Conrad Recommends: Safari: Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer by Geoffrey Kent

Safari is a unique choice for Conrad Combrink’s Great Reads series of adventure travel book reviews because it’s a memoir that Geoffrey Kent is still very much in the middle of living. In fact, we enjoyed his tales so much we can’t wait for a sequel! Join Conrad as he shares his insights on Safari: Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer, by Geoffrey J.W. Kent.

The Gist: What’s so fascinating about Safari:

If your favorite travel adventure stories, true or fictional, involve genuine characters who pushed boundaries and, in doing so, created something utterly new to the world, Safari: Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer by Geoffrey J.W. Kent, is a must-read.

In 1962, Kent’s humble entrepreneurial beginnings consisted of 100 Kenyan shillings and a battered Land Rover with which he hosted his first African safari, in Kenya. From there, Abercrombie and Kent, which he founded with his parents, and built into one of the world’s premier safari companies. He has since broadened its reach and range into organizing trips to exotic destinations all over the world. He was the originator of experiential travel as we know it today.

Africa; Kenya; Laikipia District; Geoffrey Kent, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent poses for a portrait at Borana Lodge / Naashon Zalk

As Conrad tells us in his review of Safari, what’s particularly compelling about Kent’s story – and he’s still living it – is that “this book is about opening the world of adventure travel to everyone.” Well, everyone if you consider those among the world’s elite, from Prince Charles to DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who came up with the idea that became “The Lion King” while out on safari with Kent.

Beyond the bold-faced names, what inspires about this travel memoir is the stories and adventures Kent shares. It’s about the thoughtful tales of the extremely off-the-path direction his life and travels have taken, and how in sharing his, he may well help us shape our own.

What I love about Safari and Geoffrey Kent is that here is a man that not only set out to explore, but also made exploration for hundreds of thousands of people possible in a way that was previously unimaginable. 

–Conrad Combrink

Fascinating Facts About Safari and Geoffrey Kent

  • Born to British parents, Kent grew up in Kenya and went on his first safari at the age of three in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • Back in the day, safaris were prime hunting grounds. Kent’s transformational moment came when he decided that he’d create opportunities for travelers to “shoot with a camera, not with a gun.”
  • He inspired another major crossroads for safari travel, which in the 1960s was still quite basic: Kent created mobile tenanted safaris’ with built in refrigeration that made it possible to tote along fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables, and provided ice for cocktail hour.
  • Today, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, executive chairman of Silversea Cruises, whose family founded the ultra-luxury line, is chairman of Abercrombie & Kent Holding. Through Heritage Group, where Lefebvre is chairman, in 2019 he acquired 85 percent of Abercrombie & Kent, in partnership with Kent, who owns the remaining 15 percent. Kent continues as founder and co-chairman of A&K. There is no relationship between Silversea and A&K.
  • One of our favorite anecdotes about the swashbuckling Geoffrey Kent, courtesy of CNN: “I was with Richard Burton in Kenya. We had just sat down for sundowners and I walked over to the mess tent to refresh his drink. I heard a roar behind me and a lot of screaming and turned to see four lions bringing down a buffalo in our campfire! I quickly upended the table, sending the crystal and china flying, and gathered the guests behind it as a barricade. What an amazing spectacle to watch! The next day Burton wanted to know if we could do it again. He thought I planned the whole thing.”