John Blashford-Snell

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Colonel John Nicholas Blashford-Snell OBE (born 22 October 1936) is a former British Army officer, explorer and author. He was brought up on adventures from Boy's Own Paper and the exploits of famous explorers such as Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton read to him by his grandmother.

Blashford-Snell was educated at Victoria College, Jersey and at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, then commissioned into the Royal Engineers.[1] He would serve for 37 years in the Army and see active services in many areas.

In 1969, he founded the Scientific Exploration Society.[2]

Amongst his expeditions were the first descent of the Blue Nile during which he invented white water rafting 'by accident' (in 1968); crossing of the Darién Gap (1971 to 1972) and overseeing the first north–south vehicular journey from Alaska to Cape Horn; and a complete navigation of the Congo River (in 1974 to 1975).[1] He was awarded the Segrave Trophy in 1974[3][4] and the Livingstone Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in recognition of his leadership of the expeditions.[5]

In 1978 he established Operation Drake, which later developed into Operation Raleigh, an educational initiative for young people, of which he was Director General until he retired from this post in 1991.[6]

In 1993 he was awarded the Patron's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.[7]

In 2006 Blashford-Snell helped the London hatmakers James Lock & Co. to design a hat to meet the needs of explorers.[8] Since 2001 he has been the Hon. Life President of the Centre for Fortean Zoology.[9] He is also a member of the Ghost Club.[10] In 2010 he was made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University[11]

His publications include an autobiography, Something Lost Behind the Ranges (1994).

Blashford-Snell has been a member of The Explorers Club since 1974. In 1992, he was awarded the Sweeney Medal in honour of his outstanding contributions to the welfare and objectives of the organisation.[12]


  • In the Steps of Stanley, London, Hutchison 1975. ISBN 0-09-125080-3
  • Expeditions: the Experts’ way, edited by John Blashford-Snell and Alistair Ballantine. London, Faber 1977. ISBN 0-571-11116-5
  • A taste for adventure, London, Hutchinson 1978. ISBN 0-09-136010-2
  • In the wake of Drake John Blashford-Snell and Michael Cable. London, W.H. Allen, 1980. ISBN 0-352-30750-1
  • Operation Drake London, W.H. Allen, 1981. ISBN 0-491-02965-9
  • The expedition organiser’s guide by John Blashford-Snell & Richard Snailham ; written for the Scientific Exploration Society. London, Daily Telegraph, 1982.
  • Mysteries : encounter with the unexplained. London, Bodley Head 1983. ISBN 0-370-30479-9
  • Operation Raleigh : the start of an adventure London, Collins, 1987. ISBN 0-00-217624-6
  • Something lost behind the ranges :the autobiography of John Blashford-Snell. London, HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN 0-00-255034-2
  • Mammoth hunt :in search of the giant elephants of Nepal by John Blashford-Snell and Rula Lenska. London, HarperCollins, 1996. ISBN 0-00-255672-3
  • Kota Mama : retracing the lost trade routes of ancient South American peoples by John Blashford-Snell and Richard Snailham. London, Headline, 2000. ISBN 0-7472-2281-9
  • East to the Amazon : in search of Great Paititi and the trade routes of the ancients by John Blashford-Snell and Richard Snailham. London, John Murray 2002. ISBN 0-7195-6032-2


  1. ^ a b Jersey Evening Post
  2. ^ Scientific Exploration Society, accessed 25 January 2010
  3. ^ This is North Devon
  4. ^ Royal Automobile Club
  5. ^ "John Blashford-Snell". Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  6. ^ About Operation Raleigh
  7. ^ Gold Medal Recipients, Royal Geographical Society, accessed 25 January 2010
  8. ^ Country Life, "Hats off Blashers", 29 June 2006
  9. ^ Permanent Directorate, Centre for Fortean Zoology, accessed 25 January 2010
  10. ^ History of the Ghost Club
  11. ^ [1], Honorary Fellowships 2010, Liverpool John Moores University, accessed 7 November 2010
  12. ^ Sweeney Medalists of the Explorers Club

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