5 Explorers Who Mysteriously Disappeared

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I’m fascinated by explorers from centuries ago for many reasons. Think of the mindset of these men: setting off into the great unknown with the knowledge that there was an excellent chance you wouldn’t be returning home.

Uncharted waters and lands filled with danger and disease. It all sounds terrifying, to be perfectly honest.

These 5 explorers took the ultimate risk and likely paid the ultimate price – for they never returned from their journeys.

1. Jean-François de Galaup

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The French explorer and sea captain, inspired by Captain James Cook, was sent by the King of France to explore the Pacific Ocean for 4 years, starting in 1785. The expedition consisted of two ships and 225 crewmembers. The crew traveled through Japan and other parts of the Pacific and were last sighted leaving Australia in March 1788.

No one heard anything from the crew for years and a 1791 search party turned up nothing. It wasn’t until 1964 that one of the ships from the expedition was found in the Solomon Islands. The fate of the crew, however, remains a mystery.

2. Naomi Uemura

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Naomi Uemura was part of the first Japanese team that climbed Mount Everest in 1970. He also rafted down the Amazon, climbed the highest mountain on every continent by himself, and was the first person to reach the North Pole by himself.

In 1984, he attempted to become the first person to climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley solo during winter. He reached the summit but then disappeared. Uemura’s diary was found hidden in a snow cave but no trace of his body has ever been discovered.

3. George Bass

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Bass was inspired by the age of exploration and became a surgeon on the high seas. He gained notoriety for mapping large portions of Australia’s coast in the 1790s with Matthew Flinders.

Bass decided to work as a trader and set sail for South America in 1803. He and his ship were never seen again. Some believe that Bass made it to either Chile or Peru and was captured by Spaniards and forced to work as a slave until he died.

4. George Mallory

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Mallory was a well-known British mountaineer and was an obvious choice to try to climb Mount Everest in the 1920s before it had been conquered. In June 1924 Mallory set off to climb Everest with Andrew Irvine. The last time they were ever seen alive was when they were seen climbing at over 26,000 feet.

Andrew Irvine was never seen again and it wasn’t until 1999 that Mallory’s body was found on the mountain. It was determined he had died in a fall. It is still uncertain if Mallory and Irvine reached the peak before they perished.

5. Ludwig Leichhardt

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Leichhardt was a German explorer who attempted to cross Australia’s interior desert in 1848. He set off with 7 other people and a large amount of supplies and horses.

No trace was ever found of Leichhardt or his party except for a brass plaque from his rifle. Trees with an “L” carved in them, which Leichhardt was known to do, were found over the years but didn’t help solve the mysterious riddle of what happened to Leichhardt and his party.