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Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer By Geoffrey Kent
July 08, 2015
Geoffrey Kent, the founder and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, has built a half-billion dollar brand by pairing incomparable luxury and high-octane adventure. Now this celebrated innovator and risk-taker opens up about his decades spent on the cutting edge of experiential travel, a concept he introduced more than five decades ago and has been perfecting ever since. In his captivating new book Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer (Harper; $35.00; Hardcover; On Sale: August 11, 2015),featuring a foreword written by revered client and friend Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, he invites readers on an unforgettable tour of some of the remotest locations on earth while offering a riveting look at his extraordinary life and illustrious career.
Throughout Safari, he imparts the personal and professional lessons he has learned over the years, particularly the enduring benefits of wanderlust. In his view, "Travel teaches us as much about ourselves as it does about the world…One of my prevailing philosophies is that if any individual were to find out they had only six days to live, their final thoughts would revolve around life's most important things: the people they've loved and the places they've explored."
The son of a London debutante and a soldier in the King's African Rifles stationed in Kenya, Kent was born while his parents were on safari in Northern Rhodesia in 1942. Raised on a farm northwest of Nairobi, the intrepid and highly intelligent youth absorbed everything a boy growing up in Africa should know about the land and its inhabitants. On an elephant safari to mark his passage into adulthood he received a ritual gift, a bracelet made of bristly hairs from the magnificent animal's tail. Recognizing an opportunity, he began selling these good luck symbols, and after a couple of months, his business was more profitable than the farm. With its proceeds he bought a motorcycle and became the first person to bike the three thousand miles from Nairobi to Cape Town, an immensely challenging trip that revealed fresh possibilities for his future. After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, he departed for Sandhurst, where as one of the youngest cadets, he received an education in many ways. His service in the British Army further fine-tuned the tactical skills, logistical acumen, and attention to detail that would serve him so well in the decades to come.
Advised to find a calling that harnessed all his passion, he returned home to Kenya. When a new government seized his parents' acreage, the family decided to found a travel company, capitalizing on his father's unmatched familiarity with the continent. Abercrombie sounded grand and put them at the beginning of the phone book; thus in 1962 a global giant was born. Displaying Kent's soon-to-be renowned ingenuity, Abercrombie & Kent was officially the first East African safari outfitter to introduce mobile refrigeration, and his gamble to invest everything in this startup enterprise paid off beyond his wildest dreams. Once their foothold in Africa was secured, he set his sights on the rest of the planet one destination at a time.
Kent recalls that as their client base grew so did the cravings for exotic holidays and here he shares his visionary accomplishments in thrilling anecdotes and illuminating stories. In Egypt, he built a fleet of boats to cruise the Nile; in China, he did sixty days of reconnaissance in a country that had long kept foreigners out; in Uganda, he led efforts to save gorillas and preserve their natural habitat; in the Galapagos Islands, he found a dazzling spot off the beaten path with ultra-reliable weather conditions; and in Antarctica, he created an expedition equal parts educational and lavish.
From surviving jail and extortion in a South Sudan shakedown and bringing desert housing, ice cream, and mobile latrines to thousands of oil industry workers in Saudi Arabia to fulfilling Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's request to ride the train that Chairman Mao rode when he made his famous national tours and being the last person in the twentieth century to stand on the North Pole, Kent reflects on the remarkable moments that he has experienced on his journey so far. He also discusses his forty-year career in amateur polo during which he captained His Royal Highness Prince Charles's Windsor Park Polo Team , his attempts to conquer space, his foray into television, his treasured friendships, and so much more.
All along, Kent's goal has been to build a successful company while also giving back. Since the early 1970s, he has been working tirelessly on community-minded conservation projects with world leaders and fellow philanthropists, efforts that today focus on a triple bottom line of environmental, economic, and social responsibility. Kent sees travel not only as a way of life but as a way of changing lives too for visitors and locals alike. And as Safari conveys so memorably, despite his innumerable achievements, for Geoffrey Kent, there is always a next place to go and there will always be another frontier to explore.
"As this book explains, there is a world of difference between the superficial experience of tourism and that of the traveller. Immersing oneself deeply in a culture different to one's own is closer to the ancient practice of pilgrimage - respectful, spiritually nourishing and life-changing."
- Sting & Trudie Styler
"Travelling not only takes you to cities and countries you've never seen before, it takes you to places within yourself that you didn't know existed. That's a grand adventure reflected in these stories."
- Roma Downey & Mark Burnett
About the Author:
Geoffrey Kent was born while his parents were on safari and grew up on the family farm in Kenya. At 16, he became the first individual to motorbike between Kenya and Cape Town. Since founding Abercrombie & Kent with his parents, Kent's focus has been to enable travelers to discover the world in a distinctively stylish manner. He has served as President of the Prince of Wales Foundation in the U.S. and chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council, and in April 2012 was named to the British Travel and Hospitality Industry Hall of Fame for his outstanding contributions to the luxury travel industry. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the U.S. from Travel Weekly in 2014. When Kent is not on the road, he makes his home in Monaco.
A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer
By Geoffrey Kent
On Sale: August 11, 2015
ISBN 13: 9780062299208/Hardcover/$35.00/272 pa ges