Johannesburg native Leora Rothschild (pictured above) has been orchestrating African safaris from Denver for 16 years. But until this year, her Rothschild Safaris had never cracked Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” list, an annual ranking of reader picks for top hotels, spas, cruises, safaris, and more. She did it in style, now, by unseating perennial winner Micato Safaris for the number one spot. “We’ve known for a few weeks, and it was killing us not to be able to say anything,” says Rothschild, whose tours start at $475 (for a three-day Victoria Falls trip) and range upward of $12,000 for multi-week luxury stays.

Can’t fit a trans-Atlantic tour into your summer? No sweat. We asked Rothschild to let us in on where she goes for a taste of Africa here in Denver.

5280: What are some of your favorite local spots to view wildlife?
I do quite a bit of running in the switchbacks near Red Rocks and Morrison and come across a lot of wildlife there. We live in Stapleton, so Bluff Lake is fun place to go and kind of be in the wilderness and hear the birds.

5280: Any favorite zoo exhibits?
It can be a hard one for me, sometimes, seeing the animals in a zoo situation, but I think it’s great for children and people who are not able to get to Africa. We take the kids often. I love the new exhibit for the elephants. I love the monkeys and the way they literally glide along the rope above your head. And the gorrillas. I saw them in the forest up close, so when I see them behind the glass, I appreciate how amazing it was to see them in the wild.

5280: Where do you go in Denver when you crave a taste of South African food?
Cape Town is fabulous for food. In Africa, all these different cultures came together, so the food is influenced by different people and what they’ve brought from their homeland. I love my food and I can be picky, but I have found some wonderful places that feel like I’m in Cape Town: Fruition is one of my favorites. And I love Root Down. The chefs really pay attention to making the food tasty, and they’re conscious about what they’re putting into the food. Also, Frasca and The Kitchen in Boulder.

5280: Any other places around town you visit when want a reminder of home?
The Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery in Cherry Creek. The owner [Tom Mangelsen] spends quite a bit of time in Africa photographing. A lot about Boulder and the culture there—the drum circles—reminds me of Africa. Whenever we go to an event in Boulder, we feel very much like we could be in Africa.

—Image courtesy of Leora Rothschild

Follow senior editor Kasey Cordell on Twitter (@KaseyCordell)

Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell is the former Editorial Projects Director for 5280.