Graham Hughes is the first man to visit all 201* countries in the world… without even taking a plane. He is 33 years old and comes from Liverpool, England. Hughes has a strong passion for adventures and in his search for new ones, he managed to take a dip in all of the world’s cultures. Read along to learn more about his incredible experiences.
Hughes’s goal to see the whole world without flying was not an easy job. He travelled 160,000 miles in 1,426 days (around 3 years and 11 months) with only $100 a week. Although his journey wasn’t an easy one, he shares some incredible stories about what he had to go through. In order to reach Cape Verde, he had to go through open ocean in a “leaky boat” for 4 days. He was also arrested for espionage in Congo where he spend a week in jail. But that wasn’t his only encounter with the authorities. He was arrested in Russia for attempting to “sneak into” the country and then he had to be “rescued from Muslim fundamentalists by a Filipino transsexual named Jenn.”, he writes in his blog.
Hughes shares that he has a strong love for travelling and the reason behind his big adventure was that he just wanted to see if it was possible to be done by one person on a tight budget. One of his aims was to prove that the world isn’t a bad and scary place. On the contrary, he shares that it is full of nice people who are ready to help even though you are a total stranger.
Hughes is now officially a world record holder for “Most countries visited in one year by scheduled ground transport”. He has his whole journey filmed for a documentary and has raised money for charity WaterAid.
For most of the longer voyages he counted on the nice crews of cargo ships to take him on board with them. On his way to the Dominican Republic, he even got a lift on a friendly cruise ship.
Graham Hughes has had amazing experiences in those travelling years. Some of them include making friends with orangutans in Borneo, meeting the Prime Minister of Tuvalu and dancing with the Highlanders of Papua New Guinea.
Many people have asked Hughes if it was hard to get into countries like North Korea, Afghanistan or Iraq but he shares that they were the easy ones. Getting to smaller island countries like Nauru (which is in the heart of the Pacific Ocean), the Seychelles and the Maldives was harder for him and he even says that “there were sometimes pirate threats”.
Hughes says that there were some really tough moments through his journey. One of them was “sitting in a bus station in Cambodia at one in the morning or riding some awful truck over bad roads”. But the hardest part of his adventure was when his 39- year old sister, Nicole, died of cancer. He stopped his trip and went to see her in hospital when he had only 17 countries to go. In a hard moment like that, he thought about quitting his travelling, but after his sister encouraged him to complete his goal, he had new strength to continue, so, he did.
Hughes now shares that he doesn’t plan to buy a plane ticket any time soon because he loves the trilling experience of the adventure.
*Depending on the source you are looking at, there are between 189 and 196 countries in the world, but he also visited some places that are not recognized as countries by UN and other international organizations.
1. Uruguay 2. Argentina 3. Paraguay 4. Bolivia 5. Chile 6. Peru 7. Ecuador 8. Colombia 9. Venezuela 10. Brazil 11. Guyana 12.Suriname
