Karlis Bardelis Teams with Fellow World Circumnavigator Dimitri Kieffer

For the next phase of his global circumnavigation, Karlis Bardelis has paired up with fellow circumnavigator Dimitri Kieffer. Together, the pair is rowing from Sri Lanka to Tanzania.

Bardelis started his journey in Namibia in 2016. He rowed to Brazil, cycled to Peru, then rowed 26,000km across the Pacific. In 2020, when he landed in Malaysia, he became the first person to row from South America to Asia. At this point, the pandemic put his round-the-world trip on hold.

In January 2022, he restarted at last. He rowed from Malaysia and reached Sri Lanka on February 2. In Sri Lanka, he crossed an antipodal point — vital for official recognition of his circumnavigation.

Bardelis cycled 500km in Sri Lanka to cross an antipodal point on his journey. Photo: Bored of Borders


Tick list for circumnavigators

Bardelis has listed three criteria that are part of every circumnavigation of the globe:

1. Travel at least 40,000km. “I’m close to that, he says.

2. Cross all meridians (a bit more than 1/6 left)

3. Be sure to cross antipodal points.

Antipodal points are places that are directly opposite to each other if you drew a line through the centre of the earth. The North and South Poles are two obvious such points. A point near Putalama, Sri Lanka is the antipode to a spot he rowed over in the South Pacific. Since Putalama is on land, he landed his boat and cycled to it. Over four days, he cycled 500km.

An unusual duo

Bardelis’s second reason for stopping in Sri Lanka was to pick up Dimitri Kieffer. Kieffer is completing a circumnavigation of his own. His journey began back in 2005, in Alaska. Over 15 years, he has covered 35,000km. He has trekked, cycled, swum, skied, and kayaked his way to Malawi.

Now he has paused his own expedition and went to Sri Lanka to row the 4,800km to Tanzania with Bardelis. He is using the row as a training opportunity and to “get proper sea legs” before re-starting his own endeavor. The two kindred spirits have been in contact for four years, but this is the first time they have met in person.

Dimitri Kieffer and Karlis Bardelis. Photo: Bored of Borders


The row to Sri Lanka was challenging, Bardalis told ExplorersWeb. Steady north winds pushed him south when he needed to go west. As he slept, the boat drifted and he had to spend the next day making up the lost distance.

Still, he remains pleased with his progress. In a single month, he covered 2,400km. “For me, this is quite fast,” he said. “The best [Pacific passage] I have done.”

Their route from Sri Lanka Tanzania. Photo: Bored of Borders


On February 12, the pair left for the Southern Maldives, the first stopover on their row. Here, they will wait out the cyclone season before continuing on to Tanzania.