From the age of five, wrote the french traveller Alexandria David-Neel, ‘I craved to go beyond the garden gate, to follow the road that passed it by, and set out for the Unknown’. This deep desire to explore the unexplored filled many adventurers. Others, including the Swedish geographer Sven Hedin, were inspired by the writings of earlier travellers. Yet others are driven by an unshakeable thirst for knowledge of the natural world. Whatever the motive, the passion to explore seems to be all-consuming, enabling men and women to risk the most extreme physical hardships.
Roy Chapman Andrews (1884 – 1960)
When the American naturalist Roy Chapman Andrews led scientists into the Gobi Desert in Mongolia in the 1920s, their interest in eagles led to a major find. Near an eagle’s nest, they found dinosaur eggs 95 million years old – the first proof that dinosaurs were egg layers.
Amelia Mary Earhart (1897 – 1939)
Amelia Earhart is renowned for her trip to Europe from the USA. She has earned many other world records (including speed records and altitude). However, she is in the history books to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic alone.
Sven Hedin (1865-1952)
A Swedish geographer, Sven Hedin, spent 40 years mapping central Asia, often on a camel. In 1894, he climbed the Pamir Mountains to more than 20,000ft (6000m) – on a yak.
Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969)
A Parisian woman, Alexandra David-Neel, journeyed on foot through the mountains of Tibet in 1924 to become the first European woman to enter the forbidden city of Lhasa.
Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922)
Ernest Shackleton’s plan to cross the Antarctic on foot with 27 men in 1914 was foiled when his ship was crushed by ice. After spending two winters in the bitter cold, the party was rescued when Shackleton sailed in a boat to South Georgia and brought back help.
Howard Carter (1874-1939)
A British archaeologist, Howard Carter is most notable for locating the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt. This is exploring in a distinct sense: the underground and the past.
Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521)
He is most notable for circling the globe in a single voyage. He is also known for his findings in South America (“New World” ) and assisted in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1580.
These lesser-remembered explorers risked life and limb to seek out the world’s remotest regions.