Safari Pioneer Geoffrey Kent Talks About Adventures in Africa

September 7, 2020

Twenty-five years ago, the Lion King introduced the African savannah to many Westerners. It also inspired real travel to the continent. The situation was the same after restarting last summer: the Kenya Tourism Board reported that the waterfalls heading to Abdul National Park (see the romantic background of the reunion of Nara and Simba) to the wild of Hell’s Gate National Park (where it was formed) Zoo bookings have surged in film inspiration. Once a model of “Proud Rock”. In fact, the original intention of the film was developed in the jungle, especially in DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Kasenberg (then chairman of Walt Disney Film Studios) and Jeffrey Kent (Geoffrey Kent) When traveling together.

The founder of Abercrombie & Kent, a pioneer of modern luxury safari (he even wrote a book about it), grew up in the center of Pride Lands in Kenya. Around 1962, he founded A & K here. Twenty years later, he established “Friends of Protection.” Two years ago, he opened his first in the trendy, sustainable Sanctuary Retreats (renovated Olonana) collection. Even recently, the mobile shelter Kichakani Serengeti has been tracking the migration of antelopes in Serengeti.

Despite telling the same story on screen (despite live broadcast by director Jon Favreau), the landscape of the safari has changed a lot in the past 25 years. The number of lions has been halved. Between two whirlwind trips (he is 77 years old and he is still on the road for at least 250 days a year)-Kent spent some time talking about how things are going and how they will develop in the future.

About the latest predators in the proud world of real life:
“When I was a kid, remembering that Marai Mara was not a reserve force, we all went there for hunting. Wild animals are everywhere. So, just like you go for a picnic or visit Niagara Falls, we go to Masai Marai Mara shooting. This is how we grow.

Of course, things have changed-many years ago, I stopped hunting and started my photography journey with the slogan “shoot with a camera instead of a gun.” But in those days, there were no regulations. You can drive as you like-off-road, on the road, across the Serengeti to the border of Tanzania, you can never do it again. It was an incredible moment because you rarely see anyone.

I founded Abercrombie & Kent in the 1960s and developed the first safari camp. There are now 120 hotels in Masai Mara alone. There are too many things to build, the animals can’t survive, or there are 50 Land Rover at a time. ”

About Safari as a tool for protection and social impact:
“I believe that animals should always be kept low-impact and high-yield. There are too many people, just like all the ruined beaches in Europe. So in Uganda, we have increased to look in the inaccessible forests of Bundi License fees to gorillas. Are people still there? Of course they are still. But we control the number of people by increasing people’s wages, and these costs are paid through the community.

You must ensure that the local people benefit. The local people will then protect the animals (as opposed to helping poachers) as they did in Bwindi; you can’t do this through government decree. We started with only 302 gorillas, but now we have grown from 302 to 400. It is believed that 400 represent half of the living gorillas in the world today. Locals are benefiting. We built a hospital together: it started under a fig tree and was visited by a doctor once a week; it is now mature and has 30,000 outpatients. We have also established schools through tourism. ”

On the dangers of the digital age:
“Yes, everything has become easier, but I worry that the Internet will attract a lot of people to unqualified travel agencies, and there is only an old-style safari truck around that Nairobi, and inexperienced tour guides will take them Go. Who will sort the logistics? People get sick, airlines strike, things go wrong. Safari isn’t completely travel without danger-anything can happen.

You know, we deal with a lot of millennials. They are very technically savvy; they book everything directly; they know exactly what they are doing. But now some young people don’t seem to understand that they are actually in the wilderness-they are real animals and they are indeed wild. They think they can run a bit when they enter the hotel. You can’t we have this guy trying to go to the sanctuary of Olona. He was chased by a buffalo and caught up with a tree, and we found him late at night. ”

On Broadening Horizons:
“We’ve done very little in West Africa. I went to Gabon last year, [and] I’m doing a big trip there in November. It’s a fantastic place: The elephants wander on the beaches, hippos swim in the oceans, [and] there’s a huge number of lowland gorillas. It’s completely undisturbed — no lodges yet. So we have to go in, build a lodge, and make sure that money flows to the local people. I’m really excited about that.

I’m also really excited about Angola. The southeast corner flows into the Okavango; as long as it’s mine-free, you’d have a really interesting safari site there. I’ve been working with the Angolan government and the Halo Trust — we want to clear the minefields and set up camps.

We’re looking at Madagascar in a big way as well. It’s a completely unspoiled island. My wife and I went — we saw all the lemurs up at Nosy Be, in the northwest. I’ve got to go down south — they’ve got amazing forests. I’m going to do a big recce. You never know what you’re going to find.”