• Marco Polo (1254-1324)
  • He journeyed for 24 years
  • Reached beyond Mongolia to China
  • Became a confidant of Kublai Khan (1214-1294)
  • Returned to tell the tale, which became the greatest travelogue.

Marco Polo was only 6 years old when his father and uncle set out eastward on their first trip to Cathay (China), and 15 years old when they returned to Venice. His father and uncle took Marco with them when they set out two years later, in 1271, and passed through Armenia, Persia, and Afghanistan, over the Pamirs, and all along the Silk Road to China.

Speaking of the Gobi desert, he writes: “This desert is reported to be so long that it would take a year to go from end to end; and at the narrowest point it takes a month to cross it. It consists entirely of mountains and sands and valleys. There is nothing at all to eat.”