6 Historical Journeys You Can Still Take Today

  • 01 of 07

    Follow in the Footsteps of History

    hikers on the Galapagos Islands
    Getty/Barry Lewis

    Want to take an epic journey to a remote corner of the globe while following in the footsteps of some of the great explorers and adventurers of all time? We have six suggestions for historical journeys that will allow you to do just that while sending you off on a grand adventure all your own. 

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  • 02 of 07

    Go in Search of the Northwest Passage Like Amundsen

    The Northwest Passage
    Getty/Mark Peterson

    Norway's Roald Amundsen is one of the greatest polar explorers in history. Not only did he take part in the race to be the first to reach the North Pole, but he was in fact the first person to ever reach the South Pole too. Amundsen was also the first person to sail The Northwest Passage, a treacherous waterway that runs through the Arctic above Canada that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It took the Norwegian nearly two years to complete that crossing, but today it can be done in a matter of weeks. Shifting ice, warming waters, and changing climate conditions have made the Northwest Passage an option for travelers looking to see a part of the world that few ever get the chance to experience. 

    Crystal Cruises now offers a Northwest Passage adventure that begins in Anchorage, Alaska and ends in New York City. The journey is 32-days in length and covers the entire route, and then some. For a shorter – and more affordable options – Quark Expeditions will begin offering a 17-day itinerary in 2018. 

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  • 03 of 07

    Travel the Silk Road Like Marco Polo

    Landscape of Karakoram Highway
    Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost/Getty Images

    For hundreds of years, the ancient Silk Road ran from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to China, facilitating trade and the exchange of ideas across Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe. In 1271, a Venetian merchant by the name of Marco Polo, set off on a 24-year journey that spanned the length of the road, having many adventures along the way, and spending many years in the court of Kublai Kahn himself, before eventually returning home. Once there, he penned a book entitled The Travels of Marco Polo, which introduced readers to far off places for the very first time and made Marco perhaps the most famous traveler in history.

    Modern travelers can still follow in Marco's footsteps either independently or as part of an organized tour. For instance, Intrepid Travel's The Great Silk Road itinerary is 29 days in length and takes the adventurous from China to Uzbekistan. 

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  • 04 of 07

    Explore the Galapagos Islands Like Darwin

    Galapagos Islands swimming iguanas
    Getty/Phillip Ramey

    The famous naturalist Charles Darwin first formulated his ideas on evolution and natural selection while visiting the Galapagos Islands as part of a round-the-world sailing expedition aboard the HMS Beagle back in 1832. Those islands, which are found off the coast of Ecuador in South America, remain a living classroom, with a number of unique species of animals that are found nowhere else on Earth, including a unique iguana that the only one in the world that is known to swim. 

    Of course, the Galapagos are one of the top bucket-list destinations for many adventure travelers, with thousands being lured in on an annual basis. There are literally dozens of different travel companies that can facilitate a visit to this amazing place, helping us to spot the same creature that Darwin discovered more than 185 years ago. For instance, G Adventures offers a number of options, ranging in length from 7 to 21 days. 

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  • 05 of 07

    Trek the African Bush Like Sir Samuel and Lady Florence Baker

    Murchison Falls in Uganda
    Rod Waddington

    Instrumental to exploring the African interior during the 1860's and 70's, Sir Samuel Baker, and his wife Lady Florence, mapped sections of the continent that had previously been unknown to Europeans. The Bakers were amongst the first to reach Lake Albert for example, as they searched for the elusive source waters of the might Nile River. Today, there is a 500 mile (805 km) long trekking route named for the explorer and his wife, which runs through South Sudan and Uganda, starting in Gondokoro and running to Baker's View, a point overlooking the lake. The sections in South Sudan remain dangerous to outsiders due to an ongoing civil war and political unrest there, but the Ugandan sections of the trail are open and safe to hike, welcoming adventurous independent trekkers looking for a truly unique adventure. 

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  • 06 of 07

    Raft the Grand Canyon Like John Wesley Powell

    Rafter floats down river with feet up.
    Draper White/Getty Images

    In 1869, John Wesley Powell went on a three-month expedition down the length of the Colorado River, which at that time had yet to be explored. He and his team discovered dangerous rapids, hostile Native Americans, and landscapes that were incredibly breathtaking. Amongst them were the Grand Canyon, which remains an incredible draw for travelers to this day. If you want to see the Grand Canyon the same way that Powell and his men did, you'll need to raft its length and experience its turbulent waters first hand. OARS offers a variety of rafting trips through the national park, including an 18-day journey that takes you through the heart of this amazing place. 

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  • 07 of 07

    Conquer Europe Like Hannibal

    Cycling along the route of Hannibal
    Ride & Seek

    Hannibal Barca wasn't a great explorer, but he was one of the greatest generals that ever lived. Back in 220 BC, he helped start the Second Punic War with Rome, and for 15 years he occupied sections of the Italian Peninsula and generally went about making life miserable for the Roman Republic, which was still developing as a power in the Mediterranean. Fit and adventurous travelers can trace much of Hannibal's route, riding their bikes from Barcelona to Rome as part of an itinerary offered by Ride & Seek. The entire trip last 29 days, crossing over the Pyrenees Mountains, into the Apennines, and down into Italy itself. The ride actually culminates in Rome, a city that Hannibal never actually got to see.