Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) was an American aviation pioneer famous for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She broke many other aviation records as well and received the US Distinguished Flying Cross. She also wrote best-selling books about her adventures and even worked at Purdue University to counsel women on careers during her lifetime.
Isabelle Eberhardt (1877-1904) was a Swiss explorer and writer. She lived and traveled extensively in North Africa. She wrote stories and newspaper articles of her adventures in French. Isabelle was a free thinker of her time, dressing as a man to move about in African society, and she converted to Islam while living in Africa.
Elizabeth Cochrane (penname Nellie Bly, 1864-1922) was an American journalist, inventor, and charity worker. Inspired by Jules Verne's novel, she set off on a round-the-world journey attempting to break the fictional account's 80 day record, and she did. She completed the journey in 1889, traveling 24,889 miles, mostly alone.
Annie "Londonderry" Cohen Kopchovsky (1870-1947) was an entrepreneur, athlete, and globetrotter. She's famous for being the first woman to bicycle around the world. She spent 15 months riding her bicycle around the world with a pearl-handled revolver and a change of clothes. Her journey was an inspiration and testament to womankind's athleticism and ability to fend for themselves.
Ella Maillart (1903-1997) was a Swiss adventurer, sportswoman, travel writer, and photographer. She traveled all over the world, sailing the Mediterranean in a yawl, journeying from Peking to Kashmir with Peter Fleming, and searching for enlightenment in Tibet with a half-wild tiger-cat. She is most famous, however, for her solo journey through Central Asia in the 1930s.
Lady Hester Stanhope (1776-1839) was a British socialite, traveler and adventurer. She lived and traveled extensively in the Near and Middle East and can be considered the first Biblical archaeologist.
Isabella Bird (1831-1904) was an English explorer, naturalist, writer, and photographer. She is known for being the first woman elected to the Royal Geographical Society and also became a member of the Royal Photographic Society. During her lifetime she visited Australia, climbed mountains in Hawaii, rode horseback over 800 miles of the Rocky Mountains in the US, journeyed through China, Japan, and Malaysia, studied medicine so she could be a missionary to India, traveled with Berbers in Morocco, and wrote multiple books about all of her adventures.
Margaret Moth (1951-2010) was an adventurous photojournalist who covered the Persian Gulf War, the riots after Indira Ghandi's assassination, the civil war in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the Bosnian War. She also enjoyed parachuting and was the first news camerawoman in New Zealand. Margaret Moth was known for her fearlessness, and even received a Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Foundation. She died of colon cancer in 2010, but shortly before her death she said the quote above, a poignant reflection on living life to the fullest.
Freya Stark (1893-1993) was a British explorer and travel writer. She wrote over two dozen books on her adventures, spoke English, French, Italian, Arabic and Persian, and was one of the first Westerners to travel in the Arabian Desert, even locating the famous Valley of the Assassins. She lived in Europe when young and in later years traveled throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, including three dangerous treks into the Iranian wilderness, visiting countries like Iraq, Arabia, Afghanistan and Turkey and writing about them.
Junko Tabei (1939-) became the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in 1975. She is a Japanese climber who, before climbing Mt. Everest had climbed the Mt. Fuji in Japan and the Matterhorn in Switzerland. Since the famous climb, she has become the first woman to climb the Seven Summits and is pursuing her goal of climbing the highest peak in every country and working as director of Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, which works to promote the preservation of mountain environments at a global level.
Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) was an American photographer. She worked on documentaries and was the first female photographer for Life magazine, her photo appearing on the cover of their first issue. She was also the USA's first female war photojournalist and the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry. She traveled the world to document countries in times of war and transition, including some very influential photographs, such as Joseph Stalin with a smile (a rare occurrence), Dust Bowl drought victims, Russia under Communism, and other European countries under Nazism, and an iconic one of Mahatma Ghandi.
Annie Smith Peck (1850-1935) was an American mountaineer, explorer, and writer as well as being a pioneering professor in the field of archaeology. She climbed mountains all over the world--Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Mexico, and South America, and she was the first person to climb Mount Nevado Huascaran in Peru. She was also a suffragist, becoming president of the Joan of Arc Suffrage League in 1914 (in 1911, when she summited Mt. Coropuna in Peru, she left a banner that said "Women's Vote" at the top) and traveled South America by air in 1929-1930, which was the longest journey by air of any North American at the time.
Ida Pfeiffer (1797-1858) was an Austrian traveler and one of the first travel writers. She was a member of the geographical societies of Berlin and Paris, collected natural specimens on her journeys which she sold to museums, and wrote books which were translated into seven languages. She took two journeys around the world and visited such far-flung destinations as Madagascar, Tahiti, Indonesia, Egypt, Iceland, Brazil, Australia and the USA.
Fanny Bullock Workman (1859-1925) was an American geographer, cartographer, explorer, mountaineer, and travel writer. She was one of the first female mountaineers and set multiple women's altitude records. She traveled around the world with her husband, often on bicycle trips or climbing mountains. She was one of the first Westerners to explore the Himalaya region, the first woman to speak at the Sorbonne in France, and only the second to speak at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
Emily Hahn (1905-1997) was an American journalist and author who was influential in opening Asia to the West. She was the first woman to receive a degree in Mining Engineering in 1926. During her lifetime she traveled 2400 miles across the US by car, lived with a pygmy tribe in the Belgian Congo for two years, crossed Central Africa on foot, lived in Shanghai with her pet gibbon while writing for The New Yorker, and was taken as a prisoner by the Japanese when they invaded, having to teach them English lessons in return for food.
Harriet Chalmers Adams (1875-1937) was an American explorer, photographer, and writer. She traveled throughout her life in South America, Asia, and the South Pacific and published accounts of her travels in National Geographic. Her adventures included crossing Haiti on horseback, retracing the Columbus's early trails in the Americas, spent three years visiting South America, when working as a correspondent of Harper's Magazine during World War I, she was the only woman allowed to visit the trenches, and she helped found the Society of Woman Geographers.
Mary Kingsley (1862-1900) was an English explorer and scientific and ethnographic writer who traveled extensively throughout West Africa. Very unusually for the time, she traveled throughout Africa without a man to accompany her or being a wife of a missionary or explorer. During her journeys she studied African cultures, even criticizing missionaries for attempting to convert the African people and corrupt their culture, and climbed Mt. Cameroon by a route not previously attempted by another European, and canoed up the Ogooue River, collecting previously-unknown samples of fish.
Alexandrine "Alexine" Tinne (1835-1869) was a Dutch explorer, photographer and ethnographer who traveled extensively in Africa and the Mediterranean. She and her mother became the first Western women to navigate up the White Nile in in 1862, and she was the first European woman to attempt to cross the Sahara. She made multiple attempts, wanting to meet the Tuaregs, but was unfortunately killed during her attempt in 1869.
Susan Butcher (1954-2006) was an American dog musher who was the second woman to win the Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska, the second person to win the Iditarod four times, and the first person to ever win that race four out of five sequential years.
Sarah Marquis (1972-) is a Swiss adventurer and explorer. Between 2010 and 2013 she walked 12,000 miles alone, starting in Siberia and going through the Gobi Desert, China, Laos, Thailand, and across Australia. Before this trip, she had walked coast-to-coast across the USA in four months, spent 17 months walking across Australia, and hiked the Andes in South America for eight months. In 2014 she was named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year.
Valentina Tereshkova (1937-) is a Russian woman who was both the first woman and the first civilian in space. Before that she was a textile factory worker and amateur skydiver and parachutist. She became the first woman in space in 1963--she was chosen from more than four hundred applicants to pilot Volstok 6 because of her skydiving expertise.
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) was English writer, traveler, political officer, archaeologist and spy. During her life she traveled extensively in Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Arabia. Along with T.E. Lawrence she played a major role in establishing dynasties in Jordan and Iraq. During her travels she discovered ancient ruins, climbed mountains, wrote about her journeys and traveled across Arabia six times.
Jane Goodall (1934-) is an English primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. She spent 55 years studying social and family interactions of chimpanzees in Tanzania. She loved animals and Africa since she was young and has passionately worked for conservation and animal welfare issues for her whole life.
Kira Salak (1971-) is an American adventurer, writer, journalist, and is a contributing editor at National Geographic. She is known for her daring travels, such as being the first woman to cross Papua New Guinea when she was 24 and becoming the first person to kayak the 600 miles of the Niger River to Timbuktu alone.
Louise Boyd (1887-1972) was an American explorer and writer. She traveled extensively in Greenland and the Arctic, and became the first woman to fly over the North Pole in 1955.
Gertrude Ederle (1906-2003) was an American swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world-record holder in five events. In 1926 she became the first woman to swim the English channel. Only five men had successfully done so before her, and the fastest time had been 16 hours 33 minutes. She set a new record that was almost two hours better: 14 hours and 34 minutes.
Laura Dekker (1995-) is a Dutch sailor who, in 2010, set off to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly in her two-masted ketch, and she accomplished it in 2012, at the age of 16 years 123 days.
Osa Johnson (1894-1953) was an American adventurer, naturalist, photographer, and documentary filmmaker who, with her husband, Martin Johnson, studied the people and wildlife of Africa, the South Pacific, and Borneo. Their films and photographs and Osa's autobiography, I Married Adventure (the best-selling non-fiction book of 1940), captivated audiences at home and inspired many to explore the world.
Sue Hendrickson (1949-) is most famous for being the namesake of "Sue" the most complete T. Rex bones ever found. She was part of the team who found her in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1990. Beyond paleontology though, she is a marine archaeologist, adventurer and explorer who has traveled the world, and discovered archaeological sites and fossils in locations from the Dominican Republic to the Philippines to Egypt.
Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969) was a Belgian-French explorer, writer, and spiritualist. She wrote over 30 books on religion, philosophy, and her travels, and is most famous for visiting Lhasa, Tibet in 1924, when it was forbidden to foreigners.