Old safari stories revolve around going out into remote areas in the African interior with huge guns, bringing back wild game and mounting the trophys on the parlor wall. In a modern safari tour, animals are shot only with with a zoom lens.
A safari is by definition a rugged type of expedition, but there are some trips that are more comfortable than others. If you like roughing it, you can still hire a crew of porters and hike out into the roughest area of the Congo where automobiles cannot go. However, many safari tours start out in rugged automobiles or jeeps, and include short, manageable hikes along the way.
Also, you need not sleep on the ground or in a tent; there are a great many wonderful things to see and wild animals to enjoy nearby many African cities. This makes it possible to enjoy evenings in a luxurious, comfortable hotel, while spending your days traversing the wild Savannah in the company of giraffes, tigers and elephants. Some wild game preserves also have lodges nearby, although these may be a bit more rustic.
By far, the most common safari tour is on the African continent, but safari tours also take place in other areas of the world, including South America, India, and Southeast Asia. Within Africa, the most common destinations are in the Eastern part of the continent, specifically Tanzania and Kenya.
Before booking a safari tour, make sure to have a look at the jeep in which you will be traveling, and ask how many people will be going. You don't want to get stuck in the middle of the back seat. Also, an open jeep, or enclosed vehicle with a large sunroof will offer the best viewing opportunities. English-speaking tour guides are usually available, but you may have to request it. Don't assume that all tours will be in English, and it's always good to try to learn at least a few words of the native language.
If you do choose to go the camping route, expect there to be mosquitoes and make sure to bring mosquito nets and mosquito coils. Malaria is a major concern in many jungle areas, and you don't want to take any chances.
Although you may wish to carry some local currency, most tour operators and hotels do accept American currency.
In addition to enjoying the sweeping, majestic natural views and getting a good look at wild animals in their natural habitat, a safari may give you an opportunity to visit remote tribes and ethnic groups, and get a rare glimpse of their unique way of life.