British adventurer first person to visit every country without flying

Graham Hughes became the first person in history to visit all 201 sovereign countries on Monday.

The 33 year-old Brit finished his odyssey in South Sudan, the world’s newest country.

“It wasn’t, for me, about going to the tourist sites,” Hughes said via Skype from Juba. “It was more to do with getting to know a place, hanging out with the locals, and meeting people.”

That’s exactly the kind of experience he had when his journey brought him to Canada. He visited Halifax for a week in 2009, where he crashed with locals, drank lots of Moosehead, and went to musical gigs held in people’s houses.

“I had a wonderful time in Canada,” he said. “I have warm and fuzzy feelings when I think about Halifax. The snow was beautiful.”

Hughes encourages travel whenever possible, but reminds travelers that they are ambassadors for their own countries when they go abroad.

“If they behave like hooligans, or they’re rude to the locals, or whatever, they might be the only person from their country that [local residents] ever meet.”

Hughes said he loves the constant adventure that travel provides.

“I travel because I like waking up in new places every day and having new experiences. I hate routine; I can’t stand it. When I’m left in one place for too long, I just get itchy feet.”

He’s had many adventures since he set off on January 1, 2009.

He was thrown in jail twice in Africa, ate dog in China, met the leaders of East Timor and Tuvalu, and watched one of the last space shuttles blast off in the United States.

A lot of Hughes’ favourite travel experiences revolved around wildlife.

“I had a close encounter with an orangutan in Borneo. I thought it was a distant cousin because we’re both gingers.”

He also swam with millions of (harmless) jellyfish in a lake in Palau.

“They only exist in this one lake. It’s like swimming on another world.”

Out of all of the countries he visited, Hughes said he had the most difficulty reaching small island nations in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, especially on his shoe-string budget of $100 a week.

“They’re bloody hard to get to.”

He tried to get to Seychelles, off the eastern coast of Africa, from at least five different countries for three years before finally making it by cruise ship from India in October.

“It was just impossible because it’s in the Somali pirate zone, so no cargo ship will take a civilian passenger.”

The first year of Hughes’ odyssey was made into a television show for Lonely Planet TV, and he even got a Guinness world record for most countries visited in one year (133).

Soon he’ll set of back home to Britain by land, and hopes to get there before Christmas.

“It will be wonderful to see my family and friends again.”

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One Response to British adventurer first person to visit every country without flying

  1. Pingback: Metro News by Nick Ashdown « DUAL Ottawa

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