07 Dec Follow in the Footsteps of These Famous Explorers
These legends left lasting legacies in their wake, from the first aerial film of Mt. Kilimanjaro to a fourteen-foot fiberglass kayak to the theory of evolution. Find the right expedition, and you too can venture to the territories that inspired them.
Martin (1884-1937) and Osa (1894-1953) Johnson, Plains of Africa
During the first half of the 20th century, American adventurers Martin and Osa Johnson popularized safaris and an interest in African wildlife conservation for generations of Americans. The couple earned their pilot licenses and they were the first to film Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya from the air. They also captured now classic aerial scenes of large herds of elephants, giraffes, and other animals moving across the plains of Africa. Osa’s autobiography I Married Adventure was the best-selling nonfiction book of 1940 and is still in print today.
Follow in their footsteps: Explore the East African Grasslands in Tanzania and Kenya with Bushtracks Expeditions
John Colter (1774-1812), Yellowstone and the Tetons
Widely considered to be the first mountain man of the American west, John Colter became an integral member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition after answering the call for “good hunters, stout, healthy, unmarried men, accustomed to the woods and capable of bearing bodily fatigue in a pretty considerable degree.” Later, he became the first-known person of European descent to enter the region that later became Yellowstone National Park and to see the Teton Mountain Range.
Fanny Bullock Workman (1859-1925), Himalayas
Fanny Bullock Workman reached new heights for women as one of the first female professional mountaineers. Notably, she spent eight seasons exploring unmapped glaciers and peaks of the Himalayas. A noted champion of women’s rights and women’s suffrage, she once unfurled a “Votes for Women” flier at a 21,000-foot plateau and had her husband snap a now-iconic photo. She also wrote about her adventures, publishing eight travel books with her husband.
Follow in her footsteps: Discover Himalayan kingdoms with GeoEx
Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962), Canadian Arctic
Vilhjalmur Stefansson was born in a remote Canadian Icelandic community about a hundred miles north of Manitoba. He went on to become an anthropologist and explorer, including commanding the Canadian Arctic Expedition (1913-1918), in which more than 100 people worked to outline the edge of Canada’s continental shelf and discover some of the world’s last major land masses, including the Lougheed, Borden, Meighen, and Brock Islands.
Follow in his footsteps: Seek polar bears with Natural Habitat Adventures
Charles Darwin (1809-1882), The Galapagos Islands
At the time of his visit to the Galapagos Islands in 1835, naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin had not yet developed the ideas that would later make his name synonymous with the theory of evolution. It was only after he studied the biological specimens he collected amongst the islands that he realized the full significance of the difference among Galapagos species.
Follow in his footsteps: Discover the Galapagos with Lindblad Expeditions
Sir Francis Drake (1540-1596), Cape Town
After a three-year journey from 1577 to 1580, English sea captain Sir Francis Drake became the first Englishman to lead an entire circumnavigation of the world. He was the most renowned seaman of the Elizabethan era and described Cape Town as “the most stately thing and the fairest Cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.”
Follow in his footsteps: Explore Cape Town with Micato Safaris
Walter Kirschbaum (Birth Year Unknown-1972), Colorado River
After learning to kayak in his native Germany and winning the 1953 world championship in the sport, Walter Kirschbaum became the first paddler to kayak all the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He and his wife built the 14-foot fiberglass kayak he used to accomplish the feat in their attic in Denver, Colorado.
Follow in his footsteps: Raft through the Grand Canyon with O.A.R.S.
Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521), Patagonia
King Charles I of Spain selected Portuguese sailor and naval officer Ferdinand Magellan to search for a western route to the Maluku Islands, known at the time as the “Spice Islands.” The expedition Magellan organized headed south through the Atlantic Ocean to Patagonia and navigated the narrow passage later dubbed the Strait of Magellan, allowing the ship to successfully reach its destination. Although Magellan was killed during the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines, his expedition returned home to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe.
Follow in his footsteps: Discover Patagonia with Backroads