|What company started as a boutique safari operator in the Kenya bush, evolved into a full-fledged luxury touring brand with programs on seven continents, and has consistently—for the 12th year in a row—returned to its|
roots when declared Best Tour Operator, Africa in our Readers’ Choice Awards? Congratulations (hongera in Swahili) again go to Abercrombie & Kent.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with this recognition from travel industry partners,” comments Scott Wiseman, president of Abercrombie & Kent. “I think what sets A&K apart is indeed our deep roots and long-established relationships in Africa, where we have our own offices in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia with experienced local staff on call 24/7. We have some of the most expert guides on the continent, and we travel in small groups in well-maintained vehicles, maintaining communication on game sightings and other news of the area with other drivers, our local office and local park authorities.”
A strong repeat business is a marker of A&K excellence, and according to Wiseman, East Africa is usually the first choice for a safari, inspired by scenes of the Great Migration and the panoramas from “Out of Africa.” Repeat guest bookings are generally to South Africa—actually the most developed and luxurious safari destination—or Botswana. Repeat travelers might also go gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda, and nowadays he adds, “repeat guests are also very interested in walking safaris, for which our recommendation isSanctuary Zebra Plains, a seasonal tented camp built at the confluence of the Luangwa and Chibembe rivers in Zambia.”
Wiseman also believes that “safaris are a natural fit for solo travelers, who share the experience with an expert guide and like-minded travelers.” In 2011, solo travelers made up 15 percent of A&K’s bookings. When selling Africa, Wiseman stresses that it’s really important to remember that clients are looking for a more immersive safari experience with wildlife viewing plus cultural enrichments and more physical activity, such as walking, canoeing, fishing or horseback riding. Additionally, he points out that an increasing number are choosing smaller boutique properties and mobile tented camps over traditional lodges.
A&K has cause to celebrate this year, because bookings for safaris in 2012 are up dramatically, approximately twice what they were at this same time last year. More precisely, East Africa is up +102 percent and Southern Africa +110 percent. And according to company president Wiseman, multi-generational travel is a key motivator, often to share a landmark birthday or anniversary with the entire family.
And another cause for celebrating 2012? Abercrombie & Kent’s 50th anniversary. Hongera!