In the 21st century, there aren’t a whole lot of genuine global explorers left. But there are a few. And Nat Hab’s Olaf Malver is one of them. It’s no wonder he’s known as Nat Hab’s CEO: “Chief Exploratory Officer.”
Infatuated with adventure , Olaf has been a guide for more than 30 years. He has led kayaking expeditions on all seven seas and pioneered numerous paddling routes, particularly in Greenland, where he’s been 35 times. He has made first ascents of remote and unnamed peaks. He has crossed the Arctic by dog sled. And he’s hiked and led treks in more than 80 countries. Running rivers in Siberia with brown bears on both banks or paddling among the hippos and crocs of Botswana’s Okavango Delta are all in a day’s work for Olaf. It’s no surprise that Olaf is a fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club, an honor bestowed on a handful of the world’s premier adventurers.
Olaf’s hiking backyard is currently the Caucasus Mountains of the Republic of Georgia, where he lives with his Georgian wife – also a backcountry guide – and their two children on a family vineyard where they are producing some fine new vintages as part of Georgia’s 8,000-year-old wine culture.
If that weren’t enough, Olaf speaks six languages, has a Ph.D. in chemistry, a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy, and is a former university science professor. A passionate ecotourism activist, he works with governments and NGOs to promote sustainable tourism in developing countries. But all those accolades don’t give Olaf as much gratification as he receives from fostering a genuine spirit of adventure in the guests he guides.
While he loves to discover fresh destinations and challenges, he’s even more enthusiastic about helping travelers do that for themselves. And that’s what he hopes to accomplish with Nat Hab’s new Base Camp Greenland.
The deluxe expeditionary camp grew out of Olaf’s desire to immerse travelers in Greenland’s matchless wilderness, a raw and intense landscape in which they can encounter new experiences, gain a respect for the wild, and grow in the process. That might involve a guided walk atop a glacier or riding in a Zodiac when a huge iceberg rolls and explodes in front of the boat. It’s the unexpected element of wilderness travel that’s most exhilarating, Olaf says.
But while Greenland offers natural drama, it also provides solitude and stillness that are very difficult to find in daily life. Within that quiet, it’s easier to encounter the quiet spaces within, says Olaf.
“The thunder and the silence” – that’s Greenland, and that sums up the essence of adventure travel, in Olaf’s eyes.