Things to do in Oman: our top 12 picks

Rub' al Khali sand dunesDavid Steele/Shutterstock

We explore the best things to do in Oman, from modern Islamic architecture to the jagged peaks of its wild interior

Oman is an intriguing blend of the modern world and old Arabia. Unlike some of its neighbours, overdevelopment is yet to saturate the country. Lying on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world, sharing borders with the UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Best things to do in Muscat: 9 must-sees

The Muttrah Corniche at nightAlas & Boots

We explore the best things to do in Muscat, Oman’s delightful oceanside capital

Pinched between the mountains and the ocean, Muscat is a refreshing take on the skyscraper-choked cities of the Gulf States. The Omani port capital may not have the overt glitz of its high-rise neighbours, but it exudes an understated charm and natural beauty rarely seen in the more popular cities of the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

What are the most dangerous countries in the world?

peak distict national park derbyshire england longstone moor with tree in fields..jpg

The most dangerous countries in the world are Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and Iraq, according to the Global Peace Index 2019. Explore the complete rankings below

The world has become slightly less dangerous for the first time in five years, according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) report. However, over the last 10 years the world has become more dangerous overall with the average level of global peacefulness deteriorating by 3.78%.

Poorest countries in the world – ranked

poorest countries in the world ranked

African nations dominate the ranking of the poorest countries in the world based on the latest data from the World Bank

We all have preconceptions about places. Take Ethiopia for example. As children of the eighties, Kia and I were only too aware of the struggles Ethiopia has faced historically: political unrest, civil war and, of course, famine. It was easy then to imagine a vast desolate dust bowl ahead of our visit in 2017. 

Happiest countries in the world 2019

The happiest countries in the world 2019 have been ranked in the latest World Happiness Report. This year, Finland holds on to the 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.

UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites

UNESCO’s-Newest-World-Heritage-Sites-leadimg

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.

World’s most powerful passport 2019

best passport to have

Travelling can be a bureaucratic nightmare for those on restricted passports. Here we look at the best passport to have in 2019 based on the freedom it provides

Ten years ago, in my first job after graduation, I shared an office with a researcher called Munir who I nicknamed Dr2 because he not only had a PhD but was also qualified as a medical doctor. (I recognise it’s not the wittiest name in the world but it was the best I could do at the time.)

Mountaineering calendar: when to climb the world’s greatest mountains

Mountaineering-calendar-when-to-climb-the-world’s-greatest-mountains-matterhorn

Since I first started climbing, I must have spent hours typing “when is the best time to climb…” into search engines and then crawling through websites to find the key piece of information I needed. Only when I have a date in mind can I start to think about the practicalities of actually trying to climb a mountain (i.e. booking time off work, flights, budget, gear etc).

To solve this problem once and for all, Atlas & Boots has put together a mountaineering calendar of the world’s greatest mountains and the optimal time of year at which to climb them. Drawing on Adventure Consultants’ expedition calendar, we list the world’s major mountains and ranges month by month.

The list is not entirely inclusive as it would take too long to list every mountain on the planet. Likewise, to avoid repetition we list select mountains in a range, considering the world’s 100 highest mountains lie within the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. We have also excluded winter ascents from the list because, well, if you’re that guy, you probably don’t need a calendar.

What is the greenest country in the world?

greenest-country-in-the-world-feat-img-vietnam-farmer

The greenest country in the world is Switzerland according to the latest data analysis from the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI)

The Environmental Performance Index evaluates and ranks 180 countries on 24 performance indicators across 10 categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality.

The aim is to gauge, at a national scale, how close countries are to meeting the environmental policy goals outlined in the United Nations 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.

Dead heat: the hottest places on Earth

Hottest places on earth feat

We take a look at the hottest places on Earth and what it takes to survive there

Having just returned from Dallol in Ethiopia, we’ve seen how hard it is to survive in one of the hottest places on Earth.

The hottest places on earth are in constant flux. They change from year to year and recording techniques – which are often challenged and disputed – change with them. Regardless, the same places tend to crop up again and again, many of them sharing similar characteristics. The hottest places on Earth are nearly always dry, barren, sunny and home to little or no vegetation.

