Five Years of Nonstop Overland Travel To All 54 African Countries: Picking Up 3,000 Hitchhikers & A Bride 

Francis Tapon doesn’t look like a Viking but acts like one. Having never been to Africa, he took a boat there and effectively burned it. He vowed not to return home until he had climbed the tallest peak in every African country.

His epic journey took five years. He summited 50 of the 54 peaks. Also, he picked up 3,000 hitchhikers, found a bride, and nearly killed her and her brother.

He returned to spend two more years in Africa to finish his book and documentary. Learn the pros and cons of going all-in when you travel.

Francis Tapon


Francis Tapon’s mother is from Chile, and his father is from France, but Francis was born in San Francisco. He is fluent in English, French, and Spanish. He struggles with Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, and Russian. If you point a gun at his head, he’ll start speaking other languages too.

He earned a Religion Degree with honors from Amherst College. He also has an MBA from Harvard Business School. After Harvard, he co-founded a robotic vision company in Silicon Valley. Then he decided to change his life forever.

In 2001, he sold the little he had to hike the 3,000 km Appalachian Trail. Then, after consulting for Hitachi, he visited all 25 countries in Eastern Europe in 2004. He consulted at Microsoft before hiking the 4,200 km Pacific Crest Trail in 2006. In 2007, he became the first person to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail—a seven-month journey spanning 9,000 km.

From 2008-2011, he visited over 40 European countries but focused on revisiting all the Eastern European ones. In 2009, he climbed up Mont Blanc and walked across Spain twice.

He is the author of Hike Your Own Hike and The Hidden Europe.

He spent seven years visiting all 54 African countries. He climbed the highest mountain in 50 African nations. He’s walked across Madagascar, thru-hiked Morocco’s High Atlas Mountain Range, and did South Africa’s Drakensburg Traverse. He is producing a TV series and a book called The Unseen Africa.

In sum, he’s backpacked over 40,000 kilometers (25,000 miles) and traveled to 123 countries.

His goal is to wander to all 193 countries, see what we can learn from them, and share it with everyone.

He has given three TEDx Talks.

Francis Tapon