Tropical Ice was started by Iain Allan in 1978 as a technical-climbing guiding company on the peaks of Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. It very quickly expanded into “Nepal-style” trekking on the remoter slopes of these mountains. Taking advantage of Kenya’s ban on big game hunting in 1977, and the resulting vacuum within the tourist industry, Iain began to search out a remote, unspoiled region of wilderness in Kenya with the idea of beginning big game country walking safaris. He quickly settled on 8,300 square mile (22,000 square km) Tsavo. This was a new, quite radical concept for the time. East African national parks had always been places visitors could only drive in. Walking could only be done in the hunting blocks bordering some of the parks. To walk inside a park was unthinkable at the time. Iain’s idea was to model Tropical Ice’s walking safaris on the traditional hunting safari: leave the vehicles behind, get out into the bush, search out the game with experienced trackers, and finally shoot the wildlife with cameras, not guns. Fortunately he had the backing of Tsavo’s legendary senior warden, Bill Woodley, and Tropical Ice has never looked back. In our long history we’ve learned a lot about the bush, and our walking safaris have been refined and organised to deliver the wonderful complexities of Africa’s wilderness to our clients. We found that mountaineering has much in common with walking in the African bush: they both require long apprenticeships; we took the tools and skills that we’d learned on the mountains with us, knowing that safety and caution are the only prerequisites for survival. We never take it for granted.
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