We continue the series with Olivia de Varreux, the Field Staff Manager at EYOS Expeditions. Olivia has seen much of the world through a porthole after spending years on commercial expedition ships and then some of the world’s most prestigious yachts. Seeing her transition from globetrotter to behind-the-scenes logistician gives a great picture of what Olivia brings to the table at EYOS.
Q&A with Olivia de Varreux
-How did your journey into the expedition travel industry start? Have you always felt the pull to travel the globe?
At the age of 20, I said to myself that I have only one life on Earth, so I needed to see all corners of this planet. (It may have been was a bit ambitious of me!)… That being said, soon after I started working at sea, and after 4 years onboard various cruise ships, I was offered a job onboard the unique private residential ship ‘The World’ and was fortunate to discover many regions of the planet. While circumnavigating the globe over 5 years, I sailed on all five oceans, and was able to visit many destinations including Madagascar, Alaska, South Georgia, the Arctic and Antarctica, the Bering sea and many other seas as well as remote islands such as Pitcairn and Easter Island.
-Where is your favorite place on earth to explore?
South Georgia is definitely the most amazing place I have seen on Earth. As a nature lover, the feeling of seeing this untouched nature and abundant wildlife is indescribable – just truly overwhelming. I remember thinking to myself that this nature is all I could live with, that I didn’t need anything else.
-What is the most surprising thing you’ve encountered on an expedition?
I came across a baby seal somewhere on South Georgia, and what really surprised me was the fact that it was by no means afraid of me, it just stared at me probably wondering what kind of animal I was all covered up in strange fabric….
I also had a unique experience during the Bering Sea expedition onboard The World. I woke up one early morning upon arrival to Wrangel Island after hearing an announcement over the tannoy. I stood up and saw 5 large polar bears on the beach across from my porthole… That certainly counts as one of the most surprising wake up calls I’ve had in my life.
-What is something you think most people don’t consider when they think about expedition travel?
Expedition travel is very unpredictable, you are either in the right place at the right time or can also miss out on something spectacular by a few seconds. You definitely need to be flexible and keep an open mind that plans may have to be changed at the very last minute.
-What is the best part about the EYOS experience, in your eyes, for our guests?
The best part of EYOS experience is having such passionate people in our team to accompany you through your travel experience. The passion and excitement transmitted through an Expedition Guide completely takes you along in this adventure and makes it that much more thrilling and unforgettable.
-What initially drew you to EYOS?
While working onboard The World, I met EYOS Founders Rob McCallum and Tim Soper as they were organizing and running all the expeditions for the residents. I always enjoyed speaking to them about their countless adventures and was so excited to be able to join their team about 4 years ago.
-What drives you to continue to travel to remote places?
Remote travel means that at these destinations there are often fewer humans and more wildlife. This wildlife is not afraid of humans since they have not been used to being afraid, this is something that always intrigued me and that I wish was experienced by more people, as it would perhaps help them look at wildlife in a different way and encourage us to focus more on conservation.
-What do you consider to be the most valuable reason for expedition travel?
To experience something truly unique and inspiring. You only have one life on this earth and if you have not been the Antarctica during your lifetime, you are really missing out on one of the most incredible experiences this planet has to offer.
-How does your work at EYOS support your passion for preserving the wild corners of this planet?
I help all of our staff actually reach the field and the superyachts—I know the impact our team has on our clients, and that with each trip, a new ambassador is formed. The passion that our staff imparts when on expeditions is contagious.