MALE, Maldives (May 23rd) – Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor), a Danish traveller and adventurer, today becomes the first person to visit every single country in the world entirely without using air travel – and all in a single unbroken journey that has taken 10 years.
Thor’s project, called Once Upon A Saga, started in 2013 in Denmark and has taken him through Europe, the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific by car, bus, train, boat and even on foot.He arrived in Male, capital of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, on board a container ship to reach his final country of 203, after which he will return to Denmark – without flying, of course.
“Once Upon A Saga has been the most incredible adventure. Having said that, I am absolutely ecstatic that it has now been successfully concluded – and I am absolutely exhausted too!” says Thor. “I set out to visit every country in the world without flying because no one had ever done it before. I used to work in logistics and thought it would be a fun way to use my skills. I like a challenge, but I can safely say this has been the biggest logistical challenge I have ever come across.”
Thor originally expected it to last four years but it ended up taking much longer due to challenges including visa issues, political unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept him in Hong Kong for two years just when there were only a few countries left to visit. He married his long-term girlfriend Le, who has visited 26 times during the project, while in Hong Kong – and she is in the Maldives to welcome him.
Other people have visited every country using planes or have broken the journey by flying home and later resuming. Thor is the first to do so entirely without flying and in a single, unbroken journey, complying with his self-imposed rule of at least 24 hours in each country.
Thor aims to use the project to promote peace, understanding, and cultural exchange between countries and to showcase the beauty and diversity of the world. He has also worked to raise awareness of global issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change, including through work with the international Red Cross.
“A key to completing the adventure has been strong relationships with shipping companies, who have welcomed me on board 37 cargo vessels over the last decade. Otherwise, it would simply have been impossible to reach many island countries like the Maldives or across the Caribbean and Pacific,” Thor adds. “I am also deeply grateful to all the people who have assisted me in whichever way throughout the journey – my family, friends, strangers who became friends, people who contributed and companies that provided help. And most importantly, my wife Le.”
Once Upon A Saga’s USD 20/day budget has been financed through Thor’s own funds, sponsorship by energy companies Ross Energy and GEOOP and some crowdfunding. He has been supported by several shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Swire Shipping, Blue Water Shipping, Neptune Shipping Agency, Pacific International Lines, Royal Arctic Line and Columbia Shipmanagement.