Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2022

As a watershed year draws to a close, we reflect on the top 10 posts that our readers most enjoyed

Last year, our annual roundup had a certain tone; one of unmistakable melancholy. Peter and I – and the rest of the world – had suffered two years of lockdowns and restrictions and were running out of stamina. In the piece, I talk about ‘trying to focus on the good things’ and ‘doing what we can’. The optimism is feeble, never quite reaching cheer. 

Highlander UAE: hitting rock bottom in the high heat

Kia feels the burn on the Highlander UAE, a 30km two-day trek in the Hajar Mountains

When I agreed to do the Highlander UAE, I didn’t know that the entire universe would conspire against me. I’d planned to be fighting fit because I knew that the trek would be challenging, but due to a healing wound for which I needed stitches I wasn’t able to exercise for the three weeks leading up to the trip. This impacted my fitness and, in turn, my ability to deal with the 30°C heat. On top of this, in what felt like a cosmic cruelty, I found myself battling a cold. 

12 Christmas gifts for travellers

Our tried-and-tested list of Christmas gifts for travellers be they hikers, shutterbugs, adrenaline junkies or culture vultures

This year has been a life-changing one for us. Three-and-a-half years after we moved to the country, we took the decision to move back to London. We missed our friends and family too much and, after two years under the pandemic, knew it was important to be close to them. And, so, in February, we sold our house and moved 240 miles across the country.

visiting-easter-island-Ahu-Tongariki

16 interesting facts about Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

We examine the island’s history and explain some of the most interesting facts about Easter Island

This remote Pacific island is not only beautiful but full of mystery. The open-air museum in the middle of the Pacific Island has some of the world’s most recognisable images.

20 interesting facts about Svalbard

We share the most interesting facts about Svalbard, collected on our expedition to ‘the last stop before the North Pole’

Svalbard is said to be Europe’s last great wilderness. This archipelago of ice, rock and permafrost lies midway between Norway and the North Pole and is accordingly untrammelled. Measuring 24,209 sq mi (62,700 sq km), Svalbard comprises nine main islands, chief among them Spitsbergen, home to the de facto capital, Longyearbyen. Very little grows in Svalbard and it’s shrouded in darkness for much of the year, making it one of the most hostile places on earth.

The travel that changed me: Melanie White

In a new memoir, former yacht chef Melanie White examines the dark side of luxury travel. Here, she explains why it was important to tell her story

At age 22, Melanie White is flying high. With good grades at school, a reliable university degree and steady graduate job, her feet are firmly planted on the ground until she finds herself plunged into the superyacht industry – despite having been on a boat only three times in her life.

Polar Plunge Q&A: everything you need to know

The Polar Plunge is a fearsome rite of passage for visitors to Antarctica and the Arctic. Here, we share what you need to know so you can leap with ease

I still remember the moment I learnt about the Polar Plunge. I was at home in London on a typically gloomy day in the mid 2010s. I was wasting time online when I came across an article about Antarctica. Sadly, I can’t remember the writer’s name, but the photo of her was joyous: midway through the Polar Plunge, her body drawn into a starfish shape, a jubilant smile on her face. It was so pure and fun, and completely unselfconscious in a way that women are taught not to be. 

Svalbard midnight sun lead image 2022

Under the midnight sun: a surreal trip to Svalbard

In the land of the midnight sun, Kia finds a place of raw nature, rare wildlife and one of her most memorable moments of travel

It is said that you can’t die in Svalbard, the remote archipelago that lies midway between Norway and the North Pole. The permafrost here not only preserves corpses, it sometimes pushes them to the surface. The truth is that authorities would prefer you didn’t die on Svalbard. Coffin burials are not allowed due to the permafrost, so critically-ill patients are usually flown to mainland Norway. 

The Dark Hedges double up as the Kingsroad in Game of Thrones

20 best natural wonders in the UK

From plunging gorges to fairytale woods, we share a handpicked list of the best natural wonders in the UK

We’d been back in Britain for a mere two weeks when Peter told me he was heading to Dartmoor to walk the Two Moors Way. Our recent trip through Europe had mainly stopped in cities and clearly hadn’t satisfied his need to be outdoors. Peter grew up by the coast, and swimming and hiking were formative parts of his childhood. 

