A Timeline of Women Adventurers
Queen Zenobia – 240 AD. Queen of Palmyra. Resisted the might of the Roman Empire.
Egeria – early 380s. Pilgrim to the Holy Land, wrote a detailed account of her journey.
Grace O’Malley – 1530-1603. Sea captain and fearless pirate who fought for her clan in Ireland.
Marie of the Incarnation – 1599 – 1672. Ursuline nun who traveled to the New World to convert the inhabitants
Maria Sibylla Merian – 1647-1717. German/ botanist – traveled to Dutch Surinam to study metamorphosis
Isabel Godin des Odonais – 1728-1792. Chilean woman who traveled down the Amazon – alone against terrible odds – to meet her husband.
Weetamoo. (c. 1635-1676.) Fearless Wampanoag chief during King Philips War in colonial New England, during a clash of cultures.
Jeanne Baret – 1740-1807. French naturalist, First woman to circumnavigate the world (disguised as a man)
Eliza Fay – 1755-1816 English letter writer and traveler to India
Louisa Catherine Adams – 1775 – 1852. English wife of U.S. President John Quincy Adams. Traveled in winter through Europe in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic wars.
Hester Stanhope – 1776-1839. British traveler, archeologist in the Holy Land.
Emily Eden – 1797-1869 – English poet and novelist. Traveled to India and wrote accounts of travel in Up the Country; “Thoroughly disliked traveling.”
Ida Laura Pfeiffer – 1797-1856. Austrian who traveled to Iceland, Europe, Egypt, S America, and around the world
Susanna Moodie – 1803-1885. English-born Canadian author. Wrote about her experiences as a settler in Canada.
Mary Seacole – 1803-1881 – British-Jamaican businesswoman, served as a nurse during the Crimean War, traveled extensively.
Narcissa Whitman – 1808 – 1847. American missionary. One of the first women to travel across the Rocky Mountains.
Anita Garibaldi – 1821-1849. In her brief life, this fearless woman followed her true love and fought beside him in Brazil and Italy.
Marianne North – 1830-1890. English biologist and botanical artist, traveled alone around the world
Martha Maxwell – 1831 – 1881. American naturalist and taxidermist – traveled in the Rockies.
Amelia Edwards – 1831-1892. English writer, traveler, and pioneering Egyptologist.
Alexandrine Tinne 1835-1869. Dutch explorer in Africa, who crossed the Sahara
Lady Anne Blunt – English aristocrat who traveled through Arabia and the Middle East in Bedouin attire.
Isabella Bird – 1841-1904. English explorer, writer, naturalist. traveled by herself through Asia and North America
Florence Baker – 1841-1916 – Hungarian-born British explorer. Traveled with her husband in Africa in search of the source of the Nile.
May French Sheldon – 1847-1936. American publisher, traveled alone in Africa
Flora Annie Steel 1847-1929 – traveled in Punjab,India.
Annie Smith Peck – 1850-1935. American adventurer, mountain climber in the Alps and the Andes.
Jane Dieulafoy – 1851-1916. French archaeologist, explorer, novelist and journalist. She dressed in men’s clothing – all the time.
Annie Royle Taylor -1855-1922. English explorer missionary to China, first western woman to visit Tibet, attempted to reach Lhasa
Zelia Maria Magdalena Nutall – 1857-1933 American archeologist and anthropologist who specialized in prehistoric cultures in Mexico.
Kate Marsden – 1859-1931. British missionary, explorer, writer – traveled to Siberia to find leprosy cure
Fanny Bullock Workman – 1859-1925. American cartographer, travel writer, explorer / climbed with husband in the Himalayas / in a skirt!
Helga Etsby – 1860-1942. American who walked across the U.S. in 1896 to win a prize. She won!
Mary Kingsley – 1862-1908. English ethnographer and explorer in West Africa
Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey -1863-1948. American ornithologist, did field work in the American West
Mary Edith Durham – 1863 – 1944. British traveler, artist, writer, famous for anthropological accounts of life in Albania.
Ella Sykes – 1863-1939 – English woman traveler, rode side-saddle through Persia in 1895 and rode yaks through central Asia
Margaret Alice Murray – 1863-1963. Anglo-Indian Egyptologist, archeologist, anthropologist, historian, and folklorist.
