30 most beautiful mountains in the world

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.

12 largest rainforests in the world

largest rainforests in the world canopy lead image

The largest rainforests in the world are some of the most vital ecosystems on our planet. We look at where they’re located and why they need protecting

Home to over half the world’s plant and animal species, the largest rainforests in the world absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping maintain the balance of the air we breathe while simultaneously playing a critical role in curbing global warming.

8 outdoor activities in Chile that bare its true beauty

In partnership with Cascada de las Ánimas

From cycling parched deserts to exploring mountain lakes, we share our favourite outdoor activities in Chile

There is a charming folk tale about Chile that claims when God created the world, he had a little bit of everything left over – deserts, lakes, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes – so he tossed it all together and created Chile.

The country, which stretches like a spine along South America’s western coast, is one of the most diverse in the world. From the parched Atacama Desert to the lush greenery of the Lake District, Chile swings from one extreme to another.

10 long-distance hiking trails from around the world

long-distance-hiking-trails-feat-img

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?

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.

The most extreme places on Earth

EARTH’S MOST REMOTE PLACES AND COMMUNITIES

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.

Mountains for mortals: 12 non-technical mountain climbs

In partnership with Adventure Consultants

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.

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.

7 great travel mysteries from around the world

travel mysteries

If there’s one thing I enjoy more than a good adventure yarn, it’s a good adventure yarn with a mysterious ending. Here are some of my favourite travel mysteries from around the world (and one from  outside of it).

1. The Abandoned Mary Celeste

This now infamous ship was sighted on 4 December 1872 near the Azores on course for Gibraltar. The crew of the Dei Gratia, another vessel following a similar course, spotted the ship through a spyglass, noting that it was sailing “erratically, yawing slightly and her sails were torn”. As the Dei Gratia approached the eerily empty ship, its crew saw that there was no one at the helm or even on deck. The ship was taking on water but still seaworthy. The cargo of 1,701 barrels of alcohol was untouched and the ship’s clock was still ticking. The captain’s log was on board but no entries made since 24 November – some 10 days previously. There was no sign of a struggle – only a missing lifeboat and a frayed rope trailing from the stern of the ship.

10 best countries for hiking

best-countries-for-hiking-nz-ftimg

We take a look at the best countries for hiking, what makes them great trekking destinations and, of course, their finest trails.

1. USA

Best trails: Pacific Crest, Appalachian and Continental Divide
Known for: Great Plains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Redwood Forest

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

seven-second-summits-k2-feat-img

The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits

Previously, I’ve  written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal.

This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me!

Travel roundup 2015: 12 amazing things that happened this year

world's most urban countries

This year has been a tumultuous one across the globe. A combination of political instability, acts of aggression and forces of nature has hung heavy in the headlines. The travel industry has suffered, as one might expect when usually-safe areas suddenly become otherwise. Beneath the bleak picture, however, lie a set of strange, sweet or surprising events that have entertained or inspired us throughout the course of the year. These range from silly (see April) to spectacular (December) and remind us that as long as humans walk the Earth, we’ll always have incredible people, places and events.

Punta Arenas: following the Ferdinand Magellan route

Ferdinand-Magellan-route-feat-img.jpg

Punta Arenas overlooks the Strait of Magellan on the Ferdinand Magellan route and is home to the most famous ships in the history of navigation

The sprawling city of Punta Arenas, situated on the historic Ferdinand Magellan route, is not easy to define. It’s possible that the city itself is confused about its identity. Once a penal colony, it is today part roughneck, part modern metropolis, part open-air maritime museum.

The town’s position overlooking the coarse and inhospitable Strait of Magellan – the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – makes it essential to Chile’s maritime trade and provides access to the Antarctic peninsular.

15 interesting facts about Chile

best Torres del Paine hiking trails, Chile

We share the most interesting facts about Chile collected on our breathtaking visit to this incredible country

There is a tale that Chileans are fond of telling tourists. When God created the world, they say, he had a little bit of everything left over: deserts, lakes, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes, so he tossed it all together and created Chile.

This slither of land in South America is indeed one of the most diverse in the world. From the arid and alien landscapes of Atacama Desert to the lush greenery of the Lake District, Chile has something for everyone.

Movies about South America: 10 great films to watch

movies about south america: che guevara

We look at 10 great movies about South America that offer context around the rich and colourful history of this great continent

A British education is one of the most valuable things one can have. It instils a broad knowledge of the world ranging from the sciences to the humanities. Unfortunately, in our pursuit for this breadth of knowledge, we lose much of the depth within individual areas.

The subject of history is a notable example. Pupils are taught about the world wars, the monarchy, the industrial revolution and even the history of irrigation (which is, ironically, rather dry), but learn very little about large swathes of the world, South America being a prime example. Most of us know the names of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, General Pinochet and Hugo Chavez, but can share very little beyond the basics.

8 things to do in Puerto Natales, Chile

things-to-do-in-Puerto-Natales-featured-image

“We wanted an adventure holiday, but we wanted to come back in the evening to somewhere cozy and comfortable,” said Matt and Kirsty, two Americans we met during our stay in Puerto Natales.

Like them, we visited the windswept plains of Chilean Patagonia out of season meaning multi-day treks through Torres del Paine were out of the question. But that didn’t put a complete dampener on our experience. There was still plenty of adventuring to be enjoyed outside of Torres del Paine National Park without spending our days stomping along a hiking trail with only a fitful night’s sleep under canvas (not that I mind that of course).

6 best Torres del Paine hiking trails, Chile

best Torres del Paine hiking trails, Chile

Torres del Paine hiking trails are some of the best hiking trails on the continent, if not the world

In 2013, National Geographic ranked Torres del Paine National Park in Chile as the fifth most beautiful place in the world.

Unfortunately for me, Torres del Paine represents one of my travel regrets from our big trip. We got our timings wrong and saw relatively little of some of the most dramatic scenery in Chilean Patagonia.