Johannes C. Apon – Owner & Arctic Nature Guide
Outdoorlife Norway is established in 2014 by owner Johannes C. Apon (Cees). Originally from The Netherlands, I grew up in Apeldoorn, a middle-sized town in the eastern part of the country. After finishing high school, I spent a few summers cycling 30,000 kilometers around Europe, mainly in the Alps and Norway. In 2006, I cycled from the Netherlands to Norway and back through England, circumnavigating the North Sea. Just three weeks after my return, I moved to Norway, at age 22, to participate in a one year course outdoorlife at Hardanger folk high school, located beautifully in the Hardangerfjord, western Norway. Here I learned the basics about hiking and cross country skiing, as well as the Norwegian language and culture. The outdoor class spent about 40 nights on the Hardangervidda, Northern Europe’s largest mountain plateau, in tents, iglo’s, snow caves, cabins and under the open sky.
The summer holiday of 2007 was used to cycle through southern Norway to visit my new Norwegian friends, learn more about Norwegian culture, and make lots of day hikes. Having fallen in love with being outdoors in the Norwegian mountains and fjords, I successfully applied for a job as an assistant outdoorlife teacher at the same school. Another year and 40 nights spent in the Hardanger mountains made me decide to pursue a career, or rather lifestyle, within nature-based tourism and guiding. I got even more convinced about these ambitions two years later, when Hardanger Folkehøgskule hired me as a tour leader and outdoorlife teacher, to arrange a trip to Corsica for 13 students, loaded with activities like canyoning, kayaking, cycling and hiking.
In 2008, I moved to eastern Norway to study tourism at the university college of Lillehammer. While studying, I worked part-time as a receptionist at Birkebeineren Hotel & Apartments, located in the Olympic Park of the city that hosted the Winter Olympic Games of 1994. During his three year stay in Lillehammer, I engaged in many winter sport activities, using the downhill slopes of Hafjell, the extensive network of skiing tracks at Sjusjøen and the natural ice on Lake Mjøsa for ice skating. I wrote my bachelor thesis (marked A) on the local Norwegian Skating Festival, “tailoring event development to Dutch skating tourists’ preferences”.
After graduating in 2011, I moved south to Ås, to attend a master program in nature-based tourism at the Norwegian University of Life Science to learn more about business and regional development, nature conservation and management, and national park tourism. As part of this master, I travelled to New Zealand in 2012, to attend a Postgraduate Study Abroad program at Lincoln University. Here,I learned more about natural resources recreation and tourism, events and festivals and tourist behavior. I spent my free weekends and holidays on travelling in total 16,000 kilometers through the country. I participated in hiking, skiing, kayaking and other nature-based adventure activities in the beautiful natural areas and national parks all around New Zealand, learning a lot about national park and visitor management. Back in Norway, I wrote my master thesis about “National Park Tourism in Norway: The Relationship between National Parks and Nature-Based Tourism Businesses Development” and graduated with a B.
To improve my practical skills, in 2013, I moved north to Svalbard, the Arctic archipelago situated half-way between Norway and the North Pole, to attend the Arctic Nature Guide course, provided by the Arctic University of Norway (UiT). During this one year course, the Arctic Nature Guide students undertook several expeditions – among others a glacier travel course, an eight day autumn hike and three ski expeditions – to learn about safe guiding in the Arctic and value-based guiding and teaching Arctic nature. Together with two other class mates, I lived five months in a tent, from January to July, to experience the Arctic winter. As part of the study internship, I worked two months as a snowmobile guide. The trip that made me realize I wanted to start my own business was a six day spring skiing trip on the glaciers of Trollheimen, on which me and fellow class mate Morten were responsible for 10 guests and all preparations, navigation and safety.
In 2014, I moved back to mainland Norway, to settle in the Stavanger region. Outdoorlife Norway was soon established, with the aim to develop and organize unforgettable and safe outdoor experiences. It is my personal goal to get more people out and closer to nature. Outdoorlife Norway combines highlights with off the beaten track adventures. In order to create unique hiking adventures, I used a lot of my free time to hike along the Lysefjord and test ideas, finding new trails to hike and hidden view points to share with guests. 2015 became Outdoorlife Norway’s first full season, where I had to do everything alone. During the 100 hikes with people from all around the world, I learned more about my hikers’ interests and preferences, so I could refine and improve existing tours and our service, as well as developing new adventures. And I learned that I needed help.
2016 became a year of perfectioning, development and growth. In Erlend (see picture), I found a very good guide, colleague, and friend. His passion for biology and photography has taken many of our tours to the next level. And our guests love it!
Together with help from qualified external guides, like experienced Trolltunga guide Sol (see picture), we will continue to push ourselves to find new hidden pearls for you to discover and hike. We will guarantee unique outdoor adventures that will create life time memories. High quality nature experiences demand professional facilitation, preparation and interpretation. Day hikes or multiday tours, summer or winter, recreational or adventurous: let us be your outdoor guide!
To maintain my guiding and hiking skills, I use my free time in the off seasons to guide and travel around the world. Two of my favorite destinations are the Arctic / Svalbard (right picture) and the Antarctic (below). I have been so lucky to be able to guide guests in these stunning, but vulnerable natural environments, through my work as a guide onboard the MS Fram, the expedition vessle of the Norwegian cruise operator Hurtigruten.
In 2015, I have also travelled and hiked in Chilean Patagonia. In 2016, I will conclude my second full season at Outdoorlife Norway with a back-pack trip around the world to hike in Hong Kong, Tasmania, New Zealand, Chile and Peru. I am sure I will gather new inspiration, which I can use back home in stunning Fjord Norway, to develop new outdoor adventures for you!
Hope you want to join, I look forward to hiking with you! =)