In the olden days of long-haul travel, wild explorers knew nothing of accepted luxuries like phone cards or lightweight backpacks. In an ode to the great travellers of centuries gone by, we created a list of great historical journeys, taken from Lonely Planet’s 1,000 Ultimate Experiences. So pack your compass, shoe your donkey and follow in the footsteps of these famous travellers.
Follow in the
fictional footsteps of Phileas Fogg, who travelled around the late-Victorian
world in less than three months. Published in 1872, Around the
World in 80 Days was Jules Verne’s ode to the technological
advancements of the 19th Century. So, limiting the journey to rail, steamer and…
elephant… your itinerary is as follows: London to Suez to Bombay to Calcutta to
Hong Kong to Yokohama to San Francisco to New York and then back to London. And
your time starts… now.
round-the-world airline ticket and create your own adventure; or for
inspiration, check out the Jules Verne film festival.
military intelligence of Genghis Khan, born in the 13th Century, was
responsible for uniting the tribes of Central Asia to form the formidable
Mongol Empire between 1266 and 1368. He made his conquering way from Mongolia
to Beijing, eastern China, western China and finally Russia. If you are going
to follow this ruthless historical leader, do your best to restrain from
slaughtering 30 million people - the estimated number of people who died during
the reign of Khan - along the way.
foreigners need a visa to enter Mongolia. Check your country’s status. Travel insurance is highly
Born in Morocco in
1304, Ibn Battutah was a scholar and jurisprudent. At the age of 20 he set off
on a pilgrimage to Mecca and kept on travelling for almost 30 years. The
published account of his travels, called the Rihla, tells of
journeys covering 120,700km, taking in the entire Muslim world and beyond,
including 44 modern-day countries.
Lost to the
world for centuries, the Rihla was rediscovered in the 1800s and translated
into several European languages. Grab yourself a copy, set aside the next 30
years and bon voyage.
pilgrims can access Mecca travel advice at www.abhuk.com.
British naturalist Charles
Darwin set sail in 1831 on a five-year odyssey aboard the HMS Beagle to observe and document the natural environment. His
Journal and Remarks was published in 1839
and is popularly known as “the Voyage of the Beagle”. He travelled to South America, the Galápagos
and Australia before
heading home again via the Keeling Islands. His notes on biology, geology and
anthropology were, in hindsight, the precursors to his world-changing ideas on
supporting the Beagle Project, which aims to build a replica
of HMS Beagle and repeat Darwin’s epic journey.
Alexander the Great
Deemed “Great” by
some and “Grotesque” by others, Alexander III was probably the most successful
military commander of the ancient world (and modern times to boot). His
conquests took him and his armies across 16 countries from Greece to India. Alexander’s period of
conquests spanned almost a decade and included the defeat of the Persian Empire
and the invasion of India. And he did so on a magic horse, between untangling
mythical puzzles, losing friends and lovers, and variously being declared a god
and a destroyer.
Pella, where Alexander was born; mosaics from the palace are still intact. The Pella
museum has artefacts from local archaeological sites.
in the blood for Marco Polo (1254 to 1324), whose father was also a well-known
explorer. Born in Venice,
Marco sailed along the west coast of Greece to Turkey and followed the Silk Road
through the Middle East
and Central Asia to China.
There is some speculation as to the extent of Marco’s travels (which he put at more
than 39,000km), with sceptics accusing him of being something of a fibber. Were
they just jealous?
by two filmmakers who have retraced the whole 40,000km journey. Pick your starting point along
Marco’s original route.
the English satirical novelist Evelyn Waugh travelled
restlessly. His cruise through the Mediterranean resulted in the book Labels (1930) - republished as part of a compendium called When the Going Was Good (1945). Stops in Malta, Cairo, Naples and
are less of a feature than are his wry observations, including middle-aged
widows excited by advertising copy and ambiguous praise for Gaudí’s
architecture in Barcelona.
The real destination here is cutting satire, so remember to pack you wit.
Waugh’s appreciation of Gaudí in Barcelona; check the architect’s old crib at Park Guell. Follow the signs from
Lesseps metro station.
Lewis and Clark
To follow these two
intrepid Americans across the West you will need to assemble a party of about
30 companions, steel yourself to cut off a few of their frostbitten toes and
get ready to tussle with bears and buffalo - just some of the fun that Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark encountered on their three-year expedition (1803 to 1806)
to explore the vast lands west of the Mississippi. The real point of the
journey was to “introduce” themselves to the Native American population, who
were generally less than impressed with their offerings of beads, thimbles and
brass curtain rings.
On 5 to 7
October, the Lewis and Clark Festival takes over Clarksville, Indiana,
from where the expedition departed n 1803.
Burke and Wills
journey to cross the then unexplored (by Europeans) Australian continent
eventually led Robert
Burke and William Wills to their deaths. The well-equipped expedition
departed from Melbourne
in August 1860 and hurried north in an attempt to claim the financial reward
offered by the Victorian government to the first team to cross the continent.
The expedition reached its destination - Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria;
however, the team perished (of malnutrition) in Cooper’s Creek on the return
journey in June of 1861. The “Dig Tree”, inscribed with a message from one of
the expedition’s members, is still visible at Innamincka, South Australia.
the Burke and Wills winery (101km from Melbourne) hosts its
annual folk festival overlooking the famous track.
The article 'The greatest historical journeys' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.