I've always liked photography, but it wasn't until I went on my first Safari that I started to take it more seriously.
Learning the equipment, the settings, the framing, and considering the subject matter rather than casually 'snapping' away.
For that first safari, I bought a small Canon 450D and a 70-300mm lens, perfect combination to start learning with, although I did find that the lens was not quite long enough to 'reach' all of the animals. Nevertheless, the experience was enough to make me think it would not be the last opportunity!.
Over the next couple of years I upgraded the lens to a 100-400mm "L" and the camera was upgraded to a Canon 7D. The lessons learnt from the 450 were useful for upgrading to the 'semi-professional' 7D model.
Since then, this combination has been with me to a number of different and exotic locations, including Borneo, Tanzania, Seychelles, South Africa and Mozambique.
It's not all exotic locations though (although that is the best part!), I'm often found outside looking around for aircraft, or Birds of Prey. Much to the dismay of my lovely wife, the local Red Kites often catch my attention circling above our house - they must like being photographed!
If you can't get close to a subject, then get a longer lens... and I've found this to be the case a number of times - so I took the opportunity to purchase a "Sigmonster"... the Sigma 300-800mm Lens.
Sadly this lens weighs over 10kg, therefore is not practical to take on Safari, or even out of the country really!. I've tried to use it for some aircraft shots, but even so, anything other than the slowest planes and it becomes a bit unwieldy!...
But for that occasion where you just cannot get close enough, it's perfect.