Globetrotter Cassie de Pecol arrives in Karachi in pursuit of Guinness World Record

Globetrotter Cassie de Pecol arrives in Karachi in pursuit of Guinness World Record

The 27-year-old American hopes to set a Guinness World Record of becoming the first woman to travel to 196 countries
Updated 15 Dec, 2016

You better have stamina if you want to keep up with Cassandra De Pecol.

The 27-year-old American was in Karachi on Wednesday for a bit of sightseeing as part of her daring journey to set a Guinness World Record of becoming the first female to travel to 196 countries of which Pakistan is 191st.

The current record is held by an American man who completed the feat in three years and three months. Cassandra, however, has been travelling for some 17 months now and only has five more countries — Eritrea, Sierra Leone, Syria, Yemen and Turkmenistan — to go.

“I still don’t have visas for the latter three. But that’s how it’s been. I have been applying as I travel,” she told Dawn.

Asked why she didn’t apply for all when charting out her expedition, she said she couldn’t because most visas were time-specific. For instance, the Pakistan visa is for only 10 days. “And it took me four months to finally get the green signal,” she said.

In Pakistan, Cassie, as she likes being called, is a guest of the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) Pakistan chapter on a request of the PATA headquarters, Thailand. In fact, PATA Pakistan’s chairman Akbar A. Shariff helped facilitate her visa formalities from here. And her programme in Pakistan has been organised by Asiatic Public Relations Network on pro bono basis, to promote a positive image of Pakistan.

She gave a talk at the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, and one at Rotary Club. She also planted a sapling with Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar on Tuesday.

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar looks on as Cassie plants Pakistan's national tree Cedrus Deodara - Photograph by farmansha/Twitter
Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar looks on as Cassie plants Pakistan's national tree Cedrus Deodara - Photograph by farmansha/Twitter

“That’s what I do on my travels,” she said. “I plant trees, meet students, and oh, I also collect water samples from lakes, rivers and the ocean to test for micro-plastics,” she said.

“You see, I am travelling on a small budget. I have 15 to 20 different sponsors comprising big and small companies, a bunch of hotels and airlines,” she said.

One of the sponsors happen to be Adventure Scientists, a group of skilled volunteers concerned about preserving the planet. “I collect water samples for them. It has led to some revelations, too. Like we found micro-plastics in water from Venice.”

Bitten by the travel bug rather early, Cassie says that as a child she hardly travelled. “We only went to Canada because my mother is Canadian,” she says. “But I knew that there was more to the world than what is shown in the news,” she said while sharing that she ran away from home at the age of 13 to see the world.

“But Washington, Connecticut, is a small place. I couldn’t get too far,” she laughed at the memory. “That experience taught me one thing. That I had to have money to travel.”

The hospitality I've received so far in #Pakistan and specifically #Karachi has been astounding! From being offered a random, free upgrade to business class on @gulfair to being graced with the amazing hospitality of the crew and entering the cockpit and meeting the Pilot (the Captain knew about my Expedition before I even told him!), speaking to the students at the Institute of Business Administration, meeting the Mayor of Karachi, Mr. Wasim Akhtar, for the planting of the Cedrus Deodara tree (the National Tree of Pakistan) 🌲, coming back to my beautiful (sponsored) hotel and seeing my story and Mission on the front page of Traveller International, and finally, meeting with @rotaryinternational tonight! So incredibly humbling. Also, just comes to show (for those who think I'm not seeing anything in the countries I visit and that 2-5 days isn't enough) that it's all about time management and maximizing every moment of your time to make the most with what you have. But same applies to everything else in life, doesn't it? My time here in Pakistan has just begun and has been one of the many wonderfully educational and culturally enriching experiences on #Expedition196. Don't judge a book by its color or a country by the media. Much love ❤️🇵🇰 #peacethroughtourism • • • ✨Snapchat @ cassiedepecol To view all videos from today including the tree planting and meeting with the Mayor, head to ✨

A photo posted by ᶜᴬˢˢᴵᴱ ᴰᴱ ᴾᴱᶜᴼᴸ| ᴼᶠᶠᴵᶜᴵᴬᴸ ᴾᴬᴳᴱ (@expedition_196) on

At 18, Cassie also spent her first year of college in Costa Rica. “Later, when I was 21, I saved up 2,000 bucks making it possible for me to travel to 25 countries. I could sustain those travels by getting jobs, sleeping at stations, etc,” she said. “I tried offering an online course after that for $5 only but it failed. I guess I didn’t have enough experience back then like I do now.”

Cassie has been travelling alone throughout. “I wish I could have brought my cat with me,” she smiled longingly on noticing a stray cat on the steps of the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum. “I wish I could take it back with me.”

But the young adventurer travels light. “I only have a carry-on knapsack. I don’t collect souvenirs and the gifts that I get I have them shipped to the US. I just can’t afford to carry extra baggage.” The only thing she is taking with her are her memories and the many photographs and videos that she has of herself at the places she visited.

Cassie giving a talk at IBA, Karachi - Photograph by umairica/Twitter
Cassie giving a talk at IBA, Karachi - Photograph by umairica/Twitter

The visit to the museum at the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum was a lesson in history as well as sightseeing. The father of the nation’s preserved things, including his bedroom, office, golf clubs, clothes and cars made her want to know more about him and how Pakistan came about on the map of the world.

Going from there to our next stop, the Mohatta Palace, every bus or rickshaw that passed by brought out a “wow!” She saw the buses here to be the most beautiful means of transport on the roads. Later, she was on seventh heaven when her hosts hailed a rickshaw for her which took her up and down a street.

