Epic! Kayaker Circumnavigates South America

German paddler Freya Hoffmeister completed a solo, unassisted circumnavigation of South America today in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

freya

Hoffmeister arrived to international fanfare as she completed the four-year, 15,828-mile journey in her 18-foot Point 65 FREYA expedition kayak.

Having already set records for the fastest circumnavigations of New Zealand and Australia, her latest accomplishment — which has never before been attempted — is another one for the record books.
arrival in Buenos Aires

Hoffmeister departed Buenos Aires heading south on August 30, 2011. What followed is one of the most epic journeys I’ve heard about in modern times, spanning four full years on the water, passing around the treacherous Cape Horn, down both coasts, and through the Panama Canal.

freya solo kayaker

She made the following announcement on her blog: THANK God I am still alive. THANKS to my family. THANKS to my friends. THANKS to the authorities. THANKS to all sponsors. THANKS to the press. THANKS to all organizers of today!

Logistics Of The Trip

One noteworthy departure from her clockwise trip: Due to winds she judged as insurmountable off the coast of Brazil, she drove from Sao Luiz to Recife, Brazil, and paddled an 800-mile section of her trip from south to north with the wind at her back.

Hoffmeister also accepted a navy escort along the perilous coast of Colombia and returned to Germany five times, avoiding the South American winter and breaking her overall expedition into multiple segments.

cape horn
Rounding Cape Horn

Paddling into port from the north 855 days after she departed, Hoffmeister completed a voyage never before attempted, arriving with an escort from the Argentinian Coast Guard.

“My Point 65 expedition kayak has performed flawlessly,” said Hoffmeister, who praised the stability and efficiency of the craft in even the roughest conditions.

Gear for circumnavigation
Pre-trip gear pile

Hoffmeister’s success in the southern hemisphere is just the latest in her series of unprecedented kayaking accomplishments, including the fastest kayak circumnavigation of Australia (and the first by a woman) and the fastest circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Her harrowing Australian journey is chronicled in Joe Glickman’s “Fearless: One Woman, One Kayak, One Continent.”

If you’re interested in epic adventures, check out her blog, which is full of photos and interesting tales from her days at sea.

We’ll be following up with Hoffmeister, one of GearJunkie’s 110 Outdoor Ambassadors, soon to learn about the gear, strategy, mental fortitude, and physical conditioning it took to paddle around South America.

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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