Francis Tapon

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Francis Tapon
Francis Tapon, head shot.jpg
Tapon in 2012
Born (1970-03-10) 10 March 1970 (age 48)
San Francisco, California, United States
Occupation Author, nomad, public speaker, life coach
Nationality American, French and Chilean
Alma mater Amherst College (B.A.)
Harvard Business School (M.B.A.)
Notable works Hike Your Own Hike
The Hidden Europe

Francis Tapon (born March 10, 1970) is an author, global nomad, and public speaker. He has walked across the United States four times via its three major mountain ranges. He also walked across Spain twice. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment was that he was the first person to do a round-trip backpacking the Continental Divide Trail. In addition, he thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail southbound. He has traveled to over 100 countries of the world.[1] Lastly, he is the author of the self-help travelogue Hike Your Own Hike and the travel narrative The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us.[2] Currently, he is traveling to all 54 African countries from 2013 to 2018.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Tapon's mother is from Chile and his father was from France.[4] Tapon was born in San Francisco,[5][6] where he went to the French American International School until 10th grade, and then graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in Religion from Amherst College in 1992.[7] He worked in Latin America for Hitachi Data Systems. In 1997, he received his MBA from Harvard Business School.[8]

After Harvard, he co-founded a Silicon Valley robotic vision company that was covered by The New York Times.[9][10] Later, he consulted for Microsoft for 18 months. In 2006, he became a full-time travel writer.[11]


Tapon in Slovenia, August 2010

Below is a chronology of Tapon's most notable travel experiences, which inspired his two books.

In 2001, he hiked the Appalachian Trail.[12] In 2004, he visited all the countries in Eastern Europe.[13] In 2006, he backpacked the Pacific Crest Trail.[14]

In 2007, he became the first person to walk from Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico along the Continental Divide Trail.[15][16][17][18][19] This seven-month journey spanned over 5,600 miles.[20] Francis took the most circuitous, scenic, high, difficult route north and while returning south took the more expedient route on the way down.[21] He hiked ultralight since his pack, without food and water, weighed under 6 lbs (less than 3 kg).[22][23] National Geographic listed Francis Tapon's round trip on the Continental Divide Trail among one of the most notable feats of 2007.[24][25]

In 2008, Francis was nominated as one of the seven finalists to the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which "features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors."[26]

In 2009, he walked across Spain twice: once by traversing the Pyrenees from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, and then by hiking El Camino de Santiago.[27]

In 2008–2011, he visited over 40 European countries, including all the Eastern European ones.[28][29][30] He focused on finding Eastern European innovations.[31][32][33]

In 2012, he summed up his travels to date and shared his lessons in his TEDx talk entitled, "How and Why Travel Transforms You."[34]

In March 2013, he entered Morocco and began a five-year trip to all 54 African countries. He plans to write his third book based on the experience. He is filming extensively and has raised over $24,000 to produce a pilot TV episode by November 2014.[35][36] and Lincoln Mercury selected him as the best example of someone who is fulfilling the dream of traveling the world.[37]


Tapon is the author of the WanderLearn Series, which is a series of books about his adventures.[38] He has written two books so far:

  • Tapon, Francis (2006), Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America, 351 pages, ISBN 978-0-9765812-0-8.
  • Tapon, Francis (2012), The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us, 736 pages, ISBN 978-0976581222.

He also wrote two chapters in Hikers' Stories From the Appalachian Trail, edited by Kathryn Fulton, ISBN 978-0811712835 (2012) Stackpole Books. The chapters are entitled "The Final Stretch" and "A Thru-hiker's Motivation: Not Enlightenment, Just Ice Cream."


