- Babis Bizas, from Greece, first started backpacking in 1976 when he was just 19
- 64-year-old hasn’t stopped travelling since – out of ‘natural curiosity’
- He says he has a desire to see hidden parts of the world that are hard to access
A backpacker who has visited all 195 countries – twice – claims that he is ‘the most travelled person in the world’.
Babis Bizas, from Arta in Greece, started travelling the world as a student in 1976 and hasn’t stopped since.
The 64-year-old says that the thing that motivates him is ‘natural curiosity’ and the desire to see hidden parts of the world that are not easy to access.
Babis Bizas, from Arta in Greece, pictured in Monument Valley in Arizona. He claims he is the ‘most travelled person in the world’
Mr Bizas started travelling the world as a student in 1976. He is pictured here visiting Polynesia in 2007
The 64-year-old is pictured talking with a local in Ethiopia in 2008. He said it was a country that fascinated him
Mr Bizas still travels for around 300 days per year, and is also one of the few people on earth that has visited both the North and South Pole. He is pictured here in Antarctica
Mr Bizas said: ‘I started backpacking when I was a student, aged 22.
‘I first went to Bulgaria and Turkey, the closest countries to Greece.
‘I hitchhiked. I had only a backpack and a little bit of money.
‘The next year I realised I had already missed my exams period and thought there was not much point going back to university – so I went to Asia instead, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
‘When money got tight I got a job on a Greek ship anchored in the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and sailed to Africa and America.’
Mr Bizas says that the thing that motivates him is ‘natural curiosity’ and the desire to see hidden parts of the world that are not easy to access
Mr Bizas plants a Greek flag into the snow at the North Pole during a trip there in 1995
Mr Bizas gazes up at a statue carved into the cliffside in South China in 2007
During the eighties, Mr Bizas realised he would need to follow a career that would allow him to travel as much as he liked.
So he got a job as a tour leader and he would plan and organise trips for small groups, not always to popular destinations.
The first trip to Cambodia and Vietnam was only the beginning as he kept traveling both independently and as part of his job.
By 2004 he had visited all 195 countries, with the last one being East Timor.
Today, Mr Bizas still travels for around 300 days per year, and is also one of the few people on earth that has visited both North and South Pole.
He added: ‘When I finished all the countries I thought to myself “what do I do now? I should either write a book, or keep traveling”.
‘Of course I chose the second one – but this time I wanted to visit places extensively.
‘For example, I went to the Solomon Islands for a fourth time.
‘I went to see nature reserves, I was fascinated by Ethiopia and I loved photographing the Himba in Namibia.
‘I generally choose to visit places for special travellers like myself, as I like to learn about the culture and the traditions.
‘In my opinion one can only say confidently that one has fully seen a new place only if he would be able to give an hour-long lecture about it.’
Bizarrely, Mr Bizas’s wife is called Penelope and is from the island of Ithaca – sharing a name with Penelope, the wife of Odysseus from Greek mythology, who travelled for 20 years before returning to his beloved in Ithaca.
Mr Bizas gets up close and personal with the wildlife in the Crozet Islands in the South Pacific
In South China, Mr Bizas got to meet and have his picture taken with girls in traditional dress
But this Penelope has been married to him for 39 years and sometimes joins him on his trips.
Mr Bizas said because he has seen literally everything, it’s very hard for him to pick a favourite place.
But he has already planned all his travels until 2020 and is currently visiting Cape Verde before heading to Morocco, the Bissagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau and Mexico.
He explained: ‘There are so many places I liked I can’t choose so easily.
‘If I had to pick one I would say Russia – it’s a beautiful place, I like the culture, the language, I could easily see myself living there.
In Indonesia in 2004, with a local tribe. Mr Bizas already has his travel plans finalised until 2020
After he visited all 195 countries once, he went again to spend more time in them. In 2004 he visited Pakistan once again, pictured
‘Being able to travel so much means that there are also sacrifices to be made, it requires dedication and persistence.
‘It also means that you would not be able to see your friends often.
‘I will certainly travel until the day I die.’
However, Mr Bizas is not the only person who has laid claim to the title of the world’s most travelled man.
Last year we revealed how American Don Parrish had completed the Travelers’ Century Club after visiting 325 countries or territories on its list.
Mr Bizas stands at the top of a waterfall on the world-famous Orinoco River in South America
His extreme travel habits took him to 852 places across the globe including all 193 UN member states.
Mr Parrish’s impressive travels also mirror that of Canadian Mike Spencer Bown, who spent 23 years travelling the globe and visiting 195 countries.
He was the first ever tourist in war-torn Mogadishu, he hitchhiked through Saddam Hussein’s home town during the U.S. invasion of Iraq and lived with pygmies in the Congo.
However, the question of who is officially the most travelled person in the world can’t be answered.
Guinness World Records declared it to be Mr Bizas in 2015, but told MailOnline Travel that it no longer monitors this title.
It did reveal a globetrotting speed record though – the fastest time to visit every sovereign country is one year and 193 days.
It was achieved by Cassandra De Pecol (USA) between July 24, 2015, and February 2, 2017.