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A successful equatorial circumnavigation expedition

Posted by mappery on April 24, 2008


It brings me great pleasure to report that mappery recently completed the first human-powered circumnavigation of the globe along the equator by jumping from one equatorial landmass to another and paddling in between.  Several times we approached land, but, wanting to maintain our course along the equator, we forewent the good feel of solid soil under our feet and continued on.

We began our treacherous journey in the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, 604 miles west of Ecuador.  After bidding adieu to a Galápagos giant tortoise on Isla Isabela, the mappery expedition team hopped into inflatable kayaks and started paddling madly east toward the South American continent.

Galápagos giant tortoise

A Galápagos giant tortoise bidding us farewell Image from

After intense paddling, we made landfall on the coast of Ecuador.  We deflated our kayaks and started a long overland march through the vast wilds of Ecuador.  Unwilling to compromise on our objective of veering from the equator even a fraction of a degree, we used our machetes to carve a linear route through dense vegetation.  More than once we were forced to scale sizeable mountains, including a trek above 15,000 ft on the south flank of Cayambe, Ecuador’s third highest peak.  The mountainous terrain was exhausting, and we were thrilled to finally put it behind us after a long effort.


Cayambe, 3rd highest peak in Ecuador Image from

Next in store was a nearly 2,000 mile brutal slog through the jungles of Ecuador, Colombia, and the Amazon Basin of Brazil.  When we finally hit the Marco Zero Equator Monument on the outskirts of Macapa, Brazil near the end of the Amazon River, we were ecstatic and celebrated our progress with an extra ration of water and one half cracker each.

Marco Zero do Equador
Marco Zero Equator Monument, Brazil Image from Panoramio

After a bit of island-hopping in the Amazon headwaters, it was back to full-on paddling.  This was a welcome change from the dense jungle and we paddled the 4,000 miles across the Atlantic in no time flat.  To recover, we spent an hour or so lounging on the beautiful coast of Ilhas das Rolas in Sao Tome and Principe.  Then, after a short walk east, it was “bak in the yak” for a quick 200 miles to the coast of Gabon.  More jungle travel, by now old hat, consumed us as we proceeded deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.  Many chimpanzees, bonobos, and one gorilla took only brief interest in our expedition as we blazed a trail all the way across the Congo

A Chimpanzee we saw in the Congo Image from

Some major river crossings, including the Congo River, presented some difficulties, but soon enough we were clear across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and cruising through Kenya beside the bulk of 17,058 foot Mt. Kenya to our south.  We decided not to linger in Somalia and pushed off the east coast of Africa into the Indian Ocean with little fanfare.

Another 2,000 miles in the kayaks, and we had the unfortunate experience of passing through the Maldive Islands without touching land.  The temptation to berth was incredible, but we knew it was just a mere 1,700 miles to the westernmost islands of Indonesia and then the big island of Sumatra, so we pushed on.  The subsequent Indonesian islands of Borneo, Sulawesi, and Halmahera gave us some bonus rain forest time, and soon we were pushing off for our last great haul across the Pacific.

At this point our exhaustion started to come to the fore.  Close calls with the Aranuka and Nonouti Atolls of Kiribati, then the US territory of Baker Island did little to lift our spirits.

Atoll out of reach

An Atoll out of reach Image from

Finally, with water running low and one kayaker using his hands for momentum after a shark devoured his paddle, we glimpsed the Galápagos on the horizon.  Rolling in over the last few miles, we all congratulated ourselves on a continuous 10,000 mile paddle since our last landfall in Indonesia.

Getting out of the kayak proved a challenge – many of our legs had fallen asleep 4 to 6 thousand miles ago –  but that didn’t dampen the celebration.  Although a real beer would have been appropriate, since none were available we instead imbibed vast quantities of much needed water and all split the last fig newton.  Overall, we had covered 24,901.5 miles all through the power of our bodies and the currents.  Not bad for a 3 1/2 week trip.

