A British adventurer has become the first person to travel to all 201 sovereign states in the world without flying.
Graham Hughes ended his four-year odyssey early on Monday after arriving in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation.
Hughes has used buses, boats, taxis, trains, and his own two feet, but never an airplane, to travel 160,000 miles in exactly 1,426 days, spending an average of less than 100 dollars a week.
“I love travel, and I guess my reason for doing it was I wanted to see if this could be done, by one person traveling on a shoestring,” Hughes told the Christian Science Monitor on Monday by telephone from Juba, South Sudan’s capital.
“I think I also wanted to show that the world is not some big, scary place, but in fact is full of people who want to help you even if you are a stranger,” he said
According to the report, Hughes, 33, set out from his home in Liverpool in northern England on New Year’s Day 2009.
Since then, he has visited all 193 United Nations member states plus Taiwan, Vatican City, Palestine, Kosovo, Western Sahara, and the four home nations of the United Kingdom.
Guinness World Records have confirmed that Hughes, who has been filming the trip for a documentary and raising money for a charity called Water Aid, is the first person to achieve this feat without flying.
“The main feeling today is just one of intense gratitude to every person around the world who helped me get here, by giving me a lift, letting me stay on their couch, or pointing me in the right direction,” Hughes said.
“There were times, sitting in a bus station in Cambodia at one in the morning, riding some awful truck over bad roads, when I thought, why am I doing this? But there was always a reason to keep going,” he added
Hughes’ journey included swimming in a lake of jellyfish in the Pacific archipelago of Palau, watching one of NASA’s last Space Shuttle launches, and dancing with the jungle tribes of Papua New Guinea.
“People asked me how I was going to get to Afghanistan or Iraq or North Korea, but they were the easy ones, you don’t even need a visa for Iraq, you just walk across the border from Turkey,” he said.
“The really tough ones were places like Nauru, and the Maldives and the Seychelles, island countries where there were also sometimes pirate threats,” he added.