13 stunning natural phenomena

Gregory B Cuvelier/Shutterstock

From the famous northern lights to the lesser known sea of stars, we share the world’s most stunning natural phenomena

As Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made history this week as the first astronauts to launch to orbit on a private spaceship, the world took pause to watch. Given the turmoil of our times, one observer quipped, ‘Congratulations to the Astronauts that left Earth today. Good choice.’

The travel that changed me: Jini Reddy

From trekking in Nepal to exploring Iran and Pakistan, author Jini Reddy regales us with tales of the travel that changed her

If ever there were an international woman of mystery, she’d likely be a lot like Jini Reddy. A British author and journalist, Reddy has lived in London, Montreal, Hong Kong, Provence and Tbilisi. 

Happiest countries in the world 2020

happiest countries in the world lead image 2020

The happiest countries in the world 2020 have been ranked in the latest World Happiness Report. For the third year running, Finland holds on to top spot

Happiness is a nebulous thing; hard to grasp and harder to hold onto. Scientists, economists and philosophers have defined it through the ages as a combination of different things, among them health, wealth, companionship and security.

17 megadiverse countries of the world

A tiger lazes in Ranthambore in IndiaOndrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

We profile the world’s megadiverse countries, from obvious contenders like Ecuador and Brazil to one or two surprise entries

It should be comforting to know that a mere 17 countries hold more than 70% of the world’s species. It should be easy to rally this small group of ‘megadiverse countries’ to protect the planet’s extraordinary biodiversity. Alas, some of these countries are also the world’s biggest consumers and polluters. 

Non-technical mountain climbs: 12 trekking peaks

mountaineering calendar whitney usaDreamstime

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 sill 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.

Ella Rock: how to hike it yourself (unguided)

Ella Rock how to hike it yourself lead image and view from topAtlas & Boots

A guide to hiking Ella Rock by yourself, including detailed directions, a downloadable route map, a video and a list of essential tips

Ella in Sri Lanka is beautiful, they said. ‘The closest thing to an English country village’ and the perfect place to slow down, we’d read.

I dolefully thought of this when darting across the thundering traffic to dodge yet another taxi driver insisting on taking me somewhere I didn’t want to go. The main street, stacked with milkshake huts and charm-free cafes, is a loud and roiling stretch of conveniences set up for the tourist alone.

Stewards of the wild: 10 famous environmentalists that give us hope 

Jane Goodall is one of the most famous environmentalists of our time.The Nature Conservancy/Fair Use

We profile 10 famous environmentalists, from the girl who lived in a tree for two years to the sea captain faced with Interpol arrest

I recently read a fact that stopped in me my tracks: in optimum conditions, some trees can live forever. They are vulnerable to predators, disease and natural disasters, but unlike humans, these ‘biologically immortal’ trees rarely die simply because they get old.

Most peaceful countries in the world 2020

most peaceful countries in the world 2020

The most peaceful countries in the world have been updated for 2020. Read our insights from the study and browse the rankings below

Global peacefulness has declined for the fourth time in the last five years, according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) report.

The GPI report is the only statistical measure of its kind and makes it possible to rank 163 independent states based on how peaceful they are. The 163 states cover over 99.7% of the world’s population and are assessed using 23 indicators, each banded or normalised on a scale of 1-5.

World’s most powerful passports 2020

We take a look at the world’s most powerful passports based on the ease with which you can enter foreign countries

Japan has been named the world’s most powerful passport in 2020, beating Singapore in second place and Germany and South Korea in third. 

The Henley Passport Index uses data from the International Air Transport Authority to measure how many destinations a passport-holder can enter without a prior visa. It analyses 199 different passports and 227 travel destinations to produce what is considered the most authoritative ranking of its kind.

20 interesting facts about Pakistan

A polo player at the Shandur Polo FestivalUmairHaider/shutterstock

From savage mountains to political firsts, we share the most interesting facts about Pakistan

I recently visited Pakistan for the first time to complete the K2 base camp trek. I would be lying if I said that I had booked my flights without a hint of trepidation. Pakistan has long suffered from bad press, exacerbated by years of political instability. As such, there are still areas of Pakistan where travel is not advisable

22 interesting facts about K2

K2 base camp trekAtlas & Boots

We share the most interesting facts about K2, gathered from years of reading, writing and dreaming about this notorious mountain

Rising from the Baltoro Glacier in the heart of the Karakoram is K2, one of Earth’s most remarkable mountains. Revered in the mountaineering world, the pyramidal peak is the ultimate challenge for climbers. The world’s elite alpinists have attempted its treacherous slopes. Several have conquered the summit, but many have lost their lives.

Everest vs K2 base camp: which trek is right for you?

everest vs k2 base camp lead new

Everest vs K2 base camp – what’s the difference? We compare the two classic treks

Since the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953, followed by K2 in 1954, the Himalayas and its satellite ranges have become far more accessible to trekkers. The 4,000km crescent of mountains that stretches from Kyrgyzstan to Burma was once solely the domain of professional mountaineers.