Tofino man headed around the world without a motor

Markus Pukonen enjoys a pit stop in Vernon while circumnavigating the Earth without the use of a motor. - Lisa Vandervelde
Markus Pukonen enjoys a pit stop in Vernon while circumnavigating the Earth without the use of a motor.
— image credit: Lisa Vandervelde

Circumnavigating the globe is an intense endeavour. How about doing it without the use of any sort of motor?

That is the challenge Markus Pukonen has established, as he raises funds and awareness for local non-profit groups along the way through his registered non-profit society

Pukonen, who now calls Tofino home, left his family home in Toronto on July 13 and has canoed, biked, walked, run, recumbent biked, trimaraned, skied, kayaked, hand-biked, rafted, skateboarded, danced and even pogo-sticked his way to Vernon.

When he is in a location for a break he does not accept rides, never hops on a bus, takes a ferry, or sneaks a cab ride.

“It has been challenging along the way but that’s what I love,” said Pukonen, who was recently named one of Canada’s Top Modern Day Explorers by Canadian Geographic. “It’s tough camping in minus-20 degrees but it makes all those creature comforts so much better after.”

Pukonen is no stranger to adventure with his work for Ocean Adventure Rowing and Education taking him on three major expeditions in three years, including 73 days spent at sea rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, a three-month source to sea trip down the Mississippi River and the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Salish Sea Expedition; a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in a rowboat.

He was inspired to take this journey after two major events changed his outlook on life: his father died of cancer and his niece was born.

“Just knowing that I have inspired one person to make a positive change in their life is what I wanted,” said Pukonen. “The simple fact that people can see what I have accomplished without a motor, they will see that little things can make a difference.”

He doesn’t have a time limit on his adventure but he thinks it will take him about five years to complete.

Pukonen, a graduate from Documentary Film Production at Capilano University, takes his time soaking up the scenery, building relationships with people, documenting his challenges and sharing the beauty of our world through his blog at, routesofchange on facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“I’ve been doing lots of school presentations and the inspiration goes both ways; the kids are inspired and I’m always inspired by them,” he said.

Bringing awareness, raising funds and learning about local non-profit groups along his route is a large part of why he is on this adventure.

During Pukonen’s stop in Vernon, he has been learning about The Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake (SPrKL) as well as the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative.

“I document the non-profit societies I meet along the way, sharing their stories and raising support by directing some of the attention I get because I’m doing this crazy adventure, to them,” said Pukonen.

Vernon is a rest stop for him, as he visits with his sister in-law, Marta Green of Vernon, who joined him with her skis at the Needles ferry for the trip to Vernon.

Pukonen has more family flying in to spend time with him at Silver Star, which he will be biking up to, before continuing his journey towards the coast where he plans to paddleboard or kayak to Vancouver Island.

Pukonen’s route can be tracked at, along with blog posts and photos from his adventure.

— Lisa VanderVelde Vernon Morning Star


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