Dan Papadopoulos, a intrepid adventurer decided to take on the world with two wheels and no engine. In 2014 he moved out of his North London home and started his cycle by travelling through Europe. It’s a life rid of material possessions, full of spontaneity and adventure and he’s using this round the world quest to raise money for the charity Care International. He’s currently in South America, with thousands of miles already under his belt, the next stop is Central America before heading on to Russia and China. Here he tells us about the highs, the lows and the colourful characters he’s met along the way…
What prompted you to start this journey?
I was inspired to cycle around Europe by a friend of mine, who had cycled to Istanbul previously. After returning from my 3 month trip, I was knew I had to do another one but this time on much grander scale. So what could be bigger than the entire world?
How many hours do you a cycle on an average day?
I usually pedal for about 10-12 hours every day
What’s your diet like when you’re on the bike all day?
What´s really amazing about South America is the food. It´s relatively cheap and fresh. I have been able to eat healthy cooked meals for most of the trip as it doesn´t break the bank – I can usually buy a two course meal for around a pound. Otherwise, it´s instant noodles and wafers!
What do you listen to whilst your riding?
Podcasts and Game of Thrones audiobooks (EPIC)!
Where do you sleep?
Literally anywhere that is safe and out of view from the bad guys. I´ve slept in bus stops, abandoned cabins, shipping containers, petrol stations and even in a dog house!
What made you choose the charity Care International?
It was pretty difficult to decide on anything to be honest! There are hundreds of amazing organisations out there and I didn’t necessarily feel bound to any individual cause. In the end I decided to raise money for a global organisation that catered for many different issues and due to the nature of my trip, many of which I will witness firsthand myself and offer my support for. That made sense to me.
Give us the top three countries you’ve visited
So far I´d have to say Chile, Ecuador and Argentina (Patagonia region).
Can you tell us about a hidden treasure which you’ve discovered off the beaten track?
Without a doubt the Carretera Austral in Chile. Google it now and then book your flight (and then thank me).
What’s been the highlight of your journey so far?
That´s so tough! Well, the Carretera Austral was spectacular due to its natural beauty. The Atacama Desert was amazing for remoteness and my first desert crossing by bicycle, so that held something special for me too.
Where are you most looking forward to visiting next?
I’m really excited for Central America as it´s a new territory for me. I have been to all the countries I’ve cycled through so far so to pedal through the unknown is hugely exciting for me! I´m sure the mosquitos are looking forward to some new gringo blood too!
What’s been your most difficult experience?
The most difficult experience so far took place about two weeks ago in north Peru. I was cycling through a remote farming region at around 8am when three men came out of nowhere and robbed me at gun point. They actually fired the gun towards my feet as I was trying to buy time by staying on the road, in the hope that somebody might drive by and help. They ended up taking a lot of things but nothing that cannot be replaced. I still had my bike, tent and passport and that meant I could continue riding!
Where have you had the warmest welcome?
Chile and Ecuador stand out for me. The people are very happy to see me and are very interested in my trip. They’ve made me feel welcome and that’s essential for surviving solo so far from home.
Do you meet people doing a similar thing out on the road?
Yes I’ve actually met quite a few cyclists along the way, most are cycling the other way but we pull aside and chat for a while. It´s boosts you with encouragement to see somebody else with the same stupid idea! There´s also a fantastic organisation called Warm Showers which is basically Couch Surfing but for cyclists. I have stayed with a few hosts from there along the way, and it´s another great way to interact with fellow cyclists from around the world.
If you could recommend one place to visit, what would it be?
Again, too hard. However, I would really really really recommend the Carretera Austral if you want remoteness and nature at its most beautiful.
Can you ever see yourself returning to a 9-5 lifestyle back in London?
Not if I can help it! Pedalling each day gives me a lot of time to think about what I want to do upon my return and after 5 months of contemplation, I have come up with nothing! Thankfully, I have a long time to go yet.
Aside from family and friends what is the thing you miss most from home?
The cinema. Watching films in a tent on a 3” screen isn´t cutting it.
What’s the best thing about the lifestyle you live now?
The best thing for me is that sense of excitement I get each morning when I´m packing up and getting ready to hit the road. I don´t know what I’ll see or who I´’ll meet that day and that´s something that I’ll definitely miss when this trip comes to an end.
Who has been the most interesting character you’ve met along the way?
Haha! I’ve met so many weird and wonderful people so far! I’ve met an Englishman who´s been walking around South America for 8 years! Crazy! However, my favourite so far was an 83 year-old man from Peru who I´d met the day I was robbed. He told me about his road trip around the continent when he was a young man. He then went on to give me a round-up of the best places for ladies of the night – turns out that Bogota has the most beautiful.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve been given on your journey so far?
See previous answer.
What’s your biggest challenge when out on the road?
If I´m honest, nothing feels like too much of a struggle at the moment. I don´t have an issue with being alone, I’ve always liked my own company. However, there are times when I´d love to be back in the UK for a day to spend with people I love…but then immediately return back a desert!
For more information visit Dan’s Website, Cycle Earth: http://www.cycleearth.co.uk
To make a donation visit: https://www.justgiving.com/cycleearth