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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid