Things to do in Oman: our top 12 picks

Rub' al Khali sand dunesDavid Steele/Shutterstock

We explore the best things to do in Oman, from modern Islamic architecture to the jagged peaks of its wild interior

Oman is an intriguing blend of the modern world and old Arabia. Unlike some of its neighbours, overdevelopment is yet to saturate the country. Lying on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is the oldest independent state in the Arab world, sharing borders with the UAE, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Back in the saddle: horse riding in Swakopmund, Namibia

After an injury in 2017, Kia decides that horse riding in Swakopmund is the perfect way to get back in the saddle

Swakopmund is a strange little city. Known as Namibia’s adventure capital, it has a fittingly dramatic setting. On one side, a particularly ferocious Atlantic Ocean thrashes onto shore; on the other, the vast, sparse Namib Desert stretches in deadly threat. In between these startling scenes lies the city itself.

23 tips for visiting Sossusvlei in Namibia

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Our tips for visiting Sossusvlei will ensure your visit to Namibia’s most popular attraction is as exhilarating as it should be

Last year, Kia and I shared a list of the countries we most want to see. First on my list was Namibia, largely because of Sossusvlei. I’ve been desperate to photograph this incredible landscape ever since I saw the stark silhouettes of its seemingly petrified trees pitched against a brazen blue sky and vibrant desert dune in a National Geographic photo essay years ago.

Visiting Kolmanskop, the ghost town in the Namib Desert

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Once a booming diamond town, Kolmanskop has long been abandoned to desert sands. We took a trip to its eerie scenes

Our trip to Namibia was a long time coming. Almost two years ago, we published a list of the countries we most want to see. At the top of Peter’s list was Namibia, but due to family circumstances, we delayed the trip until we could commit a decent length of time. Finally, at the tail end of this year, we made it to Windhoek to start a 17-day self-drive safari.

8 outdoor activities in Chile that bare its true beauty

From cycling parched deserts to exploring mountain lakes, we share our favourite outdoor activities in Chile

There is a charming folk tale about Chile that claims when God created the world, he had a little bit of everything left over – deserts, lakes, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes – so he tossed it all together and created Chile.

The country, which stretches like a spine along South America’s western coast, is one of the most diverse in the world. From the parched Atacama Desert to the lush greenery of the Lake District, Chile swings from one extreme to another.

Uluru Rock Tour: that time we camped in the outback

A 1,500km detour and two nights’ camping with spiders, snakes and dingoes – would the Uluru Rock Tour prove worth the pain?

Uluru, that iconic behemoth, that clay-red monolith, that sun-scorched sentry… that epic pain in the backside.

Yes, it’s big and, yes, it’s special, but bloody hell it’s far away. Almost right in the middle of Australia, Uluru is a major endeavour. Nearly every other sight in the country is scattered along the coast, which means planning a trip to Uluru involves a hefty detour from the rest of your route.

Lac Abbé in Djibouti: apocalypse wow

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Lac Abbé in Djibouti is both desolate and apocalyptic. Seeing this eerie moonscape is a surreal experience like little else on Earth

It turns out that the 1968 film Planet of the Apes was not filmed in Lac Abbé in Djibouti, as proudly claimed by several guidebooks, numerous blogs, countless Djiboutian tour guides and even international newspapers. The producers didn’t even leave the Western United States.

This is a crying shame firstly because Lac Abbé is a suitably apocalyptic filming location and secondly because there goes Djibouti’s only claim to fame.

Danakil Depression tours: what to know before you go

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Danakil Depression tours provide a fascinating look at a remote part of the world. We lend some insight into what you should know before you go

By certain measures, the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is considered to be the hottest place on earth with temperatures regularly reaching 45°C (113°F). Despite the challenges involved in visiting such a remote and hostile environment, there are numerous Danakil Depression tours on offer.

Surprisingly, tour companies tend to provide very little information for their would-be customers. Key information such as what to expect and what to pack is missing from most tour company websites.

Dead heat: the hottest places on Earth

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We take a look at the hottest places on Earth and what it takes to survive there

Having just returned from Dallol in Ethiopia, we’ve seen how hard it is to survive in one of the hottest places on Earth.

The hottest places on earth are in constant flux. They change from year to year and recording techniques – which are often challenged and disputed – change with them. Regardless, the same places tend to crop up again and again, many of them sharing similar characteristics. The hottest places on Earth are nearly always dry, barren, sunny and home to little or no vegetation.

Dallol: visiting the hottest place on earth

Dallol in Ethiopia, the hottest place on Earth

We visit Dallol, a collapsed volcano crater filled with acid ponds, poisonous chlorine and sulphur gases, inside the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia.

I wasn’t daunted at the prospect of visiting Dallol, dubbed the hottest place on Earth. Despite its temperatures regularly reaching 45°C (113°F), I knew that after visiting Erta Ale volcano in the region, Dallol would be a walk in the park – if the park was a collapsed volcano crater filled with acid ponds and geysers, poisonous chlorine and sulphur gases.

Dallol lies 116m (380ft) below sea level in the Danakil Depression of the Afar region in Ethiopia and is part of the East African Rift where three continental plates are being torn apart.

Visiting Erta Ale volcano: the ‘hike to hell and back’

Erta Ale Volcano in the Danakil Depression

Erta Ale in Ethiopia is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and looms above a deadly desert. We ask if it’s worth the risk

The 4×4 steams across the desert, lurching over rocks and cracks. Sand whips against the window, almost liquid in its motion. Immediately behind me sits our military escort: two men with automatic rifles slung casually across their laps.

I hate to say it, but there is a distinct sense of lawlessness in the air. I hate to because this is Africa and, for centuries, westerners have come to the continent to gather tales of risk and adventure for recounting at dinner parties over and cheese and wine.

I don’t want to be that guy, but it’s true: here, in the Danakil Depression in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, it really does feel like anything could happen.

Driest place on Earth: visiting the Atacama Desert in Chile

Visiting Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth

The Atacama desert is the driest place on Earth and possibly the world’s oldest desert. We take a 30km bike ride across its dramatic landscape

Our journey to Atacama was far more complicated than expected. Up to that point, the border crossings on our journey had been relatively straightforward so we were surprised there was no direct route from Uyuni in Bolivia to Atacama in Chile.

Instead of taking a bus, we had to book a $50 USD transfer, spend a night in a room that was almost exactly like a prison cell, take the transfer to the border, pay another $20 to enter the national park and then take another transfer on the other side. All in all, a journey that can be done in nine hours took about 24 hours instead.

Nazca Lines flight: one of the world’s great enigmas

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Take a Nazca Lines flight over one of the world’s great archaeological riddles. The 1,000 year-old uncanny figures are best seen from the skies

Very little ignites my wanderlust as strongly as a great travel mystery. And as travel mysteries go, the mysterious lines of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru are one of the greatest.

The network comprises over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures known as ‘geoglyphs’ and 70 animal and plant drawings or ‘biomorphs’. The lines are largely indiscernible from ground level – however, from the skies above they reveal an arresting network of figures and channels which spread across the desert below.

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.