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List of women explorers and travelers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

English writer Gertrude Bell in Iraq, 1909
Belgian Berthe Cabra
Japanese climber Junko Tabei
Hungarian geographer Béláné Mocsáry
Canadian-born Aloha Wanderwell

The women listed below are or were explorers or world travelers. They include naturalists, sailors, mountain climbers, dog sledders, swimmers, pilots, and underwater explorers. Astronauts are not included here but in the list of women 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)
Alexis Alford American 1998 Youngest person to travel to every country in the world
Felicity Aston British 1977 First person to ski alone across the Antarctic land-mass using only personal muscle power, as well as the first woman to cross the Antarctic land-mass alone
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
Carol Beckwith American 1945 Photographer, author, and filmmaker known for documenting the tribal cultures of Africa, most notably in partnership with Australian photographer Angela Fisher
Gertrude Bell British 1868 1926 Explored and mapped the region of Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Arabia
Gertrude Benham British 1867 1938 Explorer, hiker and mountaineer; Truda Peaks of Mount Rogers is named after her
Mabel Bent Anglo-Irish 1847 1929 Explored and excavated with her husband James Theodore Bent in the Eastern Mediterranean, South Africa and Southern Arabia
Laura Bingham British 1992 Executed expedition to cross continent of South America with no money
Isabella Bird British 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
Alessandra Boarelli Italian 1838 1908 Italian mountaineer and the first woman to summit Monviso in the Alps in 1864
Laurence Bougault French 1970 2018 French poet and long-distance horseback adventurer in Africa, Middle East and Europe
Louise Bourbonnaud French 1847 1915 French philanthropist, explorer and writer who traveled alone through North and South America and the Far East
Louise Arner Boyd American 1887 1972 Explored Greenland and the Arctic
Beatrix Bulstrode British 1869 1951 Journalist and writer who traveled through China and Mongolia in 1911–1913
Susan Butcher American 1954 2006 Dog musher in Alaska
Berthe Cabra Belgian 1864 1947 Belgian traveller, first European woman to travel across central Africa from East to West
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 Indigenous peoples of the Americas
Charlotte Cameron American 1872 or 1873 1946 American traveller and author
Renata Chlumska Czech and Swedish 1973 Climbed Mount Everest, kayaked and bicycled around lower 48 states of USA
Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz Polish 1936 2021 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 1870 c. 1870 1910 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
Anne-France Dautheville French c.1943 First woman to motorcycle solo around the world
Alexandra David-Néel French 1868 1969 Travelled to Tibet while closed to foreigners
Robyn Davidson Australian 1950 2,700 km (1,700 mi) camel trek from Alice Springs to the west coast of Australia
Cassandra De Pecol 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]
Laura Dekker Dutch, German, and New Zealander 1995 Youngest person to sail around world solo
Eva Dickson Swedish 1905 1938 Swedish explorer, aviator, travel writer and rally driver; first woman to cross the Sahara by car
Lady Hay Drummond-Hay British 1895 1946 First woman to circumnavigate the world by air (by zeppelin)
Edith Durham British 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
Ginny Fiennes British 1947 2004 First woman to be awarded the Polar Medal, and architect of the Transglobe Expedition[2]
Enid Gordon-Gallien British 1887 c. 1887 1931 Explored and mapped Kalambo Falls
Barbara Hillary American 1931 2019 First African American woman to reach North Pole
Amy Johnson British 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
Alma Maximiliana Karlin Slovene 1889 1950 World traveler, writer, poet, polyglot and theosophist; second European woman to circle the world solo; in an eight-year travel, she explored North and South America, Oceania, Australia, East Asia, and India
Mary Kingsley British 1862 1900 Ethnographer and explorer of West Africa
Belinda Kirk British 1974 c. 1974 Founder of Explorers Connect; has travelled across Africa, Nicaragua, and the Chinese Taklamakan Desert; captained the first all-female rowing team to circumnavigate Britain non-stop
Lyuba Kutincheva Bulgarian 1910 1998 Bulgarian traveler and polyglot who traveled for almost a decade (1929–1938) through the Middle East, Far East, northern Africa and Europe
