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Where to start? Too many options!

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We (my wife and I) have travelled a lot in North America and Europe but have never been to Africa and want to start putting that right.

What do we want? An active holiday (days on beaches are not our thing) with plenty of wildlife (preferably including cheetahs, jaguars and elephants) great scenery and in an area that is safe. But with a whole continent to consider we don't know where to start. We also do not want to spend too much time travelling between different areas; we would much rather see a lot of a smaller area.So be gentle please and point us in the right direction.

Some specific questions:
What is the best time of year for what we want to do?
Guided or not?
Which guide books for more information.

Many thanks

Diz01

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