Beyond the Poles

Scottish coastline

Beyond the Poles

Scottish coastline

Journeys

Beyond the Poles

Exploration by superyacht isn’t limited to the polar regions; there’s far more to discover across the globe.

By Dominique Afacan | 21 May 2019

“The world is your oyster when travelling by superyacht!” says Geordie Mackay-Lewis, one half of Pelorus, a company that plans far-flung adventures for experiential travel junkies. It might seem an obvious statement, but as explorer yachts have gathered force in recent years, there has been so much attention given over to the polar regions that some of the world’s other, equally exciting, remote destinations can get overlooked. The likes of Antarctica and the Arctic are, of course, more than deserving of all this new-found love and intrigue – but those icy extremes do not signify the beginning and end of expedition travel.

“We see unbounded possibilities for adventure beyond the polar regions and are already planning exciting journeys to The Kimberley, the Solomon Islands, Eritrea and, closer to home, Norway and Scotland,” explains Mackay-Lewis. And if anyone should know about the world’s most remote destinations, it’s him. As a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, a winter mountain leader, advanced diver, paragliding pilot and former Captain of the British Army reconnaissance regiment, he’d done his fair share of off-the-grid travel before launching Pelorus with Jimmy Carroll, a former expedition manager for the largest ever medical-research expedition on Mount Everest.

Beyond the Poles

Geordie Mackay-Lewis

Beyond the Poles

Geordie Mackay-Lewis

Together, they meticulously plan ‘asymmetric adventures’ that look at destinations from air, land and water. It involves a mammoth amount of forward planning, and, happily, much of it takes place in the regions they love. “Most recently, I was night diving in the Red Sea off Eritrea,” says Mackay-Lewis. “I was being sandwiched between huge white jellyfish full of smaller fish above us, and a number of cigar sharks below us, not to mention an abundance of other marine species we saw during the expedition. Truly exciting!”

Another trip saw him diving with sea lions and mantas in the Sea of Cortez off Baja, California. “That is an amazing spot for families. We had a true ‘Blue Planet’ moment” he says, referencing the award-winning wildlife documentary series presented by David Attenborough. For yachts travelling there in the future, there will be more planning in the pipeline. “With every expedition, we plan a number of contingencies to allow for all eventualities so you can expect every day to have a ‘wow’ moment.”

Beyond the Poles

Sea of Cortez

Beyond the Poles

Sea of Cortez

Ben Lyons from EYOS Expeditions – a company which accompanies superyachts on their remote travels – is similarly excited by these other, less-talked-about remote regions. “Beyond the polar regions, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia can appeal to a wide variety of interests,” he explains. “Visiting Papua New Guinea with a guide who speaks the local language will bring the destination alive, just as an expedition guide does in the polar regions.” EYOS often accompanies their guests up into the Highlands for a few days after they get off the yachts. “They come away, once again, blown away by what they’ve seen,” says Lyons.

Raja Ampat, an Indonesian archipelago in West Papua is another growing favourite for superyachting adventure-seekers. Dominique Gerardin charters out his luxurious wooden sailing yacht, Lamima, to many of them. “The whole area is very remote, beautiful and unspoiled so when you cruise there you feel like you are discovering virgin territories,” he explains. “The water is crystal clear wherever you go. If you take a paddle board you will be staring at the fish swimming around the colourful coral, then you will be distracted by the hornbills or cockatoos flying over the giant trees next to you.” Nearby, at Triton Bay and Cenderawashi Bay, charter guests can swim with whale sharks the whole year round, thanks to the local fishermen who feed them.

Beyond the Poles

Lamima in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

Beyond the Poles

Lamima in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

There may not be any icebergs in sight but it’s these sort of one-of-a-kind experiences that mean expedition travel opportunities exist all over the world. That means long bucket lists and endless adventure. Rob McCallum, a founding partner at EYOS Expeditions, recalls a recent encounter in Melanesia that has stuck with him. “We sat on the edge of this small clearing, embedded deep within a forest, watching this blazing fire throw sparks high up towards the Milky Way,” he says, “when the first dancer broke from his rhythmic stamping to charge the fire, kick it with both feet and immerse himself in the flames.  Our group gasped, too stunned to even contemplate a photograph. The dance continued for an hour or more but is forever seared onto the memories of these clients.”

For him, it signifies everything that makes expedition travel so special, whether in the icy wilderness or deep in the forest. “These are luxury experiences on a modern boat, all set against a backdrop that has taken millennia to craft. Even after 40 years of exploring, they always leave me spellbound.”

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