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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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?

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora