At some point in life, everyone with an interest in nature or adventure dreams about taking a real safari trip. There is something romantic about the idea of trekking through the African bush, seeking out exotic animals that can't be seen anywhere else in the world (except, of course, in confined spaces at your local zoo, but that hardly qualifies).
Before you decide to cut into your life savings and purchase a plane ticket to Nairobi or Dar es Salaam or Johannesburg, consider the other options. There are plenty of unique wildlife-viewing experiences available much closer to home. Perhaps people overlook the wildlife-filled national parks of the U.S., like Denali shown here, because they lack the same exotic allure of the Serengeti Plain or Okavango Delta. But in terms of wildlife, some places in North America are undeniably impressive (think bears, bison, moose, and even alligators and armadillos). The excitement of viewing impressive animals up close, or through a telephoto lens, can be enjoyed remarkably easily on this side of the Atlantic, if you know where to look.