Wade Davis, writing in The Walrus Ā»

The true and original explorers, men and women who actually went where no humans had been, were those who walked out of Africa some 65,000 years ago, embarking on a journey that, over 2,500 generations, roughly 40,000 years, carried the human spirit to every corner of the habitable world.

Since then, terrestrial exploration has rarely been divorced from power and conquest. Searching for a passage to the Indies, Jacques Cartier is said to have discovered the Saint Lawrence River in 1534, though the valley was clearly settled at the time, the waters offshore crowded with the Basque fleet, fishermen with no interest whatsoever in flaunting the location of their discoveries: a cod fishery that would feed Europe for three centuries.

History heralds Francisco de Orellana as the first to travel the length of the Amazon (1541), a journey documented by his companion and scribe, Gaspar de Carvajal, who wrote of fleets of native canoes and riverbanks dense with settlements, home to just some of the 10 million people then living in the basin. ā€¦

Read the whole essay at The Walrus Ā»