Interview with Ezra Gojenola-Pertika, the first Basque to visit every country in the world

22 February, 2024 | Blog, Interviews

In a world where borders often define our limits, there are those who defy these boundaries with a spirit of adventure and a thirst for exploration. Meet Ezra Gojenola-Pertika, a 36-year-old traveler whose passion for discovering the unknown led him to achieve a remarkable feat: visiting all the countries in the world.

Hailing from the Basque Country, Ezra’s journey is not just a personal triumph but a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. His story is one of courage, inspiration, and the realization that life’s greatest adventures lie beyond the confines of our comfort zones.

Ezra Gojenola-Pertika, the first Basque to visit every country in the world

Recently, we had the honor of virtually sitting down with Ezra Gojenola-Pertika to uncover the tales behind his extraordinary adventures. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation and the profound insights he shared.


What inspired you to start travelling, and how did your passion for exploring different cultures begin?

Since I can remember, I’ve always been a very curious person. I recall how, from a very young age, I enjoyed immersing myself in the pages of books that narrated the adventures of explorers and great travelers, as well as studying maps that transported me to remote and unknown places. This passion for exploration and discovery is something that my parents instilled in my brother and me, fueling our eagerness to learn about and understand the world around us.

However, if there was one moment that truly marked the beginning of my passion for traveling, it was about 25 years ago during a trip to Egypt with my family. At that time, I was just 10 years old. While exploring the temples and ancient pyramids of Egypt, I was completely fascinated by the grandeur of the country’s history and culture. I felt like the protagonist of one of the adventure books I loved so much. It was in that moment that the spark of my passion for traveling and exploring the world was ignited. Since then, whenever I had vacations or days off, I would seize the opportunity to visit new places and countries, whether alone, with friends, or with my brother.

Ezra’s first trip to Egypt with his family


What made you decide to pursue your dream of visiting every country? How did you find the courage to do so?

Until four years ago, I led a normal life, working full time and taking advantage of my free weeks to travel. However, everything changed at the beginning of 2020, when I suffered a serious motorcycle accident.While recovering from my injuries, I reflected deeply on the fragility of life and the importance of pursuing our dreams while we have the chance. By then, I had already visited 105 countries, and I realized that it was the perfect time to fulfill my childhood dream and visit the remaining countries.Making the decision to embark on this adventure was not easy, as it meant leaving my previous life behind. However, the unconditional support of my family, especially the encouragement of my brother, who shares my passion for traveling and exploring the world, gave me the confidence and courage to take the step.


You’ve visited every country in the world! Which place surprised you the most and why?

I believe that all countries have something special that is worth visiting. However, if I had to highlight one that had an extraordinary impact on me, it would be North Korea. I had long been very curious about this country, and although I had done a lot of research before my trip, I discovered that nothing can really prepare you for what you experience when you are there in person.

What surprised me most about North Korea was its absolute uniqueness in every aspect. From its architecture to the uniformity of clothing, the peculiar combination of traditional and military music, the absence of consumerism as we know it in the West… everything makes you feel like you are in a parallel world. Every aspect of life in North Korea is unique and singular, immersing you in an experience completely unlike any other. On the other hand, I was surprised by the kindness, education and warmth of its people.

Ezra’s NomadMania Profile


Throughout your travels, how did you connect with local cultures and people? Do you have any tips for travellers on how to immerse themselves in local experiences?

Throughout my travels, I have always sought to connect with the cultures and people who live in the countries I visit. In my opinion, the best way to achieve this connection is to show respect for local customs and demonstrate a sincere interest in learning from them. On the other hand, I try not to stay in hotels and, instead, I try to stay overnight in private homes. In addition to representing a financial saving for me, this choice offers a great opportunity to immerse myself in the authenticity of local life.


Being the first Basque to travel to every country in the world is a remarkable achievement. How has this journey impacted your sense of identity and connection to your Basque roots?

Being the first Basque to visit every country in the world is something that fills me with pride. I cannot help but consider myself a link in the long chain of Basque navigators, conquerors and explorers who have left an indelible mark on the history of humanity. This experience has strengthened the connection with my Basque roots and has filled me with a deep sense of identity and belonging. The more places I saw, the more proud and lucky I felt to have been born on this little piece of land. Furthermore, I felt the responsibility of sharing this cultural wealth with the people I met on my travels. I consider this experience as an opportunity to represent my land and contribute, in my own way, to the global history of the Basques.

Medebar Market, Asmara, Eritrea


Many people dream of travelling the world but feel constrained by fears or societal expectations. What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a less conventional path but is hesitant to take the first step?

My advice would be that life is full of opportunities, and each individual has the power to forge their own path.

Firstly, I would encourage them to reflect on their passions and what truly brings them joy. Identify what motivates them and ignites their enthusiasm, even if it means deviating from the established norm. Then, set clear and achievable goals that enable progress toward their dreams one step at a time. To do this, it’s crucial to surround oneself with supportive and inspiring individuals who can accompany them on their unique journey.

Feeling fear of the unknown or concern about societal expectations is natural, but it’s vital not to let these obstacles dictate one’s decisions. Trust in oneself and in the ability to chart a course in life that feels authentic and fulfilling.

Ezra at the Liana Bridge, Liepleu, Ivory Coast


You’ve achieved your childhood dream of visiting every country on earth. What’s next for you? Do you have any new goals or dreams you’re aiming for?

Yes, achieving my childhood dream has been an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. However, my journey doesn’t end here. I would like to return to the countries that I liked the most to get to know them more deeply. Furthermore, throughout my years of travel, I have met many people, whom I would love to visit one day and relive the moments shared. The world is so vast and diverse that there will always be new experiences to discover. The world never ends, and I am eager to continue exploring and learning from it.


If you could relive one travel experience, which one would it be and why?

Although I have experienced many special moments on my travels, if I could relive one, it would be my visit to Cape Verde. This country was the last one I had left to visit and I was very lucky to be able to do it with my parents and my brother. They have always been supporting me in achieving my dreams, and being able to live that moment with them was truly unique.

The last country Ezra visited with his family, Cape Verde


If you could have a conversation with any three people, alive or deceased, who would they be and why?

I would choose Juan Sebastián Elcano and Blas de Lezo, both Basques, along with Leonardo da Vinci. I admire Juan Sebastián Elcano for his bravery and determination in completing the first circumnavigation of the world in 1522, and because the ship with which he accomplished this feat was built in Ondarroa, my hometown. Blas de Lezo is another fascinating character in naval history, known for his heroic defense of Cartagena de Indias against the British navy in 1741. His courage and military strategy are worthy of admiration. Finally, Leonardo da Vinci represents genius and creativity without limits. I would love to chat with him about his art, his inventions and his worldview, and learn from his innovative and multifaceted mind.

Ezra visited the Independence Arch, Accra, Ghana

Ezra’s remarkable journey serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for anyone who dares to dream big and defy the odds. His story reminds us that life’s greatest rewards often await those who are willing to take the road less traveled, embrace uncertainty, and step outside their comfort zones. As we journey through our own lives, may we draw courage from Ezra’s example and never forget that the world is vast, full of wonders waiting to be discovered by those with the courage to chase their dreams.