Thru-Hiking Across Madagascar
Francis Tapon had hiked across the USA four times and Spain twice. When visiting all 54 African countries, he searched for one that would make for a fun thru-hike. He hiked Morocco’s High Atlas mountains in two weeks, but that wasn’t epic enough and only covered about half of Morocco. He settled on Madagascar because it lacked dangerous predators, its biodiversity was renowned, and lemurs were cool. The 3,000-km trek took four months. It featured more misadventures than the Disney movie.
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 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.
Counting Countries Podcast, please listen in and enjoy