The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

seven second summits k2 - 1

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!

Ranked: most peaceful countries in the world 2021

map of the most peaceful countries in the world 2021Vision of Humanity

The most peaceful countries in the world have been updated for 2021. Read our insights from the study and browse the rankings below

Iceland is once again the most peaceful country in the world followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Portugal, and Slovenia.

However, the world is a less peaceful place as civil unrest and political instability has increased due to the global pandemic according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) report.

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.

Ranked: happiest countries in the world 2021

happiest countries in the world 2021 mapCreated with Datawrapper

Finland tops the rankings of the happiest countries in the world for the fourth year running

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.

World’s most powerful passports 2021

japan has the most powerful passport

As Japan tops the list for the third year running, we take a look at the latest ranking of the world’s most powerful passports

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.

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. 

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.’

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.

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.

Unknown treks: 10 off the beaten trail adventures

unknown treks -swedenSander van der Werf/Shutterstock

From remote deserts to polar escapes, these unknown treks will get you far off the beaten trail

I spent 10 years living in London, riding the crowded tube to work, fighting for space with those around me and standing in queues at bus stops, supermarkets, anywhere really – I am British after all.

Naturally, this inspired daydreams of escaping it all and running off to the wilderness with only my backpack, tent, camping stove and a handful of freeze-dried meals.

10 mispronounced country names

From Kiribati to Kyrgyzstan, we list the most commonly mispronounced country names

When Donald Trump mispronounced Namibia asNambia’ in 2017, he became the subject of widespread ridicule. Journalists wondered if he meant Zambia or Gambia while social media users mocked up memes and one enterprising tweeter took the opportunity to pitch a new title to Lonely Planet. 

12 of Earth’s most remote places and communities

Tristan is part of the most remote inhabited archipelago in the worldYagerq/CC0

From eastern Greenland to northern Alaska, we explore some of the most remote places on the face of the Earth

Whether it’s astronomical distances, inhospitable climates or extreme terrains that define these remote and hostile lands, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re on my bucket list. That and the fact that people live there.

Poorest countries in the world – ranked

interesting facts about Ethiopia poor countryAtlas & Boots

African nations dominate the ranking of the poorest countries in the world based on the latest data from the World Bank

We all have preconceptions about places. Take Ethiopia for example. As children of the eighties, Kia and I were only too aware of the struggles Ethiopia has faced historically: political unrest, civil war and, of course, famine.

It was easy then to imagine a vast desolate dust bowl ahead of our visit in 2017. 

Announcing Kia’s new book: Take It Back

Take It Back is a gripping courtroom drama perfect for fans of Apple Tree Yard, He Said/She Said and Anatomy of a Scandal

The day I got a book deal started inauspiciously. Our group of 13 had camped for a night in the Australian Outback after battling broken air conditioning in 40°C heat, a cracked windshield, a change of vehicle and an alarming array of bugs at night – as well as a snake and dingo. 

Interesting facts about the world’s least-known countries

Two men in vanuatu, one of the world’s least-known countriesChristopher Hogue Thompson/Creative Commons

A selection of some of the most interesting facts about the world’s least-known countries we’ve picked up over the years

This is a subjective topic I know. What counts as an interesting fact? What counts as one of the world’s least-known countries?

There is no scientific answer but when this question was posed on Q&A site Quora, it certainly threw up some noteworthy particulars about some of the more obscure sovereign and not-so-sovereign states of the world. 

Best road trips in the world – by continent

The Ring Road in Iceland is a very close contenderShane WP Wongperk/Shutterstock

The best road trips in the world have inspired artists through the ages, from Kerouac and Steinbeck to the talents at Pixar. Here, we attempt to explain why

When it comes to road trips, we’ve had our fair share of mishaps. We’ve battled a whiteout in Iceland, got stuck in a ditch in Turkey, broken down in Chile and changed a tyre in Namibia’s lion territory.