Latitude Zéro: 40,000 km around the world

An adventurer’s world tour

The  » Around the World » section begins with a presentation of the most extreme and difficult circumnavigation of the globe ever attempted: Mike Horn, an explorer and adventurer of Swiss and South African origin, circumnavigated the globe following the Equator (on zero latitude), without using any means of motorized transport.

As you can see from this map, Ecuador crosses oceans, and difficult regions (climate, relief, war, political insecurity, etc.) make the challenge even more complicated. Mike Horn is a former lieutenant in the South African Special Forces, and over the years has become an expert in exploits in extreme conditions (hydrospeed down the Amazon in 1997, circumnavigation of the globe following the Arctic Circle from 2002 to 2004, ascent of Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II in 2007, and other expeditions…). In 1999, he embarked on the incredible challenge of circumnavigating the globe (40,000 km) following the Equator line.

carte du monde avec ligne de l'equateur

He named his expedition Latitude Zéro.

Around the world in 6 stages over 1? years

On June 3, 1999, it set sail from Gabon in West Africa to Brazil on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. For the record, it’s customary to break a bottle of champagne on the boat’s hull at the start. Three times he tried, three times the bottle didn’t break. As he points out in his book, some would have seen this as a bad omen, but he saw three oceans to cross. It took him 19 days to cover the 7,800 km or so of the Atlantic Ocean, alone on his trimaran.

latitude zero

The longest stage (in terms of time) was the crossing of the South American continent, where he had to travel on foot, by bike and in an inflatable boat. On this continent, he passed two peaks over 6,000 m in the Andes, the Amazon rainforest where he was bitten by a snake after which he remained blind for 4 days, the ascent of the Rio Negro… He was captured by drug traffickers in Colombia, then by the army. Note that he fed by hunting his own food. He covered the distance of 3,626 m in 5 months and 4 days.

latitude zero

From Ecuador, he crossed the Pacific Ocean to the island of Borneo in Asia, after passing through the Galapagos Islands and covering more than 16,000 km over a period of 2 and a half months.

It took him 2,200 km in 2 months and a week to cross the Indonesian islands to Sumatra and the Indian Ocean. This is a very wild region, punctuated by numerous volcanoes. He did this part of the journey mainly by boat and on foot.

From Sumatra, he crossed the Indian Ocean to Somalia, including the Maldives. A distance of just over 3,900 km covered in 2 months and 4 days.

latitude zero

To reach his starting point, Gabon, he had to cross Africa on his final leg. On foot, bicycle, canoe and inflatable boat, he escaped death (storm on Lake Victoria, death sentence by rebel soldiers, etc.). It took him 4 months to cover the remaining 4,200 km.

latitude zero

Mike Horn tells all about it in his book Latitude zéro : 40 000 Km pour partir à la rencontre du monde, which is truly gripping. I urge you to read his account to understand what drove him to take on such a challenge, in which he risked his life, but which in the end taught him many things. You can buy his book for the full story of his incredible journey.

latitude zero livre

All photos are from Mike Horn’s official website: