More from Eloïse

Women must dare to accomplish everything they ever dreamed of

With a lifelong fascination for our Planet's wonders, Jessica Horn decided to make the most of her unique life. But her strength of will to explore the world is not a coincidence.

Groenland 2020

The story begins on the misty bank of Léman Lake surrounded by the Swiss Alps back in 1994. An explorer, Mike, and his wife, Cathy Horn, happily welcomed their second girl. Annika met her younger sister, Jessica, which would become her life partner. A childhood spent surrounded by her father exploring the world and her mother supporting her beloved husband. Meanwhile, raised by watching their father’s achievements, such as the Descent of the Amazon in 1997, Latitude 0 in 1999, Arktos in 2002 and many impressive others, the little girls grew up with wonderment and eagerness to follow in their father’s footsteps.

Growing on the idea of “daring to dream big, nothing is impossible until I found a way to make it possible” is undoubtedly what set her mindset regarding her upcoming life “our father always had the wildest dreams and our mother never said no to them, she encouraged them to pursue those dreams but provided the structure and the preparation behind his dreams to make them become a reality.” Living a family life with a “little routine at home with our mother, we would go to school, do a lot of sports, play outside” and a quick chat with her father over the phone to tell him they loved him, once a week quickly became normality.

Number one support to their dad, the little girls and their mom “would follow him by placing pins on a map and every five to seven months we would jump on a plane and meet him somewhere around the world”. She always admired

her mother’s strength and how she supported and encouraged her father to go and explore the world without knowing when she would see him next while educating two little girls at home “I mean WOW!” she exclaimed.

2006 North Pole expedition - Personal archives

In 2006, the little girls aged 14 and 12 became the youngest children to ever ski to the North Pole. They learned during this expedition the importance of discipline “Our father always repeats that motivation is good, but you need the discipline to do what he does. We needed that discipline in the morning to step out of the tent in the cold and walk for 8 hours straight.” Tied to the same sledge and supporting each other, the Horn sisters realised "that nobody will ever be able to understand our lives better than one another”. Even though they struggled in the most remote places, lived the most incredible experience, their biggest strength was that they were together and “there are no words to describe those precious moments, good and bad”.

Today, dreams are still a driving force for her. Jessica’s strength and unique personality are built upon all her experiences and the biggest ordeals that she faced made her who she is. When she was still a young woman, Jessica had to deal with her mother’s death, Cathy, “as soon as she left us, we decided to go on an adventure to be together and decide how we were going to move forward from that point onwards.” She is today determined to make her mother’s memory lives on “Her loss became our strength, and we decided that we would continue to do everything in her name.” Inspired by her role model, she aspires "to be a strong woman like her for the people I love”.

Inspirational life and uplifting mind, Jessica became a true role model for a lot of women by defying prejudices and gender roles fostering positive change within the exploration world which is usually reserved for men. Women can overcome every obstacle, Jessica explained that “even our father tells us that women are stronger than men in certain situations, we have a better natural instinct.” Every little project is a proud accomplishment “whether it is securing a budget for an expedition, filing your taxes, doing thirty minutes of yoga in the morning, running 20km, etc. Really anything at all! If you fill your life with these short-term accomplishments then you will be more motivated to move onto the next once you’re done.”

Women who inspire to discover Earth’s great wilderness have “to go for it! Annika and I are so happy to see more and more women and girls out there, following their dreams.”

The little girls with an Inuit woman in 2002

Travelling and globe-trotting around the globe for several years now, Jessica explained how wild untouched nature is something really precious “you take the time to stop and admire the views.” From all the time she spent abroad, South African and New Zealand’s panoramas are her favourite places because of her family roots. Jessica fell in love with Namibia’s and Laos’ landscapes beauty. She remembers travelling to the furthest reaches of Earth, filled with memorable instants such as “the moments we spent in the tent after a long day of walking were my most memorable moments. Just the four of us, playing games or our dad would tell us stories of his childhood. It was like our tent was our little protective bubble, the arctic cold, wind, animals, nothing could touch us! We were safe and happy,” Jessica exclaimed.

In the middle of the Karakoram highway from Skardu to Islamabad, known to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world, Jessica lived a frightening experience “Our father was not with us at that moment, as we just left him at the K2 Base Camp and he was not entirely convinced by the fact that we would be taking that road, with a broken car, and some strangers accompanying us,” Jessica said.

Jessica and her family witnessed global warming from their own eyes and got struck by this alarming situation. Social media platforms have become a major tool for them to raise awareness among young people, as part of their audience, who will act in the near future. Jessica and her family support a lot of environmental causes. In the previous years of expedition, they launched the Pangaea expedition concept, from 2008 to 2012. It was based on a worldwide journey led by Mike Horn, their father, to visit unspoilt places such as jungles, deserts, mountains, rivers, polar regions and oceans. The idea was to share his knowledge with the younger generation by creating a sailing boat that can gather people from around the world “I believe we must begin to take real steps towards ensuring our plant can be repeated and appreciated by all future generations,” stated Mike. The Horn family aim to relaunch a similar concept to “encourage young people to go and explore and protect the beautiful planet we live on” Jessica claimed. 


As women, we have so much to learn from Jessica’s motivational life philosophy and values in order to make the most of our own life. 

The Horn family is hoping to sail down to the Amazon, where it all started for their father 25 years ago, sail to Patagonia, into the fjords and explore some glaciers. Then continue wherever the wind will take them as a story in a book that will never end.  

Svalbard, Norway 2020

Photographs © Etienne Claret

To discover more!

Latitude 0 expedition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc_9LTMP7eo Arktos expedition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9GfmT9acv4 Pangaea's expedition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9lo2FA3rsk

Horn Family's Instagram accounts:

https://instagram.com/jessicaahorn?igshid=93aqqk9d9viw https://instagram.com/mikehornexplorer?igshid=josnefykdahh https://instagram.com/annikahorn?igshid=1uqdnhyisxwy9

Related content: