Heinrich Barth (1821-1865)
A giant of Victorian exploration, Heinrich Barth is a personal hero of mine, and was one of the very toughest of all the Europeans who ever set out to find Timbuctoo. Born in Hamburg in 1821, he was a scholar and linguist, speaking and reading Arabic, in addition for various European languages.
Indefatigable, courageous and stubborn in a way that every explorer should be, Barth managed to keep an extremely detailed dairy of his journey across North and West Africa, and his visit to Timbuctoo.
Travelling in disguise much of the time, he wrote notes in secret, which makes the published account of his trip all the more remarkable. Stretching to five large volumes, the English edition was entitled Travels and Discoveries in North and Central Africa, and was published between 1857 and 1858. A resource of unimaginable use for decades to come, the masterwork confirmed Heinrich Barth as an unrivalled explorer of his time.