Going on African safari means in the first place that you will be on game drives to see the wildlife in the African bush and if you are a photography enthusiast, to photograph the Big 5. You will be on the game drive vehicle, a 4x4 jeep, and the animals are roaming free in the wild and they are wild. If you would step out of the vehicle they would either run off or attack when they feel threatened. That is not the animal interaction this post is about.
As a part of your African safari you can visit wildlife sanctuaries where you can learn about conservation and experience animal interactions. That can vary from an elephant ride to being with cheetah or endangered birds. The choice of the sanctuary should be made carefully as there are different levels in the commercialization of the experiences. Look out for the more conservation serious places where they mainly take care of injured animals and work with the endangered species.
It is of great educational value to learn about the wildlife, the efforts to protect it and the help you might be able to provide, and if its only by spreading the word through your images. And of course, it is fantastic to touch an elephant or even ride on one.