13. Trinidad & Tobago 14. Grenada 15. St. Vincent & The Grenadines 16. Barbados 17. St. Lucia – Martinique** 18. Dominica 19. St. Kitts & Nevis 20. Antigua & Barbuda Antigua: He visited palm fringed beaches in The Caribbean St. Martin/Sint Maarten British Virgin Islands US Virgin Islands 21. Dominican Republic 22. Haiti 23. Jamaica
CENTRAL AND NORTH AMERICA
24 Mexico 25 Guatemala 26 El Salvador 27 Nicaragua 28 Honduras 29 Costa Rica 30 Panama 31 Belize 32 The United States of America 33 The Bahamas – The Conch Republic** 34 Cuba 35 Canada
36 Iceland – The Faroe Islands** 37 The Netherlands 38 Belgium Cape Verde: He spent four days on a ‘leaky fishing boat’ getting to this Atlantic isle 39 France 40 England* 41 Wales* 42 Ireland 43 Northern Ireland* 44 Scotland* 45 Luxembourg 46 Germany 47 Denmark 48 Sweden 49 Norway 50 Finland 51 Estonia 52 Russia 53 Latvia 54 Lithuania 55 Belarus 56 Poland 57 The Czech Republic 58 Slovakia 59 Hungary 60 Romania 61 Moldova 62 Ukraine 63 Bulgaria USA: He saw a space shuttle take off in America 64 Greece 65 Macedonia 66 Kosovo* 67 Montenegro 68 Serbia 69 Albania 70 Croatia 71 Bosnia & Herzegovina 72 Slovenia 73 Austria 74 Liechtenstein 75 Switzerland 76 Italy 77 Vatican City* 78 Malta 79 Tunisia (Africa) 80 San Marino 81 Monaco 82 Andorra 83 Spain 84 Portugal
85 Morocco Estonia: Tallinn is the capital of Estonia, the most northern of the Baltic states 86 Western Sahara* 87 Mauritania 88 Senegal 89 Cape Verde 90 The Gambia 91 Guinea-Bissau 92 Mali 93 Guinea 94 Sierra Leone 95 Liberia 96 Côte D’Ivoire 97 Ghana 98 Togo 99 Benin 100 Burkina Faso 101 Niger 102 Nigeria 103 Cameroon 104 Chad 105 Central African Republic 106 Equatorial Guinea 107 Gabon 108 Saõ Tomé & Principé 109 Congo 110 Democratic Republic of Congo Kenya: Masai Warrior in red standing near Acacia tree 111 Angola 112 Namibia 113 South Africa 114 Botswana 115 Lesotho 116 Swaziland 117 Mozambique 118 Zimbabwe 119 Malawi 120 Zambia 121 Tanzania 122 Comoros 123 Madagascar – Reunion** 124 Mauritius 125 Rwanda 126 Burundi 127 Uganda 128 Kenya 129 Ethiopia – Somaliland** 130 Somalia 131 Djibouti
MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA
132 Saudi Arabia 133 Egypt (Africa) 134 Sudan (Africa) 135 Jordan 136 Palestine* 137 Israel 138 Syria 139 Lebanon 140 Turkey Iraqi Kurdistan** 141 Iraq 142 Cyprus (Europe) Northern Cyprus** 143 Libya (Africa) 144 Algeria (Africa) 145 Georgia 146 Armenia 147 Azerbaijan 148 Kazakhstan Karakalpakstan** 149 Uzbekistan 150 Kyrgyzstan 151 Tajikistan 152 Turkmenistan Papua New Guinea: He danced with highlanders from Papua New Guinea 153 Afghanistan 154 Iran 155 Kuwait 156 Bahrain 157 Qatar 158 United Arab Emirates 159 Oman 160 Yemen 161 Eritrea (Africa) 162 Pakistan 163 India 164 Bangladesh 165 Bhutan 166 Nepal Tibet** 167 China 168 Mongolia 169 South Korea 170 North Korea 171 Japan 172 Taiwan* 173 Vietnam 174 Cambodia Borneo: He befriended orangutans in the jungle 175 Thailand 176 Laos 177 Burma 178 Malaysia 179 Singapore 180 Indonesia 181 Brunei 182 The Philippines 183 East Timor West Papua**
184 Papua New Guinea 185 Solomon Islands 186 Australia New Caledonia** 187 Vanuatu 188 Fiji Wallis & Futuna** 189 Tuvalu 190 Kiribati 191 Marshall Islands 192 Samoa Hong Kong: He also saw some of the world’s biggest and brightest cities American Samoa** 193 Tonga 194 New Zealand 195 Nauru Northern Mariana Islands** Guam** 196 Micronesia 197 Palau Hong Kong** Macau**
THE FINAL FRONTIER
198 Sri Lanka 199 The Maldives 200 The Seychelles 201 South Sudan