Few places in Africa still offer nature on a truly grand scale. At 5,700 square miles, the Serengeti tops this list. You can four-wheel your way for days across grasslands shared by more than two million gazelles and wildebeests, and encounter huge prides of lions camped out on kopjes—granite outcrops that stand like lookout towers above the plains. If there was one park in Africa to spend more time in, this is it. Unique Safaris, owned by local guides, is the Serengeti master (Best of the Serengeti, ten days, from $4,883 per person; uniquesafaris.com).
The bad news: Fewer than 800 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, and they might become extinct in this lifetime. The good news: Nearly every major wildlife conservation group in the world is working overtime to prevent this from happening. At Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda-based veteran Volcanoes Safaris runs trips for many top international outfitters. Book direct and they’ll arrange a trek in steep, often wet terrain, all for a close encounter with a silverback. Don’t let the sweat or the pricey gorilla-watching permit deter you—this is a life-changing experience (four days, from $2,308 per person, permit included; volcanoessafaris.com).