An Interview with Explorer and Adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke
Louis-Philippe isn't one of those guys who sits at home wishing he could go out there and do something amazing; instead, he just does it. However, his trips are a little different to most other peoples; that's because he's an explorer and an adventurer.
Louis-Philippe first got himself noticed in the world of explorers in 2008. He was the first person to cross through the middle of the Simpson Desert in Australia, from North to South, all on the power of his own two feet.
Since then he's done a fair few other trips as well, including organising the particularly quirky ‘world's highest chocolate tasting event' on Mt Everest.
Louis-Philippe's next big adventure is a gap year so we thought we'd catch up with him and ask him a few questions.
How many countries have you travelled to?
36 countries but in two European countries I only stayed one day whereas I travelled and explored Australia for 20 months.
What's your favourite and why?
Compared to its size I'd have to say New Zealand. However, regardless of size I would say Australia!
What made you first start travelling on your own?
My first passion was scuba diving. I knew of no one doing it in Belgium so I passed all my PADI levels to Divemaster in Singapore and Spain.
What's your favourite dive site and what's the rarest thing you've seen?
The Tiputa Pass in the Tuamotu archipelago. It's a sanctuary for big shark reproduction and it's full of these beautiful fish. On the Ningaloo reef (Western Australia) my buddy and I saw a Nudibranch (underwater colored snail) that was only seen once before in history and photographed in the seventies.
What's been your most enjoyable expedition?
The last one, the Poland trek. It brought many emotions: kill-myself moments, crazy locals, vodka, a long river, a winter storm on Poland's highest peak, music, cruising the capital, horse riding, pain, fun, and finally the Poles and their welcoming me and my crew. I had wilderness and enjoyed unforgettable moments with people despite spending most of the time paddling alone for 1,000km.
What's your next expedition all about?
It's a one year expedition from Kenya to South Africa then from Chile to Ecuador. But as an adventurer, it's not going to be in a tour bus. It will have a purpose and different goals. I have several bucket lists: an expedition / adventure list, an experience to do list and a fun list. All mainly related to the outdoors or cultural places I'll see along the way. In my opinion there's no such thing as getting married in Las Vegas, getting a tattoo or participating in a TV game show! I'm still planning the lists and I want also join several expeditions underway for a few days. Everyone can help me by suggesting ideas themselves, especially if they've visited the countries I'm going to!
Have there been any points where you've thought "Yep. I'm definitely about to die..."
I've been chased by wild camels twice, fell a few times from cliffs or mountains, got swept away several times while wading to cross rivers, but nothing of this compares to saving my own life for the last 13 days of the epic crossing of the Tasmanian wilderness in 2007. I didn't have much water or much food left and I got really delirious. I was depressed for 36 hours in my tent; I cried. I was injured yet I made it back to civilization without activating my distress beacon. I had lost a lot of weight and looked similar to the actor Emile Hirsch portraying Christopher McCandless in the film Into the Wild.
What made you decide to take a gap year?
I do have two jobs. My day job as IT consultant pays the bills and my devouring passion / job as explorer and adventurer. That's about 110 hours per week. I need a holiday to get away from the concrete; being outdoors only four to five weeks per year isn't enough. I need to take time for myself and do things a bit slower.
What are you most looking forward to doing?
Seeing a great white shark, summiting Kilimanjaro and hopefully crossing the Atlantic to Brazil or Argentina with some serious sailors. (If you know some in South Africa then drop me a line!)
What are your five top tips for anyone attempting a gap year?
- Save enough money before you go
- Have back-up batteries, cameras, memory cards - you don't want to miss a magic moment
- On your travels save your photos in three places - on a hard drive / USB stick, burn a DVD to be send home and perhaps save them online. Don't lose unique memories. Your camera, laptop or hard drive could be stolen
- Try to get a final aim or goal to keep focused. Use the time abroad and make the most out of it
- It's possible to do it, especially when you're young. So do it. Don't have any regrets
Also, if you're interested in adventure and expeditions then make sure you go to our extreme gap years section for information and inspiration.
Finally, if you want to go on your own expedition then read Richard Sheane's mammoth article on 'An Introduction to Expeditions' - it's got everything you need to know...