On the first day of November in 1998, 29-year-old Karl Bushby left Punta Arenas, Chile, to walk around the world.
Fifteen years later, he has walked 20,000 of the 36,000 miles needed to complete his epic odyssey.
The British-born Bushby has walked from the southern tip of South America up through North America and across the Bering Strait. He walked 2,000 miles into Siberia before being banned from Russia. Now he is walking across America, from Los Angeles to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., where he hopes to convince the Russian government to grant him a visa so he can complete his stunning feat of perambulation.
The son of a decorated Special Air Services officer in the British Army, Bushby’s dyslexia resulted in a hard time at school. He dedicated 12 years of his life to the army's elite Parachute Regiment, but as his marriage disintegrated, he became plagued with self-doubt. He decided that the best way to tackle his future was to do something outrageous in scope — and thus began his journey.
Bushby is not the first to discover the salubrious, often life-changing art of walking. In “Walking,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields absolutely free from all wordly engagements.” Many have endeavored on long walks for a number of various reasons, often in an effort to soothe or heal; like filmmaker Werner Herzog who in 1974 walked alone from Munich to Paris, thinking that it could somehow cure his close friend, film historian Lotte Eisner, who was overcome with illness. In “Walking Meditation,” Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh notes that in walking in a relaxed way, “we feel deeply at ease, and our steps are those of the most secure person on Earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away, and peace and joy fill our hearts.”
And while Bushby has suffered “blistering heat and bone-chilling cold, traversed mountains, deserts and jungles, been robbed and detained, evaded armed rebels, been swept out to sea on ice, nearly starved in the rain forest and overcome dozens of other harrowing obstacles,” according to his website, he has also found his calling.
“It’s something the world told me I could not do, and which I knew I could do,” he says. “I hope that by fulfilling my dream, I’ll inspire others to pursue theirs.”
You can follow along with Bushby’s long walk with GPS tracking; he also posts regularly via Twitter and Instagram at @Bushby3000. Followers and fellow walkers are also encouraged to meet up with Bushby along the way. But don’t expect a lift if you get tired.
“There are two rules for the expedition,” says Bushby. “Firstly I can’t use any form of transport to advance. Secondly, I can’t go home until I arrive on foot.”
Watch Bushby putting one foot in front of the other in the video below:
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