World’s most powerful passports 2021

Japan is the world’s most powerful passport for the third year running. We take a look at what else topped the list

It feels a little masochistic to look at the world’s most powerful passports after a year of recurring lockdowns. However, as we’ve said before, we remain hopeful about the future of travel. We believe that exploration is a human instinct and that as soon as it is safe, people will return to the road.

Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2020

Mam Tor in the Peak DistrictDaniel_Kay/Shutterstock

As a difficult year draws to a close, we reflect on the top 10 posts that our readers most enjoyed

Well, what can we say about 2020 that hasn’t been said already? As a writer, I feel that I should be able to say something grand and stirring about the global pandemic, but to be honest, I can’t. I don’t know how to aptly describe the hopelessness and inertia that so many of us have experienced this year.

Best hiking trails in every US state (according to hikers)

best hiking trails in every US state lead imageEdmund Lowe Photography/Shutterstock

We share the three best hiking trails in every US state, according to America’s most popular hiking app

The US knows how to do wilderness. Wedged between the two great oceans of the world, it is home to practically every landscape under the sun. Beaches, lakes, mountains, rainforest, deserts, canyons and glaciers all rise and fall across this continent-sized country. And thanks to the outstanding National Park Service, huge swathes of it are readily accessible.

Concrete jungles: the world’s most urban countries

world's most urban countries lead

We take a look at the world’s most urban countries and why they go hand in hand with the most stressed

City life is stressful. It presses on our weary bones, wafts through windows on pungent fumes and boxes up our personal space.

17 megadiverse countries of the world

A tiger lazes in Ranthambore in IndiaOndrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

We profile the world’s megadiverse countries, from obvious contenders like Ecuador and Brazil to one or two surprise entries

It should be comforting to know that a mere 17 countries hold more than 70% of the world’s species. It should be easy to rally this small group of ‘megadiverse countries’ to protect the planet’s extraordinary biodiversity. Alas, some of these countries are also the world’s biggest consumers and polluters. 

White privilege in the outdoors: the AT hikers who broke the law

Two thru-hikers lied and broke the law this year to finish the Appalachian Trail. Should we dismiss it as a daring adventure or tackle what lies deeper?

The first thing to admit before I begin is that I’m a person who follows the rules. I never cheat at games or quizzes despite being stupidly competitive. I hate being late to meetings or gatherings and I’ve even been known to Google “how late to arrive at a dinner party” because I know it’s impolite to turn up on time (the consensus is 15 minutes). 

10 Hikes through the cleanest air in the world

Iceland is one of our Hikes in the cleanest air in the worldDreamstime

From Canada’s wild backcountry to the jungles of Brunei, we share some fantastic hikes through the cleanest air in the world

A few months after we moved to the country, some friends from London came up to visit. Stepping from the car, one commented that ‘it feels like mountain air up here’. I laughed and said, ‘it’s not that cold.’ He shook his head and said, ‘I don’t mean the temperature. I mean the quality.’

What is the greenest country in the world?

map of the greenest countries

Denmark is the greenest country in the world according to the 2020 Environmental Performance Index. Below, we take a look at the broader list

The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) evaluates and ranks 180 countries on 32 performance indicators across 11 categories covering environmental health and ecosystem vitality.

13 stunning natural phenomena

Gregory B Cuvelier/Shutterstock

From the famous northern lights to the lesser known sea of stars, we share the world’s most stunning natural phenomena

As Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made history this week as the first astronauts to launch to orbit on a private spaceship, the world took pause to watch. Given the turmoil of our times, one observer quipped, ‘Congratulations to the Astronauts that left Earth today. Good choice.’

International borders: 10 remarkable frontiers

International borders Mexico-USA on Pacific CoastROSARITO TV/SHUTTERSTOCK

From mountains to libraries, we take a look at some of the most extraordinary international borders to be found across the globe

Over the last few years, we’ve seen an impressive collection of new websites, blogs and social media accounts dedicated to ‘travel porn’. They’re filled with big, sweeping images of fairytale lands and precarious precipices.

Star struck: exploring the world’s Dark Sky Reserves

Stars shine over the South DownsDreamstime

International Dark Sky Reserves are protected areas that offer exceptionally starry nights. We review the 16 places that hold this hallowed status

They sound like something out of Star Trek, these ‘Dark Sky Reserves’ – like they may have been conjured one evening in a lively LA writers room. Unlike the ‘Delta Quadrant’ or ‘Delphic Expanse’, however, International Dark Sky Reserves actually exist.

Happiest countries in the world 2020 – ranked

happiest-countries-map-lead-image-2020-photos

The happiest countries in the world 2020 have been ranked and for the third year running, Finland is the happiest country in the world

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.

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. 

Non-technical mountain climbs: 12 trekking peaks

mountaineering calendar whitney usaDreamstime

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 sill 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.

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.

Wall diving in the Turks and Caicos: a glimpse at the abyss

Peeking into the blue while diving in the Turks and Caicos

Diving in the Turks and Caicos will no doubt lead you to its famous wall. There you will stare into a literal abyss that dives 2,000m to the bottom of the sea

There’s a moment in the Jude Law film Black Sea where a deep-sea diver falls off a murky underwater ridge and careens into the pitch-black depths of the ocean. For someone who struggled to learn to dive, the idea was pretty bloody terrifying. 

Of course, in recreational diving, this sort of thing doesn’t happen – especially when you dive no deeper than 18m. Nonetheless, I was reminded of this scene when wall diving in the Turks and Caicos on the ninth day of our Caribbean cruise.