I saw the IMAX film Hubble last weekend and was astounded anew by the human propensity for exploration. As astronaut Frank Borman has said, “Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”

But obviously we don’t have to fly into space to embark on journeys of adventure and discovery. As those images from space show so poignantly, we have a rare and amazing planet that we could spend a hundred lifetimes exploring and not begin to tap all its wonders.

Ortelius1570Americae-300x219While I love to travel best of all, it’s also gratifying just to sit down with a map and ponder and dream. Or to pick up an engrossing piece of armchair travel literature like Stanley Stewart’s Mongolia odyssey, In the Empire of Genghis Khan, or Jill Fredston’s Rowing to Latitude, chronicling her sculling expeditions along some of the Arctic’s most pristine coastlines, or the one I’m reading now, The Places In Between, Rory Stewart’s account of his 2002 walk across Afghanistan.

That’s why I was excited to find Explorion, an online “Library for Adventurers.” The site is a stirring repository of information by and about the earth’s greatest explorers. From ancient travelers like Hanno of Carthage, who shepherded an expedition of 60 oared vessels carrying some 30,000 persons to colonize what is now Africa’s west coast, to more modern adventurers such as Theodore Roosevelt whose journal entries detail his jaguar-hunting exploits in Brazil in the early 20th century, the website offers narratives of exploration spanning all seven continents over more than two millennia.

Through Explorion’s profiles of pioneering astronomers, cartographers and navigators, modern-day explorers gain a richer sense of the collective endeavors that opened up the planet for the rest of us to adventure in today. The website also has a list of links to a multitude of books on various expeditions and explorers’ exploits.

Need inspiration for your next odyssey? Consider whose footsteps you might like to follow in.

Why am I telling you all these examples of exploration and adventure? Because we are all explorers in life, whichever path we follow.

– Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen