Around The World Without Motors: Markus Pukonen Completes Eight-Year Journey

For eight years, there have been no planes, trains, or automobiles for Markus Pukonen. Pukonen left Toronto in a canoe on July 18, 2015, and returns to his start point at Balmy Beach Club today, after over 70,000km traveling around the world.

Many transport types, no motors

Leaving Toronto, Pukonen first paddled across Lake Ontario before continuing to Canada’s west coast by cycling, pogo sticking (seriously), and walking. He left the western shore of Vancouver Island, sailing south to San Francisco. From California, he sailed to Hawaii.

Pukonen’s many transport methods continued for the duration of his trip and included a hand-cycle, tricycle, skis, skateboard, kayak, and a standup paddleboard. Pukonen cycled through most of Southeast Asia before COVID brought his progress to an abrupt halt in Rishikesh, India.

Lockdown stretched on for eight months before Pukonen could get back on his bike and continue south. There, he bought a eight-meter sailboat and sailed across the Indian Ocean, first stopping in the Seychelles. He then continued to Africa.

Markus Pukonen and his bicycle.

This month, Pukonen rode a bike up from New York to Canada. Photo: Routes of Change


“I sailed around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, across the South Atlantic Ocean into the Caribbean, and then to Florida where I got off the sailboat and started paddleboarding up the coast and [I] eventually got on the Appalachian Trail for 1,000 miles,” he told CBC News.

Routes of change

His trip, titled “Routes of Change” was inspired by previous journeys to Africa and South America. He had seen “how my life, what I was purchasing, and what I was doing in Canada was affecting people and places around the planet,” Pukonen said. He wants to inspire others to tackle climate change, though he’s careful to note that he’s “not anti-motor” and doesn’t think he’s saving the planet.

Pukonen described crossing British Columbia in winter, Asian roads, and sailing from India to Seychelles as the biggest challenges he has faced. The journey to Seychelles should have been a 15-day crossing but took more than 30 days. At first, he had too little wind and then far too much of it.

“I was exhausted, and so it was the first time of the journey where I was like, if I could hit the escape button…and call it quits,” he said.

Now back in Canada, Pukonen will finish his mammoth journey today, celebrating with friends and family.

Martin Walsh

Martin Walsh is a writer and editor for ExplorersWeb.

Martin has been writing about adventure travel and exploration for over five years.

Martin spent most of the last 15 years backpacking the world on a shoestring budget. Whether it was hitchhiking through Syria, getting strangled in Kyrgyzstan, touring Cambodia’s medical facilities with an exceedingly painful giant venomous centipede bite, chewing khat in Ethiopia, or narrowly avoiding various toilet-related accidents in rural China, so far, Martin has just about survived his decision making.

Based in Da Lat, Vietnam, Martin can be found in the jungle trying to avoid leeches while chasing monkeys.