In the same spirit, we have looked at what you can learn online about our pioneering ancestors, and we end each section with a suggestion of how to follow in their footsteps…
The South Pacific
The British Library has created a programme sponsored, appropriately enough, by Ponant, about the voyages of Captain James Cook. Cook's expeditions shaped Europe's knowledge of the world, with far-reaching consequences for the people of the lands they touched. Cook's sometimes heavy handed exploration of the South Pacific islands, New Zealand and Australia is fascinating.
Discover more at the Natural History Museum, which has an intriguing archive about the voyage of HMS Endeavour in 1768 with instructions to observe the planetary phenomenon The Transit of Venus, and then open the 'secret orders' - instructions to lay claim to Terra Incognita Australis.
Whilst you will not be able to see your own Transit of Venus (which takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the sun and a superior planet) as there will not be another until the year 2117, you can explore the South Pacific regions on a variety of ships. Indeed Crystal will introduce its very own Endeavor later this year (although unfortunately without the 'u') travelling in Australia and New Zealand, whilst the MS Paul Gauguin explores the Polynesian islands year round.
The British Museum's new exhibition, 'Arctic: Culture and Climate', is scheduled to take place later this year. In the meantime, enjoy an introduction by curator Amber Lincoln in her fascinating blog.
At the Scott Polar Research Institute you can browse their Arctic Material Culture Collection, as well as a very beautiful collection of Polar Art, whilst the Royal Museums Greenwich features an exciting account of the explorers who inspired Philip Pullman in his modern day classic 'His Dark Materials'.
Plan your own Arctic adventure, with options ranging from an exploration of Svalbard to coastal voyages in Greenland, the North West Passage or even the North East Passage from the Russian Far East through to northern Norway. Take a look at the comprehensive programmes from Silversea Expeditions, the Explorers of Ponant, or Hurtigruten's new MS Fridtjof Nansen.
Borneo and Indonesia
While everyone has heard of Charles Darwin, they might be less able to identify Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin's contemporary. Whilst exploring Borneo and the islands of Indonesia, independently of Darwin he came to the same theory of evolution, and their original findings were published jointly.
In the Malay Archipelago he noticed a striking pattern in the distribution of animals around the archipelago. He proposed an imaginary line dividing the region in two parts, now known as Wallace's Line, which marked the boundary between the animal life of the Australian region and that of Asia.
One of Wallace's greatest fans, Bill Bailey, created two television programmes under the title 'Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero' (#1 'Wallace in Borneo' and #2 'Wallace in the Spice Islands'). The Natural History Museum has much more to tell you with links to fascinating YouTube presentations and more.