It may be the stuff of which bucket lists are made, but there’s no reason to hold off on your South African journey. Every year, thousands of adventurous travellers venture across the plains in search of the Big Five — lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards and rhino — and guided-tour companies have made it easier than ever to see the sights without a hint of danger.

Not sure where to start? Get a few ideas from this safari guide before you plan your unforgettable getaway. Just make sure you have enough American Express travel insurance; this is the sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you need to keep covered.

Pilanesberg Nature Reserve

Situated west of Pretoria, this sprawling game reserve is home to more than 7,000 animals and a lush variety of native plants. Hop on a safari vehicle to view the Big Five, and keep an eye out for the park’s historic Iron and Stone Age sites. You can even sign up for the exclusive Elephant Interaction Program.

Need to unwind after a day on the dusty roads? Head over to nearby Sun City for a little swimming, shopping or golfing at the village’s award-winning resort.

Western Cape

If you want venture deeper into South Africa’s headlands, take a multi-day tour through the majestic cliffs and thrilling game reserves of the Western Cape. Located near the Cape of Good Hope, this southern province boasts kilometres of safari-ready roads and can’t-miss vistas. Start in the desert-like Oudtshoorn to sneak a peek at Bengal tigers and white lions, and then get a guided tour through a local ostrich farm. Wander further into the Klein Karoo region to see elephants, leopards, kudus and zebras.

Want a little pro-advice? Spend some extra time with the locals in areas like Kayamandi, Stellenbosch and Gansbaai. You’ll get an authentic look at the cultural vibrancy of South Africa and can even sample local ports, chocolates and cheeses.

Aquila Game Reserve

Just two hours from Cape Town, this enthralling reserve is perfect for day-trippers. Explore the park on an open-vehicle game drive, and then spend a peaceful afternoon in the area’s natural wetland. This is paradise for bird-watchers; with more than 170 species, Aquila offers some unbeatable opportunities for an up-close look at even the most endangered types.

Hluhluwe Game Reserve

If it’s rhinos you’re after, there’s no better place than Hluhluwe. Located on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, this reserve is widely acclaimed for its ongoing Operation Rhino program; these conservation activities have helped pull white rhinos from the edge of extinction. You’ll also see cheetahs, giraffes, spotted hyenas and can enjoy magnificent reserve views from the renowned Hilltop Camp restaurant.

Ready to plan your safari adventure? You’ll find all of these journeys, along with a bevy of flight and hotel options, through American Express Experiences. Plus, you’ll get bonus points on travel and exclusive membership perks. With AmEx, putting together the experience of a lifetime has never been more rewarding.