These 21st Century explorers are walking all around the earth and chronicling their voyage on blogs and social media.
In the internet age, it's easier to become a part of someone else's major achievements. Walking around the Earth sounds insane, but these five people are doing it and sharing their journey online.
Konstantin Konstantinovich Rengarten is often called the first person to achieve this feat. He started from Minsk in 1894 and traveled eastwards to end up back home in 1898. Of course, he didn't have social media or blogs to chronicle his journey. But several 21st Century explorers are walking around the world and posting about it online.
1. Out of Eden Walk (Web): Retrace the Migration Paths of the First Humans
Pulitzer-winning journalist Paul Salopek set out on an ambitious project in 2013 called the Out of Eden Walk. The plan is to retrace the steps of the first humans and recreate humanity's migration pattern. It's a 24,000-mile journey that will take Salopek ten years.
Salopek chronicles his journey on the National Geographic website in a fascinating interactive story-telling format. It's a collection of articles, videos, and photos from Salopek's journey, where he tries to meet voices who wouldn't get a platform otherwise. It's a travel blog like no other.
You can explore the journey by chapter, location, language, and category in the map format. It also quickly shows where Salopek is right now. Finally, we'd recommend turning on the Editor's Picks filter to find some engaging and thought-provoking pieces about the world we live in.
2. The World Walk (Web): A Man and a Dog Walk Around the World
In 2015, Tom Turcich started his epic adventure to walk the Earth for 25,000 miles through different countries and cultures. And about three months in, he adopted Savannah, who has now grown to be as popular as he is, as she's on the world's longest dog walk.
Turcich has been held up at knifepoint and gunpoint through his adventurous travels. He became the first private citizen to walk across the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia and had a 24-hour police escort in Algeria. He chronicles all of these through writing entries on his blog and posts on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can see him change and grow over the years through these posts, as the learnings of the world make him more profound.
Turcich participates in local cultures and traditions like all travelers, but Savannah often steals the show in his videos and social updates. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic interrupted the walk for two years, turning it into a five-year walk. Turcich is now on the final leg of his journey returning home, which is a great time to start following him to see him reflect upon years of learning.
3. Somen Debnath (Web): Around the World on a Bicycle to Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness
From 2004, Indian Somen Debnath embarked on an extraordinary journey to visit all 191 countries on his bicycle, to raise HIV/AIDS awareness everywhere. He plans to finish his odyssey in December 2022 by returning to India, making this a great time to hop on to his last leg journey.
Debnath shot to fame when he was captured by the Taliban, who beat him and held him captive for days. He eventually convinced them to let him do chores for them, even cooking a curry, after which they released him. Such extraordinary stories make Debnath's journey remarkable and worth looking through.
Debnath chronicles his travels and thoughts on his website, YouTube channel, and social profiles on Facebook and Twitter. The YouTube channel contains the best content, and we would suggest starting there. You can also Google him to find several articles and interviews about him from recent times.
4. She Walks The Earth (Web): Walking Over 20,000 Miles as a Single Woman
A solo journey through some of the most remote parts of Earth is dangerous enough, but that danger is amplified when you're a woman. Angela Maxwell has walked 20,000 miles over four continents. She has survived the outback in Western Australia, dengue fever in Vietnam, and a physical attack in Mongolia, among other hardships. This is her story.
Maxwell started in 2013 from her hometown of Bend, Oregon, to visit 14 countries alone, sleeping in a tent every night. After being a victim of abuse on her trails, she started speaking up for women's safety through her voyage. As Outside magazine put it in her profile, "Maxwell has created a high-wire act of delicacy—to be an example of a woman who has encountered violence in the world and also to be an example of going forth anyway."
In December 2020, Maxwell finished the journey she set out for, returning to her hometown. Her entire expedition was captured in two fascinating articles by BBC and ABC News. She also spoke eloquently on the Adventures of Wild Women podcast and delivered a popular TEDx Talk.
And while the travel is over, you can revisit it through a fantastic photo essay on her website. Similarly, dive into Angela's Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to discover older posts in the middle of her journey.
5. Karl Bushby (Web): Walking an Unbroken Path Around the World for 22 Years
Karl Bushby is among the more famous names currently trying to circumnavigate the Earth on foot. Bushby has chosen one of the most challenging routes as he attempts to walk with unbroken footsteps. The "Goliath Expedition" has two rules: he can't use any transport to advance, and he can't go home till he arrives on foot.
The planned route starts at the southern tip of South America in Chile and traverses up the Americas to cross to Russia, from where he will go westwards towards his home in England. He started the journey in 1998 and is still trying to finish it, as he has met with some resistance and complications. Bushby is an ex-paratrooper with the British forces, so some hostile countries have viewed him as a spy or someone without noble intentions. This resulted in a mini-mission called Bushby 3000, where he went on foot from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. to ask the Russian Ambassador to lift his ban.
Nonetheless, Bushby perseveres on, breaking his journey at times due to weather and political reasons. For example, crossing the Bering Strait on foot to go from America to Asia is a time-sensitive and momentous feat. While Bushby's original blog is no longer active, you can find the old version on the Wayback Machine, which has an incredible entry on the Bering Strait.
Currently, the expedition is paused. Visit Bushby's old site Odyssey XXI on the Wayback Machine to see his journey so far, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram. There's another must-read article by him on why he's been walking the world for 22 years. The video linked above is an excellent view of what he has been through over the last 20 years, but there's nothing else worth checking on his YouTube channel.
Explore More World-Walks
The above isn't an exhaustive list of people who have walked or ridden around the world. Instead, we are looking at those who have done it in the 21st Century and are recording most of their journey on blogs and social media.
Wikipedia has a more extensive list of pedestrian circumnavigators, with a short description of their achievements. You can look up various profiles through this to find books these travelers have written about their expeditions.
BY MIHIR PATKAR