Gertrude Sanford Legendre American 1902 2000 American socialite who was a noted explorer and big-game hunter; contributed rare specimens from Africa, Iran, Southeast Asia, Canada, and Alaska to natural history museums
Annie Londonderry Latvian American 1870 1947 First woman to bicycle around the world
Ella Maillart Swiss 1903 1997 Explorer and travel writer in Asia from the late 1920s through to World War II; wrote Forbidden Journey – From Peking to Kashmir
Charlotte Mansfield British 1881 1936 Wrote Via Rhodesia (1911) about her travels in Southern Africa
Beryl Markham British 1902 1986 British-born Kenyan aviator (one of the first bush pilots), adventurer, racehorse trainer and author; first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west
Sarah Marquis Swiss 1972 Swiss adventurer and explorer who walked 16,000 km (10,000 mi) across Asia, Siberia and Australia
Nicole Maxwell American 1906 1998 Traveled the Amazon jungle gathering plants for natural remedies and medical use, reportedly amassing over 600 plants; wrote Witch Doctor's Apprentice: Hunting for Medicinal Plants in the Amazon
Elizabeth Sarah Mazuchelli British 1832 1914 Reportedly first western woman to see Mount Everest; wrote The Indian Alps and How We Crossed Them
Annette Meakin British 1867 1959 First Englishwoman[citation needed] 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
Béláné Mocsáry Hungarian 1845 1917 Hungarian geographer and travel writer who journeyed solo to four continents in the early 1900s
Dervla Murphy Irish 1931 2022 Irish travel writer known for cycling alone through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan to India
Marianne North British 1830 1890 Prolific English Victorian biologist and botanical artist
Vanessa O'Brien American and British 1964 First woman to reach Earth's highest (Mt. Everest 8,848m) and lowest points (Challenger Deep 10,925m)
Ida Pfeiffer Austrian 1797 1858 Travelled alone around the world in 1847, published books of her numerous travels
Dorothy Pine American 1920 2011 Possibly first woman to visit all 193 UN-recognised countries
Anésia Pinheiro Machado Brazilian 1904 1999 Second Brazilian licensed female pilot in Brazil
Odette du Puigaudeau French 1894 1991 made three trips to northern Africa to conduct field research among the nomads of the western Sahara region and eventually moved to Morocco
Teresa Remiszewska Polish 1928 2002 first Polish woman to make a solo sailing voyage around the Baltic Sea, using the yacht Zenit, taking a 690-mile route
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, first woman to successfully summit K2
Vefa de Saint-Pierre French 1872 1967 Global voyager and hunter traveling across North and South America and Australia, writing about her adventures
Kira Salak American 1971 Travelled in Mali and Papua New Guinea
Annemarie Schwarzenbach Swiss 1908 1942 Journalist and photographer, travelled to Iran, Afghanistan, Africa
Eliza Scidmore American 1856 1928 Journalist and travel writer on Alaska and Far East; introduced idea of Japanese cherry trees to Washington, D.C.
Beryl Smeeton British 1905 1979 Mountaineer, cruising sailor, overland traveller
Annie Smith Peck American 1850 1935 First person to climb Mount Nevado Huascarán in the Andes
Stephanie Solomonides Cypriot 1982 First Cypriot person to reach North and South Poles
Hester Stanhope British 1776 1839 Conducted first modern archaeology in Holy Land; travelled dressed as a man (unveiled)
Freya Stark British and Italian (French born) 1893 1993 Travelled within and wrote about the Middle East, including the Arabian deserts, Afghanistan
Matilda Coxe Stevenson American 1849 1915 Ethnologist and geologist who explored the Rocky Mountain region and the Southwest U.S.
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
Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir Icelandic 980 1019 With her husband, led an expedition to North America
Alexine Tinne 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, the first women to ride solo motorcycles across the continental US
Augusta Van Buren American 1884 1959 Along with her sister Adeline Van Buren, the first women to ride solo motorcycles across the continental US
Gabrielle Maud Vassal British 1880 1959 Naturalist in Vietnam, Congo, Gabon
Aloha Wanderwell American 1906 1996 First woman to drive around the world
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McNulty, Rose. "How Cassandra De Pecol became the first woman to travel every country on the planet—and stayed insanely fit". Mensfitness.com. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  2. ^ "Lady Virginia Fiennes Wife of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and first woman to receive the Polar Medal". The Herald (Glasgow). 25 February 2004. Retrieved 21 May 2024.