German super paddler Freya Hoffmeister recently became the first person to circumnavigate South America on a kayak. It took her four years to complete the 15,000-mile journey.

She didn’t do it all at once of course. Hoffmeister spent a total of 857 days on the water. She reportedly took time off to recuperate back in Germany and tend to a couple of ice cream shops.

After finishing such a grueling test of strength and tenacity, Hoffmeister posted a photo to her blog titled simply “Done.” “Thank God I am still alive,” she wrote. “Thanks to my family, thanks to my friends.”  

Formely known for circumnavigating Australia in a kayak, her trip around South America has further solidified her reputation as a paddling powerhouse. Her journey this time took her clockwise from Argentina. tackling the infamous Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego at the start of the trip rather than the end. She reportedly faced 60 knot winds and had to seek shelter on a rocky island at one point before pressing on.

From there she traveled with a partner for a stretch of the way, battling uphill past the coast of Chile and Peru. A third leg brought her further up the coast and through the Panama Canal. She received a naval escort in Colombia and slogged through the remote coasts of Suriname, French Guyana and what must have seemed like the endless beaches of Brazil.

Upon completion of the final leg, Freya received a hero’s welcome by the Argentine Navy, an EU ambassador and fellow paddlers. People all over the world have been inspired. One fan named Hillary wrote on her blog, “What an accomplishment.  You are a shining example for what can be done if we truly apply ourselves. I am honored to write these words. Well Done!

Photo courtesy Freya Hoffmeister