The 10 Greatest Adventurers Of All Time


The 10 greatest adventurers of all time…. How many of us have complained that there are so many things we wished we had done. We all write bucket lists of the places we want to visit, sights we want to see, and things we want to do. The human race has always been fascinated by the unknown, but very few of us ever get to act on these impulses to explore the unknown, and really challenge our own physical and mental barriers. But there are a special group of people who, since the earliest days of humanity, have changed the way we see ourselves and the world. History is filled with people who gave in to their wanderlust and travelled the world to satisfy their curiosity. These people were the adventurers, the mavericks who went over the edge to explore the unknown and test their own abilities against nature in order to discover new frontiers and discover what was beyond. Some of these adventurers were forced by circumstances to really test their physical and mental limits, and others chose the path of adventurer of their own accord. No matter how they ended up on their paths of adventure and discovery, these extraordinary people have helped us shape the world we live in and introduced us to places we would never have seen. It is hard to compile a list of the greatest adventurers who ever lived list, and even harder to say one was greater than the other because each one of these exceptional individuals achieved extraordinary feats against extraordinary odds.

10. Robert Peary

Robert Peary greatest adventurers

Robert Peary reaches the North Pole (1909). From one pole to the other, the memory of Robert Peary is clouded by claims of dishonourable conduct towards native people during his expeditions to find the North Pole. This does however not subtract from his passion and subsequent success to find the geographical North Pole. Peary was not known only for his Arctic expeditions but was also involved in other exploration journeys in Greenland and Nicaragua. This should not be seen as the definitive list of greatest adventurers and explorers, there are many other great adventurers not mentioned here, Kingsley Holgate, who have travelled to every country in Africa, circumnavigated the Tropic of Capricorn and recently went in search of the heart of Africa, Charles Lindberg, the first man to fly across the Atlantic solo, and many more to come to push the envelope, and test themselves against the elements to discover what is beyond the horizon. 

9. Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen

Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen greatest travelers

Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen and the race for the South Pole (1912). One of the truly amazing stories of adventure of our time is the rivalry between these two great explorers and their race to reach the South Pole. The rivalry between these two were truly remarkable, and, in the end, led to terrible tragedy for the Scott Party. The different approaches of these two teams of adventurers made all the difference in the outcome of this epic race to reach the pole first. The one difference between the two parties was the ability to plan ahead and ensure their own survival. Scott’s reliance on horses in the extreme polar conditions cost him dearly in the end. Not only did he not reach the pole first, but he and his whole expedition perished on the return journey. Amundsen adopted for the more reliable and trusted sleigh dogs, and planned his journey much more careful. This, in the end, ensured that he reached the pole first, and lead his team back to civilization without any loss of human life. The lessons learnt from the failure and success of these two greatest adventurers and explorers have shaped many expeditions to come. 

8. Lewis and Clarke

Lewis and Clarke Greatest Adventurers

The journey of Lewis and Clarke (1804-1806) These two intrepid explorers are some of the most famous of the last 300 years. They were sent on a wonderful journey by Thomas Jefferson in 1803, on a mission to find a waterway to the Pacific. What they found was much, much more. During their exploration, the two adventurers were amazed to find new species of plants and animals, and indigenous tribes of Indians. Their journey to the pacific also led them to the Rocky Mountains. Their 800-mile journey of discovery earns them a place on the list of the greatest adventurers of all. 

7. John Goddard

John Goddard greatest adventurers

The real Indiana Jones, John Godard is maybe one of the greatest modern day adventurers. At the age of 15, he compiled a bucket list of 127 goals to be achieved during his life, vowing not to let life pass him by. He achieved most of these goals and hundred more from subsequent lists he compiled during his life. His list of achievements is truly inspiring for all aspirant adventurers and explorers out there. His achievements include navigating 5 of the 8 largest rivers in the world, including the Nile, The Amazon and the Congo. Studies of the primitive civilizations of the Congo, Australia, Ethiopia and Alaska, climbing 12 of the highest peaks in the world and visiting all but 30 of the countries in the world. A truly remarkable adventurer and explorer. 

