If lying on a beach doesn’t do it for you anymore, it’s time to think bigger. Why not take some inspiration from these tales of courage and high endeavour from around the world? From the world’s first travel blogger to the doctor who shipwrecked himself on purpose, travel doesn’t get more daring than this.
Marco Polo’s 25-year trip to the empire of Kublai Khan was carefully documented in his diary. Whether you’re blogging, sharing, reviewing or snapping photos, see the world through the eyes of an explorer. He arrived in Cathay, the ancient European name for China, in 1275, with his father Nicolo and uncle Maffeo, who had first made the trip 11 years ago.
Marco Polo’s diary told a journey of frozen mountain ranges, battles against torrential rain, sandstorms, floods and avalanches, but on arrival, it details many wondrous sights: He describes crocodiles as ‘huge serpents ten paces in length with jaws wide enough to swallow a man’; yaks are described as ‘wild cattle that may be compared to elephants’; and coconuts as ‘nuts the size of a man’s head, pleasant to taste and white as milk.’
French doctor, Alain Bombard, was certain that shipwrecked sailors, left without food or water, could exceed the limits of human endurance in such a situation and survive. To prove his point, Bombard made himself the guinea pig. On October 19 1953, he set off from the Canary Isles in a 15ft rubber cockleshell of a boat to cross the Atlantic to the West Indies. To make his experience as realistic as possible, he took not a scrap of food, nor a drop of water.
At the start of hs voyage, a storm almost wrecked his tiny boat. After a fortnight, poor diet combined with constant drenchings, brought him out in a terrible rash. On the 53rd day, he hailed a ship to ask his position and found out that he had another 600 miles to go. He reached Barbados on Christmas Eve, having sailed 2750 miles in 65 days. Although he had lost 56lb, he was alive and well and had proved his point.
600miles to go...
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Fly to Calgary and take the Trans-Canada Highway to Rafter Six Ranch for a couple of nights of real-life cowboy adventures. Try Banff for cycling, hiking and river cruising on Lake Minnewanka, then drive across the Icefields Parkway to Jasper. There’s ice adventures to be had at Columbia Icefield Centre, followed by a trip up the Jasper Tramway.
Tour the Galapagos Islands, beginning at San Cristobal, where you will visit Red Hill in the highlands before boarding the M.Y San Jose to Espanola where albatross, boobies, hawks, sea lions and marine iguanas can all be found. Post Office Bay on Floreana is a great spot for snorkelling, Santiago offers swimming with fur seals and, on Bartolome, you can hike to the peak of a volcanic island.
Start in Kathmandu with its market squares and ancient Buddhist and Hindu temples, before flying to Lukla to the start point of a trek through the Everest region. You can even marvel at the incredible views of Everest from the lovely monastery of Thyangboche, while staying in teahouses along the route.
A trip through Uganda sees you track monkeys and chimpanzees in Chambura Gorge, take a motor launch through the Kazinga Channel on the look out for hippo, crocodile and birdlife and set out on foot in search of the reclusive mountain gorillas in the rainforest of Bwindi National Park.
Discover China’s historical cities and visit the Chengdu Panda Reserve to discover some of the most impressive historical, cultural and natural sights of China, including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an and the Panda Conservation Centre in Chengdu.