Magazine article The Spectator

Bill Gates and Me

Magazine article The Spectator

Bill Gates and Me

Article excerpt

The president of Abercrombie & Kent on the joys of camping, and taking Bill and Melinda Gates to Africa

We had a home at Kichwa Tembo, now a luxury camp in Kenya's Masai Mara, and so camping was part of life from as far back as I can remember. I was taught to drive in an old Land Cruiser there. My schoolbooks were tied up with string and used as blocks so my feet could reach the pedals.

Last Christmas I took my own family camping in Kenya and I honestly can't think of a better way of spending time with your kids.

There's nothing between you and them - no buildings, no radios, no TV, no BlackBerry, no running water - just you and the elements. You have your own ecosystem. The kids, aged six and four, loved it. We washed in buckets, tracked lions, saw cheetahs and fed a baby rhino with milk. We made our own dough and the kids shaped it into animals and cooked them in charcoal. I think it's important to learn where food and water come from and not take them for granted.

The most extraordinary safari I ever organised for Abercrombie & Kent was in 1993 when I took Bill and Melinda Gates round East Africa. I was just 23. The brief was 'a romantic discovery of the origins of man' and there was no budget. Of course for me this trip was the holy grail, but being in charge was scary.

We hired a second world war Catalina seaplane, one of just three operating in the world, and had to bring in a fire-fighting pilot from Canada to fly it. …

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