Gertrude Bell – 1868-1926. English explorer, mapped much of the Middle East, hung out with T.E. Lawrence, called “Queen of the Desert”
Alexandra David-Neel – 1868-1969. French writer and Buddhist scholar, traveled to India, China, Tibet.
Delia Julia Akeley 1869-1970 – American explorer in Africa, lived with pygmies in Zaire.
Annie Londonderry – 1870-1947. American, 1st woman to bicycle around the world (not quite sure how she managed that)
Inez Mexia – 1870-1938. Mexican botanist and adventurer – began her career at age 55!
Harriett Chalmers Adams – 1875-1937. American writer, photographer. Explored South America, Haiti, Gobi Desert
Isabelle Eberhard 1877-1904. Swiss explorer, traveled to Algeria, converted to Islam, dressed as a man
Marguerite Baker Harrison – 1879-1967. American reporter, spy, filmmaker – one of the founders of Society of Women Geographers
Louise Arner Boyd – 1887-1972. American who explored Greenland and the Antarctic.
Rosita Forbes – 1890-1967. English travel writer and explorer. She explored Egypt and Libya at a time when foreigners were forbidden.
Marthe Cnockaert McKenna – 1892-1966. Brave spy in Belgium in World War I. Codename: Laura.
Freya Stark – 1893-1993. British-Italian, traveled within and wrote about the Middle East
Vera Brittain – 1893 – 1970. British war nurse, pacifist, writer. Wrote about her experiences in World War I.
Phyllis Munday – 1894-1990 – Canadian mountaineer and explorer, had a mountain named in her honor.
Jane Elliott Wulsin -1894–1963. American, explored China, Tibet, Outer Mongolia
Ada Blackjack – 1898-1983 – Inuit woman who lived on an island in the Arctic Ocean for two years, part of that time alone.
Vivienne de Watteville – 1900-1957. British travel writer and big game hunter, traveled to the Congo, Uganda.
Beryl Markham – 1902-1986. British/Kenyan aviator
Ella Maillart – 1903-1997. Swiss traveler, travel writer, photographer.
Josefina (Joey) Guerrero – 1917-1996 – World War II spy and leper – in the Philippines
Anne Spoerry. 1918-1999. French resistance fighter during World War II, then in Ravensbruk concentration camp. Lived and worked as a doctor in Kenya.
Rose Zar. 1922-2001. Jewish woman who lived hidden in plain sight in Poland during World War II.
Zetton Buchanan – 1921 – imprisoned in an Iraqi harem after her husband was killed in a raid.
Jennie Darlington – 1924-2017. Canadian explorer. Spent her honeymoon in Antarctica, where she was one of the first women to overwinter, and the first person to become pregnant in Antarctica.
Dervla Murphy – 1931-present. Irish cyclist, travel writer. Traveled through the Himalayas …on a bicycle!
The “Rabbit-proof Fence” Girls. In 1931, three Aboriginal girls escaped from a native settlement south of Perth, Australia, making through dangerous country in a harrowing journey to freedom.
Sylvia Earle – 1935-present. American marine biologist, explorer, author. Dedicated to protecting the ocean and its wildlife.
Helen Thayer – 1937-present. New Zealand explorer, first woman explorer to travel to the magnetic North Pole (by sled) (at 50!)
Aung San Suu Kyi – 1945 to present. Burman civil rights protestor, kept under house arrest for 20 years. Won Nobel Peace Prize.
Arlene Blum – 1945 to present. American mountaineer and environmental scientist, led an all-woman team to the first ascent of Annapurna in the Himalayas.
Christina Dodwell – 1951 to present. British explorer, travel writer, and lecturer. Not squeamish; will eat anything.
Margaret Lowman – 1953 to present. American biologist called “Canopy Meg” for her work in the treetops. Read my Goodreads review of her book Life in the Treetops.
Sorrel Wilby – 1958-present. Australian hiker who walked through Tibet alone in 1983.
Karin Muller – 1965 to present. Swiss adventurer, author, filmmaker, photographer. Traveled in Cuba – arrested 12 times!
If you enjoyed this article and want to learn about more amazing women, Join the Women Adventurers Club and receive a Timeline of Women Adventurers, updates when I publish new articles, and information about upcoming events and giveaways.