After recently setting a record by sea kayaking around Australia in 332 days, Germany’s Freya Hoffmeister is at it again, taking off Aug. 30 from Buenos Aires to be the first person to paddle all the way around South America. In all, the glutton for paddling punishment is planning to do the trip in three stages of 4,800 miles each over the next 3 years)…
“I am ready for another adventure,” she says nonchalantly.
The 47-year-old business owner from Husum, Germay, started her trip in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the middle of the continent’s east coast. Paddling clockwise, she will head south on the Atlantic Ocean towards Cape Horn. She’ll then round the Cape plus the southernmost big island of South America, Tierra del Fuego. Heading north again she’ll travel through the Fjordlands of Patagonia/Chile on the Pacific coast before ending her first stage in Valparaiso, the main harbor off Santiago, Chile, having paddled roughly 8,000 km in eight months. In between legs she plans to return to Husum to spend time with her 15-year-old son and tend to her two ice cream shops and a Christmas shop.
Starting again in September 2012, she’ll head north along the West Coast along the coasts of Peru and Ecuador. After crossing the equator, she’ll pass Colombia, paddle through the Panama Canal, along the rest of Columbia, through Venezuela and end the second stage in Georgetown, Guyana, after another 8,000 km and eight months of paddling.
Stage three picks up again in September 2013 and takes her past the tropical countries of Suriname, Guayane, Brazil and Uruguay and back south to Buenos Aires, Argentina. She will finish the last 8,000 km stage just in time for her 50th birthday in May 2014.
In all, she’ll have paddled along 12 countries, traveled as far south as the 50th latitude and as far north as the 10th, and crossed the equator twice.
The trip around the world’s fourth-largest continent will be her fourth big adventure. Her previous trips took her in 2007 around Iceland in a record 33 days. Three months later, she became the first woman to round the rough South Island of New Zealand in a record 77 days, solo and unsupported.
On January 18, 2009, she paddled out of Melbourne, heading east to become the first woman solo and just the second person rounding Australia by sea kayak. Along the route she encountered salt water crocodiles, Great White sharks, venomous sea snakes and deadly jelly fish, massive surf, an eight-day open-water crossing and hundreds of miles of sheer cliffs without any landing zones. She also had to deal with tropical heat, cyclones and the challenge of obtaining drinking water and food – not to mention the physical toll of averaging upwards of 60 km per day. 332 days and 13.800 km later, the kayaker known as “The Woman in Black”, closed the circle and set another record.
Once having circled South America, Freya will probably have paddled more miles than any expedition sea kayaker ever has done.