These days, traveling to the other side of the world and back is a relatively simple act. But then consider that Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition was the first to do it all the way back in 1522. The primary journey was to find a Westward route to the Spice Islands. This voyage started in 1519 and led the Spanish-funded explorer across the Atlantic ocean, down the seaboard to South America, leading to the discovery of the Strait Of Magellan on the southern tip of South America. From there, the fleet crossed the expansive Pacific Ocean and landed in the Philippines.
Vitus Bering was a Danish national who was enlisted by Russia to explore the Asian Pacific Coasts and areas surrounding them. The first major expedition was named the First Kamchatka Expedition and was financed by Peter the Great in 1724. The journey led to the discovery and confirmation of the Bering Strait, a gap of ocean between the Russian and American continents. Based on this success, a second expedition named Great Northern Expedition was launched in 1733. As one of the largest explorations of its kind in history, this expedition led to the discoveries of the Commander Islands, the Aleutian Islands, and the European discovery of what is now Alaska.
Aviation exploration is rife with stories and legends, but none is more well known than the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. While her disappearance and death were never solved and might never be, her records and achievements will always be a part of Aviation and exploration history. She was not only the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, but she was also the first to fly in an autogyro and to do so across the United States. She was the first person to fly solo between Hawaii and California, as well as the first woman to fly coast to coast across the United States.
James Cook initially joined the British Merchant navy when he was just a teenager, where he stayed until 1755, when he joined the Royal Navy. In his first-ever expedition, Cook sailed to what is now New Zealand and completed the first detailed map of the area. He also made the first European contact with the Maori tribes. On his Second Expedition, Cook attempted to travel to Antarctica but was unsuccessful. Instead, he traveled south and returned to New Zealand to restock. Before heading home, he traveled to the South and mapped out what is known as Cape Horn today. Cook became the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands on his third and final voyage.
Fridtjof Nansen originally started his education as a Zoologist but quickly switched over to being a renowned explorer. His first significant expedition led him and a team of explorers to cover the expanse of Greenland’s ice-covered ground on June 3, 1888. They encountered temperatures of nearly 50 below zero F and snow that acted like mud to pull their supplies through. Between 1983 and 1896, he leads the Fram Expedition to reach the North Pole. Though the trip was not successful, they did manage to achieve the highest altitude record at the time of 86°13.6′N before having to call off the trip. In his life, he was awarded or honored 18 times by 11 different countries for his contributions.
We see from movies and stories all the time of the heroic explorer vanishing into the deep, expansive Jungle. This is precisely what happened to Percy Fawcett and his son Jack. They both disappeared in 1925 while exploring the jungles of what is now Brazil without so much as a trace. Yet, items owned by the explorer seem to randomly pop up through history, such as in 1979 when Fawcett’s signet ring was found in a Pawn Shop, sparking renewed interest in the story and the idea that Fawcett and his son were killed by bandits.
It started as a simple suggestion in 1888 from a woman known as Nellie Bly (pen name of the actual journalist, inventor, and industrialist Elizabeth Cochran Seaman) that she would take a real trip around the world and turn the fictional book ‘Around The World in 80 Days’ into a reality. On November 14, 1889, Bly boarded the ship Augusta Victoria and began her journey. The round trip ended up taking just 72 days and was just short of 25,000 miles in length. She traveled utterly alone, with little more than a few changes of clothing and a small bag of money that she carried around her neck.
Howard Carter is perhaps the best-known explorer of antiquities in the modern era. His most notable discovery is the fully sealed and intact Tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in November of 1922. Inside the Tomb were over 5000 different items, including gilded couches, food, incense, trumpets, thrones, and a fully intact solid gold coffin holding the mummified remains of the Pharaoh. It took well over ten years for Carter to catalog the contents of the Royal burial site thoroughly. Carter died on March 2, 1939, from Hodgkin’s disease. He only had nine people attend his funeral.