Arctic vs. Antarctic: how to pick your polar adventure

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If you’ve ever dreamt about visiting one of the polar regions, use our guide to picking your Polar adventure: Arctic vs. Antarctic

The North and South Poles were only “conquered” in relatively recent history. The South Pole was first set foot upon in 1911 by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen after his epic race with the ill-fated Scott.

The conquest of the North Pole is a little murkier thanks to its location in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amid waters that are almost permanently covered with permanently shifting sea ice.

Which Simien Mountains trek is for you?

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A Simien Mountains trek should be an essential part of any visit to Ethiopia. We summarise the best routes to help you choose which trek is best for you

With a range of trekking options available, from day trips to mammoth multi-day thru-hikes, choosing a Simien Mountains trek can be a bewildering process. As with most things in Ethiopia, there is a dearth of information available online. With that in mind we’ve summarised the most popular trekking routes in Simien Mountains National Park to provide a solid overview of each option.

Best-selling camping and hiking gear

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We take a look at popular outdoor retailers’ best-selling camping and hiking gear of the year

In general, I don’t tend to spend much money on clothing and non-photography related gadgets. I am comfortable enough loafing around in jeans and a t-shirt. On top of that, I hate shopping with a vengeance. If I really focus, I can avoid shopping malls for most of the year, succumbing only in the lead up to Christmas.

Simien Mountains National Park: trekking Africa’s Grand Canyon

After Erta Ale and Dallol, would Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park live up to the hype?

If Simien Mountains National Park really were ‘Africa’s Grand Canyon’, how was it that I knew nothing of it? Was this just Peter’s ploy to drag me out camping again?

I knew of the park by name, but couldn’t point to it on a map, or tell you what I might find there. To be honest, prior to planning our trip, I had no idea there were proper mountains in Ethiopia – a result perhaps of TIA syndrome which conjures dusty, flyblown vistas and not the vast gorges of lush beauty that populate Simien Mountains National Park.

Leap of faith: hiking to the vertiginous Tigray churches

Tigray churches over the plains

To reach the Tigray churches of Ethiopia, one must scale sheer rock, inch along narrow ledges and skirt around yawning chasms – all in bare feet. Naturally, we leapt at the chance

I was feeling uncharacteristically nervous. It wasn’t the narrow ledges with sheer drops that had me spooked, but the prospect of climbing with ropes – something I’d never done before.

Volcanic seven summits of the world

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We take a look at the volcanic seven summits – the highest volcano on each continent

The volcanic seven summits may not be coveted with the same vigour as the seven summits or even the seven second summits, but the peaks still offer a worthy challenge

We’ve just returned from Erta Ale volcano in Ethiopia, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Erta Ale may not be as lofty or as challenging as the following summits, but it did remind us why we stand in awe of volcanoes – active or not.

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.

Elbrus kit list: all you need to climb Europe’s highest peak

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Our comprehensive Elbrus kit list includes everything you’ll need to conquer Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe.

Mount Elbrus in Russia, at 5,642m (18,510ft), is Europe’s highest mountain and a member of the seven summits, the highest point on every continent. Having just returned from climbing Mount Elbrus with specialists 7 Summits Club, I thought it would be useful to share my entire Elbrus kit list as a point of reference for future climbers.

Climbing Mount Elbrus: my second seven summit

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Climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia has been on my bucket list since I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2010. In August of this year I finally crossed it off

Mount Elbrus in Russia, at 5,642m (18,510ft), is Europe’s highest mountain and one of the seven summits, coveted by mountaineers who want to reach the highest point on every continent.

Located in southern Russia near the border with Georgia, the twin peaks of Mount Elbrus stand as watchtowers rising nearly 1,000m (3,280ft) above the encircling peaks of the Caucasus range.

Hiking in Mauritius: five trails with stunning viewpoints

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Hiking in Mauritius is hot, sticky and exhausting, but with some of the finest viewpoints in the world, thoroughly worthwhile too.

Hiking in Mauritius is like exploring Jurassic World, albeit without Chris Pratt and a ferocious dinosaur in tow. The scenery boasts sapphire-blue waters and powder-white beaches encircling jagged jungle-clad peaks that surge from sugar cane fields below. It is the spectacular crests with unimpeded viewpoints of the island in all its glory that provide the finest hiking in Mauritius. We take a look at five of the best trails.

