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Packrafting Podcast: William Vandoorne

Adventures with Willem Vandoorne, a Belgian with a love of long journeys in remote places.

And enjoy a new “The Packrafting Podcast” episode to inspire you for the New Year! 

Words by Dulkara Martig | Photos supplied by Willem Vandoorne
Willem Vandoorne

Willem Vandoorne is a packrafter from Belgium, who has a love for longer journeys. He started incorporating packrafting into his adventures in the early days of Alpacka Raft. He has completed some incredible human powered trips around the world and in 2016, was the recipient of the Golden Paddle Award from the American Packrafting Association.

As an 18 year old undergraduate student, Willem joined his university professor on a science research trip in the Arctic. It was his first introduction to the Arctic world and despite the adversity it triggered his love of outdoor journeys. He has made time for long outdoor journeys nearly every year since then.

Splendid bivy spot during a 5-week solo adventure in West-Greenland.

Packrafting changed Willem’s life. Initially changing his way of travelling through and looking at some of the most sensational backcountry places on earth. Then, it helped him meet inspiring people and create new friendships. He feels incredibly grateful to the entire packrafting community for continuous inspiration and the feeling of shared passion for wilderness and conservation.

Taking out near the Dobson-Harper river confluence after a perfect day crossing the mountains from Lake Pukaki and paddling down the Dobson; NZ South Island Traverse

Willem worked a 9am-5pm job in geophysics until just a few years ago, when he started his own tour company, “Into the Arctic”, running boutique wilderness trips.

Paddling through a labyrinth of ice near Ilulissat Ice Fjord, West Greenland. We hugged the coastline for 7km while bumping from one ice chunk to the next, to avoid a difficult hiking section on steep and wet rock slabs.

Willem has a whole slew of adventures he discusses in the latest episode of The Packrafting Podcast. To listen, you can also download the episode here or search for The Packrafting Podcast on your fave podcast app.

The Packrafting Podcast, episode #7

In this episode we talk about Willem’s signature trip style, including how he plans his trips and what it is he enjoys most about multi-week adventures. We chat about some of his earlier trips in Scandinavia, Greenland, a packraft-assisted traverse of the South Island of New Zealand and a near-death experience during a four month traverse of Norway.

Willem’s written trip recounts and photographs have provided inspiration for people all over the world, with many packrafters following his routes. However, he has grappled with sharing online and in 2013 he stopped sharing GPS coordinates of his routes. We discuss some of the consequences of sharing detailed trip recounts, including environmental impacts in South Greenland and how the death of two Belgian packrafters last summer has impacted him. We hope you enjoy!

Adventure buddies.