Driving the hairpinned Sani Pass to Lesotho

Sani Pass is said to be one of the most dangerous mountain passes in the world. We decided to drive it on our overnight tour to Lesotho.

Sometimes, I feel jealous of past explorers − not grandees like Cook or Magellan but everyday travellers that went somewhere and saw something not yet covered by Lonely Planet or indeed Atlas & Boots.

I imagine sultry Indian summers with endless corridors of uncharted possibility or China’s Hallelujah mountains, misty and deserted, and think how magical those times must have been. Continue reading

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Our epic self-drive safari through Namibia

Our self-drive safari through Namibia showed us the finest wildlife and landscapes this arresting country has to offer.

I landed in Namibia three days ahead of Kia. She had some book-related business to wrap up in London so I arrived alone to begin a 17-day self-drive safari through Namibia with Wild Dog Safaris.

We’ve always had mixed feelings when it comes to organised tours. We’ve often preferred to piece together our trips independently to make sure we see exactly what we want. That said, there are some parts of the world – be it for logistical or security reasons – where an organised tour just makes more sense. Continue reading

Is there really a best time to book flights?

News outlets periodically claim to share the best time to book flights. Is there such a thing and, if so, when is it? We ask an expert for answers.

When it comes to the best time to book flights, Peter and I do very little strategising. We simply search online and book the first decent deal we see.

In the early days, we sacrificed time to save money, but as we’ve grown older and more financially stable, we’ve moved in the other direction. We’ll still endure an 18-hour layover if it saves us hundreds of pounds (like we did in Singapore this year), but will no longer sleep overnight in an airport to save mere tens of pounds (like we did in Chile three years ago). Continue reading

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Sydney Bridge Climb: is it worth it?

The Sydney Bridge Climb is one of Australia’s most iconic activities – but is it worth the cost and effort? We braved some boiler suits to go and find out.

The Sydney Bridge Climb, if nothing else, is a lesson in sheer forcefulness. When its creator, Paul Cave, first put forward proposals for the climb, regulators replied with a list of 60-something reasons why it simply wasn’t possible.

Cave’s proposed blue suits would distract drivers, they said. Dropped items would cause accidents, and climbers would fall and hurt themselves. The list went on. Continue reading

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Great Ocean Road attractions: the musts, shoulds and coulds

We list the best Great Ocean Road attractions you must see, should see and could see along the way. 

The Great Ocean Road in Australia is one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives and one of Lonely Planet’s Epic Drives of the World. Stretching for 243km along the southeastern coast of Australia, the road showcases some of the country’s most dramatic coastal scenery.

The Great Ocean Road runs between the Victorian towns of Torquay and Allansford and was built between 1919 and 1932 by soldiers returning from World War I. It is dedicated to soldiers killed during the war and as such is the world’s largest war memorial. Continue reading

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End of the line: 5 hiking trails on the Oslo metro

A comprehensive network of Oslo hiking trails is accessible from the city metro system. All offer great access to the outdoors and are easy to reach from the city centre.

The hiking trails around Oslo are similar to those in the rest of the country: clearly signposted, well maintained and often bookended with cosy cabins serving hot drinks and hearty food.

Trails in Norway are maintained by the excellent Norway Trekking Association (DNT). Their crowdsourced route planning sister site UT.no is also a great online resource full of hiking ideas, tips and maps. Continue reading

Mekong river cruise: an indie traveller’s first time on tour

I didn’t know what to expect of my Mekong river cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia. Firstly, I was travelling without Peter for the first time in four years. Secondly, I’d read mixed reviews of Vietnam and, thirdly, I was embarking on a tour with a pre-planned itinerary.

I won’t pretend that my ‘indie’ travel has been all hostels and roaches. My commissions outside of Atlas & Boots have taken me to numerous luxury resorts around the world, but I’d never before joined a scheduled group tour. Continue reading

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Cappadocia balloon ride: a fairytale flight

A Cappadocia balloon ride gives passengers an unrivalled perspective of the area’s unique landscape of fairy chimneys, towering boulders and ridged valleys peppered with caves.

We had already spent three days exploring the lunar-like environment of Cappadocia. We had hiked, driven, ‘caved’ and ridden our way around Göreme National Park (the modern encompassment of the historic region of Cappadocia) and were soon ready for a full, unobstructed view from above. Continue reading

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Punta Arenas: following the Ferdinand Magellan route

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. Continue reading

15 hitchhiking tips for newbies

I hate hitchhiking. Perhaps it’s the retiring Brit in me but I hate the sense of embarrassment when I am refused, and the sense of imposition when I am accepted. I hate the feeling of placing a request at the feet of strangers and expecting them to say yes. I hate the awkwardness of small talk and the permeating feeling of indebtedness. If I could help it, I would never do it.

