Abercrombie & Kent Celebrates 60 Years of Pioneering Travel

Six Decades of Adventures on Every Continent Inspire the Greatest of All Trips Through A&K History

It all started with a simple ethos: adventure by day, luxury by night.

When my family founded A&K in 1962, ‘luxury’ was keeping food fresh on safari. I knew that the secret to making someone feel at home in the middle of nowhere was a hot dinner and a cold drink. So, I introduced refrigerated safari trucks. This was the first in a six-decade-long line of innovations that has pushed A&K to the forefront of luxury travel.

As we mark our 60th anniversary, A&K is a very different animal, with operations across more than one hundred countries on all seven continents.

To me, true luxury is the privilege of discovery, adventure, relaxation and insight, enjoyed in a context that perfectly suits the experience. Seamless service, safety and security are a given. But it is the unexpected that inspires a sense of wonder and elevates an adventure into a true luxury experience.

60 years of A&K – Interview with Geoffrey Kent

Unsurprisingly over the years, I’m asked the same question over and over again: “Geoff, where should I go next”?  It might be an annual family holiday, a milestone celebration or a family reunion with kids, grandkids and family friends. And this year with the world emerging from a travel hiatus, the question is still the same. 

After 60 years in travel, I think I know a thing or two about what people want from their holidays - to be inspired with a combination of luxury and adventure. How can we make an experience more exclusive and unique? Over the past decade the definition of luxury has changed. There is an emphasis on experiences and personalised service, rather than the mere physical trappings of luxury. To me true luxury is the privilege of discovery, adventure, relaxation and insight, enjoyed in a context that perfectly suits the experience. Seamless service, safety and security are a given. But it is the unexpected that inspires a sense of wonder and elevates an adventure into a true luxury experience. 

I started A&K in 1962 with my mother’s sterling silver ice bucket and a Series 1 Land Rover. It’s hard to believe we are celebrating 60 years of providing adventure by day and luxury by night. My first recommendation is a family safari to Kenya for the Great Migration, one of nature's greatest spectacles. We are opening a new camp in the shadow of Mount Kenya where it all began so many years ago. With just ten luxurious tents, Tambarare is a haven that looks out across the grassy plateau of the award-winning Ol Pejeta Conservancy, 90,000 acres of the unspoilt African landscape, where the Big Five roam, including the last two northern white rhinos on earth. For those looking for a Hemingway-style adventure with a modern flair I would recommend following it with a visit to the recently rebuilt Olonana, a stylish contemporary lodge with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Mara River. 

Sir David Attenborough summed it up the best when he said, following an encounter with a mountain gorilla in 1979, that “there is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than any other animal I know – they are so like us.” Seeing a silverback or female with a playful infant in the wild will undoubtedly change your whole outlook on wildlife conservation. While the mountain gorilla is one of the most beloved animals, it is also one of the most endangered. In 1985, I convinced General Museveni (the then future president of Uganda) to set aside the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest as a national park, on the condition that I build a luxury camp and bring in clients, so I’m very proud to have played a part in helping to protect these magnificent creatures. Today, our guests visit A&K’s Gorilla Forest Camp to experience a meeting with a gorilla for themselves.

Another thing that hasn’t changed over the years is that many travellers are looking to go where few have gone before. I’m excited about Saudi Arabia opening its doors to tourism; a mysterious desert kingdom closed to much of the outside world until recently, Saudi Arabia is the next go-to destination for pioneering adventure travellers, with a slew of archaeological wonders, like AlUla, an archaeological treasure poised to become the next Petra. Discover the many hidden delights of this uncharted territory, from the capital's bustling centre to a traditional mud-brick village, galleries of ancient rock art and modern museums. 

We’ve been at the forefront of adventure since the beginning, seamlessly handling logistics across some of the most remote and challenging settings worldwide. A&K can organise expedition mountaineering with the best guides in the most awe-inspiring locations - tailormade for all levels of experience. Visit Switzerland, the original home of mountaineering, on the summer Haute Route Trek, one of the world's great multi-day hikes. The route links two renowned alpine mountaineering centres, Chamonix in France, home to Mount Blanc, and Zermatt in Switzerland, home to the Matterhorn. The path passes through breath-taking alpine scenery, and guests enjoy stunning mountain panoramas every step of the journey.

For those looking to explore on land and sea, luxury expedition-style cruising attracts intrepid travellers in search of adventure in the most remote corners of the world. The appeal has recently grown to include culturally-curious travellers interested in exploring less-frequented coastal regions. We’ve expanded out portfolio of Luxury Expedition Cruises to all seven continents, including new itineraries in Europe, Africa and across the South Pacific. Guests will be able to sail in luxury alongside leading scientists in Antarctica, marine biologists in the Arctic, an Aboriginal culture expert in Western Australia, or a former NASA Astronaut in the most remote regions of the Pacific. 

During the pandemic, we had plenty of leisure time to discover new hobbies and took advantage of instant access to experts in all fields via online classes and webinars. Now travellers are ready to take to the road and experience that same rich education in real life and do the things they've always dreamed of doing. Winter can be an unexpected time for outdoor adventures, especially in the far-north wilds of Lapland. Make the most of the season with outdoor activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Deepen your understandings by learning the ways of the indigenous Sami people on an exclusive visit to a reindeer farm, venturing above the Arctic Circle for a sled-dog safari and searching for the northern lights. For the more adventurous, strap in for a driving experience like no other in Lapland. Develop specialised ice driving skills under expert guidance and be rewarded with the confidence to send high-performance vehicles into elegant slides and effortless drifts on full-scale replica F1 circuits carved into a frozen lake deep within the Arctic Circle. 

The Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador are one of the world’s most rewarding destinations: an open-air wildlife museum that is home to an astonishing variety of endemic species. I found the marine life in the Galápagos so fascinating myself that, on one dive, I kept on descending without realising it, and almost succumbed to the ‘raptures of the deep’ or nitrogen narcosis. My visit made me realise how important it was to preserve this special place, and to let more travellers experience it first-hand, as I did.

One of my all-time favourite holidays is Egypt – everyone should see the Pyramids before they die. Egypt is the cradle of civilization and a place where you will gain a greater understanding of the world we all share. A cruise down the Nile affords a rare glimpse into a way of life that has remained unchanged for centuries. 

I was in Aswan in the 1970’s when I encountered a film crew staying at the Old Cataract Hotel, as it was called then. Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile was being shot with an all-star cast, including David Niven. Over dinner on one of the Nile cruisers, the seed of a brilliant idea was planted -- to build our own luxury river boats. They were to be the most luxurious vessels on the Nile, with panoramic windows, lavish marble detailing, and a swimming pool.

After the tumult of recent years, the Land of the Pharaohs is making a comeback. The long awaited Grand Egyptian Museum is set to open in the coming months, showcasing more than 30,000 objects which have never been exhibited before.

I believe in the power of travel to connect people and challenge our preconceptions.  It is the only thing you buy that leaves you feeling richer. These experiences are transformational because they put people in touch with people and ultimately lead to understanding those from entirely different backgrounds.

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