On May 23, Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor), a Danish traveller and adventurer, became the first human being 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. On May 23, 2023, he arrived in Male, capital of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, onboard a container ship, to reach his final country—the 203rd nation on his unbroken journey. Now, following his visit to the Maldives, Thor returned 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,” said Thor, who became a Salomon ambassador during his journey and wore Salomon footwear for the entire nearly 10-year adventure. “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 his adventure to last four years. In the end, it took much longer due to visa issues, political unrest, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept him in Hong Kong for two years with only a few countries left to visit. He married his long-term girlfriend Le while living in Hong Kong. Le, who has visited Thor 26 times during the project, was in the Maldives to welcome him.
Other people have visited every country using planes or have broken the journey by flying home and later resuming. Thor is the first to do so entirely without flying and in a single, unbroken journey, complying with his self-imposed rule of spending at least 24 hours in each country.
Thor aims to use the project to promote peace, understanding and cultural exchange between countries and to showcase the beauty and diversity of the world. He has also worked to raise awareness of global issues such as poverty, inequality and climate change, often through work with the International Red Cross.
Film Currently In Production About Thor’s Adventure
To produce a feature-length documentary on Thor’s first-of-its kind adventure, long-time Salomon TV producer Mike Douglas has been filming him in various locations over the last several years. (A trailer for the film can be seen on YouTube here.) Douglas also spent months combing through hundreds of hours of video footage that Thor has captured himself as he visited every country on earth. Douglas has also become a friend and confidant of Thor’s, keeping in close contact as the Dane grappled with the challenges of navigating his way to the final countries on his Saga.
“I first came in contact with Thor more than four years ago when Salomon shared his story with me,” said Douglas, Founder of Switchback Entertainment in Whistler, BC, Canada and a long-time Salomon freeski ambassador. “I believe that what he has accomplished by visiting every country on earth without airplanes and without ever going home is one of the most challenging things any person has ever done. I don’t believe it will ever be done again, and there is a reason he is the first to do it—he is one of the most persistent and stubborn people I have ever met.”
Douglas and Salomon have released the preview trailer of the film, celebrating Thor’s return to his native Denmark for the first time in nearly 10 years. The full-length documentary will be finished for 2024 with the help of a yet-to-be-chosen production partner.
“The story of Thor and his adventure is a complex one that involves interpersonal relations, the charity of humans around the world, mental health, the positives and perils of social media, the healing power of outdoor sports and, of course, one of the greatest feats of human adventure we have ever seen,” Douglas added. “I cannot wait to share Thor’s inspiring story with the world.”
Douglas has interviewed many of the people closest to Thor for the film, as well as some of the individuals he met along the way who helped him complete this trip around the planet.
“The key to completing the adventure has been strong relationships with shipping companies, who have welcomed me onboard 40 cargo vessels over the last decade,” Thor said. “Otherwise, it would simply have been impossible to reach many island countries like the Maldives or across the Caribbean and Pacific. I am also deeply grateful to all the people who have assisted me in whichever way throughout the journey – my family, friends, strangers who became friends, people who contributed and companies that provided help. And most importantly, my wife Le.”
Once Upon A Saga has been financed through Thor’s own funds, sponsorship by energy companies Ross Energy and GEOOP and some crowdfunding. He has been supported by several shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, Swire Shipping, Blue Water Shipping, Neptune Shipping Agency, Pacific International Lines, Royal Arctic Line and Columbia Shipmanagement.
Follow Thor’s travels and route to Denmark: