List of female explorers and travelers

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The female explorer and traveller Gertrude Bell in Iraq, 1909.

This is a list of women who explored or travelled the world in a pioneering way. The list may include women naturalists, sailors, mountain climbers, dog sledders, swimmers, pilots, and underwater explorers. Astronauts are not included here but in the list of female astronauts.

Name Nationality Born Died Achievement/s
Harriet Chalmers Adams American 1875 1937 Explored and photographed South America, Asia, South Pacific
Tania Aebi American 1966 Held the record as the youngest person and first American woman to sail solo around the world (with stops and assistance).
Dominick Arduin French 1960 2004 Disappeared on her attempt to become the first woman to ski alone to the North Pole
Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey American 1863 1948 American ornithologist and nature writer, who conducted extensive field work in the American West
Ann Bancroft American 1955 First woman to travel over the ice cap to the North and South Poles
Jeanne Baré French 1740 1807 First woman (disguised as a man) to circumnavigate the world
Jean Batten New Zealander 1909 1982 First person to fly between England and New Zealand solo - broke other records
Gertrude Bell English 1868 1926 Explored and mapped Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Arabia
Laura Bingham English 1992 Executed expedition to cross continent of South America with no money.
Isabella Bird English 1831 1904 Explorer, writer and naturalist who travelled by herself through

North America, Hawaii, Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Persia, Kurdistan, Turkey, and Morocco.

Nancy Bird-Walton Australian 1915 2009 Australian aviation pioneer
Nellie Bly American 1864 1922 Pioneering journalist who travelled around the world in 72 days, the first person to do so.
Louise Arner Boyd American 1887 1972 Explored Greenland and the Arctic
Susan Butcher American 1954 2006 Dog musher in Alaska
Calamity Jane American 1852 1903 American frontierswoman and professional scout, known for her claim of being an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok and for fighting Indians.
Renata Chlumska Czech and Swedish 1973 Climbed Mount Everest, kayaked and bicycled around lower 48 states of USA
Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz Polish 1936 First woman to sail solo around the world
Kay Cottee Australian 1954 First woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world
Octavie Coudreau French c.1870 c.1910 Early explorer and geographer of the Amazon region in Brazil and French Guiana
Aimée Crocker American 1864 1941 Heiress, writer spent a decade exploring the Far East in the 1890s. Toured the interior of Java and Borneo.
Sophia Danenberg American 1972 First black woman to reach summit of Mount Everest
Alexandra David-Néel French 1868 1969 Travelled to Tibet while closed to foreigners
Laura Dekker Dutch, German, and New Zealander 1995 Youngest person to sail around world solo
Cassandra DePecol American 1989 traveled to all sovereign nations on a trip from July 24, 2015, to February 2, 2017; she thus obtained the Guinness World Record for "Fastest Person (Female) to Travel to All Sovereign Nations" and is the first documented woman, fastest American, and youngest American to do such a trip.[1]
Eva Dickson Swedish 1905 1938 Swedish explorer, aviator, travel writer and rally driver. The first woman to have crossed the Sahara by car.
Lady Hay Drummond-Hay English 1895 1946 First woman to circumnavigate the world by air (by Zeppelin)
Edith Durham English 1863 1944 Explored Albania and the Balkans
Amelia Earhart American 1897 1937 First woman to fly solo across Atlantic
Isabelle Eberhardt Swiss 1877 1904 Swiss explorer and writer in Algeria, who converted to Islam and traveled freely dressed as a man.
Gertrude Ederle American 1905 2003 First woman to swim English Channel
Barbara Hillary American 1931 First African American woman to reach North Pole
Amy Johnson English 1903 1941 Pioneering aviator who set long-distance flying records
Osa Johnson American 1894 1953 Made films of and wrote books about travels in Africa, South Pacific, Borneo
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner Austrian 1970 First woman to climb all fourteen eight-thousander mountains without supplementary oxygen
Mary Kingsley English 1862 1900 Ethnographer and explorer of West Africa
Ness Knight South African 1985 Explorer and first female in history to swim the Thames River from source to London in 2013. Completed a solo traverse of remote regions of Northern Namibia in 2016.
Annie "Londonderry" Kopchovsky Latvian American 1870 1947 First woman to bicycle around the world
Polly Letofsky American 1962 First woman to walk around the world. In 1999, Polly began her 5-year trek around the world, raising awareness for breast cancer by partnering with the Lion's Club.
Charlotte Mansfield English 1881 1936 Wrote Via Rhodesia (1911) about her travels in Southern Africa
Beryl Markham English 1902 1986 British-born Kenyan aviator (one of the first bush pilots), adventurer, racehorse trainer and author. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.
Annette Meakin English 1867 1959 First Englishwoman to cross the Trans-Siberian Railway. Wrote about this in "The Ribbon of Iron".Travelled in Russian Turkestan and other parts of Russia.
Ynes Mexia Mexican-American 1870 1938 Mexican botanist and explorer who started her career at age 55. Discovered one new genus (Mexianthus) and many new species of plants.
Dervla Murphy Irish 1931 Irish travel writer known for cycling alone through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan to India
Sarah Marquis Swiss 1972 Swiss adventurer and explorer who walked 10,000 miles (16,000 km) across Asia, Siberia and Australia
Marianne North English 1830 1890 Prolific English Victorian biologist and botanical artist
Ida Pfeiffer Austrian 1797 1858 Travelled alone around the world in 1847, published books of her numerous travels
Anésia Pinheiro Machado Brazilian 1904 1999 Second Brazilian licensed female pilot in Brazil
Kate Rice Canadian 1882 1963 First woman prospector in Northern Canada, writer, and trapper well known for her dog sled abilities
Wanda Rutkiewicz Polish 1943 1992 Polish mountain climber, the first woman to successfully summit K2
Kira Salak American 1971 Travelled in Mali and Papua New Guinea
Annemarie Schwarzenbach Swiss 1908 1942 Journalist and photographer, travelled to Iran, Afghanistan, Africa
Beryl Smeeton English 1905 1979 Mountaineer, cruising sailor, overland traveller
Annie Smith Peck American 1850 1935 First person to climb Mount Nevado Huascarán in the Andes
Hester Stanhope English 1776 1839 Conducted first modern archaeology in Holy Land; travelled dressed as a man (unveiled)
Freya Stark English and Italian

(French born)

1893 1993 Travelled within and wrote about the Middle East, including the Arabian deserts, Afghanistan
Clärenore Stinnes German 1901 1990 First woman to circumnavigate the world by automobile.
Rosie Swale-Pope Swiss, Irish, and British 1946 Has run, walked and sailed around the world
Junko Tabei Japanese 1939 2016 First woman to reach summit of Mount Everest
Annie Edson Taylor American 1838 1921 First person to survive a trip over the Niagara Falls in a barrel
Alexandrine Tinné Dutch 1835 1869 Dutch explorer in Africa and the first European woman to attempt to cross the Sahara
Adeline Van Buren American 1889 1949 Along with her sister Augusta Van Buren, they were the first women to ride solo motorcycles across the continental US.
Augusta Van Buren American 1884 1959 Along with her sister Adeline Van Buren, they were the first women to ride solo motorcycles across the continental US.
Jessica Watson Australian and New Zealander 1993 Youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world (but did not fulfil WSSRC criteria)
Fanny Bullock Workman American 1859 1925 American cartographer, explored glaciers in Himalayas

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