Anil Thadani Is A Fearless Explorer Of The World's Iciest Lands
As far back as he can remember, Anil Thadani has had a fascination with the wilderness. His go-to TV channel is Nat Geo Wild. What he considers a dream getaway is venturing into the great outdoors “away from civilisation and among nature and animals”, together with family, close friends and his trusty Canon DSLR cameras.
“My days are filled with interesting interactions with fellow human beings, so when I’m on vacation, I prefer to interact with the rest of the planet. And my passion for photography happens to go perfectly with this desire,” quips the audacious chairman of private equity and investment firm Symphony Asia, who has traversed the treacherous Northwest Passage that runs through the Canadian Arctic (not once but twice) in 2014 and 2015 on his private yacht Latitude. Sure, he had an experienced boating crew on-board, but nothing could prepare them for persistent polar bears, ice jams and severe snowstorms.
My days are filled with interesting interactions with fellow human beings, so when I’m on vacation, I prefer to interact with the rest of the planet”
Yet, these challenges didn’t deter the frequent traveller, who regularly shuttles between London, Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore, from returning to another polar region where walruses outnumber humans. If anything, they fuelled his love for nature and boldness to take his third Arctic expedition this July. This time, he and his crew chose to circumnavigate Svalbard, a secluded, glacier-filled archipelago between Norway and the North Pole.
Over the span of their journey, the night never came. “We had bright sunlight every day for 24 hours and this threw us off our daily metabolic cycle. We once went for a hike after dinner and returned at 4am.” When fatigue hit, the only way to sleep-inducing darkness was to bring down the thick blinds on their cabin windows. Still, the sight of sunlight reflecting off the whitewashed landscape never got old. “I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it even though I was shooting the same scene over and over again.”
Battling the turbulent sea and poor weather was also a common occurrence. If they weren’t doing that, they were keeping a low profile and a tight grip on their firearms as they attempted to shrug off hungry wildlife that stalked them fervently.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t Fear Factor-style throughout the trip. Reminiscing one of the most exciting moments, Anil enthuses: “We once had a pod of humpback whales feeding close to our boat, while hundreds of birds hovered above them feeding on the baitfish that had driven to the surface of the water. It was incredible.”
Anil’s Travel Essentials
- Waterproof hiking boots (“Calf-length ones are extremely useful for crossing frigid streams”)
- Warm clothing (“Mustang Survival suits were indispensible when we explored the Arctic”)
- A good selection of movies and music
- A great chef