6. Mike Horn

Mike Horn greatest adventurers

Mike Horn might just be the greatest explorer still alive, his achievements include swimming the length of the Amazon river, and an unmotorized circumnavigating the equator. Mike is also well known for his two-year journey to walk the arctic circle. During this time, his Pangea dream was born, which gives an opportunity for young eager minds to explore the natural wonders of our planet. 

5. Ranulph Fiennes

Ranulph Fiennes greatest adventurers

Accolades for Ranulph Fiennes include being named the Guinness Book of records greatest explorer in 1984. But apparently that wasn’t enough. He continues to go on exploration journeys and is the only person to ever travel around the earth’s two poles in a circumnavigation. Other achievements include the discovery of the city of Ubar, and a hovercraft expedition on the Nile River. A true living legend for explorers. 

4. Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard

Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard greatest adventurers

From the highest to the deepest, humanity will always be fascinated by the extremes of our planet. On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard a Swiss born oceanographer and explorer and Lt Don Walsh of the US navy descended to the deepest point of the Ocean, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana trench. The made the incredible journey in a bathyscaphe named Trieste. The dive to the bottom of the ocean took 5 hours to reach a depth of 10,911ft below the surface, a depth at which Mt Everest would be buried in more than a mile of water. Their observation of life at this depth opened a whole new field of research for biologists and proved just how much we still have to learn about our planet. 

3. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay greatest travelers

No list of great adventurers and journeys of exploration will be complete without adding these two names, and the first conquest of the highest peak on earth. Their feat was however not achived alone, and a lot of credit should go the whole team who made it possible. The expedition funded by the Joint Himalayan committee and led by Colonel John Hunt is one of the most widely documented expeditions and achievements of mankind in the 20th century. On Friday, May 29th, 1953 New Zealander Edmund Hillary and A Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first people to reach the highest peak in the world, Mt Everest at 29,029ft. Their attempt was the second on the expedition after another summit attempt on the 26th of May by Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans had failed due to problems with the closed circuit oxygen equipment. 

2. Thor Heyerdahl

Thor Heyerdahl greatest adventurers

Thor Heyerdahl and the journey of the Kon-Tiki. How far would you go to prove a theory, Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian born anthropologist and biologist had a firm belief that the first settlers on the Polynesian Islands originated from Peru and British Columbia and not Asia as previously claimed. In 1947 after the end of the Second World War, he embarked on an expedition to prove his theory. On a raft 45 feet in length constructed of 9 balsa logs he and 5 fellow explorers set out on a 4300-mile journey from Callio Peru. 101 days later they reached the Raroia Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago to prove that the journey is possible and that the crafts available to the aboriginal people of the time. Heyerdahl did not stop there and led historic expeditions to Easter Island, Galapagos and other pacific islands throughout his career. 

1. Ferdinand Magellan

Ferdinand Magellan greatest adventurer ever

Ferdinand Magellan and the first European journey across the Pacific. Ferdinand Magellan might not have survived the journey that circumnavigated the world by ship, but he was certainly one of the architects of this great journey. Most historians agree that he was one of the greatest adventurers of all time. Born in Portugal in 1480, he was fascinated by maps and travelling from a very young age, studying cartography, astronomy and navigation while at the Queen’s School of Pages in Lisbon. After a successful career in exploration and military conquests with the Portuguese navy, he relocated to Seville Spain in 1517. In an attempt to gain access to the spice islands without crossing Portuguese territory, Magellan convinced King Charles I of Spain to fund a mission to sail west in search of an alternative route. He set sail on this incredible journey on September 20, 1519. With five ships. Despite an attempted mutiny on the leg between Portugal and Patagonia, and subsequent loss of one of the ships, the small fleet entered, what is today called the Strait of Magellan in October 1520. Another ship abandoned the journey while passing through the Strait By March 1521 they had reached the Philippines, where a trade relationship was quickly established with one of the Cebu. The Spanish were convinced by the locals to assist them in a battle with a neighbouring tribe, and Magellan himself led the attack. Struck by a poison arrow during the battle, he died on April 27, 1521. Ferdinand Magellan might not have survived to see the Victoria reach Seville in September 1522 to become the first ship to circumnavigate the world, but he was instrumental in the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean, and filling in the gaps at the edges of the map.

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