Unknown treks in Asia: 10 offbeat trails

From remote corners of Bhutan to the lofty heights of Nepal, we profile some of the best unknown treks in Asia

When it comes to exploration, ‘too late for the seas, too soon for the stars’ may best describe our current times. Legendary explorers like Drake and Magellan charted the seas long ago while Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and their like did the same for remote lands. 

The travel that changed me: Roz Watkins

Dal Lake in KashmirTappasan Phurisamrit/Shutterstock

From trekking in the hills of Kashmir to evading a rhino in India, author Roz Watkins tells us about the travel that changed her

Roz Watkins is the author of the critically-acclaimed DI Meg Dalton crime series. Set in the Peak District, her novels are known for their extraordinary sense of place. Think moody moors, gnarled forests and creepy local lore. Her protagonist is spirited and sensitive, but what draws me most strongly to Roz’s work is her willingness to venture into the darker corners of society. 

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. 

International borders: 10 remarkable frontiers

International borders Mexico-USA on Pacific CoastROSARITO TV/SHUTTERSTOCK

From mountains to libraries, we take a look at some of the most extraordinary international borders to be found across the globe

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an impressive collection of new websites, blogs and social media accounts dedicated to ‘travel porn’. They’re filled with big, sweeping images of fairytale lands and precarious precipices.

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.

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.

The travel that changed me: William Dalrymple

From the footsteps of Marco Polo to the dream destination he hasn’t yet seen, author William Dalrymple tells us about the travel that changed him

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland in 1965. At the age of 22, he set off to follow on foot the outward route of Marco Polo from Jerusalem to Mongolia. The journey inspired In Xanadu, the highly acclaimed bestseller which marked the beginning of a long and illustrious career.

Eight-thousanders: the 14 highest peaks in the world

Nanga Parbat was once known as "killer mountain"Witthawas_Siri/Shutterstock

The eight-thousanders are so ferocious that only 40 people have summited them all. We explain why they bewitch climbers all across the globe

Most boys grow out of their fascination with mountains and the great outdoors. Those that do not usually end up on the side of a mountain, asking ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ But, as the saying goes, the best alpinists have the worst memories and so they venture once again into the ether.

North Sentinel Island: a timeline of the world’s most isolated tribe

Sentinelis lined up on the shore of North Sentinel Island, ready to fight off visitorsChristian Caron/Fair Use

On a map, North Sentinel Island looks like any other idyllic spot in the Indian Ocean. Fringed with beaches and crystal cobalt waters, it lies in the Andaman archipelago of the Bay of Bengal.

North Sentinel Island, however, is unlike any other. It has been described as ‘the hardest place in the world to visit’, ‘the world’s most dangerous island’ and home to ‘the most isolated tribe in the world’.

These sensational labels can’t be qualified conclusively, but they do hold some truth. For an estimated 60,000 years, North Sentinel Island has been home to a fiercely independent tribe that has violently rejected contact with the outside world.

UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites

Fanjingshan in Chinasanyanwuji/Shutterstock

From Inuit hunting grounds to sacred mountain monasteries, UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites have been formally recognised for their outstanding value

The aim of UNESCO’s list is to identify, protect and preserve sites of cultural and natural heritage considered to be of exceptional value to humanity. These sites include a range of locations such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, east Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt and Machu Picchu in Peru.

To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, nominated sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of 10 selection criteria.

Animal instinct: eco-friendly wildlife tours

Eco-friendly wildlife tours serengetiDreamstime

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

10 long-distance hiking trails from around the world

long-distance hiking trails coast path england

We look at some of the finest long-distance hiking trails from around the world.

I’m always looking for new outdoor challenges (to add to my current bucket list of climbing the seven summits and sailing the Pacific Ocean). Completing some epic long-distance hiking trails sounds like the perfect challenge for me.

Traipsing along quiet hiking trails in the backcountry for weeks on end is my idea of heaven (and I dare say Kia would enjoy the time away from me too!). But, which one to choose?

World’s most stunning big wall climbs

The Tsaranoro Massif is known as 'Africa’s Yosemite'Dreamstime

It was five years ago that I first came across a big wall climber. A tiny speck on the side of a gigantic granite wall, the climber was bivvying in Yosemite National Park, the Holy Land of big wall climbing.

I couldn’t comprehend how someone could sleep tacked onto the side of a wall, suspended thousands of feet above the ground, sometimes in treacherous weather conditions.

The most extreme places on Earth

most extreme places in the world lead image

We explore the most extreme places on Earth. Crazy destinations where humans find ways to exist in harsh and hostile environments

I’ve always been fascinated by tough environments and particularly by the explorers who have braved them. When researching the most remote places on Earth I came across several extreme environments that simply were not designed for human inhabitation or travel.

However, we humans are a race of perseverance and often find ways to exist in these harsh and hostile lands. Here are just a few of the most extreme places on Earth.

10 places to see before they’re gone – or perhaps not

Diving the Galápagos

Friends and readers often ask us about the Galápagos. Is it worth the expense, they say. Would you recommend going?

The truth is it’s hard to encourage people to visit when we’ve seen first hand the damaging effects of human presence on the islands. Equally, it’s hard to discourage people from visiting because a) it would be hypocritical and b) underneath the frenzied tourism lies a unique destination with some of the best beaches we’ve seen and the best diving we’ve ever done (sharks, rays, sea lions and turtles). Clearly, the islands are worth a visit.

11 surreal man-made dive sites

surreal man made dive sites lead

If you’ve ever dreamed of discovering the mysterious lost city of Atlantis, then these dive sites are sure to intrigue

Man was designed to walk on land, but these underwater worlds suggest an alternative reality. From historic cities that have crashed into the sea at the hands of nature to artificial scenes constructed beneath the sea, these surreal man-made dive sites are utterly fascinating.