In videos: 12 surreal man-made dive sites

The museo subacuático de arte is one of our surreal man made dive sitesAndriy Nekrasov/Shutterstock

From lost ancient cities to the world’s largest underwater theme park, these man-made dive sites are sure to intrigue

At Atlas & Boots, we’ve dived some astonishing sites, from Steve’s Bommie in the Great Barrier Reef to the Sonesta plane wrecks in Aruba. We’re pretty hopeless at fish identification, so when it comes to diving, unless it’s a truly amazing reef system, we’re generally more interested in something unusual or unique (like an airplane or enormous bommie).

Wild continent: the best national parks in Europe

best national parks in europe: sarekPetr Kahanek/Shutterstock

The best national parks in Europe are home to vast tracts of wilderness, often overlooked by those who flock to its cities

When we think of wild continents, Europe is probably last in line. Asia’s fearsome mountains, South America’s lush rainforest and Africa’s vast savannah are surely more impressive. Europe in comparison is famous for its cities: London, Paris, Rome and their ilk. 

10 most visited countries in the world

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, TurkeySamet Guler/Shutterstock

We profile some usual suspects plus one or two surprises in the top 10 most visited countries in the world

Have you dreamed of a romantic kiss atop the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you’ve thrown a wish into the Trevi Fountain or stopped and stared at the Sistine Chapel. If so, you’re certainly not alone.

30 most beautiful mountains in the world

Ama Dablam is a thing of beautyDaniel Prudek/Shutterstock

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 anything to go by, Muir makes a valid point. Those who spend time in the mountains seem to be driven by a deeper force.

10 books to transport you to the world’s most visited countries

Sample the world’s most popular destinations without leaving your home

On a normal spring day, you can expect the Champ de Mars in Paris to be teeming with tourists. This vibrant swatch of green offers iconic views of the Eiffel Tower and hosts droves of visitors every year – possibly as many as 80 million. France is after all the most visited country in the world. 

Europe’s best hikes for first timers

Mont Blanc is one of Europe's best hikesCreative Travel Projects/Shutterstock

From easy city walks to harder challenges in the great outdoors, we share 10 of Europe’s best hikes for first timers

When Peter headed to Argentina in January to climb Aconcagua (his third of the seven summits), a friend of mine asked why I wasn’t joining him.

Climbing mountains is his thing, I explained. I’m perfectly comfortable below 4,000m. She frowned and said, ‘I thought you’d want to go because you’re always out hiking.’

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 me in 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.

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.

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?

Before they’re gone: landscapes affected by climate change

landscapes-affected-by-climate-change-philippinesDreamstime

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.

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.

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.

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).

13 days that shook the world

days-that-shook-the-world-berlin wall - 1Lear 21/Creative Commons

Our travels are shaped by history. It dictates where we can and can’t go and has done so for explorers of centuries past. Major events throughout history have changed and defined the world we inhabit and explore today. Here, we take a look at some of the days that shook the world, creating notable and lasting effects that are still felt and seen today.

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.)