Exploration

Journey to the end of the world: the full horror of the Belgica’s Antarctic expedition

3 July 2021 9:00 am

The epic story of the Antarctic voyage of the Belgica (1897-9) has all the ingredients of a truly glorious misadventure:…

Does William Barents deserve to have a sea named after him?

9 January 2021 9:00 am

Narratives of frozen beards in polar hinterlands never lose their appeal. Most of the good stories have been told, but…

Heated debate over Franklin’s doomed Arctic expedition

18 April 2020 9:00 am

How refreshing in a time of general sensitivity to find a book intended to infuriate and debunk. Welcome to the…

Globalisation is scarcely new: it dates back to the year 1000

11 April 2020 9:00 am

In Japan, people thought the world would end in 1052. In the decades leading up to judgment day, Kyoto was…

A remote island tribe in Indonesia makes whaling seem positively noble

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Our relations with cetaceans have always been charged with danger and delight, represented by the extremes of the Book of…

The North Pole, from the star atlas of the French Jesuit priest and scientist, Ignace-Gaston Pardies, published in 1674

The unearthly powers of the North Pole

16 February 2019 9:00 am

Having spent too much of my life at both poles (writing, not sledge-pulling), I know the spells those places cast.…

Shackleton’s ship The Nimrod trapped in McMurdo Sound.

Bitten by the cold: the strange attraction of polar exploration

15 December 2018 9:00 am

‘We had seen God in his splendours, heard the text that nature renders. We had reached the naked soul of…

Four million bats stream from the Deer Cave every evening in Gunung Mulu National Park

Leeches, bats and toxic sap in Borneo’s Eden

20 January 2018 9:00 am

Eton turns out prime ministers of various stripes and patches, but it also forges fine explorers. It seems to prepare…

Roman mosaic from the Villa of the Nile, Leptis Magna, Libya (2nd century AD)

Holy mackerel! Civilisation begins with fishing

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Fish. Slippery, mysterious creatures. They are mysterious because of where they live, in vast waters, and because they elude the…

Thin air and frayed tempers

13 February 2016 9:00 am

Born in New South Wales in 1888, George Finch climbed Mount Canobolas as a boy, unleashing, in the thin air,…

Humboldt talks to one of the indigenous people in Turbaco (today’s Columbia) en route to Bogotá.

Alexander Humboldt: a great explorer rediscovered

6 February 2016 9:00 am

The Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was once the most famous man in Europe bar Napoleon. And if you judge…

Ernest Shackleton and other South Georgia ghosts

30 January 2016 9:00 am

The terrible news that Henry Worsley had died just 30 miles short of crossing the Antarctic continent unsupported reached me…

Iceland, depicted in a World Atlas of 1553

The Edge of the World: deep subject, shallow history

8 November 2014 9:00 am

Michael Pye appears out of his depth in a cold, grey sea in the mists of time, says Adam Nicolson

Aimé Tschiffely with Mancha and Gato. The strongest emotional bonds he formed on his epic journey were with his horses

A horse ride from Buenos Aires to New York? No problem!

14 June 2014 8:00 am

Sam Leith marvels at a lone horseman’s 10,000-mile ride, braving bandits, quicksands, vampire bats and revolution in search of ‘variety’

Colonel James Tod, travelling by elephant through Rajasthan with his cavalry and sepoys (Indian school, 18th century)

From Scylax to the Beatles: the West's lust for India

7 June 2014 9:00 am

Peter Parker on the age-old allure of the Indian subcontinent