Shackleton – The Greatest Ever Explorer?

By Stewart_Campbell / 06 June 2016

Shackleton – The Greatest Ever Explorer?

The Anglo-Irish explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the leading men of what’s known as the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration' and is a worthy contender for being the greatest ever explorer.

The Anglo-Irish explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton was one of the leading men of what’s known as the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’, and is a worthy contender for being the greatest ever explorer. Here’s why:

1. Number of expeditions

Shackleton was a principal figure of the ‘heroic age of Antarctic exploration – having been involved in a total of four polar expeditions and leading 3 of them.

His first experience of the great white continent was in 1901 to 1903 as a 3rd officer aboard Captain Scott’s RRS Discovery where he took part in one of the first marches to the south pole.

Shackleton was back in the area again with his 1907-1909 Nimrod expedition reaching the farthest southern latitude, 112 miles from the pole, discovering the Beardmore Glacier and climbing Mount Erebus en-route. He was welcomed back home as a hero.

The best-known Shackleton expedition was the Trans-Antarctic 1914-17 trip. It was during this attempt to cross Antarctica that his ship, ‘Endurance’ became fast in the ice and sank.  He and his team were forced to camp on the ice for 2 months. Shackleton and a smaller group then sailed a small boat in the open seas for 15 days, surviving hurricane force winds, climbing unforgiving landscapes of South Georgia for 36 hours to reach help. It’s this story that made him legendary.

In 1922, during his final expedition – the circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent –  Shackleton’s Antarctic adventures came to an end. He suffered a fatal heart attack before the start of his attempt and was buried on South Georgia island.

2. A great leader as well as a great explorer

Perhaps what set Shackleton apart from the other great explorers of the age are his leadership skills. He was able to communicate with his teams and keep them focused and loyal during long and challenging expeditions. He stayed calm under serious pressure and terrible conditions, often making order out of chaos and then finally pulling out all the stops to save his crew. Recently, his story is being used to teach corporate executives in today’s business world about the values of true leadership.

3. Recognition amongst his peers

Shackleton’s full contribution to exploration was not fully appreciated until thirty years after his death, but he always had the respect of his loyal crews and his peers. One of his contemporaries aboard Scott’s Terra Nova expedition noted: “For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organisation – give me Scott. For a winter journey, Wilson. For a dash to the pole and nothing else, Amundsen but if I am the devil of a hole and need to get out, give me Shackleton every time!”


How to follow in the wake of Shackleton:

Antarctica is still a remote and harsh environment, however, with modern expedition ships, it’s possible for anyone to follow in Shackleton’s trails of adventure and discovery. Expeditions Online are specialists in expedition and nature cruises – and feature a number of different expeditions travelling to South Georgia, Weddell Sea or the Ross Sea that allow you to do just this. Once you are there, you’ll be able to stand on Antarctica yourself. In South Georgia, you’ll also be able to raise a toast to Shackleton at his final resting place in South Georgia, as well as view extraordinary wildlife, walk amongst King Penguin colonies and see amazing harems of elephant seals. On an expedition such as Wake of Scott & Shackleton you sail from Hobart, Australia to Antarctica's seldom-seen and spectacular Ross Sea, with its mountains, ice-shelves, abundant wildlife and fascinating history, including the intact expedition huts of Scott and Shackleton’s South Pole expeditions. It’s like a step back in time more than 100 years!





Special Pricing

Antarctica, South Georgia and Falklands: Ocean Vic

On this extraordinary 19-day voyage, follow in the wake of Shackleton to Antarctica before heading via Antarctic Sound to South Georgia and Falklands

NOW 8045.00
Find Out More

South Georgia Explorer: MV Plancius

An early-season voyage focussing exclusively on wildlife-rich South Georgia, sailing on the comfortable expedition ship M/V Plancius

FROM 10500.00
Find Out More

Special Offer!

Weddell Sea Emperor Penguin Voyage: M/V Ortelius

An incredible Antarctic expedition cruise on the M/V Ortelius with onboard helicopters searching for Emperor penguins in the Weddell Sea

NOW 11500.00
Find Out More

Reduced prices!

Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill

A 14 day expedition to Antarctica's Weddell Sea to see emperor penguins on board helicopter-equipped Ultramarine

NOW 23796.00
Find Out More

Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctica - Plancius

An epic expedition cruise onboard the MV Plancius exploring the highlights of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands

FROM 13350.00
Find Out More

Special Pricing

Antarctica, South Georgia and Falklands

On this extraordinary 19-day voyage, follow in the wake of Shackleton to Antarctica before heading via Antarctic Sound to South Georgia and Falklands

NOW 10193.00
Find Out More

On Sale

South Georgia & Antarctica Penguin Safari

A 16 day expedition with World Explorer to the jewels of the Antarctic: South Georgia and the Peninsula

NOW 19196.00
Find Out More

Weddell Sea Quest: M/V Ushuaia

An 11 day expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula & South Shetland Islands & Weddell Sea aboard the M/V Ushuaia

FROM 7990.00
Find Out More

Falklands, South Georgia, Peninsula: Ortelius

A 20 day expedition cruise to the the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula on the ice-class expedition ship M/V Ortelius

FROM 13550.00
Find Out More

Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctic Circle

Ann epic 23 day expedition cruise onboard the Polar-6 class MV Hondius exploring the Antarctic Circle and sub-Antarctic islands

FROM 15700.00
Find Out More

Falklands and South Georgia: Magellan Explorer

This expedition on Magellan Explorer takes you to pearls of the South Atlantic: the wildlife extravaganza of South Georgia, and the Falklands

FROM 9995.00
Find Out More

Remote Weddell Sea Explorer: Ortelius

A rare and incredible expedition to South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands - Neuschwabenland, Vahsel Bay, Larsen Ice Shelf, Paulet & Devil, Elephant Is

FROM 24700.00
Find Out More

On Sale!

Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica: Expedition

This 22-day comprehensive itinerary with the M/S Expedition gives you all the major Antarctica highlights including amazing South Georgia

NOW 9239.00
Find Out More

Twin for the price of Quad!

Falkland, South Georgia Antarctica ex Madryn: Hond

A 21 day expedition cruise ex Puerto Madryn to the the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica on the brand-new expedition ship M/V Hondius

NOW 12600.00
Find Out More

Early Bird prices

Antarctic Wildlife Adventure: Sea Spirit

An early-season wildlife adventure on board the luxurious M/V Sea Spirit from the sub-Antarctic Falklands, South Georgia to Antarctica

NOW 13316.00
Find Out More

Special Pricing*

Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Explorer

A classic 22 day expedition with the luxurious MS Seaventure covering all the highlights of Antarctica plus amazing South Georgia and Falklands

FROM 20895.00
Find Out More

Antarctica Small Ship, Great Penguin Adventure

A magnificent Antarctica cruise on the modern and small ship Ocean Nova with the possibility of sighting 7 different species of penguin!

FROM 14690.00
Find Out More

Save up to 15%*

South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey

Three amazing weeks exploring the wildlife extravaganza that is South Georgia and Antarctica with a state-of-the-art new expedition ship

FROM 24095.00
Find Out More

Pay In Full save 10%

Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica: Explorers

A 20 day 'ultimate' Antarctica expedition with South Georgia & Falklands on board luxurious M/V Ocean Adventurer

NOW 17096.00
Find Out More

Antarctica South Georgia and Falklands Explorer

Join the well-appointed Ocean Endeavour on this epic 21-day voyage that introduces you to the wonders of the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands

FROM 14699.00
Find Out More

Related Blogs...

Antarctica's 'Blood Falls' contain a Unique Ecosystem

A Typical Day in Antarctica

Antarctica summer ice melt greatest for 1000 years

Antarctica Cruises Restart!

Top Ten Animals You Can See in Antarctica

5 Reasons We Love Antarctica in November and December!

Expeditions Online Newsletter

Sign up to be an Expeditions Online insider and receive info on exclusive deals, discounts and more!