Abercrombie & Kent—founded in East Africa in 1962—was the brainchild of Colonel John Kent and his wife Valerie who—enthralled by the raw beauty of East Africa—began guiding tourists into the bush to show off a part of Africa very few had seen. Their philosophy was to trek into the wilderness without compromise to either comfort or authenticity.
Remembers their son, Geoffrey, A&K’s chairman and CEO: “The first safaris were conducted with little more than a Bedford truck and my mother’s silver ice bucket.”
After the Kents retired in 1967, the son expanded the company’s signature style of travel, establishing a number of branches in Africa and later joining forces with his partner Jorie Ford Butler to open offices in London and Australia.
Today, A&K—as it’s known in the industry—operates 62 offices around the world, is staffed by more than 2,000 and has come a long way from the battered bush truck and silver ice bucket of its genesis.
Its latest travel innovation is called Extreme Adventures, a journey that promises to bring travelers face-to-face with nature at its most uncompromising.
Kent, who has adventure flowing through his veins, fittingly was born while his parents were on safari, and to this day adheres to the rigid standards his parents established half a century ago.
Want to explore the taiga forest in Northern Norway? Want to feel what a fighter pilot experiences while punishing a fighter jet to a vertical climb of more than 60,000 ft.? Want to walk along the banks of Tanzania’s Rufigi River about 100 miles north of Dar es Salaam?
Ever considered what it’s like to stand on a glacier hundreds of miles from the nearest town and be surrounded by a colony of more than 15,000 emperor penguins?
A&K is the tour company that can make it happen.
“This is what we do,” says Kent. “How many experiences have you had that you know with absolute certainty you’ll remember for the rest of your life? Providing these kinds of memories—the ones that change the way you think about the world and yourself—is what we do.
“We all interpret the word ‘challenge’ in different ways,” he continues. “[We specialize in taking people to places where you can] test your mettle against the implacable forces of nature in the mountains or the desert, harness the raw power of thoroughbred machines and in opening the door to the most inspiring places on earth.”
If accomplishing extreme feats is a client’s thrill of choice, then A&K is the tour company to call on. However, trips to the rugged hinterland—where the company does what it does best—don’t come cheap.
This year, A&K offers a series of extreme adventures sure to delight the explorer that supposedly lurks in everyone’s subconscious.
Climbing Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro is not for the weak of heart or spirit. For approximately $6,000 pp, airfare not included, A&K’s adventure is a 12-day trek from the base of the mountain, past the crater and summits at the continent’s highest point. It’s a difficult climb and participants are urged to be in excellent physical condition.
Those who would thrill in a face-to-face meeting with a feral silverback gorilla will find A&K’s Uganda Gorilla Encounter to be the ticket. This is an 8-day backbreaking walk through the Gorilla Forest Camp (a UNESCO World Heritage site) where explorers live in the park’s rainforest habitat and explore the Munyaga Falls and the Mazabajuro Loop trails tracking gorillas. The cost is $4,445 pp, airfare not included. Visitors must pay an additional $1,000 permit fee to enter the habitat.
Perhaps the most exotic offering from A&K’s catalog is a 15-day journey on skis and dogsleds to the South Pole. Prices for this unique journey are available upon request. Excellent physical conditioning is a must, but those willing to get in shape will find a frozen landscape where nature has the complete advantage. With 24 hours of sunlight a day, activity that taxes the body and mind, where sleep is measured in minutes and where snow and ice blend in with an endless horizon, this is the extreme journey that legends are made of.