#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Henry Cookson kissing a wolf in Norway. Photo: Cookson Adventures

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Henry Cookson kissing a wolf in Norway. Photo: Cookson Adventures

#humansofyachting

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Henry Cookson is a polar explorer who set up Cookson Adventures ten years ago, helping to organise extraordinary adventures to remote destinations.

By Dominique Afacan | 24 March 2019

“I’ve always been quite curious, I like to know what’s beyond the doors that you aren’t supposed to look behind. After I left school I spent a lot of time in East Africa, and then did six months on rhino safari in deepest, darkest Kenya. I came back and tried doing banking for a while, but my thirst for adventure just wouldn’t go away.

My first brush with the polar regions happened thanks to a chance conversation with a friend who had heard about a ski race to the Magnetic North Pole. I didn’t know anything about Scott or Shackleton at the time; in fact, I didn’t even know if penguins were North or South Pole. Even though it was a whiskey-fuelled conversation, we ended up going through with it and then surprised everyone by winning.

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Henry at the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, Antarctica. Photo: Cookson Adventures

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Henry at the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, Antarctica. Photo: Cookson Adventures

Off the back of that success, we decided to do another trip, kite skiing across the Antarctic to the Pole of Inaccessibility. It took almost two years of planning and it ended up being a 48-day expedition, but it was an incredible experience and even got us into the Guinness Book of Records.  After that, I decided this was the sort of life I wanted and sent myself off to Alaska, where I learnt all the polar stuff I probably should have known to begin with. Nearly half of the trips we do now with Cookson are yacht-based although we very much integrate land-based stuff into an itinerary where we can. You just use the boat as a moveable base camp and get the benefit of everything the area has to offer.

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Retiring to the yacht for the evening's events in Antarctica. Photo: Cookson Adventures

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Retiring to the yacht for the evening's events in Antarctica. Photo: Cookson Adventures

Going to the poles by superyacht is very different from my first polar adventures, but it’s all about perception. When I was doing the expeditions, everyone thought I must be some sort of superhero, but that’s not really the case; it’s just about preparation and planning and getting all the right equipment. With all that in place, the experience itself isn’t too bad. The great thing about a yacht is that there’s this consistency of a comfortable bubble. You know you’ve got the service, the food and all the rest of it to come back to. You can either dip your toe in the water or fully immerse yourself in adventure safe in that knowledge.

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

The perfect place for an afternoon drink. Photo: Cookson Adventures

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

The perfect place for an afternoon drink. Photo: Cookson Adventures

Conservation is becoming a bigger thing. Lots of my clients, especially those with families, want to get a bit more out of a trip. They are travelling with their children or their relatives and they just want to give something back. It’s a win-win situation; they get a warm fuzzy feeling of having given back to somewhere they’ve enjoyed, while the people on the ground who are trying to preserve these places get their rewards as well.

Galapagos is a good example. It’s a very structured place and you’re limited with what you can do but we spent a year and a half negotiating with the government there to get a very special experience for clients – in return, the Galapagos have been left better off in terms of their ability to protect their species. It’s not a gimmick – it really adds value on both ends. On a personal level, it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever done. There we were in smoking volcanic calderas surrounded by 10,000 giant tortoises and camping under the stars – you can’t beat that.

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Lunch with a view in Svalbard. Photo: Cookson Adventures

#humansofyachting – Henry Cookson

Lunch with a view in Svalbard. Photo: Cookson Adventures

If I were to charter a superyacht myself, I would probably go to Madagascar. It’s very different, but it’s changing rapidly, so getting there while it’s still got a rawness to it would be great. Otherwise, I might pick Svalbard north of Norway. There, you’ve got whales and polar bears, you’re Ski-Dooing on sea ice, there are bird colonies numbering in the millions and logistically, it’s easier to get to than Antarctica. It is one of my favourite places on earth.

I always remind myself not to get used to it all. I might see lots of amazing destinations every year, but it’s really important that I pinch myself every now and then and not let it get washed away in the mix.”

Sign up for updates




Do you work in the superyacht industry? YesNo
I would like to receive updates from Superyacht Life