3 More great explorers whose disappearance still remains a mystery today

We have for you another three adventurers and explorers. Unlike the great voyages and discoveries of Columbus or Howard Carter, there are many lost expeditions and disappeared explorers. So here are the stories of another three great people and passionate explorers who probably lost their lives on the field, but whose fate remains a mystery till this day.

Jean-Francois de Galaup Lapérouse

Jean-François de Galaup Lapérouse.

In 1785 France’s King Louis XVI dispatched the explorer Jean-Francois de Galaup Lapérouse on a grand around-the-world mapmaking expedition.

After setting sail from Brest, the navigator rounded Cape Horn and spent the next few years surveying the coastlines of California, Alaska, Russia, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.


In 1783, France began preparing to send an expedition to the Pacific to continue the explorations started by James Cook in the previous two decades. Lapérouse reached Australia in 1788, but after leaving Botany Bay his fleet disappeared.

The expedition consisted of two ships – La Boussole and L’Astrolabe. They carried a total of 225 crew, officers and scientists. The ships left France in August 1785 and sailed south around Cape Horn.

The voyage was expected to last four years. In 1791, when La Perouse had not returned to France or made any contact with dispatch, the French government sent out a search party.

It was not until 1826 that an Irish sea captain, Peter Dillon, found enough evidence to piece together the events of the tragedy. In Tikopia (one of the islands of Santa Cruz), he bought some swords that he had reason to believe had belonged to Lapérouse or his officers.

He made enquiries and found that they came from nearby Vanikoro, where two big ships had broken up years earlier.


In a bizarre twist, the locals also claimed that some of the men—including the group’s “chief”—had survived on Vanikoro for some time before building a ramshackle boat and heading out to sea.

If this mysterious “chief” was indeed Lapérouse, it would mean the doomed navigator survived for several years longer than was originally believed.


Sir John Franklin and Francis Crozier

Captain Francis Crozier.


Sir John Franklin.

Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier was a British naval officer who participated in six exploratory expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. In 1845, he joined Sir John Franklin on the Northwest Passage expedition as captain of HMS Terror. After Franklin’s death in June 1847, he took command of the expedition.
The two ships requisitioned for the purpose, HMS Erebus, and HMS Terror were the most technologically advanced vessels on the planet. Their bows and bottoms were specially reinforced, internal heating systems were installed, and each had sophisticated retractable screw propellers. They carried their own desalinators and were lavishly provisioned with a recent innovation: canned food.

Crozier’s fate and that of the other expedition members remained a mystery for two years when a search party arrived from England, and only then did some of the terrifying details of the explorers’ fate finally come to light. After two years had passed with no word from Franklin, public concern grew and Lady Franklin—as well as members of Parliament and British newspapers—urged the Admiralty to send a search party.

The investigations revealed that Franklin and Crozier’s vessels had become trapped in pack ice during the winter of 1846-1847. While the expedition had three years’ worth of supplies, all the provisions had been sealed with lead, which almost certainly contaminated the sailors’ food. The crew soon became weakened and delirious from lead poisoning, and at least 20 men—including Franklin—perished by mid-1848.

In 1854, John Rae discovered further evidence of the lost men’s fate. Rae met an Inuk near Pelly Bay (now Kugaaruk, Nunavut) on 21 April 1854, who told him of a party of 35 to 40 white men who had died of starvation near the mouth of the Back River. Other Inuit confirmed this story, which included reports of cannibalism among the dying sailors.

As many as 50 ships would later travel to Canada in an attempt to locate the lost expedition, but the bodies of Franklin and Crozier—along with the wrecks of their two ships—have never been recovered.


Peng Jiamu

Peng Jiamu. Photo credit


The Lop Nor desert has been the death of hundreds. But Chinese biochemist Peng Jiamu seized the opportunity to explore and study its mysteries, writing, “I have a strong wish to explore the frontiers. I have the courage to pave a way in the wilderness.”
Peng Jiamu was a great scientist and explorer who vanished during one expedition in Lop Nur, the “Wandering Lake”. It is a hostile place that has been nicknamed Asia’s Devil’s Triangle. This unfriendly area has caused the deaths of hundreds of people. Despite several thorough large-scale rescue operations, Peng’s body has not been found until this day.

In 1980 Peng led a team of biologists, geologists, and archaeologists to Lop Nor to conduct new research. But several days into the journey, he abruptly disappeared from his camp after leaving a note saying he was going out to find water.

The Chinese government launched a massive search of the desert, but no sign of Peng was ever found. According to those familiar with the dangers of Lop Nor, the famed biologist was most likely buried alive by a freak sandstorm or crushed by an avalanche of loose soil. But while as many as six skeletons have been recovered from Lop Nor since his disappearance, none has been proven to be Peng.


To read about the previous 3 adventurers  –Percy Fawcett, George Bass and brothers Gaspar and Miguel Corte-Real. Jump to this article : 3 More great explorers whose disappearance still remains a mystery today


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jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival