News / Africa

After 201 Countries, Man Ends World Tour in South Sudan

Graham Hughes brandishing his latest visa outside South Sudan's Ministry of Roads in Juba. The 33-year-old broke a world record when he reached South Sudan, the last on his list of 201 sovereign states to visit without flying.Graham Hughes brandishing his latest visa outside South Sudan's Ministry of Roads in Juba. The 33-year-old broke a world record when he reached South Sudan, the last on his list of 201 sovereign states to visit without flying.
x
Graham Hughes brandishing his latest visa outside South Sudan's Ministry of Roads in Juba. The 33-year-old broke a world record when he reached South Sudan, the last on his list of 201 sovereign states to visit without flying.
Graham Hughes brandishing his latest visa outside South Sudan's Ministry of Roads in Juba. The 33-year-old broke a world record when he reached South Sudan, the last on his list of 201 sovereign states to visit without flying.
Hannah McNeish
A British man, Graham Hughes, says he has broken a world record by traveling to every sovereign state in the world without flying.  VOA’s Hannah McNeish caught up with him as he entered South Sudan; the world’s newest country and the last on the list for Hughes.
 
Brandishing an overstuffed passport from all the visas he collected while making what he calls his “Odyssey", Graham Hughes celebrated his self-proclaimed record for being the first person to travel to 201 sovereign states.
 
The 33-year-old Briton, who hails from Liverpool, has been on the road for almost four years. Remarkably, he made the journey strictly by land transportation and by sea.
 
“Today is the 1,426th day of the Odyssey expedition, which is my world-record-breaking attempt, which is to be the first person to visit every country in the world without flying," he said. 
 
On a shoestring budget funded by donations from family and friends, he says he hitchhiked, stayed on people’s couches, and only ate local food on his journey.
 
Wearing a cowboy hat and saddled with three small bags in tatters, Hughes said when he first announced his plans, no one was convinced he would make it this far.
 
“Most people thought that I was a bit mad, a lot of people thought it was impossible, a lot of people thought it could not be done.  Most of the questions involved how are you going to get to Iraq, how are you going to get to Afghanistan and Somalia, to be honest those were the easy countries to get to," he said. 
 
He said officials on the Turkish border waived a visa requirement and let him in to Iraq for 10 days.
 
It was getting to Pacific islands like Sao Tome and Nauru that were often served by only one monthly cargo ship that proved the most difficult.  But Hughes had imposed rules on himself that he had to set foot on dry land in each country to complete his task.
 
Highlights included watching the last space shuttle launch in the United States and traveling around Africa.  The lowlights included his detention for six days in the Democratic Republic of Congo on suspicion of being a spy.  He was also detained in Cape Verde.
 
But Hughes says it was the people, not places that topped the list.
 
“The main highlight I have to say in this trip, has just been for me, has been the reaffirmation of my faith in humanity and the fact that people I have met on the road have been so friendly and hospitable," he said. 
 
His low points were flying home last year after finding out his sister had a terminal illness and carrying on after she died, then breaking up with his girlfriend of 10 years in the final months.
 
Hughes broke a world record the first year of his trip by visiting 133 countries.  He then knocked off all 193 U.N. member states, as well as places like Palestine, Kosovo and Taiwan that are widely considered if not officially recognized as sovereign.
 
Hughes said his early inspiration came from British comic Michael Palin of Monty Python fame, who presented an '80 Days Around the World' TV show in the 1980s.
 
But Hughes says he always wanted Palin to live up to the show’s title.
 
“I wanted him to go everywhere, and as I grew up the more I traveled myself independently the more I realized that it was a feasible thing to do.  I thought with the right determination you could do it, and I have proved it right.  I have managed to do it," he said. 
 
One day, Hughes would like to settle in Liverpool.  But for now, he is not ready to hang up his travel hat in what he says has become the best job in the world.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: alfred from: S'pore
November 29, 2012 7:22 PM
Wow, it's an awesome journey so fraught with uncertainty and yet you decided to go ahead not knowing much of what lies ahead. With such a travelling spirit, a desk bound job is not for you. Hope you can now get sponsors from banks, businesses, etc, so that you can go on a lecture tour starting in UK to tell & inspire & motivate all the youths about your great trip and how you surmounted all odds and pain to fulfil your dream.......
Sorry to hear about your sister's ill health and good riddance to your ex-girlfriend for abandoning you in time of need.. yuks!!

by: Adam Again from: New York
November 27, 2012 10:56 PM
Great story though!!!

by: Adam from: New York City
November 27, 2012 10:54 PM
BTW, Sao Tome is not in the Pacific, it is in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa.

by: Kashi Samaddar from: India
November 27, 2012 1:05 PM
Congratulation. I had been to South Sudan on its first birthday the 09th July 2011. There are no new country or State since then- so it is still 195- Kashi Samaddar, First person visited all 195 countries of the World.

by: Abraham from: guinea
November 27, 2012 11:02 AM
My congratelation to Mr Graham Hughes for his trip. which date and year he started his trip? and which date his end?
Thank.

by: jerime.bellbell from: Philippines
November 27, 2012 8:09 AM
Kudos to Mr.Hughes! I just hope you will have a T.V. show that will provide us viewers a glimpse of the countries all over the world..I just wanna see the culture of different people,political economy if possible and everything that is significant in the countries you visited..For sure we will be able to learn a lot and get to appreciate our uniqueness...

by: Mungai mselle from: Arusha Tanzania
November 27, 2012 6:26 AM
it is good to see peoples make more effort in their life

by: Robert George from: Dubai
November 26, 2012 11:52 PM
Hats off to Graham Hughes for achieving a seemingly herculean task. What's next Mr. Hughes?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs