Record-holding globetrotter urges others to follow in his footsteps
Gunnar Garfors poses on a scooter in Tonga. (Photo from Garfors.com)
Published Monday, August 10, 2015 1:56PM EDT
A Norwegian globetrotter who visited every single country in the world before his 40th birthday is encouraging others to follow in his wandering footsteps and take up the #countrychallenge.
Gunnar Garfors' new book, "198: How I Ran Out of Countries," details his experiences as he travelled to 198 different destinations in less than 10 years, including 193 UN member countries as well as the Vatican, Palestinian territories, Kosovo, Western Sahara, and Taiwan.
In 2013, he became the youngest person to accomplish the feat. He was just 37 at the time.
Now, Garfors is challenging others to pack their bags and travel the world too. He has put out a call to other travellers that he has dubbed the #countrychallenge.
Garfors has broken up the challenge into different stages, depending on how many countries competitors have visited. The stages are: #Visit3, #Visit10, #Visit50, #Visit100, and #Visit198. Competitors share their travel stories or accomplishments over social media using the corresponding hashtags.
He said he decided to launch the challenge after noticing how people reacted to the media attention he received because of his journeys.
"People are clearly interested, intrigued or disgusted," he wrote on his blog. "It is time for a little country run – join the #CountryChallenge!"
Garfors' website is full of photos and blog entries from his extensive travels. Here are some of the highlights from his site:
On May 8, 2013 Garfors visited the final country on his list, Cape Verde, located off the coast of West Africa.
In a 2013 blog post called "The 25 least visited countries in the world," Garfors writes about visiting the tiny island nation of Kiribati.
Located in the Pacific Ocean, Kiribati has approximately 6,000 residents and just one registered taxi, he said.
"People here are just incredibly friendly, open minded and easy going," Garfors writes.
In a post from 2011, Garfors writes about visiting the nation of Nauru, where he ran around the entire island.
Other far-flung travel experiences include visiting the Tiger's Nest monastery in Bhutan:
Posing with a family in North Korea:
And touring the shores of Tonga on a scooter:
Garfors, who is the head of an international radio and TV organization, has earned a reputation of travelling hard. In June 2012, he set a world record by visiting five continents in a single day.
He writes frequently about the importance of travel.
"To not travel is to insult your own intellect," he said on his blog.