Hiking Le Pouce in Mauritius

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Hiking Le Pouce in Mauritius is a quick and rewarding hike offering stunning panoramic views of this beautiful tropical island

After hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius, we were keen to see more of the country’s extraordinary scenery and so chose Le Pouce, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin who writes about his ascent of Le Pouce in his journal of 1845.

At 812m (2,664ft), Le Pouce – or The Thumb, so named because of its thumb-shaped peak – is the third highest mountain in Mauritius.

Hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius: a guide

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A guide to hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius including a map to the trail entrance and our hard-earned tips and caveats

I wasn’t worried about hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius. After climbing Nevis Peak in St Kitts & Nevis and navigating sections of sheer rock on Spencer Trail in the US, I thought hiking Le Morne Brabant would be easy. I certainly wasn’t expecting to quit a few metres from the top…

Wild continent: the best National Parks in Europe

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The best national parks in Europe are home to the wildest scenery and most thrilling outdoor pursuits the continent has to offer

Europe’s finest wilderness has quite rightly been enshrined and protected in its national parks. Great glaciers, soaring mountains and primeval forests stretch across Europe’s 50 sovereign states. We take a look at the wildest and best national parks in Europe.

World’s most stunning big wall climbs

It was five years ago that I first came across a big wall climber. A tiny speck on the side of a gigantic granite wall, the climber was bivvying in Yosemite National Park, the Holy Land of big wall climbing.

I couldn’t comprehend how someone could sleep tacked onto the side of a wall, suspended thousands of feet above the ground, sometimes in treacherous weather conditions.

Mountain etiquette: how to treat your guide

If you’re an adventurer dreaming of great mountains, familiarise yourself with correct mountain etiquette to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone

There’s a moment in Sherpa, the BAFTA-nominated documentary about Everest’s famous guides, where a western tourist asks “can you not talk to their owners?” in reference to the striking Sherpas.

It may have been an innocuous plea made in a moment of frustration but in the harsh truth of film, the question exposes an unsettling attitude to the guides that risk their lives to lead others to the summit.

Best outdoor magazines: 10 mags for between adventures

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Outdoor magazines are a well-deserved indulgence for those who love hiking, camping, climbing, wildlife and the great outdoors. We list our favourite below

One thing I dearly miss from my less-nomadic life is magazines. In the age of internet clickbait, printed publications still have an allure that a computer or smartphone screen just can’t replicate. Whether through fascinating features on the latest first ascent, a thru-hiker’s account of a long-distance hiking trail or stunning photography from the world’s protected lands, outdoor magazines have always piqued my imagination.

Hiking to Yazakyi Monastery in Myanmar

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We hiked to Yazakyi Monastery above the Burmese village of Pindaya and found a picturesque settlement straight from the pages of National Geographic

On my last visit to London, I asked my niece to grab a tenner from my wallet for the pizza fund. (We have a family of eight siblings and 21 nieces and nephews, so ordering pizza requires a basic level of crowdfunding.)

She rifled through my wallet, first pulling out some US dollars, then my tattered entrance card to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, then the business card of a tourism official in Malawi. She smiled cheekily and said, “Ada marayreh?”.

The Bengali phrase – which loosely translates to ‘flouncing about’ or ‘gallivanting’ – is usually used pejoratively by prim auntie-jis to chide young women for venturing outside and being seen in ‘improper’ situations (e.g. walking with a boy, entering a cinema, going on holiday).

Hiking boots: how to choose the right pair

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Knowing how to choose the right pair of hiking boots is essential to a long-term trip with plenty of outdoor activities planned. Here’s how to choose the right pair

“Do we really need these when we’ve already packed trainers?” asked Kia, holding up her hiking boots. More accustomed to ballet flats and heels on the pavements of London than the Munros of Scotland, she couldn’t quite appreciate their worth.

Decent hiking boots are one of my 10 travel essentials so naturally I insisted that yes, we really need them. Twelve months later, she was extremely grateful we had packed them. While not quite as nimble as trainers, our sturdy boots have been invaluable on a number of excursions, from the rocky plains of Mount Yasur volcano to the multi-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu