It’s hard to wrap my head around the bravery needed to wander into uncharted territory with no maps and no way to contact civilization if something went wrong. The early explorers wanted to see what lay in those blank spaces of the maps badly enough to risk their lives for it.
These five tours follow the footsteps of famous explorers to give participants a tiny taste of the thrill these journeymen might have experienced when their eyes first beheld these scenic regions of the world.
1.) Lewis and Clark’s Passage West
Many outdoor outfitters offer tours along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The trail commemorates the adventures of Merriweather Lewis and William Clark on their 1804 expedition from Missouri to the coast of Oregon. For example, Stephen Ambrose sells the Lewis and Clark Tour: Undaunted Courage that sends groups on a camping trip that follows one of the world’s best-known scientific expeditions.
2.) Dr. Henry Stanley’s Africa
Perhaps the inspiration for “The Heart of Darkness,” Dr. Henry Stanley’s trek into the African Congo is filled with mystery. Many tours trek through parts of the Congo, but the Stanley Historical Tour from Moyo Africa Tours follows his path from Zanzibar to the shores of Lake Tanganyika exactly with visits to national parks along the way. Groups can shed light on this remote area of Africa that prompted Dr. Henry Stanley to write about in his 1899 book “Through the Dark Continent.”
3.) Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s Antarctica
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton proved his determination to explore the far edges of the planet with numerous expeditions to the Antarctic. New cruises to the continent pop up all the time, but for a true voyage into the unknown, groups can join Adventure Life’s 30-day voyage into the Ross Sea region. This area Shackleton explored is only open to ships two months each year because of an impenetrable pack of ice that descends the rest of the year.
4.) Marco Polo’s Silk Road
So legendary that a game with his name is still played by children, Marco Polo revealed the wonders to be found along a road with travelers selling silks, spices and teas. MIR Corporation’s Follow the Silk Road takes guests along his route to visit exotic cities like Kashgar, China, or the infamous Taklamakan Dessert.
5.) Don Francisco de Orellana’s Amazon River
Though when Don Francisco de Orellana traversed the Amazon River, there were dangers around every corner, travelers today can sail through with relative luxury on numerous riverboats. The Spanish explorer and conquistador may not have found the gold he sought, he made many connections with local Amazon communities. In the same vein, Gondwana EcoTours offers a 10-day tour of Ecuador that visits the Achuar, a tribe of 6,000 indigenous people still living traditionally in small Amazon communities.