Since 2005 National Geographic has held a contest to choose the most outstanding adventurer of the year. This year’s list includes people who have risen to the pinnacle all manner of extreme outdoors activities from trekking the length of the Amazon, to sailing across the Pacific Ocean in a prototype boat made of recycled plastic bottles, to smashing the world record for rowing across the north Atlantic.
Below are a few of my favorites. You can read all of the full profiles on NatGeo’s website.
This year Ed Stafford finished his 2.5 year trek along the entire distance of the world’s longest and largest river: the Amazon. During this incredible journey he walked more than 4000 miles and had to deal with hostile tribes, venomous snakes, and long stretches without food or fresh supplies. Along the way he befriended “Cho” Sanchez Rivera, a Peruvian forestry worker, who accompanied him all the way to the Atlantic. It was the first time Cho had seen the ocean. This ending also marked the first time anyone had walked the entire length of the Amazon.
David de Rothschild
David de Rothschild is a quirky adventurer. The 32 year-old heir to a European banking fortune had plenty of adventures under his belt when he undertook the strangest of them all. In 2006 he announced he would sail the Pacific in a boat made only of recycled plastic bottles called the Plastiki (named after Thor Heyerdahl’s balsa-wood raft, Kon-Tiki). Although early models of the boat failed to prove seaworthy, Rothschild set out from California in the spring of 2010. Four months later he, and his crew, arrived in Sydney completing their eco-journey.
Mitchell is the Tony Hawk of stand up paddle boarding (SUP). For the uninitiated, SUP involves standing on a long buoyant board, similar to a long surfboard, and propelling yourself with a single paddle. Mitchell, a 33 year old from Queensland, Australia, has dominated the sport since 2002. He rarely loses a race. This year he won the biggest race in paddleboarding, a 52-kilometer marathon across Hawaii’s Molokai channel, for the 9th time. He completed the race, in which racers paddle by hand rather than with a paddle, in just less than five hours, which is no small feat considering that he must deal with large swells, currents, Portuguese man-of-wars, and even getting hit by flying fish.
You can vote for your favorite on the National Geographic website until January 15th here.