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.

10 essential sailing apps

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A list of essential sailing apps used by professional sailors to navigate their way across the seas

During my recent tall ship sailing adventure, I picked the skipper’s brains about the essential sailing apps he uses for navigation, ship tracking, weather and tides.

Stefan, the owner and skipper of the Lady of Avenel, stands at the helm with his tablet mounted nearby. “Is this the future of sailing?” I asked him. “Never mind the future of sailing, this is the here and the now,” he responded wryly.

Learning to paddleboard in Scotland

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I spent a week learning to paddleboard off the west coast of Scotland, the perfect setting for trying the world’s fastest growing water sport

My only experience of standup paddleboarding (SUP) was the odd paddle at a beachside resort here and there. I’ve never liked surfing (I know that’s so uncool to admit) but I have always enjoyed kayaking whether it has been along the Thames in London or kayaking in more far-flung destinations.

So when I joined the Lady of Avenel for a tall ship sailing adventure recently, I was excited to learn it would be part of a wider paddleboarding trip organised by London-based SUP enthusiasts Active360.

Why we regret whale watching in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

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Whale watching in Mirissa is touted as a must-do, but tetchy tourists, crowded boats and unethical practices make for a deeply unsettling experience

Our first mistake was yielding to the hype. Sri Lanka is said to be the world’s only country in which you can see the largest land mammal (the elephant) and the largest water mammal (the blue whale), so we made whale watching in Mirissa a priority.

Our second mistake was using a local recommendation instead of our Sri Lanka guidebook – and thus we found ourselves at Mirissa harbour at 7am being herded onto a two-storey boat with 80 other people.

We placed our shoes in the communal storage box and gingerly headed upstairs. We found two empty seats at the back and pulled on our life jackets, watching in dismay as more and more people filed onto the boat with giant lenses and selfie sticks in tow.

10 easy ways to travel green

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Travelling green takes a little extra effort at first – but can soon become second nature. Here are some easy ways to travel green which will save you money too

We at Atlas & Boots strongly believe that travel is a force for good. However, when you consider the environmental impact of commercial aviation, the overwhelming numbers flocking to sensitive ecosystems and the tourist-driven strain on resources, travel doesn’t look quite so pretty.

The world is not getting better

Life for humans may be improving but what about everything else that shares our planet?

In trying times, social media users tend to share think pieces, charts and graphics proving that humanity has never had it so good.

These graphics focus on the growth of lovely things like basic education, literacy, democracy and vaccination, and the decline of awful things like extreme poverty and child mortality.

Visiting Kon Tiki, the raft that crossed an ocean

In 1947, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Pacific Ocean on Kon Tiki, a rudimentary raft made of balsa wood. We took a trip to see the legendary vessel

“Your mother and father will be very grieved when they hear of your death,” Thor Heyerdahl was told as he prepared to cross the Pacific by raft.

The raft’s dimensions were wrong, it was so small it would founder at sea, the balsa logs would break under strain or become waterlogged a quarter distance into sea, gales and hurricanes would wash the crew overboard, and salt water would slough the skin right off their legs – there was no end to the warnings.

Fram Museum in Oslo: a window into polar exploration

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The Fram Museum in Oslo strikes the perfect balance between fact and fantasy, appealing to exploration junkies, history buffs and culture seekers alike.

Norwegians have a rich and successful history in polar exploration. Here in the UK we revere the names of Shackleton and Scott while only whispering those of Nansen and Amundsen. The legends of Shackleton and Scott are lauded for against-the-odds survival and ultimate sacrifice, while their Norwegian counterparts are known for triumphing in relatively undramatic glory.

Before they’re gone: landscapes affected by climate change

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Climate change is taking an unprecedented toll on the Earth’s World Heritage Sites and natural wonders. Below, we take a look at some of the worst affected landscapes

With the surprise news this week that Donald Trump will be the next president of the USA, it would be easy to overlook that with the news comes one of the biggest threats to the historic agreement on climate made in Paris earlier this year.

Trump has previously described climate change as “fictional” and “created by the Chinese”, and has promised to “cancel” the Paris climate deal completely. On the domestic front he also plans to repeal all federal spending on clean energy, including research and development for wind, solar, nuclear power and electric vehicles.

