6 best Torres del Paine hiking trails, Chile

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Torres del Paine hiking trails are some of the best hiking trails on the continent, if not the world

In 2013, National Geographic ranked Torres del Paine National Park in Chile as the fifth most beautiful place in the world.

Unfortunately for me, Torres del Paine represents one of my travel regrets from our big trip. We got our timings wrong and saw relatively little of some of the most dramatic scenery in Chilean Patagonia.

Altitude sickness symptoms and how to avoid them

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Being young, fit and healthy doesn’t mean you won’t suffer from altitude sickness symptoms. Here’s how to identify, treat and prevent them effectively

Gracie is a student at Johns Hopkins, which offers one of the best medical training programs in the world. She is slim, fit and active. She doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and always watches what she eats.

She should have been the last person in our group to get altitude sickness symptoms and yet there she was, wide eyed and pale faced at breakfast after a restless night of nausea at the foot of Cotopaxi Volcano (3,500m).

Experienced climbers know that altitude sickness doesn’t discriminate. The young, fit and healthy can suffer just as easily as the old, soft and pasty, which is why everyone should be aware of the symptoms before attempting a climb or trek at height. Here’s a primer to help you prepare.

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.

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.

Our unexpected great American road trip

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In two weeks, we have crossed four states on our American road trip, seeing an array of landscapes straight out of the movies

We never even planned to be in the US!

In fact, we should have been about 3,000 miles further south by the time we rocked up on Venice Beach in LA, mixing with the crowds of hippies, hipsters, tourists and homeless. I’ll admit that with my two-month old beard, huge backpack and threadbare flip flops, I blended in most with the latter.

In the two weeks since our arrival, we have crossed four states on our American road trip, seeing an array of landscapes straight out of the movies. From snowcapped mountain ranges to tumbleweed-strewn deserts, from glitzy casinos and roadside motels to the empty and silent towns of the Midwest, we saw it all. And it was magical.

Mauna Kea: summiting the world’s “tallest” mountain

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Why Hawaii’s Mauna Kea takes the crown as the world’s tallest mountain

Okay, so we all know that Mount Everest is Earth’s highest mountain, measuring at a staggering 8,848m (29,029ft) above sea level.

What’s less well known is that if you measure from base to peak, it’s not Everest but Hawaii’s Mauna Kea that takes the crown as the world’s tallest mountain. Mauna Kea lies largely hidden beneath the ocean surface but is a monumental 10,203m (33,476ft) in height from base to peak.

Hiking Mount Yasur volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu

Mount Yasur volcano erupts

On Mount Yasur volcano there was not a soul around and not a noise to be heard – other than the deafening eruptions, that is

The first few weeks of our trip had been active enough. We’d hiked, climbed, caved, canyoned, kayaked and more. It would have been perfectly acceptable to spend a few days lounging on a beach on Tanna Island, soaking up the Pacific sun.

However, you don’t go to Tanna without seeing the “Old Man” that is Mount Yasur volcano, and we were no exception.