Image: High Andes Expedition trip
Henry von Wartenberg
MotoDiscovery, a motorcycle tour company, recreates the South American travels of “Che” Guevara in the film “The Motorcycle Diaries” with their “High Andes Expedition.”
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updated 2/13/2009 11:17:27 AM ET 2009-02-13T16:17:27

A piece of skin from allegedly from a brontosaurus led author Bruce Chatwin to improvise his job assignment and head for Patagonia, which resulted in the travel classic “In Patagonia.” Youthful ambitions of travel and fun motivated Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s South America motorcycle travels. Hopes of riches and fame funded Marco Polo’s itinerary to the Far East.

Each of these heralded explorers ventured out of their comfort zones and discovered something they weren’t looking for. Nowadays, with the help of some adventuresome adventure tour companies, anyone can retrace their famous journeys.

Traditionally, water travel has been the explorer’s route of choice and if comfort is high on your trip priorities, ship accommodations are a good option. Travel Dynamics International offers a Journey of Odysseus trip once a year aboard the Corinthian II, an all-suite luxury small-ship cruise. As co-president Vasos Papagapitos explained, “The itinerary is structured around Odysseus’ return to Ithaca after the fall of Troy … All the ports of call are places mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey and are based on the most current scholarship.”

Another sentimental journey is to follow in the footsteps of the young, unpublished Gustave Flaubert and head to Egypt, where he traveled the Nile River. Today, the Oberoi Zahra is the Nile’s main luxury cruiser and features floor-to-ceiling windows and private dockings in select cities along the way.

“This is a trip of a lifetime” says Jared Rodriguez, a company representative. “Most people spend their lives only reading or watching movies about the storied history of Egypt and its Pharaohs. Cruising the Nile aboard The Oberoi Zahra brings these stories to life.”

If you prefer a less traditional water vehicle you can opt for a canoe trip on the Missouri River, Lewis and Clark-style. Row Adventures provides small group tours with a 4 to 1 guest to guide ratio and luxury camping amidst the wild surroundings.

According to Peter Grubb, Row Adventures’ president, “Every phase of history of Western America is found along this section of the upper Missouri—the Indians, explorers, fur trappers, early military posts, steamboats, railroads, pioneers and finally ranchers. You can see a slice of America as it was 200 years ago and walk to the camps where Lewis and Clark stayed, paddling through the same waters.”

If boat travel just isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other celebrated routes that nonetheless offer all kinds of adventure. You could, for instance, recreate Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s pre-revolutionary motorcycle journey through South America. Motodiscovery’s “Original High Andes Expedition” crisscrosses Che’s 1952 route on the type of motorcycle he used, riding through the Atacama Desert and stopping at the copper mining complex of Chuquicamata, the port city of Valparaiso and on through the High Andes passes.

Skip Mascorro, the founder of MotoDiscovery, says “These motorcycling expeditions have been life changing events for many. Stimulating, challenging, often physical, always rewarding. They attract women as well as men and represent a kind of traveler striving to not be ordinary.”

If you’re looking to make a journey only a few make, consider emulating Marco Polo the man, who made the Silk Road to China famous. The MIR Corporation’s Silk Route offers five itineraries. Their Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia trip is considered the most comprehensive and diverse. You will travel through the Xinjian Region of Western China which is the heart of the Silk Road, experiencing the traditional “Georgian Table” feast, stopping over at exotic bazaars.

“Although it is considered by some to be obscure, very well-traveled people on a quest to see all that the world offers are drawn to this little-explored region, says Annie Lucas, a spokeswoman for MIR Corporation.

This feeling of traveling through living history is the common thread that runs through each of these trips. Not only will you be traveling to spectacular destinations made famous in the history books, but you’ll also have the chance to see how time and progress influenced these places. Marco Polo once said “I have not told half of what I saw.”

Now you’ll be able to find out the second half.

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