Can you find all 10 hidden explorer locations and uncover interesting facts and details about the people who helped explore our planet?
The Portuguese nobleman Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed from Lisbon in 1497 on a mission to reach India and open a sea route from Europe to the East. After sailing down the western coast of Africa and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, his expedition made numerous stops in Africa before reaching the trading post of Calicut, India, in May 1498. Da Gama received a hero’s welcome back in Portugal, and was sent on a second expedition to India in 1502, during which he brutally clashed with Muslim traders in the region. Two decades later, da Gama again returned to India, this time as Portuguese viceroy; he died there of an illness in late 1524.
Coronado (c. 1510-1554) was serving as governor of an important province in New Spain (Mexico) when he heard reports of the so-called Seven Golden Cities located to the north. In 1540, Coronado led a major Spanish expedition up Mexico’s western coast and into the region that is now the southwestern United States. Though the explorers found none of the storied treasure, they did discover the Grand Canyon and other major physical landmarks of the region. The 16th-century Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, and clashed violently with local Indians. With his expedition labeled a failure by Spanish colonial authorities, Coronado returned to Mexico, where he died in 1554.
In search of fame and fortune, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (c. 1480-1521) set out from Spain in 1519 with a fleet of five ships to discover a western sea route to the Spice Islands. En route he discovered what is now known as the Strait of Magellan and became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. The voyage was long and dangerous, and only one ship returned home three years later. Although it was laden with valuable spices from the East, only 18 of the fleet’s original crew of 270 returned with the ship. Magellan himself was killed in battle on the voyage, but his ambitious expedition proved that the globe could be circled by sea and that the world was much larger than had previously been imagined.
In 1768, Cook, a surveyor in the Royal Navy, was commissioned a lieutenant in command of the HMS Endeavor and led an expedition that took scientists to Tahiti to chart the course of the planet Venus. In 1771, he returned to England, having explored the coast of New Zealand and Australia and circumnavigated the globe. Beginning in 1772, he commanded a major mission to the South Pacific and during the next three years explored the Antarctic region, charted the New Hebrides, and discovered New Caledonia. In 1776, Cook sailed from England again as commander of the HMS Resolution and Discovery,and in January 1778 he made his first visit to the Hawaiian Islands. He may have been the first European to ever visit the island group, which he named the Sandwich Islands in honor of one of his patrons, John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich.
In 1488, Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias (c. 1450-1500) became the first European mariner to round the southern tip of Africa, opening the way for a sea route from Europe to Asia. Dias’ ships rounded the perilous Cape of Good Hope and then sailed around Africa’s southernmost point, Cabo das Agulhas, to enter the waters of the Indian Ocean. Portugal and other European nations already had long-established trade ties to Asia, but the arduous overland route had been closed in the 1450s due to the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of the remnants of the Byzantine Empire. A major maritime victory for Portugal, Dias’ breakthrough opened the door to increased trade with India and other Asian powers. It also prompted Genoan explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), then living in Portugal, to seek a new royal patron for a mission to establish his own sea route to the Far East.
The 16th-century Spanish conquistador and explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475-1519) helped establish the first stable settlement on the South American continent at Darién, on the coast of the Isthmus of Panama. In 1513, while leading an expedition in search of gold, he sighted the Pacific Ocean. Balboa claimed the ocean and all of its shores for Spain, opening the way for later Spanish exploration and conquest along the western coast of South America. Balboa’s achievement and ambition posed a threat to Pedro Arias Dávila, the Spanish governor of Darién, who falsely accused him of treason and had him executed in early 1519.
Henry Hudson made his first voyage west from England in 1607, when he was hired to find a shorter route to Asia from Europe through the Arctic Ocean. After twice being turned back by ice, Hudson embarked on a third voyage–this time on behalf of the Dutch East India Company–in 1609. This time, he chose to continue east by a more southern route, drawn by reports of a possible channel across the North American continent to the Pacific. After navigating the Atlantic coast, Hudson’s ships sailed up a great river (which would later bear his name) but turned back when they determined it was not the channel they sought. On a fourth and final voyage, undertaken for England in 1610-11, Hudson spent months drifting through the vast Hudson Bay and eventually fell victim to a mutiny by his crew. Hudson’s discoveries laid the groundwork for Dutch colonization of the Hudson River region, as well as English land claims in Canada.
Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sails into present-day San Diego Bay during the course of his explorations of the northwest shores of Mexico on behalf of Spain. It was the first known European encounter with California. At San Diego, Cabrillo landed at Point Loma Head, now part of the Cabrillo National Monument. He then sailed on to explore much of the rest of the California coast. During one landing, he broke his leg and apparently fell sick with complications from the injury. He died in January 1543, probably on San Miguel Island off the Santa Barbara coast. Despite his reports of the appealing California coastline, the first Spanish settlement was not established in California until 1769, when Father Junipero Serra founded his mission at San Diego.
Born into Spanish nobility, Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521) may have accompanied Christopher Columbus on his 1493 voyage to the New World. A decade later, he was serving as governor of the eastern province of Hispaniola when he decided to explore a nearby island, which became Puerto Rico. In pursuit of a rumored fountain of youth located on an island known as Bimini, Ponce de León led an expedition to the coast of what is now Florida in 1513. Thinking it was the island he sought, he sailed back to colonize the region in 1521, but was fatally wounded in an Indian attack soon after his arrival.
The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really “discover” the New World—millions of people already lived there—his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of transatlantic conquest and colonization.
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