Comparable to climbing Mount Everest 13 times, venturing to conquer the Earth’s longest walkable distance remains an uncharted feat for any daring soul.
Listen, that walk down to the supermarket on a lazy Sunday might feel like a trek. It might even just be a 5 min walk away, but its feels far. Perhaps its raining, the wind ferociously encouraging you to opt for take-out instead. But what is in fact a trek, however, is trying to face the longest walkable distance on earth, a trail that spans all the way from Cape Town South Africa to Magadan, Russia.
The walkable distance, which you can even check on Google Maps, amounts to a staggering 22,387 km, and went viral on Reddit after one user posted about it online. In this route, travellers journey through Africa, traversing the Suez Canal, proceeding through Turkey, Central Asia, and finally arriving in Siberia en route to Russia. In addition to these regions, explorers will navigate through a total of 17 countries and pass through six distinct time zones, all while adapting to various seasons and weather circumstances. No easy feat, that’s for sure.
Through the lens of completely unrealistic expectations, attempting to walk the route non-stop would take 187 days. 4,492 hours. If tackled with a slightly more realistic approach of 8-hour walking days, the whole trek would amount to three years of walking – and that is without weekends, or days off, making the trek virtually impossible.
The Out of Eden Walk
Whilst the South Africa to Russia trail has never been completed, a National Geographic journalist named Paul Salopek embarked on a similarly (if not more) ambitious trail known as the “Out of Eden Walk” The project involved retracing the footsteps of early human migration by walking across the globe, starting in East Africa and spanning over several years. Whilst our ancestors took 50,000 years to migrate from Africa to South America, Salopek hoped to do it in 10.
Paul Salopek started his journey in 2013 from Herto Bouri, Ethiopia, which is one of the oldest known sites of anatomically modern humans. He began walking eastward, with the intention of eventually reaching the southern tip of South America in a complicated journey that crosses all kinds of weather conditions, political panoramas and trekking difficulties.
Whilst the journey began in 2013 and was expected to take 10 years, Salopek is still walking. According to his social media, it seems he is crossing China, covering a lot of ground both anthropologically and physically and is estimated to end in 2027. That’s a whole 5 more years of walking.
What Happens To Your Body When You Walk So Much?
1. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Regular walking at this distance can lead to enhanced cardiovascular fitness. Your heart muscles will become stronger, enabling your heart to pump blood more efficiently. This results in improved circulation and oxygen delivery to your body’s tissues, reducing the risk of heart diseases and improving overall cardiovascular health.
2. Enhanced Bone Density
Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, which stimulates bone growth and helps maintain bone density. The impact of walking on hard surfaces contributes to bone strength, reducing the risk of conditions like osteoporosis.
3. Better Posture and Balance
As your core muscles become stronger from walking, your posture and balance are likely to improve. Maintaining good posture can prevent musculoskeletal issues and reduce the risk of injuries.
4. Enhanced Respiratory Function
Regular walking at longer distances can improve lung capacity and respiratory function. Deep breathing during exercise helps expand lung tissue, enabling your body to take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide.
5. Lower Blood Pressure
Walking can contribute to lower blood pressure levels over time. This effect is closely tied to improved cardiovascular health and increased blood flow, which eases the workload on your heart.
6. Improved Joint Mobility
Daily walking can help keep your joints mobile and flexible. While the impact is less intense than high-impact exercises, the repetitive movement involved in walking can contribute to joint health by promoting lubrication and reducing stiffness.
7. Boosted Immune System
Moderate daily exercise, like walking, can enhance your immune system’s function. Regular physical activity helps increase the production of immune cells, making your body better equipped to fend off infections and illnesses.
And whilst nobody has ever walked the South Africa to Russia trail, perhaps its time to get off the sofa and head to the supermarket. In the grand scheme of things, you’re pretty close by.