Kayaker Finishes First Paddle Around South America

Made the trip in 857 days

Freya Hoffmeister completed the journey around South America in an 18-foot kayak in just under four years. (Freya Hoffmeister)
Photo: Freya Hoffmeister

Nearly four years after setting out from Buenos Aires, German paddler Freya Hoffmeister became the first person to circumnavigate South America in a kayak. The trip, which she completed Friday, took her to 13 countries along 15,000 miles of the South American coast.

Hoffmeister spent 857 days on the water, with breaks along the way for recuperating and trips home to Germany, according to the German Canoe Association. She took a clockwise route around the continent, through the Drake Passage, up the west coast, and through the Panama Canal, Adventure Blog reports. Her 18-foot kayak sustained damaged at points, and she had to contend with the wind and current.

“Thank God I am still alive,” Hoffmeister wrote on her blog upon completion of the expedition. “Thanks to my family, thanks to my friends.”

This wasn’t Hoffmeister’s first jaunt around a continent. In 2009, she completed an unassisted circumnavigation of Australia, becoming the first woman and second person to do so, according to the Stabroek News. Along with kayaker Greg Stamer, Hoffmeister also set the record for the fastest-ever sea kayak trip around Iceland in 2007, making it in at 33 days.

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