Diving at Trou aux Biches in Mauritius

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Diving at Trou aux Biches after a year’s break reminds us why we fell in love with scuba in the first place

We’ve arrived. In Mauritius. To hike and dive. For a month! What an absurd set of sentences for an ex-teacher and jobbing writer.

We’ve tooled together our month-long stay through a local contact and so here we are on the extraordinary island of Mauritius amid soaring volcanic mountains, yawning valleys and of course some of the best beaches in the world.

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

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.

Largest islands in the world: 10 colossal coasts

Largest rainforests in the world new guineaDreamstime

We take a look at the largest islands in the world, from deserted Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Circle to metropolitan Honshu in Japan

We’ve spent a fair amount of time on islands. Not only were we born and raised on one, but island destinations appear to be a reoccurring theme on our travels.

In 2014, we started Atlas & Boots with a six-month journey across the South Pacific via Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Hawaii. Our latest extended trip has seen us spend a month in Sri Lanka shortly followed by another in Mauritius.

The countries we most want to see

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Despite our best laid plans, we never made it to Africa last year. With renewed plans to visit the continent after our current trip through Sri Lanka and Burma, we found ourselves in an interesting discussion: if you could see only five countries before you die, which would they be?

This question posed a far trickier dilemma than the countries we least want to see. With so much on offer, we had to be ruthless in our choices.

We didn’t choose countries we have already visited, nor stateless territories (e.g. Antarctica). Two of our countries overlapped (Nepal and Canada) so we each chose one more to make a total of 10.

The world is not getting better

world is not getting better lead 2020

Life for humans may be improving but what about everything else that shares our planet?

In trying times, social media users tend to share think pieces, charts and graphics proving that humanity has never had it so good.

These graphics focus on the growth of lovely things like basic education, literacy, democracy and vaccination, and the decline of awful things like extreme poverty and child mortality.

Before they’re gone: landscapes affected by climate change

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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.

Best countries for hiking: 10 trail-rich destinations

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

1. USA

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

10 epic journeys of discovery

Public Domain

Humans are an intrepid race. For centuries, explorers have disappeared over the horizon in search of new lands and distant shores on epic journeys of discovery. Thanks to these pioneers we’re able to follow in their footsteps now and forevermore.

The world’s most expensive cities for expats 2016

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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.

Most active volcanoes in the world

erta ale, most active volcanoesDreamstime

From stewing lava lakes to lethal eruptions, we chart the most active volcanoes in the world

Volcanoes are inarguably nature’s most fearsome wonder. They feature in tales of ardour and heroism, tower terrifyingly above humble settlements and whisper threats of violence and destruction. They are overwhelming in both sight and sound and uniquely exhilarating for the intrepid observer.

The world’s most active volcanoes in particular offer a terrifying beauty irresistible to thrillseekers.

The oldest cities in the world

oldest cities in the world

The Middle East is home to the oldest cities in the world, some which are flourishing and some which are fighting. We take a look at the very oldest ones

There’s a certain aesthetic attached to the oldest cities in the world: bustling souks beneath a bright blue sky, flowing garments made of whispery white cotton, stone masonry painted yellow by the sun.

In reality, however, the oldest cities in the world have faced deep unrest throughout their long histories. Tragically, some are still uninhabitable. The Syrian town of Aleppo, for example, is likely the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world but rages with civil war today. Damascus too is categorically off limits.

Travel roundup 2015: 12 amazing things that happened this year

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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.

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

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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.

15 crazy roads from across the world

Dreamstime

In Bolivia, I tried without victory to convince Peter to let me do the Death Road bike ride from La Paz.

It’s not normally the sort of thing for which I’d ask permission, but given that he taught me to ride a bike and saw me fall off it in Bora Bora, ride into a wall in Tahiti and very nearly crack my head open in The Galápagos, I thought it best to check if he thought I could handle the Death Road, renowned for claiming 200-300 lives every year (see #15 below).

10 countries for breathtaking photography tours

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We select 10 countries that are perfect for photography tours

I never get bored when I travel as I always have my camera with me. During my travels across 80 countries over six continents I’ve had the honour of photographing some of the most stunning vistas the world has to offer.