lots of fellow tourists.

Tanzania. Serengeti National Park. In the north, this huge plain is an extension of the Maasai Mara in Kenya (above) and vies with it for the title of best reserve in Africa. Its most famous feature is the annual migration of wildebeest, though big cats are also two-a-penny.

Zimbabwe. The Hwange National Park, in the centre of Zimbabwe, a couple of hours by road south from the Victoria Falls. Contains at least 40,000 elephants. The landscapes are not as spectacular as in East Africa but on the other hand the numbers of tourists are far smaller.

Botswana. Moremi Wildlife Reserve, in the Okavango Delta. This is perhaps the wildest, purest piece of wilderness anywhere in southern Africa, though exploring it is generally the preserve of the wealthy.

South Africa. Kruger National Park, in Eastern Transvaal, near the border with Mozambique. A vast area, the size of Wales. Thought to contain more species than any other park in Africa, but a trifle over-developed and touristy. The excellent facililities mean that you can travel without guides or tours.

A selection of operators: Okavango Tours 0181-343 3283; Wildlife Discovery 01737 223903; Thomson 0990 502399; The Imaginative Traveller 0181-7428612.

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