  1. ^ Krasny, Michael. (December 28, 2011). "National radio interview". KQED, San Francisco Public Radio, NPR affiliate. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  2. ^ NTD TV. "Chinese TV interview" Retrieved on November 2, 2013
  3. ^ Frank Mallicoat "KPIX CBS affiliate TV interview" Dec 18, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  4. ^ "Huffington Post bio" Retrieved November 1, 2013
  5. ^ "Francis Tapon's biography". Goodreads. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  6. ^ "Interview on French American TV" skip to 0:50
  7. ^ Lieber, Ben. [1] "Amherst College Alumni Interview" retrieved November 2, 2013.
  8. ^ Tapon, Francis (December 1, 2012) "The Billion Dollar Question". Harvard Business School Bulletin. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  9. ^ Lewis, Michael (March 1, 1998). "The Little Creepy Crawlers Who Will Eat You In The Night". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  10. ^ Stern, Rachel J. (April 23, 2012) [2] "'The Hidden Europe' Comes to Los Gatos"] Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  11. ^ Stienstra, Tom. (February 24, 2008). "His life is a long, gratifying hike". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  12. ^ Lanza, Michael. (November 2008) "American Classic: Hiking the Appalachian Trail". Backpacker Magazine. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  13. ^ Tapon, Francis. (October 5, 2012) "Francis Tapon's TEDx Talk". TEDx Fillmore speech, San Francisco. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  14. ^ Fulton, Kathryn. (2012) Hikers' Stories from the Appalachian Trail, Stackpole Books, page 159. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  15. ^ Tilin, Andrew. (June 2008) "The Onion vs. Mr. Magoo – On your mark, get set ... hike. Inside a 5,600-mile footrace on the country's hardest trail.". Backpacker Magazine. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  16. ^ M. Biggers, Ashley. (March 2008) "There & Back Again", New Mexico Magazine
  17. ^ Bastone, Kelly (August 2008) "Taking the High Way: Thru-hiking the Continental Divide Trail," 5280, pp. 70–73. Denver magazine reports on Francis Tapon's first-ever yo-yo of the CDT.
  18. ^ Wilt, Bernie. "PBP Episode 31 – CDT Yo-Yo". Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  19. ^ Reese, Janet. (19 June 2007). "5 questions for long-distance hiker Francis Tapon". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  20. ^ Stienstra, Tom. (March 9, 2008). "Good time to take inventory on gear – and yourself". San Francisco Chronicle. . Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  21. ^ Manning, John. (April 8, 2008) "Francis Tapon: The first person to yo-yo America’s wildest trail talks heating, eating and the philosophy of lightweight". TGO Magazine. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  22. ^ Crooker, Carol. (September 12, 2007) "Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First – a CDT Yo-Yo". Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  23. ^ Stienstra, Tom. (March 9, 2008) "Good time to take inventory on gear – and yourself". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  24. ^ "Best of Adventure, Trends: New Leaf" National Geographic. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  25. ^ Lineback, Neal. (October 1, 2013) "America's Hiking Trails" National Geographic: Geography in the News. Retrieved November 2, 2013
  26. ^ Stienstra, Tom (December 28, 2008). "Fishing, hiking, skiing their way to fame". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 2, 2013. 
  27. ^ Bassets, Marc. (August 17, 2012) "El Disidente" La Vanguardia in Spanish. Retrieved November 2, 2013
  28. ^ Delevett, Peter. (May 19, 2012) "Social travel' start-ups help travelers gather friends" Page 2 of Los Angeles Times article. Retrieved November 2, 2013
  29. ^ Steves, Rick. (August 17, 2013) "Bumpy Balkans" National Radio Show. Retrieved November 2, 2013
  30. ^ Riddell, Joel. (August 2013)"Dining Around Interview" The interview starts at minute 17. NewsTalk 910, KKSF, San Francisco.
  31. ^ Tapon, Francis. (January 1, 2012) "Eastern Europe: Innovation's hidden hub" Washington Post, page G4. Retrieved November 2. 2013.
  32. ^ Kolawole, Emi. (January 1, 2012) "Europe, the credit downgrade and what it means for innovation" Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  33. ^ Steves, Rick (August 18, 2012). "Program 297: Open Phones: Ask Rick; Francis Tapon Explores Eastern Europe". Rick Steves National Radio Show. Retrieved November 1, 2013. 
  34. ^ 18-min TEDx video Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  35. ^ Steves, Rick (February 2, 2013). "Program 314: Travel Portraits; Artist's Safari; Africa 54". Rick Steves National Radio Show. Retrieved November 1, 2013. 
  36. ^ Kickstarter Project: The Unseen Africa Retrieved May 26, 2014
  37. ^ & Lincoln Mercury did a video profile of people who doing were doing 25 classic dreams Video excerpt of the 'My Dream' campaign Retrieved November 2, 2013.
  38. ^ Brotman, Barbara. (September 24, 2012) "Getting to know the world around us" Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 2, 2013.

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