Since 1910, when Teddy Roosevelt made chasing wild herds across the African plains de rigueur for the not-so-idle rich, the idea of the safari has loomed large in the psyche of American men. Though the tradition has evolved – no modern traveler would brag about, much less admit to bagging 17 lions, 11 elephants, and 20 rhinos – a trip to the savanna, the desert, or the jungle is still fundamentally about getting back to basics and back to Earth. Nowadays, those basics often involve polished silverware, but luxuries are only ornamental on the best trips. Nothing could outshine the landscape.
New safaris are venturing into untrammeled areas as formerly war-torn countries stabilize and create sustainable tourism programs. Safaris may be Africa's past, but they are the future as well. Here's where to head in 2014.
North Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Rhinos are only dangerous if you freeze. When frightened, the easily startled, myopic beasts simply run in whatever direction they are already pointed as if they're charging. All you have to do is step out of the way and they'll make a beeline for the horizon. If that sort of knowledge appeals to you, consider TripAfrica's seven-day Bush Survival Skills safari through North Luangwa, the remote and wild twin of South Luangwa, which is becoming crowded with both tourists and BBC film crews.
In North Luangwa, safaris are mainly taken on foot. In fact, for three decades, the only humans allowed in this pristine wilderness bordered by the dramatic Muchinga Escarpment were game department rangers. Because there are very few roads, lots of rivers, and zero massive lodges, the tracking, river-crossing, fire-making, and bush-cooking skills you'll learn from British military vet David Bowden may come in handy. Though hunting won't be on the agenda, this safari also includes lessons in how to read maps, disarm traps, and approach game. Welcome to the bush.
More information: Operating from June to October, the Survival Skills Safari books up quickly, so decide whether you want that big adventure.
Credit: Dennis Jones / Getty Images