Hiking the South West Coast Path: Newquay to Penzance

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Hiking the South West Coast path has long been on my bucket list. This summer I completed the section between Newquay to Penzance

The South West Coast path, Britain’s longest national trail, has long been on my hiking to-do list. It’s one of the finest long distance hiking trails in the world and showcases Britain at its best. Tent on back, I set off for a taste this summer.

I would love to spend a couple of months hiking the entire path but I didn’t have time for a thru-hike this summer, so decided to complete a section between Newquay and Penzance in Cornwall.

Lowest point on Earth: visiting the Dead Sea

Peter loves collecting titles. So far, we’ve seen the driest place on Earth (Atacama Desert), the hottest place on Earth (Death Valley), the northernmost capital in the world (Reykjavik), the highest capital in the world (be it La Paz or Quito), the highest point in Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro), the seven world wonders, the tallest mountain in the world (Mauna Kea), the end of the world (Ushuaia) and the international date line.

Poles of inaccessibility: the middle of nowhere

The poles of inaccessibility are arguably the true last frontiers for explorers. But where and what are they?

I’ve long been fascinated with the most remote places on Earth and the epic journeys of discovery to reach them. I’ve spent countless long mornings lying in bed leafing through giant reference books on the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration and even longer afternoons poring over immense maps detailing epic quests across untamed oceans.

10 reasons to do the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course

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In February last year, we arrived in South America after six months island-hopping across the Pacific Ocean. I knew we’d be spending more time on dry land here than we had in  SamoaTonga and Vanuatu where I passed my  PADI Open Water Diver course. Nonetheless, I was keen to improve my diving skills as we were planning to visit the Galápagos Islands with its excellent range of  sea life.

Punta Arenas: following the Ferdinand Magellan route

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Punta Arenas overlooks the Strait of Magellan on the Ferdinand Magellan route and is home to the most famous ships in the history of navigation

The sprawling city of Punta Arenas, situated on the historic Ferdinand Magellan route, is not easy to define. It’s possible that the city itself is confused about its identity. Once a penal colony, it is today part roughneck, part modern metropolis, part open-air maritime museum.

The town’s position overlooking the coarse and inhospitable Strait of Magellan – the most important natural passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – makes it essential to Chile’s maritime trade and provides access to the Antarctic peninsular.

11 surreal man-made dive sites

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If you’ve ever dreamed of discovering the mysterious lost city of Atlantis, then these dive sites are sure to intrigue

Man was designed to walk on land, but these underwater worlds suggest an alternative reality. From historic cities that have crashed into the sea at the hands of nature to artificial scenes constructed beneath the sea, these surreal man-made dive sites are utterly fascinating.

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.

How to pass the PADI Open Water Diver course

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A step-by-step guide for fellow divers who are somewhat nervous ahead of the PADI Open Water Diver course.

In theory, an expert diver should be writing this post. Logically, he or she could tell you what to expect, give you insider tips and prepare you for the challenge ahead. Of course, as a newly qualified diver, I have one advantage over the experts: I know first-hand just how hard it is for the nervous first-timer. I know what it’s like to almost back out of your first dive and to quit the course altogether. I also know how to get back on it.

Five months after my first attempt, I passed the PADI Open Water Diver course.

Bora Bora lagoon tour: money well spent

If you do one thing, do the Bora Bora lagoon tour – you won’t regret it

When we landed in Bora Bora, we were worried. Really worried.

It was the worst weather we’d seen in the Pacific. And I’m not talking about the tropical storm with torrential downpours and billowing breakers kind of bad weather, which is wretched but at least dramatic.

Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga

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Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was a truly humbling experience that very nearly didn’t happen for us! But luck was on our side that day

It was late October, approaching the very end of Tonga’s whale watching season. We had been delayed in Samoa about a week longer than expected and arrived in Tonga just two days before the last day of the season. Desperate not to miss our opportunity to swim with whales, we hastily flew north to the Vava’u Islands, one of the best places to see the humpbacks. These majestic creatures migrate north from the Antarctic every summer to breed in warmer waters, heading back as soon as their young are strong enough for the journey.