MAN OF THE WORLD
Who the hell is Mike Horn? – that would probably be the same question you would be asking, if you got an invitation to spend a couple of hours on a yacht with this intrepid explorer. Yet, as I stand aboard the Pangaea off the coast of Port Dickson, with the wind whipping saltwater into my face, listening to him speak about his adventures, another question replaces the former – how the hell could anyone not know Mike Horn?
If you do a quick Google search on the man, you’ll see why some have pegged him as the world’s greatest modernday explorer. His list of accomplishments looks similar to that of Marco Polo, Captain James Cook and Sir Edmund Hillary, combined!
He has swum the entire length of the Amazon (using a hydrospeed), hunting for food to survive and resting along dangerous riverbanks at night. He was the first man to circumnavigate the globe around the equator, alone and without motorised transport. He was the first human being to complete a 20,000km journey circumnavigating the Arctic Circle using only a boat (also unmotorised), kayak, ski kite and on foot, which lasted two years; and he reached two peaks higher than 8,000m in the Himalayan mountains without the use of any oxygen.
The real reason, however, that I am so enamoured of his gusto for the next big adventure and his passion for pushing the limits, is the fact that, before all this, he was already a self-made millionaire. As the story goes, Horn got rich selling cabbages in South Africa in his early 20s. “I thought I would have more freedom with money, but I really had less,” he says. So, he made the decision to give away everything he owned to family and friends – except a plane ticket to Zurich and US$50 in his pocket. He says: “It was only after giving everything away that I felt truly free.”
In some ways, Horn says he didn’t become an explorer; he was born one. In an anecdote he shares with The
Business Times, he says that, when he was younger, he and his two sisters were all given bicycles. “I wanted to ride it 300km to see my cousins but my sister, who was given the same bike, rode it around the house and never left home with it, and she became a well-known judge in South Africa. My other sister did not even get on the bike because she was always drawing and she’s now a fine artist restoring paintings in London.”
Horn, arguably, has seen more of our planet than any other human being. And, if through his travels, he has developed an urgent need to preserve it, it’s hard to think