8 Famous Adventurers who Vanished Into Oblivion


Nowadays, any type of information we need about travel is a click away. It's hard to imagine what it would be like to venture out into unknown, uncharted territory. Yet people have been traveling for centuries, long before maps were created and many places were discovered on the globe. Whether they were looking for new places, new people, or new experiences, these brave explorers and their inspirational stories have brought out the adventurer in all of us, even though they never returned home. Here are some famous explorers who unfortunately, disappeared before their legacies could be fulfilled.

  1. Sir John Franklin

    Sir John Franklin, an arctic explorer and British Royal Navy officer, set out to chart and navigate the Northwest Passage in the Canadian arctic on his last expedition before both his ships, the Terror and Erebus, became tapped in ice and the crew was forced to abandon ship. It has been speculated that the crew was desperate, freezing, and even resorted to cannibalism before disappearing in the Arctic. To date, the exact location of Sir Franklin's grave is unknown.

  2. Lt. Colonel Percy Fawcett

    On May 29th, 1925, Fawcett set out to find a large ancient city in Brazil, which he called city "Z." Eerily, at the time, he wrote to his wife, "You need have no fear of failure." It was the last statement anyone read or heard about the expedition. There has been great speculation about the disappearance of Colonel Fawcett and his crew: they could have met hostile natives, been attacked by wild animals, or died of starvation. In 1996, an expedition led by James Lynch set out to find traces of Fawcett, but the crew was stopped by Indians who detained them for days. Today, nearly 90 years after his famous disappearance, the jungle of Brazil is still a far too dangerous place to venture.

  3. Roald Amundsen

    Amundsen is the first man to reach both the North and South Pole in his lifetime. He was one of the best known polar explorers history has known. With hearty sled dogs as part of his crew, Amundsen's expeditions across unexplored, frozen, and mountainous terrain were arduous and admirable, especially during early 1900s. He was so crafty at exploring that his disappearance was not due to a personal expedition, but due to a rescue mission on board a French Latham 47 flying boat. Although Amundsen's body has never been found, it is believed that he was killed in the crash. Remnants of the plane were found near Bear Island, Norway.

  4. Amelia Earhart

    Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She remains lost at sea after an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight around the world in 1937 in a Lockheed Model 10 Electra plane. About 22,000 miles into her journey, she disappeared over the Central Pacific Ocean. No physical evidence of her plane has ever been found, and scientists generally believe that the plane ran out of fuel and Earhart perished at sea.

  5. Steve Fossett

    Fossett is well-known for his many world records including five nonstop circumnavigations of Earth — one in a balloon, one in a boat, and one in a fixed-wing aircraft. In 2007, Fossett was reported missing after going on a flight over the Nevada desert and did not return. Months of private searches failed to reveal any new evidence on Fossett's whereabouts until nearly a year later, when a hiker discovered Fossett's identification cards in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. His remains were found not too far from the site. Despite Fossett's untimely death, his feats in exploration remain a victory for the tenacity of the human spirit.

  6. Donald Crowhurst

    Donald Crowhurst's story has all the parts of a glorious Greek tragedy. Driven by his insatiable desire to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, which was an around the world, non-stop sailing race, Crowhurst met obstacles early on including damage of his untested vessel. Much to his dismay, a series of delays pushed his time further behind, and after having to illegally stop in Argentina to patch up his vessel, Crowhurst delved deeper into desperation and borderline insanity. His last log entries became deranged and it's been speculated that he simply committed suicide by drowning. He remains buried at sea.

  7. Ludwig Leichhardt

    Leichhardt was interested in exploring the flora and fauna of inland Australia. After taking part in numerous successful expeditions, he decided to explore the Condamine River to reach the Swan River. After moving inland at McPherson's Station in Coogoon, he disappeared forever. Although the expedition was expected to take two to three years, no sign of Leichhardt or his crew has appeared. His legacy and contribution to science has not been forgotten.

  8. Zheng He

    Chinese mariner, explorer, diplomat, and fleet admiral, He's many voyages from 1405 to 1433 throughout Asia and Africa are collectively known as the Yoyages of Zheng He. Following many successful expeditions, his seventh and final journey to Champa, Java, and Malacca claimed his life — he is speculated to be buried at sea off the Malabar Coast in Western India. Today, Maritime Day, July 11th, is devoted to the memory of Zheng He's first Voyage.

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