A journey to Africa

By Katrina Stuart Santiago; Photos by Mickey Hoyle, Olwen Evans, Dana Allen, Singita and Uncharted Africa/David Crookes for Metro Society magazine

Posted at Aug 22 2013 04:30 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2013 11:42 PM

For most of us, going to Africa was like fulfilling a dream. Travel, at least on these shores, can only be a matter of privilege. And the farther we go and the more exotic the destinations become, the rarer our travel becomes.

Privilege becomes not just about being able to afford travel, but also about seeing places that very few might see in their lifetimes.

This is the promise of a business like Asia to Africa Safaris, the brainchild of Jose “Lit” Cortes III. An investment banker who had worked in New York and Hong Kong for almost 20 years, Cortes had started to travel to Africa in the mid-1990s.

“Every year, I would venture into a new country in Africa and cover new destinations such as Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya to break new ground and discover more and more stunning areas,” he said.

At some point, Cortes’ friends and colleagues, as well as his clients in the banking sector, asked if they could join him on his African safaris. He also found himself giving travel advice to those who were planning on visiting Africa. With a friend who was also a banker and “safari nut,” he set up Asia to Africa Safaris. The year was 2002.

If there is anything that’s unique about Asia to Africa Safaris, it’s the fact that a great amount of creativity is put into providing travelers with the best and most luxurious of African trips they might ever get.

This kind of client-centric travel planning, alongside the task of creating the best African safari trip from the side of the business, is a delicate balance that Asia to Africa Safaris is able to strike. They want clients to enjoy their vacations, but also want them to truly experience Africa as an adventure in itself.

Honeymooners are also treated to the most exclusive island resorts on the side of the Indian Ocean, and clients are brought to places like Victoria Falls, so that they might enjoy the rarer wonders of the world in Africa.

“Our safaris combine an unrivaled wildlife and nature experience with topnotch food and wine and bespoke shopping in Cape Town or Nairobi or Kenya. There is also history and culture to experience: clients can interact with iconic tribes such as the Masai and Samburu in East Africa, and with the more exclusive San Bushmen in Botswana and semi-nomadic Himba in Namibia,” Cortes said.

And clients get all of this in the most luxurious of settings, in the remotest of places.

“Our definition of luxury is a combination of the luxury that we all know with the luxury of space, big skies, wide-open plains and having all that untouched wilderness and wildlife to yourself,” Cortes said.

For more on the article, check out Metro Society magazine's August 2013 issue out in newsstands nationwide. Digital edition available on the iTunes App Store.