Today, world travel is a breeze; you just get on a jet airplane and sit on a cushy seat till you reach your destination. However, world travel was anything but a breeze in the olden days, when man relied on his two feet to get from point A to point B. Here is a list of the 10 greatest travelers of all times, people who’ve made history by keeping on and tracking every corner of the earth.
1. Yuri Gagarin, 20th Century AD
Who else can claim to be the greatest traveler in the world, other than the man who traveled all the way to the moon? Yuri Gagarin, the man credited with the greatest leap into the unknown next to Columbus. It was no less of an achievement. On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin landed on the moon in what will always be man’s historic first leap towards the ultimate conquer of space.
2. Christopher Columbus, 15th Century AD
The great Italian explorer of the 15th century, Christopher Columbus is the man who discovered what we now know as America. He was the first to cross the Atlantic successfully and discover the New World. Spain, and the whole of Europe profited by his discovery but the truth is, Columbus was commissioned to find the Asian continent. What was first perceived as Columbus’s failure to locate Asia actually opened the door to the European exploration and exploitation of two mighty continents.
3. IBN-E-BATTUTA, 13th Century AD
Ibn-e-battuta was a great Muslim scholar, born in Morocco, who traveled to India, China and Turkey after being encouraged to take a world trip post a Haj journey to Mecca. In Delhi, the great scholar was rewarded by the then Sultan and was appointed Qadi of Delhi. Ibn-E-Battuta also visited China, Sylhet, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malaya, Sumatra, Amman, Malabar Coast, Caylon and Baghdad during his journeys. His longest journey was also his last; in 1352, he visited Spain, Western and Central Africa, the Niger basin and Mali.
4. Marco Polo, 12th Century AD
Marco Polo is credited to bringing the much-needed knowledge of sea routes and boundaries beyond Europe. Marco’s travel began with Persia, from there to China, and to Mongolia, where Marco Polo entered the service of the great Kublai Khan. During his service, Marco traveled throughout South China to the borders of North Burma. He was ultimately captured and dictated his travel account while in prison.
5. Vasco Da Gama, 14th Century AD
Ordered to command a Portuguese fleet to India, Vasco Da Gama navigated around the Cape of Good Hope to reach Calicut on May 20, 1498. He founded a Portuguese colony in Mozambique in 1502. Though his travels have been only from Portugal through Africa to India, this is the man to thank for discovering the prosperous land of India, which opened the eastern trade route to European countries. In 1524, Vasco Da Gama also served as the Portuguese Viceroy to India.
6. Xuanzang, Around 600 AD
Xuanzang was a great Chinese Buddhist monk who not only traveled greatly outside of China, but also pioneered what we now know as travel writing. His travels were motivated by the desire to discover the true origins of Buddhism. Xuanzang visited China, the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. He left behind a treasure trove of Buddhist writings that are still preserved by Buddhist leaders.
7. Captain James Cook, 18th Century AD
If any one person is credited with the discovery of the most land mass, then it must be Captain James Cook. A cartographer, surveyor and scientist, this frequently bad-tempered man was an excellent navigator who twice circumnavigated the globe, crossing the Antarctic and Arctic circles and visiting all seven continents on the planet.
8. Charles Darwin, 19th Century AD
The father of the theory of evolution, Charles Darwin traveled across the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, visiting remote islands such as Tahiti and the Galapagos islands to study different species of flora and fauna. His vast travels and scientific studies in different regions brought to life the theory of evolution through natural selection. He explored the Peruvian desert and took an arduous journey across the Argentinean plains as well. Perhaps more than just the traveling, his greatest achievement was to change the way we look at the world.
9. Sir Richard Burton, 19th Century
Sir Richard Burton was a man of great intellect, who traveled the world in order to understand how communities and societies operate, firsthand. He was probably the first modern anthropologist. Along with John Hanning Speke, Sir Richard Burton discovered the source of the Nile, a mystery that had eluded civilization for centuries previously. He also translated the Arabian Nights for western comprehension, bringing the East and the West closer in understanding to each other. His travels took him to several countries such as Arabia, India, Fernando Po, East Africa, Brazil, the US West, Trieste and Syria.
10. Michael Palin, 19th Century AD
This is the man who traveled around the world in 80 days, in response to a wager. Traveling the entire globe within as short a period as 80 days in the 19th century was unheard of. Michael Palin’s feat not only proved that impossible dreams could be turned into a reality, but also compacted our huge globe into nothing more than a global village, way before the internet achieved the same phenomenon.