Volcanic seven summits of the world

volcanic seven summits featimg

We take a look at the volcanic seven summits – the highest volcano on each continent

The volcanic seven summits may not be coveted with the same vigour as the seven summits or even the seven second summits, but the peaks still offer a worthy challenge

We’ve just returned from Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Erta Ale may not be as lofty or as challenging as the following summits, but it did remind us why we stand in awe of volcanoes – active or not.

Before they’re gone: landscapes affected by climate change

landscapes-affected-by-climate-change-featimg

Climate change is taking an unprecedented toll on the Earth’s World Heritage Sites and natural wonders. Below, we take a look at some of the worst affected landscapes

With the surprise news this week that Donald Trump will be the next president of the USA, it would be easy to overlook that with the news comes one of the biggest threats to the historic agreement on climate made in Paris earlier this year.

Trump has previously described climate change as “fictional” and “created by the Chinese”, and has promised to “cancel” the Paris climate deal completely. On the domestic front he also plans to repeal all federal spending on clean energy, including research and development for wind, solar, nuclear power and electric vehicles.

Underground cities of Cappadocia: for trogs and hobbits

underground cities of Cappadocia

Exploring the Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu underground cities of Cappadocia is perfect for connecting with your inner troglodyte

With so many activities on offer above ground in Cappadocia (hot-air balloon rides, hiking and horse riding to name but a few) it would be easy to overlook the maze of tunnels burrowed deep in subterranean Turkey.

The underground cities of Cappadocia offer something truly unique to the tourist in Anatolia. You won’t find any fairy chimneys or ridged valleys here. Instead, a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers await. Claustrophobes, beware!

8 short but sweet Cappadocia hikes

Cappadocia-hikes-featimg

Our selection of quick Cappadocia hikes explore some of the most bizarre and magnetic scenery in the world

Hiking around Cappadocia in Turkey is a unique experience offering some of the most surreal scenery in the world. There are numerous options available, from brief walks to full-day treks and beyond. Below, we take a look at some short but sweet Cappadocia hikes offering excellent vantage points with extraordinary views.

Cappadocia balloon ride: a fairytale flight

Capadoccia balloon ride-featimg-2

A Cappadocia balloon ride gives passengers an unrivalled perspective of the area’s unique landscape of fairy chimneys, towering boulders and ridged valleys peppered with caves

We had already spent three days exploring the lunar-like environment of Cappadocia. We had hiked, driven, ‘caved’ and ridden our way around Göreme National Park (the modern encompassment of the historic region of Cappadocia) and were soon ready for a full, unobstructed view from above.

The world’s most expensive cities for expats 2016

most-expensive-cities-for-expats-featimg-2.jpg

Moving to a new country is one of the most expensive endeavours one can undertake. Enter Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living ranking, a survey of the most expensive cities for expats.

With the UK recently voting in favour of Brexit, we at Atlas & Boots are reassessing our future. Prior to the result, we fully expected to return to France after our next big trip. Now we may have to look further afield. Whatever we decide, one useful way to choose where our future lies is to compare the cost of living in our new city compared to our old, currently London.

What is the world’s most diverse country?

travel skills: old Indian man in yellow turbanDreamstime

Papua New Guinea is the world’s most diverse country, both ethnically and linguistically. We examine the rankings based on two academic studies

When Sadiq Khan was voted in as London Mayor, he announced his city ‘the most diverse and fantastic in the world’. This triggered interest from the BBC which ran a podcast examining his claim.

The podcast named the Canadian city of Toronto as the most diverse but in doing so, highlighted a number of methodological problems that also apply when measuring the world’s most diverse country.

The lighthearted side of Muslim men

Attallah Alblwi towers over me. Dressed in a gleaming white thawb, chequered keffiyeh and black agal, he is the type of man I’d normally find intimidating. Normally, I would associate him with the archetypal Muslim man: ascetic, righteous, upstanding; more concerned with decorum than needless things like fun and laughter. The Muslim men of my youth were idealised as guardians, protectors, keepers. They had no time for chatter or banter.