5 of the Craziest 'Expedition Unknown' Episodes Ever

Like a fine wine, Josh Gates’ adventure show has gotten bolder (and more nail-biting!) with age.

Rappelling off treacherous cliffs, submerging himself in uncharted waters, getting up close and personal with some sketchy characters … Josh Gates has done it all through three seasons of his travel adventure series Expedition Unknown. And with a fourth season around the corner that just might blow all of these said adventures out of the water, this seems like the perfect opportunity to get reflective.

In no particular order, here’s a recap of five of the most-watched (and most jaw-dropping) episodes of Expedition Unknown — see them on Travel Channel every Wednesday beginning Nov. 2 at 9|8c with some added behind-the-scenes footage and commentary throughout.

Josh has embarked on his fair share of expeditions in search of buried Nazi secrets over the years. Why is this one from season three so notable? Never before have we seen Josh go so Goonies on us, as he goes caving in some seriously ominous spots and even makes a couple of impressive underwater discoveries.

It also doesn’t hurt that he’s conducting this expedition from one of the most breathtakingly beautiful locales in the world.

It may or may not have been a struggle to get him to leave? You understand.

A classic from season one, this episode does not, in fact, follow the escapades of a cartoon-esque pirate one might recognize from a certain bottle of liquor. It does, however, dive deep into the real man behind the cartoon, Sir Henry Morgan, the most successful pirate in history, and his controversial lost treasure.

Josh and the crew search the seafloor off the coast of Panama for the captain’s sunken vessel and make at least one incredible discovery. But the really fascinating stuff happens when they meet with local villagers who recount their ancestors’ war with the real Captain Morgan:

Captain Morgan and the Embera
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This is the episode in which Josh Gates finally — FINALLY — gives in to his inner Indiana Jones, hat and all. The Ark of the Covenant is the single most iconic archaeological relic in history, and also the subject of one the arguably best adventure movies of our generation. There have been quite a few revelations and new findings since Indy’s quest in the 1980s, and Josh travels to Israel and Ethiopia to track down new evidence of its current whereabouts.

Viewers be warned: If tight spaces aren’t your thing, one scene in particular with Josh exploring the underworld of Jerusalem might be a rather cringe-worthy one to watch.

Woolly mammoths dominated the entire planet for literally thousands of years. And then one day? Gone. Vanished. This is not too dissimilar from the story of other prehistoric animals that mysteriously went extinct during the Ice Age, but the Woolly Mammoth is of particular interest now. Why? Some scientists believe they can revive the beast through DNA discovery and possibly apply learnings about its extinction to our own species.

Josh travels to Korea to talk with scientists investigating the possible comeback of the Woolly Mammoth and then heads north of the Arctic Circle to see if he can uncover some Mammoth DNA of his own. This episode has everything, you guys: black market permafrost mining, cloning and even some intimate ivory moments.

The reign of King John, a tax-obsessed tyrant from medieval England,

Most monarchs aren’t exactly the most popular folks of their time, but one English king seems to take the crown: King John, a tax-obsessed tyrant known as “The Bad King,” is notorious for his rule over a kingdom in shambles in medieval times (not to mention his presence in pop culture thanks to Robin Hood). Karma eventually came for King John, though, when his convoy transporting a massive hoard of riches worth an estimated $70 million mysteriously disappeared.

Sure, it’s possible that a philanthropic outlaw and his merry band of men stole the priceless crown jewels, but some other theories about environmental disasters seem to have more legs. In this wide-spanning episode, Josh investigates those theories and quite literally gets down in the mud to provide some modern day context for them. Par for the Expedition Unknown course, he also manages to make some time for a little UK tourist action.

Catch these episodes with new behind-the-scenes footage on Wednesday nights at 9|8c on Travel Channel — then stay tuned for an all-new season of adventures with season four of Expedition Unknown coming soon. 

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