Soldier, topographer, polar explorer, but also painter, Julius von Payer was a man of many skills. Despite being born in the West Bohemian spa town of Teplice, he is a figure unknown to most Czechs today. Nevertheless, his efforts were immortalised by the discovery of a polar island which he named Franz Josef Land.
The young Czech scientist Marie Šabacká has spent a considerable part of her working life in the Arctic, Antarctic and other remote areas, studying ecology of polar microorganisms and the impact of climate change on local ecosystems. This year, she received a prestigious grant from the Neuron foundation to explore tropical glaciers in Africa.
Two adventure-loving Czech bikers are fulfilling their dream of discovering the world on their Jawa motorbikes. Michal Franc and Martin Gregor have covered 35 thousand km across Europe and this year they headed for the ghost town of Pripyat in Chernobyl, the site of the worst nuclear accident in history. On their return they paid a visit to Czech Radio to talk about their experiences.
Linguist and budding historian Martin Neudörfl is on a mission to codify and save two languages from extinction: Sercquiais, a Norman dialect from the Channel Island of Sark only four people speak as natives, and Šumava Bavarian, the West Germanic language of his ancestors from Český Krumlov – where he’s helped revive the Schwarzenberg guard, of which he is the youngest captain in history and official archivist.
Monoxylon is the Greek term for a vessel chiselled out from a single tree trunk. It’s also the name of a Czech-led experimental archaeological expedition, which first set off in such a craft back in 1995. The aim then and now is to validate in practice assumptions and hypotheses about human migration in the Neolithic age, some 8,000 years ago.
For people from a land-locked country, boat hitchhiking may not seem like the ideal way of going places. But young Czech traveller Matěj Vohryzek, who has just returned from a hitchhiking trip across the Atlantic Ocean, has proved that with a dose of courage nothing is impossible. He covered the journey in just three weeks, losing eight kilos on the way.
The great traveller Miroslav Zikmund turned 100 on Thursday. For Czechoslovaks unable to travel much under communism, the books and radio reports produced by Zikmund and his friend Jiří Hanzelka served as a window to exotic parts of the world. However, the pair were barred from public life following the Soviet invasion.
Fifty-four-year old financier, politician and adventurer Pavel Sehnal has become the first Czech to reach both the North and South pole in gruelling Last Degree expeditions. He conquered the South Pole with six other adventurers on January 13 of this year, less than two years after reaching the Arctic.
Czech pilot Roman Kramařík has completed a flight around the world in a small Cessna airplane marking the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. Over the course of 46 days, the one-time aerobatic pilot crossed three oceans and three continents, covering over 40,000 kilometres. I met with Mr. Kramařík just a few days after he landed in Prague and I first asked him what made him set out on this adventurous journey: