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SPOTLIGHT: Dennis Pinto, '77

An Outfitter's Wild Life

Courtesy Dennis Pinto

CAMEL CROSSING: Pinto, center, has done some serious traveling.

By Marie Cannizzaro

Contrary to popular belief, the most difficult part of leading an African safari does not involve tigers—or lions, rhinos or elephants. “You are taming people more often than you are taming tigers,” says Dennis Pinto. “It is very taxing work. It requires a lot of focus and an even better sense of humor.”

He would know: Pinto, '77, is the managing director of Micato Safaris, a luxury travel business run by his family for 41 years. Pinto spent several summers in college guiding tour groups through his home country, Kenya. (He taught guests how to hand-feed giraffes and pointed out black rhinos inside an extinct volcano.) A few years after leaving the Farm with a degree in economics, Pinto quit his job at a subsidiary of American Express to help his father open Micato's New York office. Today, Micato is at the top of the industry food chain and was named Travel+Leisure's best tour operator and safari outfitter for the fourth consecutive year.

Pinto also works on various social issues in Africa. Safari guests have the option to visit a slum in Nairobi and learn about poverty in that area, and can choose to underwrite the cost of food, clothing and education for a local AIDS orphan. AmericaShare, Micato's nonprofit arm, has raised millions of dollars in donations and goods-in-kind from safari guests and corporate sponsors. The organization recently opened a community center in Nairobi that will provide, among other things, a workplace for HIV-positive women who run microfinanced businesses and deliver meals to homebound HIV patients in their community. AmericaShare also is creating the first pediatric mobile health clinic in Kenya.

“Safari is not only about wild animals,” Pinto says. “It is about the history and culture of a place, and above all about the people. We want to give our guests the chance to experience all of those things, and the opportunity to give something back.”


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