Of course, travelling through remote villages in the South Pacific meant I had to swallow my hate and hope for the best. Sometimes, buses wouldn’t come for days let alone hours, leaving hitchhiking as the only option. Despite the innumerable warnings around hitchhiking, it can be a cheap, easy and safe way to get around, especially if you know how to do it well. To help fellow newbies, I polled a number of experienced travellers and rounded up their best hitchhiking tips. Continue reading

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

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. Continue reading

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Round the world ticket pros and cons

I am at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, over 3,000 miles from anywhere I expected to be on our round-the-world trip for Atlas and Boots. In fact, Hawaii, California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah are all unplanned stops. I expected to be in South America by December 2014, but instead spent an extra month in Tahiti – and then boarded a luxury cruise across the Pacific which most certainly wasn’t on the agenda. What I’m trying to say is that, for me, not buying a round-the-world (RTW) ticket has been a blessing.

We certainly considered the RTW option: we spent hours discussing and researching, but gave up when we couldn’t find an economical route that worked for our unusual journey. That’s not to say the RTW is without merit. If you’re torn between the options, have a look at the round the world ticket pros and cons below and make a decision based on your particular trip. Continue reading

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Meet the first man to visit every country in the world without flying

If you passed Graham Hughes on the street, you’d most likely mistake him for just another backpacker, or perhaps a student two weeks past a shave. Behind the glasses and the unassuming smile, however, is a man that has achieved something extraordinary: Graham is the first person to visit every country in the world without boarding a plane. He has used boats, cars, buses and trains to visit every corner of the planet, a journey that has taken him four years to complete. Even more extraordinary is the fact that he, originally from Liverpool in the UK, now lives on a private island in Panama, a prize he won through a gameshow. (Yes, we’re seething with jealousy too.)

Graham stopped by Reddit this month and invited readers to ask him anything – and we did. Here’s a roundup of his most interesting answers. Continue reading

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The second-best seats on the best flight in the world

The best flight in the world is surely over the Tongan archipelagos of Vava’u and Ha’apai, streaking across the bright blue skies with glorious views below.

We’ve been on the road for three months now and taken 15 flights and counting. Ever since we first left continental Australia there’s been some breathtaking aerial views from our windows across the Pacific thousands of feet below.

In general, we have reserved air travel for international journeys, using inter-island ferries instead for domestic trips. However, we were short of time in Tonga and weren’t prepared to spend 24 hours or more travelling between the island groups. Continue reading

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Pimp my bus ride: Samoan buses are a unique experience

Samoan buses are uncomfortable, noisy and won’t run on time. But that’s the fun of it! Even if you have nowhere to go in Samoa, take a bus somewhere. 

We wanted to get out of Apia and head to the south coast. We’d heard the waters were incredible and there were some great natural sights to see. Taxis are expensive and as we are on a budget the bus was the answer. We’ve taken plenty of buses across the Pacific islands now, but this one was a little bit different. Continue reading

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How to handle a 24 hour flight

Oh, the horror! Twenty-four hours in a tin can full of other people is no-one’s idea of fun, but when you’re heading to the other side of the world, it can’t really be avoided. Our flight(s) from London to Port Vila via Singapore and Brisbane meant a total transit time of 36 hours – 24 of which were in flight. By the time we reached our hotel, we were in a zombie-like state but still human. Here’s how we coped with our 24 hour flight.  Continue reading

London Underground rules

London Underground rules

As we approach our last journey on the awful/amazing London Underground, we publish a primer for the uninitiated…

Ah, so you’ve arrived in the City of London, the land of tea, crumpets and people who say sorry a lot. The land of Notting Hill and Love, Actually and bumbling gentlemen who blush when complimented. The city of Yeoman Warders and the Queen’s Guard, and quirky social rituals that are just so charmingly English. Continue reading

7 adventure cruises for your bucket list

Adventure travellers are generally accustomed to a degree of discomfort: camping on a mountain top, trekking through suffocating jungle, jumping off something very, very high. For even the most hardened traveller, however, there are some adventures that are just plain impossible to do alone. This is where cruise holidays come in. With the ability to carry passengers to the far reaches of the world, cruise ships offer a chance to go places and see things most of the population never get to do. Here we list the top adventure cruises for your bucket list (and by ‘bucket list’, we of course mean ‘when you win the lottery list’). Continue reading