Horn, South African explorer and athlete, accomplished a
unique feat: a solo journey around the world along the
equator, using only his own resources. His treacherous
progression along latitude zero was followed by television
viewers the world over. He left Gabon on June 2, 1999
and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by trimaran. Horn then
traveled from Brazil to Ecuador by foot, bicycle and
canoe, and then traversed the Amazon jungle and the
Andes Cordillera. Crossing the Pacific Ocean took him to
Indonesia, via the Galapagos Islands. Journeying through
Borneo and Sumatra jungles by foot and sailboat, Mike
Horn then continued on by trimaran across the Indian
Ocean. The last leg took him from Somalia to Gabon,
where he arrived, exhausted, on October 28, 2000, after
a 17-month voyage.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, married, with two
children, Mike studied Human Movement Science at
Stellenbosch University. He became known to the public
for his crazy feats, such as the 6,700-kilometer descent
of the Amazon by hydrospeed - solo and unassisted. In
1994, Mike's descent of the Mont Blanc glacier by
hydrospeed granted him membership to the Sector No
Limits Team, which unites extreme athletes.
In 1995, Mike opened the "No Limits" Outdoor Activity
Sports Centre in Switzerland. It was during this time
that Mike broke the world record for the highest descent
of a waterfall with a hydrospeed, on the Pacuare River
in Costa Rica. (22m)
In 1997, Mike launched his first big expedition: the 6
month solo traverse of the South American continent. He
left on foot from the Pacific Ocean and climbed to the
source of the Amazon River high in the Peruvian Andes.
From here he descended the 7,000 km of the Amazon river
on a hydrospeed, until he reached the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1999, Mike launched his big adventure: the
circumnavigation of the world along the equator. He
baptized the expedition "Latitude Zero", travelling
alone around the world in the 17 months from June 1999
to October 2000, and without any form of motorised
He has hiked, swam, canoed, biked, and sailed 29,000
miles (46,670 kilometers), deviating from latitude zero
only to avoid African war zones and respect tribal lands
in South America. Along the way, he was dragged before a
firing squad and caught in a cyclone at sea.
What was the story behind his brush with a death squad?
"Well, I was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
crossing from one rebel territory to another, when one
group thought I was a spy. And if they think you’re a
spy, you can tell them what you want to, but they’ll
believe what they want. I was actually in front of a
death squad, and they were going to shoot me. When they
lifted up their Kalashnikovs or AK-47s and I closed my
eyes—well, I was just waiting for the shot. Maybe they
were just playing with me. In the end, a police officer
saved me. He said it was a police affair, not a military
Mike is the first man ever to achieve such a feat, and
after this he became internationally renowned, receiving
many awards and prizes, namely the Laureus Award for
"Best Alternative Sportsman of the Year", "Adventurer of
the Year" for Out There magazine, and the "Toison d'Or"
for the film festival in Dijon.
The next expedition was in 2002, when Mike attempted a
solo and unassisted crossing of the North Pole. Much to
his disappointment, this trip was aborted 45 days later
because of bad frostbite to his fingers.
One month after having the tips of his fingers
amputated, Mike set off again, and this time on his
biggest adventure: the circumnavigation of the Arctic
Circle, solo and without the aid of any motorised
transport or dogs. This expedition was called "Arktos"
and took Mike 2 years and 3 months to complete, once
again setting another record by being the first ever
person to complete, non-stop, the 20,000 km route around
the Arctic Circle, enduring two harsh Arctic winters
with temperatures reaching as low as -60°C.
With still a strong desire to reach the North Pole
itself, Mike - along with Norwegian explorer Borge
Ousland - decided to reach the North Pole on foot. On
the 23rd of March 2006, after 60 days and 5 hours of
walking, Mike and Borge finally accomplished what they
set out to achieve. They are the first people ever to
walk to the North Pole in the sunless Arctic winter,
walking 10-12 hours a day pulling their sledges laden
with 160kg of equipment in the extreme Arctic
temperatures and in 24 hours of complete darkness for
the majority of the expedition. This expedition creates
a new chapter in Arctic History.
Mike has written four books about his expeditions, each
of which has reached the best seller list in France.
These books are currently available in several different
languages world-wide. Films of his exploits have also
been made and have won many prizes throughout Europe.
Mike has a simple philosophy to explain his
"The impossible exists only until we find a way to make
Peru - descent by delta plane from the summit of
Huascaran (6768 m).
The descent of the Colca Canyon with a hydrospeed (the
deepest canyon in the world).
The first descent of the Pacuare River in Costa Rica,
establishing the world record for the highest descent of
a waterfall with a hydrospeed (22 metres).
Crossing of the South American continent on foot and
hydrospeed via the Amazon river. The Pacific Ocean to
the Atlantic Ocean (7,000 kms) in six months, alone and
"Latitude Zero" - The circumnavigation around the world
along the equator without using any motorised means. A
trip of over 40,000 kms which lasted 17 months.
"Arktos Expidition" - The traverse of the North Pole and
the circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle between
Along with Norwegian explorer Borge Ousland, became the
first person ever to walk to the North Pole.
He completed a two-year 3 month solo circumnavigation of
the Arctic Circle in 2004 and, in 2006, with Norwegian
explorer Børge Ousland, became the first men to travel
without dog or motorised transport to the North Pole
during permanent darkness. In 2007 he was elected a
member of the exclusive Laureus World Sports Academy, in
recognition of his ground-breaking achievements.
will to win must be stronger than your fear of losing
and then the impossible exists no longer."