But one of the most memorable moments came on a trip with Richard Burton. "There was a tremendous crash in the camp, the most horrific breaking and crashing," said Kent. "A buffalo had come into the camp. We flung up a table and pulled Richard behind it and watched as a lioness came and killed the buffalo right in front of us. We threw the table, then rocks and finally the buffalo was dead and the lioness went away. When it was all over Richard [Burton] said, 'I'd like to do that again one day,'" Kent said.
And while his other celebrity trips weren't quite as dramatic – Kent said he's never seen anything like the buffalo incident again – some have changed the face of Africa.
It was Kent who took Bill Gates on his "very first adventure." Until their meeting, Gates had only been as far as Europe. He told Kent he had flown there in economy class with "a blanket over my head," Kent said. Summoned to Gates' home in Seattle, he asked Gates where he wanted to go, Kent recalled. "He said, 'I'm not going to ask you about computers. I'm sitting for you to tell me where to go,'" Kent recalled.
They went to Africa for the first time in 1993 and Gates, Kent said, fell in love. Since then Gates has returned to Africa with Abercrombie & Kent many times and has donated millions of dollars to a variety of causes on the continent. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest grant-making foundations in the world, invested more than $1.2 billion in malaria research and development between 1998 and 2007.
On Kent's own list of priorities are conservation, mitigating climate change and supporting local economies. In addition to the luxury vacations his company is famous for, A&K also leads philanthropic trips. The company's philanthropy efforts began in earnest in 1982 when Kent, along with A&K Vice Chairman Jorie Butler, raised funds for conservation efforts within Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve.
Today, a major problem facing the Masai is the illegal practice of trapping wildlife for meat by outsiders. The Friends of Conservation (FOC), and a group of Masai known as the FOC Community Scouts, supported by A&K, patrol on foot, tracking and monitoring wildlife in their region.
Their presence also stems other illegal activities, such as charcoal burning and the setting of wild fires, unlawful tree cutting that leads to deforestation, and the poaching of bush wildlife for meat.
"Shoot with a camera, not with a gun," Kent says. (Incidentally, he takes credit for coining the oft-quoted phrase.)
Beyond conservation, which A&K has an obvious stake in as a business, the company also supports hospitals, orphanages and schools. When a cyclone devastated Myanmar's Irrawaddy Delta in 2008, A&K's local offices delivered essential supplies to the affected areas and eventually raised more than $500,000 for emergency aid equipment.