Lonely Planet Writer

A 50-year-old South African explorer has reached the South Pole on a record-breaking journey

Mike Horn, an intrepid 50-year-old explorer from South Africa, is currently trying to become the first person to circumnavigate the planet via both of its poles. At the end of last week, just over eight months into his journey and after almost a month on skis, he reached the South Pole. 

‘In very light winds I reached the Pole today. It was hard work… The South Pole is a geographical point. It’s the end. Further you cannot go on Earth…or you have to start there.’

And that is exactly what he must next do – start skiing northward for the first time. His route south across Antarctica saw him deal with several challenges, including the loss of his customised cooking pot, which included his stove, cup, spoon and pocket knife. It fell out of a tear in the cover of his sled at some point on 31 December, the day he covered a remarkable 216 kilometres.

He is no stranger to adversity and adventure, having previously completed some incredible expeditions; following the Arctic Circle around the globe during winter, climbing four peaks over 8000m without supplemental oxygen and circumnavigating the globe entirely under human power.

Mike had planned on commencing his latest challenge in 2015, but the unexpected death of his wife put his plans on hold. This circumnavigation, now being done in her honour, started on 6 May in Monaco, when he boarded his expedition yacht and started to sail south for Namibia. From there he went inland via 4WD, exploring the Namib Desert and Botswana’s Okavango Delta before heading south to his native South Africa. It was in Cape Town that he was reunited with his sailing yacht Pangea, and from there he sailed south to the shores of Antarctica.

When he eventually reaches the Antarctic coast (again), he and Pangea will sail east, exploring parts of New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea, before hitting mainland Asia for an overland journey north to the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka. From there he’ll set sails for the North Pole. En route to his starting (and finishing) point he will cross over the island of Greenland.

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.