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Global first: Brit visits all 201 states without flying

Graham Hughes says Iraq and Afghanistan were easy. Islands like Nauru were the real challenges.

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“The really tough ones were places like Nauru, and the Maldives and the Seychelles, island countries where there were also sometimes pirate threats.”

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To cross oceans, Hughes hitched lifts with cargo ships. He spent four days in an open fishing canoe from Senegal to Cape Verde, and was then arrested when he arrived. 

Later, officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo jailed him for six days believing he was a spy.

“None of this put me off, it just made me more bloody-minded to succeed,” he says. 

Death in the family

The hardest point, “when I just wanted to give up,” he remembers, was after his older sister, Nicola, died from cancer two years ago at the age of 48. Hughes rushed home to see her before she died. (The original article misstated the age of Hughes' sister.)

“She told me not to stop the trip, but I was at a real low point. I’d done 184 countries and had only 17 to go and I thought why not leave it there,” he says. 
The memory of his sister spurred him on, as did the people that he met as he traveled and the money he was raising for Water Aid, which works to bring clean water to people in the developing world.

“If you take everything that you know of the world from the news, it’s all the bad stuff and you get very paranoid that everyone is out to get you,” he says. 
“But the most amazing thing to me is that everyone I met looked after me and I didn’t even know them.” 

Hughes plans to stay in South Sudan only until Wednesday. But he will not then be flying home. 

He says to “keep in the spirit of the adventure” he will continue through Africa and across Europe by bus and boat, aiming to return home to Liverpool by ferry from Ireland in time for Christmas.

“Someone wrote to me and pointed out that this would be the trip of a lifetime for most people, but for me it’s essentially just the bus home,” he says. After a long rest, he says he will then begin exploring options to continue with a career in film-making.

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