November 27 2010
Marianne Du Toit
In May 2002 South African born Marianne Du Toit left Ireland, where she had been living for 11 years, for South America embarking on a two year journey which her family labelled as “madness”. With two horses, named Mise and Tusa, for company, she set off to discover America, riding from Argentina to New York.
Du Toit based her trip on the journey of Aimé Tschiffely-hailed as the most famous long distance rider of the twentieth century- who rode the 10,000 miles from Buenos Aires to New York in 1925. She skimmed through his book about the journey as research but says she was “terrified to know too much”; afraid that if she knew how difficult the trip would be she may have decided she wasn’t up to it.
With limited equestrian experience and even a slight fear of horses, her love of animals, eternal optimism and lust for adventure helped her persevere.
“I remember since I was about 17 I would always read these articles about independent, daring women who had done these amazing journeys. There was always something deep down driving me to these adventurous things. I just loved the adrenaline and the excitement,” she says.
Du Toit spoke no Spanish, could barely ride a horse, knew nothing about horse care or saddling up, and didn’t know a soul in the Americas.
She had to ride across the high Bolivian Altiplano for over 40 days surviving the thinnest high altitude air and living on very little food. The only thing keeping her going was the thought of making it to the Bolivian capital, La Paz...
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