The Life And Travels Of Leo Africanus

The diplomat and traveler now known as Leo Africanus was born Hasan Ibn Muhammad al-Wazan al-Fasi (حسن ابن محمد الوزان الفاسي‎) in the early 1490s in Spanish Grenada; of the exact date we are not certain.  This period was not a favorable one to be an Andalusian Arab in Spain, as the last vestiges of the old caliphate were being pushed off the Iberian peninsula by the nascent Castilian kingdom.  When Granada passed into Christian hands, Leo’s family found it expedient to move to Fez in Morocco, and there he received a good education.

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Johan Nieuhof’s Pioneering Travels In China

Johan Nieuhof was one of the most accomplished Dutch travelers of the seventeenth century.  Although he made separate and independently valuable explorations in Brazil, India, and China, it was his experience in China that has made his name known to history.  No serious student of Asian history and economic affairs can afford to overlook him or the implicit lessons of his travels.

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Russian Explorer Adam Johann Von Kruzenstern Circumnavigates The Globe

In these pages we have given the great explorers of Britain, Germany, Australia, the United States, and some other nations their due.  We now discuss the life and career of Russia’s most accomplished nineteenth century explorer and adventurer, the Baron Ivan Fyodorovich Kruzenshtern (Иван Фёдорович Крузенштерн).  Like many of the names celebrated here, his is virtually unknown in the West today, a fact that may intimate just how far we have departed from the adventurous, daring spirit of those who came before us.

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Starting Out With The Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition In Brazil

The naturalist Leo E. Miller published an engaging record of his South American adventures in 1918 entitled In the Wilds of South America.  We have previously related one of his adventures in Colombia, his quest for the elusive “cock of the rock” whose nesting places were perched over inaccessible, cavernous waterfalls.  While he was in British Guiana, he received word that ex-president Theodore Roosevelt had received permission from the Brazilian authorities to explore the ominously-named Rio da Duvida in the Amazon; he would be guided in this effort by Brazil’s most famous living explorer, the indestructible Candido Rondon.

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Hunting For A Rare Bird In The Colombian Jungle: The Cock-Of-The-Rock

The naturalist Leo E. Miller was a participant in the famed Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition of 1913–1914 that explored Brazil’s unknown Rio da Duvida.  He also had a distinguished career exploring the wilds of many different South American countries and cataloging various species of animal life; he would later record these experiences with the publication in 1918 of In the Wilds of South America.  

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The Strange Travels Of Pietro Della Valle

Pietro Della Valle was an accomplished traveler as well as a literary figure in his own right.  Other great names of Middle Eastern exploration came after him, but he was one of the very first pre-modern Westerners to gain first-hand experience in the region.  As the reader will discover, he was also undoubtedly the most eccentric.  He was born in Rome on April 11, 1586, to a distinguished family that was able to provide him with a good education.  Developing a flair for literature at an early age, he thirsted for the glories of the sword as well as the glories of the pen; and to this end, he signed up for adventure with a Spanish fleet in 1611 on an expedition to the North African coast.

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The Remarkable Travels Of Jonas Hanway, And What He Learned From Them

Travelers and explorers march on; and I march on with my retellings of their adventures and philosophies.  I suspect that few readers will have heard of the great English traveler and philanthropist Jonas Hanway; yet his career and worldview embodies many of the values we have extolled here, as we will understand later in this article.  Hanway’s journeys in Russia and Persia alone make him worthy of inclusion among any list of great itinerants; but, when these experiences are combined with his expansive moral and ethical philosophy, we have the ingredients of true greatness.  The world needs more men like him now.

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