Always playing second fiddle to the more familiar Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta logged more miles, visited more countries, travelled for more years and offers us a story that surpasses Polo in pure entertainment. Polo’s only jump was that he left Venice fifty five years prior to Ibn Battuta’s departure from Tangiers in 1325. The list of lands visited by Ibn Battuta is incredible, North Africa, Egypt, Damascus and Jerusalem, Iraq and Persia, Anatolia and the Crimea. In the far east he spent time in Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Melaka, Sumatra, Annam and China as far North as Beijing. He performed the Hajj four times and spent six years working for the Sultan of Delhi escaping with his life and nothing more. After twenty one years of travel Ibn Battuta decided he had missed his home and family and in less than three years traversed the distance from China to Morocco only to learn that his mother had died a few months prior to his return. After his return he made a jaunt across the Straits of Gibraltar to Granada and later he joined a caravan to cross the Sahara to Timbuktu.
Like so many others Ibn Battuta suffered the fears of sea travel during tumultuous weather, he fought in wars, was accosted by bandits and was imprisoned and threatened with possible execution. His travel story, valid or not, could be the greatest of all time.