The most beautiful mountains in the world have captivated climbers for centuries. Here, we examine their lethal appeal.
“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you,” said John Muir, the renowned naturalist, author and environmental philosopher.
If our resident seven-summit hopeful is an apt barometer, Muir makes a valid point. Those who spend time in the mountains seem to be driven by a deeper force. These brave men and women will face vertiginous vertical falls, sub-zero temperatures and 8,000m death zones in pursuit of their summit dreams. It’s in ode to them that we present this list.
A curated selection of eco-friendly wildlife tours that place animal protection at the top of their agenda.
Having just returned from an incredible diving trip in the Great Barrier Reef, we’ve seen first hand how important it is to choose eco-friendly wildlife tours to minimise the environmental impact of our travels.
We’ve always maintained that tourists should be able to visit vulnerable places as long as they do so in a sustainable way. Of course, no tourism is impact-free. Only last month, a cruise ship guard tragically shot dead a polar bear in Norway. Continue reading →
There are no “death zones” on these non-technical mountain climbs, but they offer plenty of challenges for mere mortals like me.
As a climber, I have completed several indoor climbing and winter mountaineering courses but my technical climbing skills still leave a lot to be desired. I have mastered basic rope, ice axe and crampon skills but don’t practise them as often as I’d like.
All too often I only find time for some wilderness backpacking in Europe or low-altitude scrambling in the UK. Regardless, I still have high hopes of climbing the seven summits. One day…
The best way to see the world’s greatest natural wonders is to visit the best national parks in the world. Thankfully, governments around the world have taken steps to preserve their areas of outstanding natural beauty, their diverse animal and marine life, and tracts of pristine wilderness.
From the plains and deserts of Africa to the waterfalls and glaciers of South America, every continent has something different to offer. Here we list the best national parks in the world by continent.
Last year, a good friend from back home in Norfolk (where it’s pretty flat) decided to climb Kilimanjaro and asked me for some advice. I certainly felt the trek was challenging but I’d had plenty of trekking and mountaineering experience before so was a bit blasé with my advice.
I told him he’d be fine, that it was more of a long uphill walk and that “if you can get in a few jogs beforehand and cut back on the beers and McDonald’s you’ll be fine.” Continue reading →
I never get bored when I travel as I always have my camera with me. During my travels across 60 countries over six continents I’ve had the honour of photographing some of the most stunning vistas the world has to offer.
Every country I visit swallows gigabytes of space on my hard drive(s) and hours (if not days and weeks) of my life spent curating and editing images after the trip. I’ve been selling my photography for over five years and can see that some shots from some countries will always be sought after. Continue reading →
Having spent hours, perhaps days, on long journeys with our heads buried in books, we select 10 great travel books to read on the road.
1. The Snows of Kilimanjaro Ernest Hemingway
When talking about Ernest Hemingway and travel books you’ve got plenty to choose from. I’ve gone for The Snows of Kilimanjaro as it holds a little bit of sentimentality for me. I read the short story just before I climbed Kili back in 2010. It didn’t help me with my climb and it’s not exactly full of optimism, but it’s a great read reflecting the time and culture that Hemingway was embedded in – for good or for worse.
2. Homage to Catalonia George Orwell
Not exactly another cheery tale but Orwell doesn’t do cheery. Whether you’re a socialist or a nationalist you can’t help but be moved by Homage to Catalonia Orwell’s personal account of his experiences from his time in Spain during the Civil War. His description of Barcelona after the Communists’ initial successes is uplifting and full of hope for the left-winger among its audience (including me). If you know your history then you know that unfortunately it doesn’t end so well for the lefties.
3. Kon Tiki Thor Heyerdahl
Kon Tiki is a (fairly) modern day tale of adventure and bravery on the tropical seas if there ever was one. In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl and his six-man Norwegian crew set out to prove that Polynesians migrated from South America as opposed to Asia during pre-Columbian times. He thought the best way to do this was on a raft. A raft modelled on and built from designs and technology available at the time. Oh, and the trip was 6,900 km (4,300 miles) across the Pacific Ocean. What a man.
4. Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson
If you’re British, this is laugh-out-load funny. Relentlessly. I don’t know if it’s as funny if you’re not British – you’ll have to let me know. Apart from its hilarity, Notes from a Small Island gives a great insight into British culture and mentality, as viewed by an outsider. Not to mention great descriptions of a cross-section of British towns, cities and regions always described in satirical detail. Quite heart warming all round, really
5. Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne
It’s a classic! How could it not be in here? I had a bit of a mad Jules Verne obsession when trekking across Norway a few years ago and read about ten of Verne’s tales. Around the World in 80 Days is a great a place to start. A rip-roaring adventure from the 19th century full of quaint references and some questionably political correctness! Good old-fashioned dream-of-travelling-the-world fun!
6. The Last Place on Earth Roland Huntford
I love this book because it offers a deep and methodical insight into the contrasting preparations and expeditions of Amundsen and Scott to reach the South Pole. Both made it, but only one survived. However, The Last Place on Earth controversially highlights how this was written in the wind and destined to happen from the start. The book is deeply critical of Scott, hence the controversy. From reading this it’s a wonder he even made it out the English Channel!
7. South Ernest Shackleton
South. Just reading the title makes me shiver. They don’t make ‘em like they used to! The South Pole had gone to Amundsen and Scott in 1911 and 1912 respectively, but there were still trophies in the Antarctic up for grabs. Shackleton, unfortunately was not going to win one on this endeavour. Beset by problems from the off, this is a tale of human endurance in the face of adversity if there ever was one. Marooned on the Antarctic continent, Shackleton leads his team on a harrowing three-year quest for survival.
8. Into Thin Air Jon Krakauer
In 1996 eight climbers were killed and several more injured on Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth. Krakauer was one of the lucky ones. By Jon Krakauer: Into Thin Air is a chilling insight into what it was like to be on the mountain during those godforsaken nights. As a climber and adventure-junkie I rather foolishly hold onto the dream of summiting Everest one day. After reading this, I’m not so certain I will.
9. On the Map: Why the World Looks the Way it Does Simon Garfield
I love maps. I can’t help it. This isn’t just about maps though; it’s more a reflection on travel and exploration over the ages. It also touches on the way people, and travellers in particular, engage with the world around them as they journey from one place to another. On The Map is a bit geeky for sure, but thoroughly entertaining and informative.
10. Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
I just re-read Treasure Island for the first time since I was a child and had to put it in. It’s still great. Just the names evoke the anticipation and excitement I felt as a child of what I was going to do when I grew up. Long John Silver, Billy Bones, Black Dog, Ben Gunn and a tale of buccaneers and buried gold are what young boys’ dreams are made off. Well, they were for me anyway.
We’re all aware that travel is supposed to be about exploring the globe, meeting amazing people and finding yourself. The web is littered with blog posts about life-changing and eye-opening moments. However, it’s not all heartening tales and romantic anecdotes.
I’ve been around the backpacker’s block and I’ve had several excruciatingly awkward travel moments; the sort of experiences that are so cringeworthy, you just don’t know where to look or what to say. Here’s my list of the top six. Continue reading →
Why climb? Because it’s there… and it can actually be done by most.
Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest freestanding mountain, meaning it is not attached to a mountain range. I trekked it in 2010 and it was inspirational to say the least.
It was part of a big trip for me to East Africa — and after an extensive safari throughout the Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater, coupled with several days on the exotic and dreamy island of Zanzibar — Kilimanjaro could easily have been overshadowed. But it wasn’t.
Climbing Kilimanjaro was exhilarating, awe inspiring, breathtaking, incredible and one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I recommend it to anyone who has the time (and the energy). Continue reading →