Ingram Casey: Exploring Africa in new ways

April 22, 2020

Ingram left a successful career in African tour operating to build a new style of destination hosting, completely removed from the way Africa has traditionally been explored.

With his insatiable appetite for new and exciting ideas, he has created an innovative brand of African travel that intersects luxury and adventure in a genuinely original way.

Describe your business in 5 words

Unforgettable guided experiences in Africa.

Howick Falls, Howick, South Africa

The luxury market is changing. How are you adapting your offering?

Escape+Explore was launched in 2014 to serve the growing niche of luxury adventure tourism to Africa with a focus on using adventure activities such as cycling, hiking, surfing, and stand-up paddle boarding to explore Africa in a fresh, new way.

Six years later, the appeal of offering new ways to explore and experience Africa has grown well beyond the adventure sport enthusiast. There is a thirst from affluent travellers of all demographics to get hands-on.

Our guiding team has kept adventure at their core but needed to develop a much more cultured approach. We have built an adventure guide academy that focuses on developing our guides’ knowledge base alongside their storytelling ability.

This mixture of ‘cultured adventure’ has really hit the sweet spot with today’s experience-hungry luxury traveller.

Umfolozi Walking Safari

Who are your guests? Have your demographics changed recently or have they stayed the same?

Our first guests were really all about adventure and we attracted well-travelled active individuals and families, with what in anyone’s book could be described as a ‘pioneering spirit’.

I’ve really enjoyed watching this demographic change. Too many people, including ourselves, underestimated a portion of their older and/or often pampered, wealthy clients. Wealth & age seem to have created a need to wrap travellers in cotton wool.

Stepping out of comfort zones, experiencing new things, seeing things up close and personal rather than from behind the tinted glass of an expensive 4x4 transcends demographics.

We’ve learnt that the over 60s crowd is prepared to have as much fun as their millennial counterparts (and all without the need to apply a filter!).

What’s trending in your destination?

Wellness as a tool for personal growth. Not just spa time but coming on holiday to learn new skills. To shift your lifestyle into a healthier way of living, from learning to free dive or surf to foraging wild foods.

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

What emerging trends do you think will shake up the industry?

‘Try before you buy’ Immersive Visual Experiences. Nothing’s going to replace the real thing, but why not see what floats your boat before committing a vacation to it?

Away from tech, as much as TFest is teaching me about AI I still believe in RI – Real Life Intelligence is key on the ground.

I’m seeing a greater desire for flexibility and spontaneity from travellers. Travel designers and accommodation and experience providers need to be able to offer the ability to change plans on the fly to keep travellers engaged.

It has been a focus of our day tours in South Africa to ensure our guides are multi-faceted and that the vehicle is packed with gear for any occasion, to accommodate this spontaneous approach to breaking away from set itineraries.

What does luxury mean to you?

Enjoying rolling rock oysters collected by my children on a remote KwaZulu Natal beach.

KwaZulu-Natal Beach, South Africa

What has working in the luxury market taught you?

Money can’t buy you happiness, but with the right attitude and team on the ground you’ll have a lot of fun pursuing it!

We have looked after some of the wealthiest individuals on the planet and it’s been interesting to see how attitude, regardless of limitless financial resources, are the two key factors between a true once-in-a-lifetime experience and an over-engineered photo opportunity.

Trust your local expert and embrace what comes your way.

Big Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

What excites you about the travel industry?

The creativity of it all. No two days are ever the same.  

What do you value most when you travel?

Insider tips.

What is your most unique offering?

For the Brave: Stand Up Paddling through the wild Okavango Delta in Botswana.

For the Inquisitive: An African sound journey played out in a cave high up on Table Mountain.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

How do you make sustainable choices in your work and personal life?

Both personally and through work, my focus has been putting a spotlight and lending a voice to the real heroes of sustainability.

Introducing travellers to uplifting projects in under-served communities, championing individuals making a real difference and training the next generation of adventure guides to be the custodians of the environments we work and play in.

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