The Odyssey is an epic adventure, a world first, a race against time, a year (or two) of living dangerously!! Scouse film maker Graham Hughes’ barking, madcap adventure TO EVERY COUNTRY IN THE GODDAMN WORLD!!
300,000 kilometers, 200 sovereign states, 5 continents, 1 man and no flights! The Odyssey will be a marathon trip like no other. In an attempt to break the world record of the fastest surface journey to every nation on earth, The Odyssey is the amazing documentary of film-maker Graham Hughes and his insane trip around the world. As well as the 192 member states of the UN, Graham will also attempt to step foot in the likes of Taiwan, Kosovo and Palestine, bringing the grand total up to 200 territories; which means less than two days per country and an average of 150 miles travel a day, every day for 52 weeks!
Oh and did we mention…win the hand of his own Penelope waiting to marry him at the journey’s end…With the help of the public, our modern-day Ulysses Graham also aims to raise £1,000,000 for WaterAid, the international charity whose mission is to overcome poverty by enabling the world’s poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education.
Lonely Planet Television are intending to produce an eight-part television series of his adventures. As well as that, Graham will self-film much of his travels and create a weekly high-concept video diary full of adventure, exploration, human interest and his trials and tribulations of life on the road which will be available free for all to watch on Youtube. Filming will include a crash guide to all the countries he visits, interviews with local people and travel friends Graham meets along the way and a behind-the-scenes look at any unexpected events.
Although backed by Lonely Planet, Graham will only be filmed by them for 4 weeks – the rest of the journey it will be just him, his camera and ‘Lucy’, a loo seat which he aims to have signed by a dignitary in every country. The loo seat will help remind people about his WaterAid mission and will surely get him recognised from country to country and by fellow travellers.
WaterAid is a worldwide charity which aims to improve water sanitation in developing countries. A staggering 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, leading to 1.8 million child deaths as a result of unclean water.
Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s chief exec says, ‘We are delighted that Graham has decided to support WaterAid on his Odyssey. We hope that through his travels from country to country with his trusty toilet seat that he not only sets a new world record but also helps to raise awareness of the 2.5 billion people that don’t have a safe place to go to the toilet. Good luck and thanks Graham!‘
WaterAid projects that provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene education cost just £15 per head. If Graham manages to raise his desired £1,000,000 he will provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene for more than 60,000 people, improving theirs and many other lives significantly.
But Graham needs YOU to help raise this money. In return you will be able to watch his exciting, nerve wrecking, seemingly impossible journey around the world visiting some of the most beautiful, treacherous and even dangerous countries on planet earth – a must see adventure.
Congratulations on your 30th birthday, Graham…hope you like the pic!
Fri 15th May;
A few of you have asked for an update on how it’s all going and what craziness I have planned for the future.
So here you go…
It’s 15th May 2009. I’ve hit 84 of my target 200 countries. I’m eight weeks behind schedule. This is not as bad as it sounds! If I was on schedule, I’d be in Australia by the end of July! The schedule has a lot of leeway in it to accommodate things stuffing up (as they invariably will!).
HOWEVER, my back is really up against the wall now due to not being allowed to step foot in Algeria or Libya – this is not a good turn of events, and doesn’t bode well for some of the other African and Middle Eastern countries I was planning to pull that ‘Border Hop’ trick in (don’t look at me like that! It worked in Suriname, Panama and Haiti!).
The Next Bit…
I’ve got to get from Morocco to South Africa overland in less than a month – including boat trips to Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but doable all the same.
Then, I’ll be heading up to Djibouti (Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius all have to be ticked off the list). I’m giving this leg six weeks because those four islands are going to be a NIGHTMARE!
After Africa, it’s all pretty much Terra Firma (with the exception of the Maldives) until Australia – the Middle East, The Sub Continent, China, SE Asia – all overland or scheduled ferries.
After Oz, I have twelve pacific nations to get to. Whether it’s going to be possible this year is, honestly, debatable – cyclone season starts the beginning of December, which will make it damn hard to hitch a lift.
Having said that, I intend to plough on regardless – cargo boats run all year – they can race around cyclones in a way that yachties can only dream of.
The biggest overland obstacle is going to be visas. I’ve got two passports but even so, places like Equatorial Guinea and Bhutan do NOT like visitors of any shape or form.
The thing is, nobody has attempted this before, so even if it does take me more than a year it’ll still be a world record – but to make it a real achievement I’d like to spend Christmas with my girlfriend in Melbourne with 200 countries under my belt!
So is the Odyssey still achievable? Hell yeah, you better believe it baby – it’ll take more than The Caribbean to stop this cat from dancin’…
Sat 6th June, 16:27;
News has just come in that Graham has been arrested in Cape Verde. Details are sketchy at the moment, but there are people working hard in the background to sort it out. As soon as any further details are available, I’ll update this post.
