This is the scene that greeted me after my first night camping. Ever.
Even the idea of camping pushes me out of my comfort zone but that’s the point of ‘Pure Pursuits’ – an invitation only, highly immersive, travel industry event.
There is a choice of destinations when you have been invited to a Pure Pursuits experience, but of course being the outdoors type, I couldn’t resist what Scandinavia, and in particular Norway, had to offer. Then before I knew it, I was tucked up in a teepee overlooking the Geirangerfjord in Norway.
It’s important for me to keep challenging my boundaries and ideas and Pure Pursuits pushes the mental and physical limits for leaders and visionaries in the travel industry. I was excited, and yes, a little awed to be part of a select group framing innovative and world changing solutions, whilst being inspired by five days of extreme experiences.
Have I mentioned Norway is incredibly beautiful?
Our first day was spent kayaking for 15kms down an entire fjord.
Day 2 had us cycling for 30km’s along frozen valleys and past mountain peaks with avalanches thundering beside us. The vision of those snow capped mountains towering over the fjords is imprinted in my mind forever.
Top of mind is also the varied and amazing discussions. Holding meetings in unusual settings definitely creates robust debate, and theorganisers always kept us guessing the location of our next discussion session. Would it be in that tepee overlooking Geirangerfjord? Would it be in a 128 year-old classroom? Or could it even be as remote as out on the snow during our ski-touring day?
Flashback to that ski touring day. This was the most confronting day of all and I don’t know if my thighs can handle me even talking about it! We ski-toured for 12km’s, climbing an elevation of 1000 metres. This meant 7 hours of near constant uphill hiking with skis, skins and avalanche gear in place, only breaking for lunch and discussions.
The day finished with us camping (yes, that again) in the snow, at minus 8 in remote wilderness.
It must be said that this night of camping was optional. I was one of only six people out of our group of twenty two who chose to put themselves through this incredible experience. It was a big test of our endurance but we survived. Our reward was exhilaration and an enormous sense of achievement. I gained a deeper understanding that when you put your mind to it, anything is possible.
These are lessons I will take with me forever, along with all the ideas and inspirations I learned from the incredible people on this expedition with me.
Our daily discussions coupled with the extreme challenges kept us focused and driven, creating a transformational journey on many levels. Then there was the visual wonder of Norway.
We skied downhill, through pine forests and villages, took off in jet boats through towering fjords and ended in the quaint port town of Alesund. One night we were even serenaded by handsome men with guitars. What’s not to love and remember forever?
I arrived home super elated from my time in the Land of the Midnight Sun. I’m looking forward to sharing more about this experience and my emerging vision for the luxury travel industry very soon.
by Co-Founder Head of Leisure Yvonne Verstandig