Through Malaria and Military Checkpoints, Danish Man Doesn’t Give Up on Travelling the World Without Flying


Torbjørn C. Pedersen, who goes by the name of Thor, is on an unbroken journey to explore each and every country in the world without setting foot on an airplane. The title of his venture is Once Upon a Saga and, as of now, Thor has visited a whopping 142 countries without flying. We sat down with him to learn all about his adventures and his experience in Egypt and the rest of Africa.

Thor mentioned that the main purpose of his journey is to do something no one in history has done before, as well as inspire, entertain and educate people.

“What I’m really trying to teach people is that the world is not this crazy place where everything is on fire and everyone’s a terrorist and you’re going to get Ebola and strange diseases. People are just people. Life is very ordinary, almost boring. When you travel around, you see a lot of people stuck in traffic, people waiting in line, people watching television they don’t care about, barbecues, gossiping, complaining about government…everyone in the world,” he said.

Thor also hopes to motivate people to dream and travel to different destinations and show them that it’s a lot safer than they think. He has been traveling for about four years and has recently completed exploring the entire African continent.

“[Africa] has mountains, deserts, jungles and coastlines. It has everything. There’s nothing on this planet that you cannot find on the African continent,” he said, describing the land as a miraculous place to visit.

Thor chose Mali as his favorite country in Africa due to its interesting history, saying, “Mali was once the richest country in the world. It was basically the Roman Empire of Western Africa. It had so much influence and wealth, and today it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. Where did all this history go? Why is no one talking about it? Everyone knows about the Roman Empire, nobody really knows about the Mali Empire.”

Out of the 54 countries in Africa, he said only 14 are difficult to get by, while advising against four that are really dangerous: Somalia, Libya, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The other ten are somewhat safe, yet it’s still hard to get paperwork done and travel as swiftly as the rest.

“I had malaria at one point. I was absolutely hated by every form of authority in Central Africa. It was unbelievable the way I was treated by immigration, police, and military checkpoints. I really just wanted to give up and go home, but I didn’t. And that’s a really big part of the project; it is not to give up,” said Thor.

Although he has visited Egypt a few times before, Thor considers his arrival in Cairo this time to be momentous since it signifies the completion of the prominent ‘Cape Town to Cairo’ route, which he called a small journey within a much bigger one.

On his blog, he wrote, “I have a little bit of an issue with Egypt being degraded to pyramids and Egyptology. Egypt became far more after the demise of the Pharos. However, when you try to do online research about Egypt, then it's all about ancient Egypt. Almost as if nothing really happened in the past 1,700 years.”

He arrived in Egypt by steamboat from Sudan to Aswan, where he spent a few days. Afterwards, he met with some friends in Cairo, as well as the the Red Crescent of Egypt. He also visited an old friend in Luxor who had just came out of brain surgery.

“Egyptian hospitality is at the world’s very finest. However, as Egypt is famously known for spectacular tourism, it's also a great place to exploit tourists. Tourists are exploited every day until they grow wiser. Nonetheless, mixed between those who wish to exploit, there are all of those kind and good hearted Egyptians who want to be kind and fair to you. It's nearly impossible to tell who is who, but the good hearted ones are the majority,” he wrote.

His next destination is Lebanon, where he’ll start the upcoming phase of his adventure in Asia and the Middle East.

“It’s like a reality show. You have this crazy guy from Denmark who’s trying to go to all the countries in the world without flying, and you can follow it. You can follow it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, there’s a blog every Friday, so there are plenty of places to follow this and then see what happens to this person. Is he going to make it? Who does he meet? What does he eat? Is he happy or is he sad?” said Thor, also mentioning the crowdfunding campaignwhere anyone can help him raise money for his expedition.

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