famous explorers

Famous Explorers

List of Famous Explorers “Adventure is Just Bad Planning”

As Roald Amundsen, the first of the famous explorers in this list would have it. Whether you agree or disagree with his sentiment, the human urge to explore the unknown has been a constant theme throughout history and this list celebrates their achievements.

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Famous explorersBornDiedDiscovery / ExplorationWhenNoteworthy Events By All Famous Explorers
Amundsen, Roald
18721928South Pole1911The Norwegian won the race against his British rival Robert Scott and became the first person to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Before that, he was the first seaman to navigate the Northwest Passage from 1903 to 1906.
Armstrong, Neil
19302012First man to walk on the moon21st July 1969His famous line “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” as he stepped off the ladder of Apollo 11 onto the surface of the moon is also a famous moment in TV history. He was followed by crew mate Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, which has become one of the most popular pub quiz questions!
Columbus, Christopher
14511506America and the Caribbean1492-1494Columbus set off with three ships (Santa Maria, Niña and Pinta) to look for an easier route to India. After 36 days he landed by accident in the Caribbean on the island of San Salvador.
Cook, James
17281779Pacific countries1768-1778On his three voyages, James Cook explored the Pacific ocean extensively from the Atlantic coast to the Bering Strait. In 1779, the famous sailor was killed by natives in Hawaii.
Darwin, Charles
18091882Theory of evolution1831-1836During his five-year expedition on the HMS Beagle, the famous researcher collected many fossils and examined live animals. Back in England (1836) he found an explanation for the change of species (evolution theory) and wrote “On the origin of species”.
Eriksson, Leif
9751020North America1000The Viking and Icelander who lived in Greenland, was the first European to set foot on the North American coast around the year 1000.
Gama, Vasco de
14691524Sea route to India1497-1499With his flagship São Gabriel and two escort ships (São Rafael and Berrio), the Portuguese explorer sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to India in 1499 and came back to Lisbon fully loaded with spices.
Humboldt, Alexander von
17691859Latin and South America1799-1804For 5 years, the famous researcher from Germany collected information about the flora and fauna of the Caribbean and Latin and South America together with the French botanist Aime Bonpland. Once home in Berlin this famous explorers wrote about 29 books about his finds.
Livingstone, David18131873Africa1849-1873The Scottish doctor and missionary discovered the Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River and several lakes in the heart of Africa. He criticized the slave trade and died in 1873 in search of the Nile sources.
Magellan, Ferdinand14801521First world circumnavigation1519-1522The Portuguese became the first man to sail around Cape Horn, but died before completing his trip around the world by natives in the Philippines. Juan Elcano took over the expedition and brought back the last of five ships with 18 survivors.
Peary, Robert18561920Arctic1909The Arctic researcher claimed (like Frederick Cook one year earlier) to have been the first man to the North Pole. Today it is thought unlikely that he ever reached the North Pole on account of his limited supplies and rapid walking times.
Polo, Marco
12541324Asia1271-1295The Italian merchant from Venice is said to have traveled throughout Asia and cultivated contacts with China. He (allegedly) spent 24 years at the court of the Chinese emperor Kublai Khan. Today, scientists doubt that Marco Polo was ever in China because his detailed reports omitted to mention important things like Chinese characters, porcelain or gunpowder.
Slocum, Joshua
18441909Solo world circumnavigation1895-1898Aboard his converted oyster boat Spray, the Canadian-born single-handed sailor from Boston sailed alone around the Earth. After more than 3 years and 45,000 km, he arrived back safely and wrote the bestseller “Sailing Alone Around the World”.
Tasman, Abel
16031659New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji1642-1643The Dutch explorer discovered Tasmania, Tonga, Fiji and New Zealand (1642), but was attacked by the Maori and therefore decided against shore excursions and land acquisition.
Vespucci, Amerigo
14511512Mexico, South America1499-1504Vespucci was a navigator with Christopher Columbus. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller named the new continents after his first name: America.
Zhèng Hé13711435Pacific, Indian Ocean, Africa1405-1433The Chinese Admiral (who was originally a Muslim) was put in charge of a huge fleet by Emperor Yongle with which he made seven voyages in less than 30 years. The adventures he experienced during his travels probably served as a model for the Arabian saga “Sinbad the Sailor”.

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