Sat 6th June, 18:23;
Graham and all crew of the Moustapha Sy have been arrested on suspicion of being illegal immigrants and are being detained at Eugenio Lima prison. The British Consulate has been in contact & things are progressing. Although it was mis-reported in African Press, here’s the news story.
Sun 7th June, 22:00;
Various family members & I have managed to speak to Graham over the course of today. Along with 9 other men, he’s being held in a small, dirty cell that’s big enough for two. He was arrested on-shore on the island of Sao Tiago, on suspicion of entering the country illegally. Upon incarceration, he was denied access to a lawyer and a phonecall for 3 days, and no contact had been made by the authorities with the British Consulate. Graham’s brother Alex has been in contact with the Press Association, and a lawyer, and given the now-worldwide publicity, Graham’s spirit is up, and we expect some hopeful developments tomorrow – Monday 8th June. I’ll keep you posted.
Mon 8th June, 18:00 GMT;
Having had his court case postoned earlier today, Graham is currently in court.
Mon 8th June, 20:52 GMT;
HE’S FREE!!!!!! Justice is done. He’s currently with his lawyer & a representative from the British Consulate, and they’re getting him a bed for the night. No word on the rest of the boat crew yet…
Here’s a pic of Tropical Cyclone Anja, the first tropical storm of the season, which is what is preventing me from getting back to Africa. I’m going to be stuck here until Thursday at the earliest. Bah!
“Businessman spends £350k to visit every country on earth in record time”
No, it’s not me! This story* appeared in the Mail Online earlier today (thanks to Justin O’Shea for the spot), and this is who I’ve got to beat:-
“Kashi Samaddar, 55, dodged bullets and bombs in some of the world’s more unstable countries, and lived to tell the tale, although his photographic skills are somewhat wanting. He began his epic journey to 194 countries with a visit to Holland in July 2002 and finished his mission in Kosovo in May of this year – six years, ten months and seven days later – with plenty of drama along the way. “
I reckon I can beat that time!
To read the full story, here’s the link: http://bit.ly/3blaM0
*Story courtesy of Sarah Gordon
I guess now is a good time to look back over what was the year that was, the highs and lows of life on the road. If you can’t be bothered reading my blogs for the whole year (and who could blame you?) here’s 2009: An Earth Odyssey in a nutshell…
Ah, January – the whizzbangshebang through South America… for the first two weeks I was on target and on schedule. But then The Caribbean reared it’s ugly head and well and truly stuffed me up for the next couple of months.
Countries Visited: 19
Running Total: 19
February was a difficult month – just getting from St Vincent to Mexico required all my skill and dexterity, of which I have neither, which is probably why it took me a month, not the week I expected it to.
Countries Visited: 10
Running Total: 29
It’s crazy to think that I spent the first few days of March visiting every country in Central America, and then spent pretty much the rest of the month trying to get to one – Cuba.. Made a HUGE mistake in trying to get there from Key West, should have gone from Cancun in Mexico, would have saved a s— load of time.
Countries Visited: 6
Running Total: 35
A fond month of 2009 as I wrapped up warm in Halifax, Nova Scotia before taking a phenomenally fast trip across the Atlantic Ocean to meet up with my friends and family in Liverpool. Managed to get all the way to Greece before the month was out. Nice!
Countries Visited: 28
Running Total: 63
The start of my downfall. Within just a few days I had polished off Europe and attempted to take a huge bite out of North Africa, a bite which ended up as a pathetic little nibble. The month ended in start-as-you-mean-to-go-on style with me being knocked back from Mauritania and failing to find any sensible way of getting to Cape Verde.
Countries Visited: 25
Running Total: 88
The month from hell. It kicked off with six days in a Cape Verde jail cell and went downhill from there as I found myself trapped in the worst place in the world.
Countries Visited: 1
Running Total: 89
Desperate to leave the damned island of Cape Verde, I was eventually rescued by a lovely chap in a sail boat who managed to deliver me safe and sound (despite Poseidon’s protestations) to Dakar in Senegal. Before the month was out I had managed to wing it all the way to Cote D’Ivoire.
Countries Visited: 7
Running Total: 96
A good month on the road through West Africa, interrupted by a unexpected sojourn in Libreville waiting (once again) for a cargo boat that just refused to leave.
Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 107
I hadn’t been illegally detained for three months now, so the powers that be organised a surprise incarceration upon my arrival in the capital of Congo.. After I finally escaped I was bogged down attempting to renew my Angolan visa, but once I made it to Namibia, I was FLYING. Well, not really flying… I’m not allowed to.
Countries Visited: 6
Running Total: 113
Possibly the most enjoyable month of travel, as I thundered pell-mell throughout Southern and Eastern Africa, fell in love with Madagascar and reached Mauritius in record-fast time.
Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 124
A silly and depressing month spent attempting to return to Africa from Mauritius and failing at every turn. The fact I missed out on visiting Seychelles particularly stung. Not a single new country to add my tally for the whole stinkin’ month.
Countries Visited: 0
Running Total: 124
After a slow beginning in stuck in Comoros, December leapt into action when I had just two weeks to get from Dar-es-Salaam to Cairo via Rwanda and Somalia and, against all odds, I pulled it off. I also made it to Cairo.
Countries Visited: 11
Running Total: 133
Well…we are pleased to announce that Graham managed – unbelievably – to get from Dar-es-Salaam to Cairo in two weeks, via Rwanda and Burundi (without flying!) and met up with his erstwhile girlfriend Mandy at six minutes past midnight on the first of January 2010 at the Pyramids of Giza where they first met 10 years ago…gripping stuff!
Our Graham is now the official holder of the world record for visiting the most countries in one year without flying. We’re hoping to count 133, but as our figure includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as separate nations, as well as Kosovo, Vatican City and Western Sahara that figure might be revised down a little – we’ll have to see what the Guinness World Records people say.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have gone out of their way to help The Odyssey get to this point – the couchsurfers, the shipping agents, the fellow backpackers, the team in the UK, the drivers (there have been many), the sailors and the helpful locals who have propelled this expedition forwards – all for no money and in their own time. There are too many people to thank to name them all here, so please click on our Heroes page to see them in their technicolor glory.
We would also like to thank Sony for making a camcorder that survived (just!) twelve months on the road as well as Dell for making a laptop that still functions perfectly after being bashed around more than one of Mike Tyson’s ladyfriends.
2010 brings with it a new set of adventures and obstacles for Graham to overcome. He has to negotiate his way around the Middle East and Central Asia, India and China, South East Asia and Oceania as well as returning (somehow) to the ‘skipped’ countries of Algeria, Libya, Seychelles and Eritrea. He has 67 more countries on his list to visit before his journey’s end and after the briefest of pauses in Egypt, he will be cracking on with them as soon as he is able.
What’s more is that the TV show is now all done and dusted. Anything Graham films this year and in the last 67 countries is his, his, his and his. What does that mean for The Odyssey? Well it means you can expect (nay, DEMAND) new videos each week up on YouTube for you to watch. We’ve got a YouTube partnership thing going, so just by watching the new vids you’ll be helping raise funds for WaterAid – and saving children’s lives! So watch them from lots of different IP addresses and send them to all your friends and family! We mean it! REALLY!
Well, it’s been one hell of an adventure so far… America, Europe and Africa are all but done, Asia awaits… everybody said that it was impossible to visit every country without flying, but if nothing else this year, I hope we’ve proved that it CAN be done, it’s just going to take a little longer than a year, that’s all…!
Keep watching it, keep reading it, and most importantly, keeping loving it!
Leo, Graham & Mandy – January 2010
Graham’s back in the U.K.!!!
Amidst the trickery of smoke & mirrors, and a rather cleverly laden plot, this time he managed to pull the big one by fooling EVERYONE into thinking that he was Skype-ing from Rome, Italy!
A live Skype event with Graham had been arranged for a gathering of friends in the bar area of the FACT cinema in Liverpool city centre. With only minutes having passed into the start of the event, we began to lose the ability to hear Graham properly via the wireless laptop that the lovely Anna had brought. “Can you hear me?”, came the cry from the ginger one, and before long, his voice was as distant as a distant one from distantville. Just then, a familiar face came bounding into the bar with a beaming smile and a booming voice, “Can you hear me now?!!!”. It was a wonderful moment.
Graham’s back in the U.K. awaiting the issue of some visas from London, and – as always – is making valuable use of his time by promoting The Odyssey as much as possible.
If you can help with promoting the project, and you would like to get in touch, then please do so via the ‘Contact’ page on the link above, or by clicking here – thanks.
AMAZING!! That’s the only word to describe the fact that Graham has now reached country 150!!! All within 453 days, and all without flying and without private transport. It’s an AMAZING feat! It’s been a rocky road in parts, but ultimately, reaching the one hundred and fifty mark, means that he’s three-quarters of the way back to Mandy. Hooray! Well done, Graham.
Add your comments to this post and join me in congratulating Graham on reaching this marker.
Spread the word about the odyssey amongst your friends, and their friends, and their friends of friends. WaterAid needs all the publicity that it can get, as well as donations – so if you haven’t already donated, please please do so as soon as you can via the website links.
Graham is also a YouTube partner, which means that for EVERY unique click on his videos, money gets donated to WaterAid! Seriously…that ALL there is to it! So spread the word – it’s an easy way to donate.
Congratulations again, Graham! Keep up the good work.