Let’s face it: 2017’s been a bit of a dumpster fire. The consequences of Brexit are becoming clear here at home in the UK while over the pond in the US, Trump’s administration has promised disaster for the environment.
At Atlas & Boots, it’s been a mixed year. On a professional level, we passed 200,000 monthly users on the site, hit a milestone in monthly income and accepted an invitation to become brand ambassadors for Lonely Planet. On a personal level, however, we’ve had serious illness and bereavement in our families. So, yes: a mixed year.
In December, we usually publish a travel roundup of 12 delightful things that happened that year (see 2016 and 2015), but this year, good things were hard to come by. As such, for our final post this year, we’re listing our top 10 posts of 2017 based on reader engagement and editorial judgement.
These posts range from topical debates to trip reports and how-to guides, and represent a good cross-section of what we have to offer. We hope you’ll follow along in 2018 and send us feedback on what you love, what you don’t and what you’d like to see more of. We’ll see out there!
1. Tackling London’s empathy gap
After three months on the road, we headed back to London in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno. I was shocked by the response of some in the borough who were more concerned about their property prices than the welfare of their fellow residents. It led me to wonder how we could tackle the empathy gap between the rich and the poor in what’s meant to be one of the greatest cities in the world. The resulting post resonated with readers in London and beyond, and became one of our most shared pieces of the year.
2. Climbing Mount Elbrus: my second seven summit
This piece is special to me as it describes Peter’s fulfilment of a lifelong dream: to climb another of the seven summits. After summiting Kilimanjaro in 2010, he planned to tackle Aconcagua in 2015 as part of our first big trip. Sadly, we had to change our plans due to family commitments and come home two months early. This year, he climbed Mount Elbrus, his second of the seven summits and now has his sights on a third. As he says in his trip report: roll on, Aconcagua!
3. It’s sexist to assume I’m not adventurous
This post came about after a conversation with an acquaintance who essentially assumed that I do adventurous things to keep my boyfriend happy. It grated on me because it’s an attitude I’ve encountered repeatedly on the road. This post was my way of reminding people that activities and interests shouldn’t be gendered. Women enjoy Star Trek, women like gaming, women like coding and women like hiking. Let’s all get over it.
4. Map projections: why the same world looks different
Peter dreams of a house big enough to accommodate a cartography room dedicated to his Ordnance Survey maps, outdated classroom maps, hulking atlases and creaking globes. In this post, he examines why maps inspire conversation and tackles one of the most heated debates in the space: which map projection is the best?
5. Are you an outdoors snob?
In this post, I lament the rise of the outdoors snob, those uber-outdoorsy types who are sneery about newbies, snobby about gear, and highly vocal on what constitutes doing the outdoors the ‘right’ way. It struck a chord with our readership who has no doubt dealt with this breed of outdoorsman.
6. Tall ship sailing adventures off the west coast of Scotland
On another of Peter’s capers, he went off on a week of sailing around the west coast of Scotland. Since receiving his RYA Sailing 1 and 2 certifications a few years ago, he has been keen to gain some sailing experience and this was his chance. He joined the tall ship Lady of Avenel and sailed around the Inner Hebrides archipelago, pausing frequently to take kayaks and paddleboards overboard and head for land to explore wild beaches, craggy coves and traditional fishing villages en route.
7. Visiting Erta Ale volcano: the ‘hike to hell and back’
Erta Ale in Ethiopia was undoubtedly one of our best travel experiences ever – but it wasn’t easily won. This hike through the rugged volcanic landscape in the Danakil Depression is one of the roughest things I’ve ever done. We had no commode and barely any bushes for privacy, no running water and no closed shelter at night. There was extreme heat and a constant threat of danger not entirely quashed by our escort of armed guards who weren’t always careful about where they pointed their guns…
8. The curse of improbable dreams
In a rare personal piece, Peter reflects on his lifelong dream to climb the seven summits and gets realistic about his chances of ever doing so. In it, he tackles the common belief that you can accomplish anything you want in life if you put your mind to it and admits that he doesn’t believe in fate or destiny, nor does he think that brute-force doggedness will ensure he achieves his dreams. The post resonated with those readers with similarly lofty dreams, offering solace in its honesty.
9. The world is not getting better
This post was my response to perky messages on social media reminding us that humans have never had it so good. The post acknowledges the growth of basic education, literacy and democracy, but rails against the hubris of humans. It highlights how our obscene consumerism is wreaking slow-creep devastation across the planet and reminds us that there are millions of other species that also call Earth their home.
10. Safari photography tips: how to shoot wildlife (with a camera)
Having spent a considerable amount of travel time in jeeps on game drives, Peter has managed to photograph some beautiful and rare wildlife over the years. Along the way, he’s picked up some indispensable safari photography tips be it through trial and error, talking to expert rangers, or just comparing photos with other enthusiasts. Here, he shares his essential safari photography tips to help readers get the most out of their trips in the wild.
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