Global Nomad Kyle Johnson Joins the Explorer Grant Judge Panel!

WildChina > WildChina Explorer Grant > Global Nomad Kyle Johnson Joins the Explorer Grant Judge Panel!

Kyle Johnson (Gu Yue) loves to explore.

From the fjords of Patagonia to the streets of the Mediterranean, his travels have taken him across the world. Having left his job at General Electric to pursue a career as a professional backpacker, Kyle has documented his experiences in 2 bestselling books along with a couple of well-received television programs. One of these projects was a series called To Berlin by Thumb, which followed Kyle on a 100 day hitchhiking journey that brought him all the way from Beijing to Berlin, where his girlfriend was residing.

This Kerouac inspired vagabond adventure involved catching 88 different rides that took Kyle and his friend, Liu Chang, through 13 different countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Iraq, and Romania. Some of these places were shockingly easy to travel in, while others had no familiarity with the concept of hitchhiking, making things a little more complicated.


Having seen much of Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe on this road trip, the next logical step for this perpetual wanderer was to see the Americas. Naturally, Kyle decided to see all of them at once, traveling to Alaska by container ship and then making the world’s longest land journey down to Tierra del Fuego in Patagonia.

During this trip, Kyle and Liu employed all methods of travel, including hitchhiking, boating, hiking, dirt biking; they even managed to get a good deal on a 1991 Volvo, which they drove all the way from Oregon state down to Guadalajara city, Mexico.  This project was captured in the Television program All the Way South, which followed the journey over two seasons: first in North America and second in South America.

In addition to his passion for exploring the world, Kyle also places great value in traveling within his native China. In 2012, he set out on a three month Chinese adventure without a yuan in his pocket. He felt that limiting his travel expenses to this extreme minimum would impose a meaningful vulnerability on the experience and make daily interaction with the people he encountered a necessary fact of survival.

When asked about the WildChina Explorer Grant, Kyle speaks of the importance of a “society where young people have dreams and aspirations, and are not afraid to go after them.” Citing the challenges and pressures that the youth in China face, Kyle explains that the WildChina Explorer Grant “gives them the opportunity… to experience life and explore this wonderful world of ours.”

When he is not on the road, Kyle currently divides his time between Beijing, Berlin, and Oregon state, USA.