Hi Happy Traveler852
If your not that familar with cameras other than P&S types, buying a high end expensive camera may be a bit over the top as to get the most out of a good SLR Digital camera is knowing how to use it's manual settings and that can take some time to master.
However, both Canon and Nikon do have excellent entry level SLR camera's at reasonable prices these days and would be quite suitable for beginners wanting to learn and appreciate taking better photos.
We too are not professional photographers, but love to keep experimenting the cameras manual modes with some lovely pictures taken throughout Kruger which have now been blown up and placed proudly on our walls at home.
Over the last 3-4 years visiting Kruger and Sabi Sands using a combination of both self drive in Kruger and private safari's in Sabi Sands, we learned very quickly to have a back up or second camera.
The two cameras allows you to have a 70-300mm zoom ready on one camera and a wide angle lense 17- 85mm lense on the second camera. This is great for the ever changing environment and wildlife at a moments notice without having to change lenses.
The other benefit is not having to change lenses in dusty circumstances such as on a game vehicle. Oh, and don't forget, if one camera packs up, you have your back-up ready in the second camera.
The combination of 2 camera's with different lenses has work a treat for us and we don't regret spending in little more to do so.
I hope this helps.