The Longest Walk in the World Traverses 16 Countries

By: Mitch Ryan  | 
longest walk in the world
The longest walkable route in the world would take you through 16 different countries, if you could actually do it. imtmphoto/Shutterstock

In 2020, a superhero levels of endurance, strategy and luck to pull off.

Let's be clear: Nobody has accomplished this walk to date. It passes through 16 countries and, while the distance itself isn't totally impossible, it's the complications of the walk that make it unlikely that anybody will ever do it. Here's why.


How Long Would It Take?

Let's start with the endurance of the journey. It would take 562 days to complete if you walked for eight hours a day without resting. That would be a considerable feat for even the most highly trained athletes and veteran thru-hikers.

The dramatic elevation change alone — 76.5 miles (123,114 meters) — you'd experience would be equivalent to climbing up Mount Everest 13 times, according to Global Rescue.


Permitting and Packing Would be Impossible

This length of an expedition would also require months of research and meticulous planning to acquire the permits and visas to legally pass through 16 different countries and potentially hundreds of local provinces. Border crossings and checkpoints would likely take you off the optimal route, adding more time and distance to the journey.

You would also need to stay informed about world news as you travel since many of the areas you must pass through could be experiencing civil unrest or natural disasters.


Pack weight would also be an issue for solo travelers traversing extreme climates and weather conditions. You could always swap out your warm-weather gear for insulated, waterproof items as you head north, but the amount of medical and survival gear needed to stay safe would add considerable bulk and weight.

Even with the newest ultralight gear, every ounce you'd need would add up and cause severe wear and tear to your back and joints. These items come at considerable premiums, and your bank account would quickly dwindle just with hiking boots alone.

The very best hiking boots, for instance, last for approximately 500 miles (804 kilometers). So, at roughly $200 a pair, you'd need to budget nearly $6,000 on footwear alone to complete the journey.

The walk also has shortcuts through several remote and rural areas, which would make it difficult to replenish your pack with food and water along the way. Even with access to a smartphone or satellite communication device, you would pass through several dead spots, making it challenging to translate, pay for goods and services and stay on the route without a portable map app.


What You'd See if You Could Do It

All this is say that a thru-hike from Cape Town, South Africa, and Magadan, Russia, would be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. You would have the opportunity to witness some of the world's many natural and historical wonders.

The hypothetical route takes you through wildlife reserves in Botswana, the Pyramids of Giza and the Al-Khazneh Temple at Petra, Jordan. It's safe to say you would have a lifetime of stories by the time you ended your arduous journey in the vast expanses of Siberia.


Aside from the terrain, weather and geopolitical factors, anyone who's ever completed a bucket list thru-hike like the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail knows that long journeys are full of unforeseen challenges and setbacks.

Your greatest asset to complete the long walk is luck, and even with all the luck in the world, this hypothetical trek would be nearly impossible when you account for all the variables.