First traveller to visit every country without flying

Ailafushi was chosen as the final stop for Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor), a Danish traveller and adventurer, who has become 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.

Torbjørn C. Pedersen

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