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See stunning wildlife on safari or explore the sea by submarine

By Brent Stoller

Vacations Magazine: Africa
Ian Johnson/Sanctuary Retreats
Trail the Great Migration. Every year, nearly 2 million wildebeests, zebras and other beasts navigate the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania and the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya in search of abundant feeding grounds. Not only must these animals avoid the threat of starvation and disease, they also must evade territorial predators along their route, including lions, cheetahs and crocodiles. The Great Migration, this annual round-trip trek totaling nearly 2,000 miles, affords travelers the chance to witness nature at its most primal -- and most magnificent. Find a safari that showcases this bucket-list spectacle.

Seek gorillas in the forest. There's a natural connection felt in the presence of East Africa's mountain gorillas. Sharing 98 percent of their DNA with humans, they roam Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park in families, fighting for survival against poachers, illness and habitat loss. Though fewer than 900 remain, you can get an up-close look at these creatures on " Rwanda in the Mist." Follow an expert guide into the gorillas' environment for photo ops of a mother cradling her young or a silverback, the troop's patriarch, beating his chest in a show of strength. Departures for this five-day African Travel tour start at $5,295.

Look for lemurs. On Natural Habitat Adventures' 14-day "Madagascar Wildlife Adventure" explore the rainforests and mountain ridges of four national parks and a nature reserve for a look at the country's fauna, including various birds and the world's largest chameleon. On Lemur Island, where four species of this social primate have been habituated to humans, keep your cameras ready for possible close encounters. Nine departures from June to October are priced from $11,495.

Ride the red dunes. Formed over millions of years by winds off the Atlantic Ocean, the red sand dunes of Sossusvlei tower above Namib-Naukluft National Park. Experience these natural marvels on "Namibia Dunes" a three-day excursion from Intrepid Travel. Keep an eye out for ostriches, springboks and hyenas while riding the sand ridges in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, or hike the dune appropriately known as Big Daddy, which rises more than 1,000 feet. From the top, the stark beauty of Deadvlei, a bright clay pan dotted with dark-colored trees, is staggering. Daily departures are priced from $617.

Watch wildlife from above. Sharing a border with the Serengeti, Kenya's Masai Mara welcomes the Great Migration each fall and is home year-round to lephants, lions and more. "Kenya & Tanzania: A Classic Safari" not only provides ground-level views of these animals on daily game drives, but also affords a bird's-eye perspective during a hot air balloon ride. Race the sun into the sky, rising above the plains as the wildlife thrives below. Upon landing, sit down to a Champagne breakfast in the wild. Starting at $8,465, departures for this 13-day Tauck tour are scheduled throughout the year.

Meet Morocco's culinary scene. What better way to experience a culture than through its cuisine? Visiting seven cities in 10 days, travelers on "Real Food Adventure - Morocco" from Intrepid enjoy a street vendor breakfast in Casablanca, learn to create the pastry pastilla in Fez and discover salad-making secrets in Marrakech. The most memorable stops, though, are two homestays in Moulay Idriss and Aroumd. Bask in the warmth of the Moroccan people as you bond with your host families over handmade couscous and tagine, a simmering stew of meat and vegetables. Priced from $1,115, itineraries depart March through November.

Find elegance in south-central Africa. Abercrombie & Kent's 10-day "Botswana Safari in Style" lives up to its name, boasting luxury accommodations that accent the natural surroundings. In Zambia, Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma consists of 12 treehouses perched among towering jackalberry trees and Phoenix palms and overlooking the Zambezi River. On the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Stanley's Camp features eight tents complete with en suite bathroom and a hammock strung across a private terrace. While relaxing in the on-site swimming pool, guests watch for giraffes and other wildlife meandering nearby. Weekly departures are scheduled throughout 2017 and priced from $7,995.

Slip under the sea. Discover the dazzling marine life of the Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago northeast of Madagascar, aboard a small submarine. Launching off Crystal Cruises' exclusive 62-guest Crystal Esprit yacht, a C-Explorer 3 model by U-Boat Worx accommodates two passengers and a pilot and descends to depths of nearly 1,000 feet. Its pressure-controlled cabin keeps occupants upright and comfortable, while its translucent, acrylic hull affords a nearly 360-degree perspective of circling sea creatures, from stingrays and lionfish to hawksbill turtles and whale sharks. Expeditions last approximately 30 minutes and cost $599 per person.

The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in Winter 2017. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 291-3346 for current rates and details.

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