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.

The travel that changed me: Andy Puddicombe

Chris Piason/Shutterstock

Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe tells us about a trip to India and how it changed his life forever

Andy Puddicombe holds the unlikely title of English undergrad turned Buddhist monk. In 1994, midway through his degree, Andy made a surprise decision to travel to the Himalayas and study meditation. Thus began an epic journey that took him around the world and culminated in his ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist.

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.

10 unknown architectural wonders

We all know of the world’s great architectural wonders: Petra, Giza, Angkor – but what of the hidden gems rarely appearing on those ubiquitous bucket lists? Here are 10 unknown architectural wonders to add to yours.

49 quick tips for your first time in India

first time in india

During my first time in India, I was a relatively inexperienced traveller: I was overwhelmed by its beauty and stunned by its poverty, just as any first-time visitor. The second time I went to India, I expected to be more familiar with its various vagrancies. In reality, I was overwhelmed and stunned just as before.

16 ugly buildings I actually sort of love

I’ve spoken before of my part-time love of architecture. I openly admire Gothic and Art Noveau but secretly I’ve always loved Brutalist.

I say ‘secretly’ because Brutalist buildings are ugly – seriously ugly – but there’s also a bleak and haunting beauty amid the ugliness. Here are my favourite Brutalist structures (sometimes known as ugly buildings) from around the world.

In general, I have plucked images from Wikipedia rather than using artsy, filtered shots from funky angles, so that I can showcase the true horror of these structures. Tell me what I missed in the comments below. (Or call me a philistine devoid of any taste whatsoever.)

Chittorgarh Fort in India: it’s not the Taj Mahal

Chittorgarh Fort

Chittorgarh Fort is the Rajasthani gem rarely promoted as a must-see

If you decide to take that trip of a lifetime to go and “find yourself” in India, it will probably include a trip to the Taj, a date with the Dalai Lama, a tour around the pink city of Jaipur and any number of other “spirit of India” experiences the guidebooks will throw at you.

These sights are all, of course, worthy of your time but don’t miss Chittorgarh Fort, the Rajasthani gem rarely promoted as a must-see.

Return to India part II: my father’s story

Peter's father with his two friends from the 60s

In the first of this two-part series, Peter recounted his tale of India in search of his father’s long lost friends. Five years after his initial visit, father and son return to India to reunite with those friends. Here is his father’s story.

This article was featured on National Geographic’s Traveller magazine website on 14th February 2015

Christmas Eve, 2013. It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was warm on our backs. We stood on the roof veranda looking down on the dusty streets. A soft breeze was blowing which barely stirred the tangle of electricity and telephone wires that were draped between the houses in this relatively wealthy suburb of Bhilwara, Rajasthan.

Each house was painted in different pastel shades of blue, green and peach and set against an azure sky. It was quiet and the roads were almost empty.

This was indeed surprising, as this was India.

Return to India

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Six years ago, Peter retraced his parents’ footsteps on a return India to track down his father’s long forgotten friends…

When I was younger my father would write out my name in Hindi Sanskrit on scraps of paper. I thought it was some magical language from a fantasyland like Narnia or Lilliput and Blefuscu.

When I was older I would sit with him and my mother in front of the TV and listen to him exclaim at Michael Palin’s latest travels through the foothills of the Himalaya or the dusty roads of Rajasthan. “We have to go back,” he would declare with gusto, turning to my mother. “The smells,” he would say. “The colours,” my mother would respond. “We have to go back…”