There haue been many before me, who, to know the miracles of the worlde, haue with diligent studie read dyuers authours which haue written of such thynges. But other giuing more credit to the lyuely voyce, haue been more desirous to know the same, by relation of such as haue traueyled in those countreys, and seene such thinges whereof they make relation, for that in many bookes, geathered of vncertaine aucthoritie, are myxt false thinges with true. Other there are so greatly desirous to know the trueth of these thinges, that they can in no wyse be satisfied vntyll, by theyr owne experience they haue founde the trueth by vyages and perigrinations into straunge countreys and people, to know theyr maners, fashions, and customes, with dyuers thynges there to be seene: wherein the only readyng of bookes could not satisfie theyr thirst of such knowledge, but rather increased the same, in so much, that they feared not with losse of theyr goods and daunger of lyfe to attempte great vyages to dyuers countreys, with witnesse of theyr eyes to see that they so greatly desired to knowe. The whiche thyng among other chaunced vnto me also, for as often as in the books of Hystories and Cosmographie, I read of such marueylous thynges whereof they make mention [especially of thynges in the east parts of the world], there was nothyng that coulde pacifie my vnquiet mynde, vntyll I had with myne eyes seene the trueth thereof.
I know that some there are indued with hygh knowledge, mountyng vnto the heauens, whiche will contempne these our wrytinges as base and humble, by cause we do not here, after theyr maner, with hygh and subtile inquisition intreate of the motions and dispositions of the starres, and gyue reason of theyr woorkyng on the earth, with theyr motions, retrogradations, directions, mutations, epicicles, reuolutions, inclinations, diuinations, reflexions, and suche other parteyning to the science of Astrologie: whych certeynely we doe not contempne, but greatly prayse. But measuryng vs with our owne foote, we will leaue that heauie burden of heauven to the strong shoulders of Atlas and Hercules: and only creepyng vpon the earth, in our owne person beholde the situations of landes and regions, with the maners and customes of men, and variable fourmes, shapes, natures, and properties of beastes, fruites, and trees, especially suche as are among the Arabians, Persians, Indians, Ethiopians. And whereas in the searchyng of these thynges we have [thanked be God], satisfied our desire, we thinke neuerthelesse that we haue done little, excepte we should communicate to other, such thynges as we haue seene and had experience of, that they lykewyse by the readyng therof may take pleasure, for whose sakes we have written this long and dangerous discourse, of thynges whych we haue seene in dyvers regions and sectes of men, desiryng nothyng more then that the trueth may be knowen to them that desyre the same. But what incommodities and troubles chaunced vnto me in these vyages, as hunger, thirst, colde, heate, warres, captiuitie, terrours, and dyuers other suche daungers, I will declare by the way in theyr due places.