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.

Visiting Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia

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Amid freezing cold showers, a string of depressing breakfasts, dizzying altitude and interminable bus journeys, visiting Salar de Uyuni saves the day

After four months in South America came Bolivia, the biggest test but brightest triumph of the continent so far. After 10 countries and thousands of miles, it was the first place that made me utter those words that cannot be unsaid: I want to go home.

La Paz walking tour: 10 things we learned

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From a lawless harem in the middle of the city to affectionate zebras roaming around town, this La Paz walking tour is not your average day out

Few cities have a setting as dramatic as La Paz. At 3,650m above sea level, it is often called the the world’s highest capital even though this isn’t strictly true. The country’s official capital is Sucre which lies 690km to the southeast.

How to visit the Galápagos on a budget

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We thought twice about writing this post. The Galápagos were once an exclusive destination, but are now teetering on the precipice of mass tourism. We wondered if posts like this were contributing to the devolution of this once-secluded paradise. But, as we said in Eco-friendly tourism in The Galápagos, independent travel to the area is arguably more eco-friendly than visiting on a 100-strong cruise ship. If you’ve always wanted to visit, consider doing it yourself. Not only will you have more flexibility, you won’t have to spend several thousand pounds on your visit. Here’s how we saw The Galápagos on a budget and how you can too.

10 things to do on San Cristóbal, The Galápagos

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The great thing about San Cristóbal is that there are so many sights within walking distance of the main town, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Many of these offer abundant wildlife opportunities that (usually) don’t cost a penny.

We spent three days exploring the island’s many natural wonders and didn’t break the bank. If you’re lucky enough to visit The Galápagos, take the time to head over to San Cristóbal and visit these lesser-known but never underwhelming sights.

Eco-friendly tourism in The Galápagos

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It’s a dream destination for many: the pristine islands of The Galápagos, haven to some of the world’s most unique and rare species of animal – or so we thought. There were certainly pristine sections of the islands but there were also roadworks in Puerto Ayora, broken beer bottles at Cerro Tijeretas, plastic bottles on Tortuga Bay and, saddest of all, a baby seal playing with a plastic spoon.

Swimming with Galápagos penguins

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I once asked Peter how often people have to take in their cats to be trimmed.
He looked at me, confused. “What do you mean?”
“To trim their fur. How often do you have to do it?”
“Erm, normal people don’t trim their cats.” He started to laugh, amused as ever by my lack of knowledge when it comes to nature  especially when as pedestrian as looking after a cat.

Diving the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Diving the Galápagos

Having just completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, I was keen to put my new skills to the test. Diving in the Galápagos Islands seemed the perfect way to do this

We were pretty much winging our trip to the Galápagos Islands but we decided to pre-book our first hotel as well as our diving.

In the spirit of the Galápagos, we decided to break our budget for our first stop, and so checked into the rather luxurious Royal Palm Hotel in the centre of Santa Cruz island. It was nice to be away from bustling Puerto Ayora, cocooned within lush gardens with epic views across the island.

Testing my limits on Cotopaxi Volcano

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I knew it was going to be cold. I knew it was going to be hard. What I didn’t know is that I’d want to give up after a mere 10 minutes on Cotopaxi Volcano. Our altitude of 4,500m mixed with unusually harsh weather made every breath difficult, every step a labour. As the wind slapped my face, I closed my eyes and wondered not for the first time why I had let Peter talk me into this. Glaciers were his thing. Trekking in freezing cold weather was his hobby. I like adventure, sure, but not when it hurt this much. I prefer my adrenaline 10 degrees above freezing, thank you.

The best beaches we’ve ever seen

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When I first went on holiday I was 18 and on the lookout for the perfect beach. You know the sort: powdery white sand and clear turquoise water set against a blazing blue sky. I’ve seen beautiful beaches in Barbados, Tunisia, Thailand, Mexico and Dubai, but none were quite the same as the brochures and billboards.

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.

Horse riding in Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Horse riding in Cotopaxi, Ecuador

Our Ecuadorian guide smiles at the motley crew of would-be horse riders assembled in front of him. In Spanish, he asks if anyone has any experience. A few people shuffle their feet nervously. When no-one else speaks up, I put up my hand reluctantly.

“Yo tomó doce clases hace dos años,” I tell him in my faltering Spanish, explaining that I took 12 lessons two years ago.

San Agustin: the mystical funny faces of Colombia

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San Agustin in Colombia is a sleepy little town buried in the rolling green hills of the southwestern part of the country. The town unfortunately lacks the pretty and quaint charms of colourful Guatape or adorable Salento, but makes up for it with Colombia’s finest archaeological park within walking distance.

Best South Pacific cruises: 5 stunning voyages

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Having spent six months of our trip crossing the ocean, we list the best South Pacific cruises and dream that one day, we’ll return to experience them all

The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water in the world and the South Pacific is arguably the most beautiful. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first entered the Pacific on an expedition of world circumnavigation from 1519 to 1522.

Guatape: the best day trip in Colombia

A quaint and charming town awaits you in Guatape with colourful streets and quiet piazzas, while La Piedra Del Penol offers the best views in the land

When I’m about to visit a country for the first time, one of the first things I do is scan a guidebook and pick out a few highlights or must-sees. This can be dangerous business as you’re often putting yourself at the author’s subjective mercy.

When I first scanned our guidebook’s Colombian highlights I saw colonial towns, national parks and coffee plantations. After a month in Colombia, I can safely say that the best day I had there barely gets a mention in the guidebooks.

Cartagena in Colombia: 26 dos and don’ts

Cartagena in Colombia: the very name has an aura of old-world romance; of steamy hot days, winding city roads, and crumpled treasure maps.

Its charming architecture and interesting history certainly didn’t disappoint, but it was a baptism of fire after six months in the Pacific.

We quickly learned that there are two rules governing the streets of Colombia. First, do not offer papaya. Second, if papaya is offered, someone has to take it. They don’t mean papaya in the literal sense of course; it’s a byword for your valuables.

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.)