Having dedicated his life to travel, A&K Founder, Chairman and CEO Geoffrey Kent is often asked for his recommendations on where to go and what to see. Here are his top picks for 2018 — nine must-see destinations and the most rewarding ways to explore them with Abercrombie & Kent.
Egypt has seen a strong resurgence of international visitors this year. When the Grand Egyptian Museum on the Giza Plateau opens this fall, it will feature more than 50,000 ancient artifacts, most never before seen by the public. “Egypt right now is as welcoming and upbeat as I have ever seen it,” says Geoffrey. “The ability to see the Pyramids without the crowds will not last long.”
The Okavango Delta offers some of the most exciting game viewing in Africa, including a rhino population growing with support from A&K Philanthropy. Britain’s Prince Harry, who fell in love with fiancée Meghan Markle in Botswana, calls it his “second home” and actively works to support rhino conservation. “I took Prince Harry on his first safari to Botswana when he was 13,” recalls Geoffrey, “and it is rewarding to see how important it has become to him.”
For almost 300 years, Cordoba was one of the most important cities in Europe and the Islamic world. Visit the 10th-century Mezquita, a cathedral and former great mosque with a breathtaking Moorish-influenced interior. “Cordoba is best experienced on foot,” notes Geoffrey. “Wander its narrow, flower-lined streets, then step inside the Mezquita to gape at the colorful arches and intricate details.”
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Wadi Rum is familiar to filmgoers as the stand-in for Mars in The Martian and Jedha in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and will soon appear in Disney’s live-action Aladdin. It was also home to T.E. Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia, and 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great Arab Revolt he led.
Interest in Russia has exploded recently, and American travellers are intent on discovering for themselves what this vast nation has to offer. “Visiting St. Petersburg was such a highlight for many guests on our recent Private Jet Journey,” says Geoffrey, “especially private access to the Hermitage and Fabergé Museums, that we built a new luxury journey around these experiences.”
Renowned for its turquoise waters and towering mountains, Switzerland celebrates 170 years since its confederation in 2018. Combine the beautiful Swiss Alps with the glories of the Italian Lake District or take a family adventure that features James Bond Mountain, chocolate tastings and jaw-dropping natural wonders while hiking or rafting. Enjoy breathtaking vistas by rail as well. “Dine on the famous Glacier Express,” suggests Geoffrey, “as you traverse the majestic scenery.”
There are few places on earth where you can have such close-up experiences with wildlife as in the Galápagos. Each island has its own distinctive character and your naturalist guide points out how plants and animals adapt to the unique local conditions. As Geoffrey reminds us, opportunities to explore abound offshore, too: “I enjoy any chance to snorkel with sea lions and turtles. You also have the rare opportunity to see marine iguanas feeding underwater.” Inspiring by land or sea, choose the Galápagos for your next holiday or family getaway.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is drawing new interest from travelers as Belfast has grown into a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a developing culinary scene that remains true to the culture and heritage of the region. Explore the city with a local expert who can share insights into the complex history of the region. “However, no trip to Belfast would be complete without a drive out to the Giant’s Causeway along the Antrim Coast Road, one of Europe’s most scenic drives,” adds Geoffrey.
How to go: Scotland & Ireland: Stories & Legends
Blessed with perhaps the world’s largest concentration of stunning natural wonders, New Zealand’s South Island offers a pristine environment for outdoor enthusiasts. “It’s difficult to overstate its beauty – and how much it has to offer,” says Geoffrey, “from world-class wineries and indigenous art, to an abundance of thrilling adventures.” Explore picturesque Milford Sound by helicopter and land on the ice floes of Isobel Glacier, or hike along one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.