Jeff Willner isn’t your average CEO. The thoughtful, charismatic mastermind behind Kensington Tours clocked over 120,000 miles while driving around the globe as a brand ambassador for Land Rover. This modern-day explorer, who has touched down in more than 70 countries, also happens to be a Royal Geographic Society Fellow. Add that to a professional background that includes time at McKinsey & Company and an education at Wharton, and a passion for travel, it’s clear how he came to start Kensington Tours—an organization that builds customizable excursions to over 90 countries worldwide.
Kensington’s new Explorers in Residence Series—a subset of the company’s vast offerings—redefines personalized adventure travel. This small group tour program of between six and 16 people departs on fixed dates across the year with some of the most celebrated living explorers leading the way. These excursions are in-depth immersions into fascinating and oft-inaccessible locations. And as your guide, a Kensington Tour’s resident explorer—members of The Explorer’s Club or Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society among them—guide travelers through an itinerary they themselves designed in conjunction with Kensington Tours, enhanced by their on-the-ground knowledge, and supported by locals. These are rare experiences, with the true spirit of adventure at their core.
This September, indigenous mountain culture expert, tea connoisseur and author Jeff Fuchs will accompany travelers across China and the Tea Horse Road. Remarkably, Fuchs was the first Westerner to ever make this excursion, and he did so only last year during an eight-month expedition covering 6,000 kilometers. A trading route through the Himalayas, the Tea Horse Road is a historic pathway for moving pashmina wool, tea and salt. The terrain is defined by rocky vistas, glacial movement and flourishing valleys, and the nomadic people that inhabit the terrain. Listening to Fuchs recount his adventure at an assembling of the Canadian chapter of the The Explorer’s Club hosted at Kensington’s office, he made evident two things: Despite the modern world’s vast connectivity, there are still unseen places out there, and the only way to truly embrace it all is by engaging with locals.
Among the other Explorer in Residence adventures, travelers can learn the ways of the Maasai across Kenya and Tanzania, or embark on an ecological expedition across Madagascar with acclaimed primatologist Dr Travis Steffens. There is adrenaline training in Belize and safaris across Botswana, carefully following the footsteps of pioneering explorer Dr David Livingstone. Even the Northern Lights are on the menu through an Icelandic journey to the deep north.
While the Explorers in Residence Series requires a full-force itch for exploration, the firm has many other options for everyday travelers just looking to step up their game. You can check out all of their customizable tours online, or follow their explorer’s blog and YouTube channel.
Images courtesy of Kensington Tours