Tanzania is still gloriously wild. Roads run through it, of course, and it’s spotted with campgrounds and lodges. But mostly the wildlife has it to themselves: huge herds of elephants and wildebeests, flocks of flamingos, silent families of giraffes, noisy packs of wild dogs. Lions have no trouble finding lunch; zebras skitter about, worried they’ll be lunch;vultures wait to clean up.

The wild remains wild because it is protected. A huge portion of Tanzania is set aside as national parkland – from Serengeti in the north, which sweeps uninterrupted from neighboring Kenya’s Masai Mara park, to Selous in the south, with its long distances and large variety of animals. No area is more protected, by geography as well as by permit, than Ngorongoro Crater, whose steep walls create a separate ecosystem with its own representative collection of animals. Because these spaces are protected – and because they are so wild – the best way to see them is by guided tour. (And at Ngorongoro, you can’t go on your own.) Even the most adventurous traveler will benefit from the guides’ expertise: They know where the animals are, and they can take care of the paperwork quickly.

Although most visitors spend their time in the wildlife areas, travelers should make time for Tanzania’s other attractions as well. The country boasts Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa; white-sand beaches on the Indian Ocean; and reefs for diving off the exotic, evocative island of Zanzibar.