Having begun her journey from Palau on July 24, 2015, and after travelling far and wide, she says that everywhere she went she met great human beings. “In Oman, these Syrian refugees cooked dinner for me,” she said.

But before coming here, she had to cut short her stay in Afghanistan. “My parents were so worried that they couldn’t sleep a wink while I was there so I left early,” she said, adding that she wanted to promote peace through tourism.

“I try not to research any country beforehand as I want to keep an open mind wherever I go. And I have found that despite different cultures, religions and race we are all people with the same basic needs,” she said.

Cassie has tasted all kinds of food, too. “I love Indian, Japanese, Mangolian, Korean and Mexican cuisines,” she said before happily reporting that she had not been unwell even for a day on her travels and was looking forward to dinner at Do Darya on Wednesday evening.

Originally published in Dawn December 15th, 2016


Love Your Country Dec 15, 2016 11:39am
Welcome to a beautiful country Pakistan.
MIRZA Dec 15, 2016 11:40am
Good luck friend.
mohammed Mirza Dec 15, 2016 11:44am
I hope your stay in Pakistan was great
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Dec 15, 2016 11:47am
Welcome to the land of the pure.
TR Dec 15, 2016 12:00pm
Good luck to you. Hope you achieve your goal.
rizwan Dec 15, 2016 12:09pm
Well come to our world!
YAQUt khan Dec 15, 2016 12:16pm
Nice.i hope she enjoy her trip.
Haider Dec 15, 2016 12:29pm
Wow! She would have lots of stories to tell her grand children. Welcome to Pakistan!
Inzy Dec 15, 2016 12:48pm
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad ...though not quite pure anymore!
Ahmad R. Shahid Dec 15, 2016 01:14pm
I hope they make it easier to get the Pakistani visa so that more people can travel to it and contribute to its economy.
Nikhil Dec 15, 2016 01:51pm
Gud Luck....hope u r safe.
Harmony-1© Dec 15, 2016 03:56pm
It took her four months struggle to finally get the green signal for a Pakistani visa. Just goes to show government's priorities for promoting tourism here - shameful!!!
Shar Dec 15, 2016 04:00pm
I am from India. I too want to visit Pakistan once in my life and experience the land, People, Food and culture by myself. I heard they are very friendly and hospitable People.
atif khan Dec 15, 2016 06:12pm
@Shar do visit mardan
mohammed Mirza Dec 15, 2016 06:32pm
@Shar Please do visit Pakistan. Your stay will be enjoyable and memorable
Syed Dec 15, 2016 07:22pm
@Shar Yes we are :)
Ali Dec 15, 2016 07:50pm
The people of Pakistan warmly welcome American globetrotter Cassandra de Pecol. Her incredible journey establishes a Guinness World Record, an amazing feat for a woman to visit 196 countries. She should write a book on her outstanding world adventure. One wishes world leaders could visit other countries and meet common people. That would teach them people are the same everywhere, good hearted and welcoming regardless of politics or religion. That would help end insane wars and bring peace and happiness to the world.
Ali Dec 15, 2016 09:08pm
@Shar ..... Greetings from Pakistan. Yes, do visit Pakistan and see for yourself the warmth and hospitality of the people. Visitors from India are welcomed, they are surprised to see the reality is so different from the political propaganda and war mongering of leaders in India. People in both the countries love Cricket, its wonderful when Pakistan and India play, yet that has been stopped by petty leaders. To overcome this pettiness, there should be more people to people contact. The people of Pakistan stand for peace and friendship with all.
Shujaat Khan Dec 15, 2016 09:42pm
She chose Pakistan to be 191st on her list. That tell you something.
S. A. M. Dec 15, 2016 10:03pm
@Shar you are more than welcome buddy. I'm sure you will find too many similarities.
S. A. M. Dec 15, 2016 10:04pm
Welcome Cassie. wish you a safe and fun filled journey in pakistan and wherever you go as part of your trip. wish you a safe return journey to home too.
A PAkistani WOMAN Dec 15, 2016 10:31pm
@Nikhil - Don't worry friend, she is not in Dehli.
Muhammad Ishaq Zaman Dec 16, 2016 12:36am
Wish you all success in your mission and life. God bless you.
Zak Dec 16, 2016 12:50am
All visitors are amazed from the stark difference portrayed in their countries media.
nasr Dec 16, 2016 01:22am
@Shar I want to visit Surat India from where my forefathers are I am a US citizen too. But here Indian embassy do not issue visas particularly to Male US citizen of Pakistani origin.
nasr Dec 16, 2016 01:24am
@Inzy But we can make it pure. We just have to do a clean up from head to toe.....
Oz Dec 16, 2016 01:48am
Great to see this. An ordinary American girl, goes around the world and gets nothing but love, free upgrades, rubbing shoulders with senior politicians, giving lectures... I wonder what treatment an ordinary Pakistani/Indian or shall I say brown person would get, once they cross 'Trumps Walls'.. Hope it wont be evil stares in US or the shouts off ' I've vote OUT!!' in UK. Just saying...
Anwar Sadiqque Dec 16, 2016 02:05am
The day Muslim girls have the freedom Cassie has, they will do as much if not more to make their countries and family proud.
Modasar Dec 16, 2016 06:56am
Every tourist came to pakistan so far, loved my country and spoke dearly of it. I feel so happy.
Amer Rao Dec 16, 2016 07:57am
Welcome to Pakistan, with best wishes and good luck
IMTIAZ ALI KHAN Dec 16, 2016 08:50am
Welcome to Pakistan Cassie. Good luck you beautiful soul.