Famous expeditions

From Shackleton's Antarctic adventures and Cook's travels in the South Pacific, to Franklin's search for the North-West Passage and Christian's infamous mutiny on the Bounty, we delve into some of history's most famous expeditions. Read about the journeys that ended in triumph and those that were doomed to fail.

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Sir Francis Chichester (1901–1972) was a British sailor and aviator, famed for being the first person to single-handedly sail around the world making only one stop.


Naturalist Charles Darwin developed groundbreaking theories on evolution following a five-year expedition on board HMS Beagle, 1831–36.


Who was Sir Francis Drake? Discover the life of the Tudor sailor and privateer, famous for sailing around the world and fighting the Spanish Armada.

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Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521) was a Portuguese explorer who is credited with masterminding the first expedition to circumnavigate the world.

In 1789, master’s mate Fletcher Christian led a notorious mutiny on the Bounty, which was under the command of William Bligh.

Follow the key events in Captain Cook’s life of adventure from a simple start to global fame and a grizzly death.

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Sir Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer, who made three expeditions to the continent, most famously in 1914 on the Endurance.

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In the early 20th century the race was on to reach the South Pole. Robert Falcon Scott led the first British expedition.


Captain James Cook came out of retirement to look for the North-West Passage in 1776. It was to be his last expedition and he never returned home.

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Antarctica is the most inhospitable place on earth, and largely devoid of life – which makes exploration of the continent extremely perilous.