A man claims to have become the first person to visit every country in the world without catching a single flight – but it took him six years longer than he originally planned.
Thor Pedersen, 44, from Denmark, quit his job in shipping and logistics to set off on his adventure in October 2013.
As his wife Le, 40, couldn’t join him, Thor planned to spend an average of seven days in each country and estimated that he’d be home by late 2017.
However, visa issues caused delays along the way and the pandemic also meant Thor had to spend two years in Hong Kong.
Last month, Thor finally completed his epic 223,072-mile journey when he arrived in Maldives on board a container ship.
Pictured: Thor Pedersen pictured on a train-ride through Asia. Over the past 10 years, he took 158 trains to travel the world
Explaining why he decided to take on the challenge, Thor said: ‘I got wind that no one in history has gone to every country in the world completely without flying and I was caught up in the idea that I might have my shot at doing something remarkable.
‘The idea was to do it with public transport wherever possible so that means hundreds of buses, trains and ferries then you ask if you can get on someone’s fishing boat or a container ship.’
The adventurer spent at least 24 hours in each country and likened his travelled to ‘running marathon or going to the moon’ as he didn’t indulge in the usual tourist attractions.
He continued: ‘A lot of my time is spent on buses and trains. The longest bus ride has been 54 hours on one bus in Brazil. The sun set on me twice.
‘The longest train ride was five days in Russia. I rather enjoyed 27 days on the ship, it gave me time to read and exercise and we saw whales. It was a beautiful journey.
‘There was no way to be comfortable on the bus ride, you’d have to have buns of steel but people are fun and you have good conversations with whomever it next to you.’
Thor’s travels were funded by an energy company as well as crowdfunding – meaning the adventurer had to budget £16-a-day.
In order to enter every country, Thor also had ten passports with him too.
Pictured: Thor, 44, with his wife Le, 40, at the India-Pakistan border. She travelled out to visit him in various locations 27 times
Pictured: Thor poses in front of the Tibetan-style Gandan Monastery in Mongolia during his travels
The adventurer – who set off on his journey in October 2013 – poses in front of Machu Pichhu in Peru
When he took on the challenge, Thor and Le had only been together for a year.
But over the past 10 years, she out to see him 27 times in countries including Sudan, Australia and Hong Kong.
The couple will finally be reunited next month when he returns to Denmark – after catching three ships from the Maldives to Sri Lanka to Germany.
Although Thor is delighted to have completed the challenge, he admitted he was saddened not to spend more time with his ageing parents over the past decade.
He added: ‘Before I left, my father was worried about my career. He didn’t think I’d ever work again or be taken seriously but he got on board.
‘Telling my mum I was going was like telling her I’m going to the dentist. She’s very proud.
‘It’s some of the last years of my parent’s lives. There is regret in not spending more time with family and friends.’
The adventurer also fears he might have missed the chance to start a family with Le too.
Thor also stopped off in Egypt during his travels. Pictured posing with some camels in the desert
The average time Thor spent in each country was 17 days while the shortest visit was 24 hours in Vatican City and his longest stretch was 27 days on a container ship from Hong Kong to Australia
He also needed ten passports to make sure he could enter every country. Pictured on one of the 158 trains he took
Thor Pedersen pictured on a train platform in Asia waiting to embark on the next leg of his journey
Although Thor is delighted to have completed the challenge, he admitted he was saddened not to spend more time with his ageing parents over the past decade
He continued: ‘My wife didn’t want to stand in the way of something I wanted to do but she was conflicted because she would rather be building a life with me, waking up next to me and holding my hand.
‘She’s been amazing, she’s a huge support and we’ve had unique experiences together throughout the world.
‘It got harder every time she came to visit, dropping her off at the airport was getting my heart torn out every time.
‘I hate coming back to a hotel where we stayed and being the only one in the room or walking down a street where we walked. It became really rough.
‘There’s a decent risk it’s too late to start a family with the woman I love. It’s not game over but we’re pushing the limit of biology.
‘We feel like we have enough between the two of us to live a long and happy life and we don’t need to start a family but if Le became pregnant then that would be a bonus.’
Thor pictured taking some time to enjoy the scenic views during his trip. The adventurer also fears he might have missed the chance to start a family with Le
Thor pictured on a shipping container taking him on the next leg of his journey. Visa issues caused delays along the way and the pandemic also meant Thor had to spend two years in Hong Kong
Thor (pictured right on a bus) said: ‘There was no way to be comfortable on the bus ride, you’d have to have buns of steel but people are fun and you have good conversations with whomever it next to you’
Thor pictured planning his journey around the globe. Now he’s completed the challenge, he is on his way home to Denmark
The average time Thor spent in each country was 17 days while the shortest visit was 24 hours in Vatican City and his longest stretch was 27 days on a container ship from Hong Kong to Australia.
Thor says avoiding planes was ‘very complicated’ and his trip has included 351 buses, 158 trains, 43 tuk-tuks, 37 container ships, 33 boats, nine trucks, three sail boats, two cruise ships, one horse carriage, one police car and one yacht.
There were also countless motorbikes, taxis, metros, minibuses and trams.
Thor’s journey home is expected to take over a month and Thor has no plans to got back to his previous career – instead hoping to write a book about his adventure.
Thor said: ‘We’re all looking forward me going home. I have to say Denmark is my favourite country because it’s where I belong.
‘I speak the language, my parents are there and I know not to worry about spiders and snakes and I know everything about it which makes it a pretty good country for me.’