The travel that changed me: David Sklar

Renowned physician David Sklar tells us about the travel that changed him and why it’s taken him 40 years to write about what happened

David Sklar has faced life-or-death situations hundreds of times in his life and career. As an emergency physician, he has seen humanity at its weakest – and its most triumphant. His experience has led to over 200 published articles, a professorship and an appointment as editor-in-chief of prestigious journal Academic Medicine – a position he held for seven years. 

Durdle Door is one of the most iconic sights of the Jurassic Coast

Going coastal: 15 best sea views in England

From brooding cliffs to storybook villages, we bring you a curated list of the best sea views in England

For a long time, Peter and I were ambivalent about the British staycation. For us, getting on a flight marked the start of a proper getaway. But then, a series of local trips began to change our minds. There was Clovelly, a picturesque fishing village on the north coast of Devon; Langley Castle in Northumberland; walking with my sister in the Chiltern Hills; and, for Peter, hiking the coast to coast and the South West Coast Path. These trips turned out to be some of our most memorable.

Visiting Auschwitz from Kraków: a sobering journey

Kia reflects on a visit to Auschwitz from Kraków and defends what some dismiss as problematic tourism

The famous gates of Auschwitz are startling, not because they’re sinister or imposing but the very opposite. Usually depicted in black and white, these gates have featured in myriad Holocaust films and documentaries. Today, however, they’re not in menacing monochrome or veiled in evocative fog. Rather, they’re bathed in sunlight with a blazing blue sky behind.

How to claim compensation for flight delays

How to claim compensation for flight delays

Recent travel chaos has left many out of pocket, but you might be entitled to compensation for flight delays

It was 8pm Jordanian time in October 2013 when we were told that our flight was being delayed by another two and a half hours. The tiny dinner box with a dry cheese sandwich and limp croissant was little compensation for the fact that we were going to miss the last train out of London Heathrow, meaning we’d have to spend £50 on a cab. Just great.

man on frozen lake essentials for safe travel

8 essentials for safe travel

From avoiding stomach bugs to securing valuables, these essentials for safe travel will stop long trips playing havoc with your health

Having five sisters as I do is wonderful. On your travels, you get lots of messages checking on your whereabouts and well-being. And then you get some more messages. And then you get some more.

Back to Baros: what happened when we returned to our island paradise

Should you ever try to recreate a perfect trip from the past or is it better left alone as a memory?

When my editor at Asian Woman Magazine sent me on a trip to the Maldives, I couldn’t quite believe it. A week at the luxury private island of Baros with flights, accommodation and all excursions paid for seemed thoroughly fantastical. What’s more, I was told to bring my boyfriend on this would-be honeymoon.

The travel that changed me: Lottie Gross

From the biggest myth in travel writing to the dream destination she hasn’t yet seen, author Lottie Gross tells us about the travel that changed her

Lottie Gross is a busy woman. A travel writer, author, public speaker and founder of popular newsletter Talking Travel Writing, she has a thoroughly daunting schedule – but this is hardly new.

Fitz Roy day hike: an essential guide

A Q&A guide to the Fitz Roy day hike, telling you exactly what you need to know to reach this iconic peak

We had unfinished business with Fitz Roy. We first visited in 2015 after a disappointing trip to Torres del Paine in Chile. It was winter in Patagonia and thanks to awful weather we saw absolutely nothing. 

The travel that changed me: Shafik Meghji

From the biggest myth in travel writing to the dream destination he hasn’t yet seen, author Shafik Meghji tells us about the travel that changed him

In his early teens, Shafik Meghji came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to make it as a professional footballer. As such, he settled for the next best thing: a job as a roving sports reporter. He won a coveted Scott Trust Bursary from the Guardian which funded his diploma in newspaper journalism and led to a role at the Evening Standard.