See all equator maps from our route


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Quality maps of EU’s 100 biggest cities

Posted by mappery on April 1, 2008

EU member flags April 2007
image from

If you’ve ever had a tough time tracking down a quality map of a big European city, this post is for you. Now using mappery you can find quality maps of all of the European Union’s top 100 cities ranked by population all in one place. The list, from Wikipedia, is based on 2006-2007 estimates and uses the administrative boundaries of the cities. Note that this does not include big cities in EU candidate countries. Below is the list with links to high quality tourist maps or city street maps of the top 100 European cities.

Rank City and country Population
1 London, United Kingdom 7512400
2 Berlin, Germany 3406000
3 Madrid, Spain 3132463
4 Rome, Italy 2706428
5 Paris, France 2166200
6 Bucharest, Romania 1931838
7 Hamburg, Germany 1760322
8 Warsaw, Poland 1703198
9 Budapest, Hungary 1696128
10 Vienna, Austria 1674595
11 Barcelona, Spain 1595110
12 Munich, Germany 1348650
13 Milan, Italy 1304183
14 Sofia, Bulgaria 1270010
15 Prague, Czech Republic 1204897
16 Birmingham, United Kingdom 1006500
17 Cologne, Germany 991395
18 Naples, Italy 972780
19 Torino, Italy 900520
20 Marseille, France 826700
21 Valencia, Spain 797654
22 Stockholm, Sweden 788269
23 Łódź, Poland 767628
24 Krakow, Poland 756629
25 Athens, Greece 745514
26 Amsterdam, Netherlands 742884
27 Riga, Latvia 727578
28 Leeds, United Kingdom 715404
29 Seville, Spain 699145
30 Frankfurt, Germany 667598
31 Palermo, Italy 665628
32 Zaragoza, Spain 654390
33 Wrocław, Poland 635932
34 Genoa, Italy 614736
35 Stuttgart, Germany 595452
36 Dortmund, Germany 587717
37 Rotterdam, Netherlands 584058
38 Essen, Germany 583892
39 Glasgow, United Kingdom 580700
40 Düsseldorf, Germany 577505
41 Poznań, Poland 567882
42 Helsinki, Finland 564521
43 Málaga, Spain 561250
44 Vilnius, Lithuania 553553
45 Bremen, Germany 548477
46 Lisbon, Portugal 529485
47 Sheffield, United Kingdom 525800
48 Hannover, Germany 517251
49 Leipzig, Germany 510274
50 Dublin, Republic of Ireland 505739
51 Dresden, Germany 505514
52 Copenhagen, Denmark 603103
53 Nuremberg, Germany 500967
54 Duisburg, Germany 500142
55 Gothenburg, Sweden 493114
56 The Hague, Netherlands 473941
57 Lyon, France 467400
58 Edinburgh, United Kingdom 463500
59 Antwerp, Belgium 461496
60 Gdańsk, Poland 458053
61 Manchester, United Kingdom 452000
62 Toulouse, France 437100
63 Liverpool, United Kingdom 436100
64 Bratislava, Slovakia 426091
65 Murcia, Spain 422861
66 Szczecin, Poland 411119
67 Bristol, United Kingdom 410500
68 Tallinn, Estonia 396193
69 Palma, Spain 383107
70 Bochum, Germany 382195
71 Plovdiv, Bulgaria 378107
72 Las Palmas, Spain 377203
73 Bologna, Italy 372699
74 Brno, Czech Republic 366680
75 Florence, Italy 365505
76 Bydgoszcz, Poland 366074
77 Thessaloniki, Greece 363987
78 Kaunas, Lithuania 360637
79 Wuppertal, Germany 358746
80 Nicosia, Cyprus 355000
81 Bilbao, Spain 353168
82 Varna, Bulgaria 349031
83 Nice, France 346900
84 Bielefeld, Germany 326268
85 Bari, Italy 325052
86 Córdoba, Spain 323600
87 Alicante, Spain 322673
88 Wakefield, United Kingdom 321200
89 Ostrava, Czech Republic 318726
90 Cardiff, United Kingdom 317500
91 Katowice, Poland 317220
92 Valladolid, Spain 316564
93 Iaşi, Romania 315214
94 Bonn, Germany 312996
95 Cluj-Napoca, Romania 310243
96 Mannheim, Germany 307772
97 Timişoara, Romania 307347
98 Coventry, United Kingdom 306600
99 Constanţa, Romania 304279
100 Craiova, Romania 299429

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