"We all dream about travelling the world. But some dreams are bigger than others."
My name is Graham Hughes. I'm an adventurer, film-maker, travel blogger and TV presenter from Liverpool, England. On January 1 2009 I crossed the River Plate into Uruguay and began The Odyssey Expedition: The first official Guinness World Record attempt to visit every sovereign state on Planet Earth without flying.
Along the way I self-filmed and presented the TV show Graham's World for the National Geographic Adventure channel and raised funds for the registered charity WaterAid.
I travelled alone, without any back-up and on a shoestring budget of less than $100 a week. I kept costs down by CouchSurfing with locals and hitching rides on cargo ships whenever possible.
It was an adventure of epic proportions. I spent four days crossing open ocean in a leaky wooden boat to reach Cape Verde, I was imprisoned for a week in Congo and was arrested whilst attempting to sneak into Russia.
I ran the blockade into Cuba, blagged my way into Eritrea, ran around Iraq with an AK-47, spent seven days in Tibet and warned schoolchildren in Afghanistan about the dangers of men with beards.
I met the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, rode on top of a 18-wheeler through the northern badlands of Kenya, hitched a ride on a cruise ship to The Dominican Republic, joined a Bwiti tribe in Gabon, screamed at the ocean in El Salvador and watched a space shuttle blast off in the USA.
I set the Guinness World Record for 'The Most Countries Visited in One Year by Scheduled Ground Transport' and, on Monday November 26 2012, became the first person to visit all 201 soveriegn nations of the world without flying.
Having completed the First Surface Journey To Every Country in the world by crossing the border into South Sudan (which didn't even exist when I began the adventure), I raced back home to Liverpool, England. And, in the spirit of the adventure, I did it without flying. I arrived on the Ferry Cross The Mersey on Saturday 22 December 2012.
The rules of The Odyssey Expedition, as set by me and the nice chaps at Guinness World Records
- I cannot fly
- I may not drive
- I must use scheduled ground transport
- I must step foot on dry land
You might think that would have been the end of it all, but a rep from Guinness World Records got back to me saying that they were not going to validify my record attempt as I had crossed into Russia illegally.
So I returned to Russia, this time with a visa! Still, it wasn't until a year later that Guinness had gone through the 1,000,000 GPS points, 10,000 photos, 400 hours of video and 192 passport pages... and finally, catagorically and officially approved the record. I am, and always will be, the first person to visit every country in the world without flying.
The Odyssey Expedition, this four year journey of the soul, is now complete. You can read the adventure from the start by clicking here and you can watch my videos on YouTube. Look out for my TV show, 'GRAHAM'S WORLD' on the National Geographic Adventure channel - it covers the first twelve months of the journey. If you are in the UK, you can watch it for free on YouTube by clicking here
I'm currently living in Panama and working on the upcoming book of my adventures, tentatively titled '201: An Earth Odyssey'. I'll also be churning out more Odyssey Expedition videos, so keep looking out for new ones!!
Now that it's all over, I'd like to thank everybody who helped me along the way. Please note that the Just Giving page for WaterAid is still active (see below) and if you enjoy these blogs, please make a small donation. If you'd like to have a crack at breaking my world records, feel free to contact me and I'll give you all the support I can.
Wanna know why I'm doing in Panama? Well, I won an island. YES I WON AN ISLAND!!! To find out more about my latest madcap adventure head over to my brand new blog, Jinja Island.
One of the goals of The Odyssey Expedition was to help raise funds and awareness for the charity WaterAid, a UK-based registered charity fighting to alleviate the disease, misery and death caused by open sewers, contaminated drinking water and bad sanitation in developing countries around the world. If you enjoy these blogs, then please give give give.
It's shocking that even today, children are still dying from diarrhoea - one of the most preventable and cheaply treated diseases in the world. A donation of just one dollar would pay for a simple sugar-salt solution which could genuinely save a child's life.
The Odyssey Expedition's JustGiving account ensures that 100 percent of the money you donate goes directly to WaterAid.