Arctic or Antarctic: how to pick your polar adventure

Icebergs in Antarctica

Can’t decide between the Arctic or Antarctic for your polar adventure? Our guide will help you choose between 66° north or south

The North and South Poles were only “conquered” in relatively recent history. The South Pole was first attained in 1911 by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen after his epic race with the ill-fated Robert Falcon Scott.

Is Antarctica worth it? – and all your other questions answered 

With views like this, you will want your own balconyAtlas & Boots

Our expedition to the great white continent inspired a host of questions, most commonly: is Antarctica worth it? We share our answers below

The cynic, it is said, knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. It doesn’t make you a cynic, however, to question the value of a trip to Antarctica given the hefty price tag. Ranging from seven to twenty thousand dollars per person, it’s a once in a lifetime expense, so it’s perfectly natural to ask: is Antarctica worth it?

In photos: 22 reasons to visit Antarctica

A photograph of a gentoo penguin in AntarcticaAtlas & Boots

From island-sized icebergs to close encounters with humpback whales, we share some of the myriad reasons to visit Antarctica

Antarctica was the final frontier for us. It was the only continent we hadn’t visited – our seventh – and a twice-postponed adventure that we had been planning for over two years.

Antarctica: why my seventh continent was more than just an ego trip

Kia looks out across Paradise BayAtlas & Boots

Kia explains why a voyage to Antarctica finally gave her a sense of peace

I am one of six sisters, which has always earned me a certain cachet; a sort of second-hand, useless celebrity like that of air hostesses and identical twins. The last time I mentioned “all my sisters” in public, a stranger cut in to ask how many. People are often keen to know if we all get along, how often we see each other and what it was like growing up. 

Best travel books 2022: our top 10 picks

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From a grumpy hiker’s outing in the mountains to the isolated shores of North Sentinel Island, we list the best travel books 2022

Travel memoirs are tricky beasts. In theory, 400 pages about someone else’s trip isn’t exactly appealing – like a protracted version of Jenny from Accounting’s week-long trip to Tuscany. 

Uluru: that time we camped in the outback

Uluru in the red centre of Australia is worth the tripAtlas & Boots

We spent two nights camping in the outback in the presence of one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders. Here’s our in-depth guide to visiting Uluru.

Uluru, that iconic behemoth, that clay-red monolith, that sun-scorched sentry… Nothing can really prepare you for the immensity, majesty, colour and serenity of the UNESCO-listed sandstone formation in Australia’s ‘red centre’.

Located in the southern part of the Northern Territory, it’s almost right in the middle of Australia. Nearly every other major sight is scattered along the coast, which means that Uluru makes for an exhilarating inland adventure.

13 stunning natural phenomena

Gregory B Cuvelier/Shutterstock

From the famous northern lights to the lesser-known sea of stars, we share the world’s most stunning natural phenomena

It’s firefall time. Every year, beginning around late February, the setting sun hits Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls at just the right angle to light the cascade in blazing orange and red hues, giving the appearance of flowing fire or lava. To celebrate the spectacle, we’re exploring the world’s most stunning natural phenomena.

Unknown treks in Asia: 10 offbeat trails

From remote corners of Bhutan to the lofty heights of Nepal, we profile some of the best unknown treks in Asia

When it comes to exploration, ‘too late for the seas, too soon for the stars’ may best describe our current times. Legendary explorers like Drake and Magellan charted the seas long ago while Scott, Shackleton, Amundsen and their like did the same for remote lands. 

Star struck: exploring the world’s Dark Sky Reserves

Stars shine over the South DownsDreamstime

International Dark Sky Reserves are protected areas that offer exceptionally starry nights. We review the 16 places that hold this hallowed status

They sound like something out of Star Trek, these ‘Dark Sky Reserves’ – like they may have been conjured one evening in a lively LA writers room. Unlike the ‘Delta Quadrant’ or ‘Delphic Expanse’, however, International Dark Sky Reserves actually exist.

Non-technical mountain climbs: 12 trekking peaks

mountaineering calendar whitney usaDreamstime

There are no ‘death zones’ on these non-technical mountain climbs but they offer plenty of challenges for mere mortals like me

As a climber, I have completed several indoor climbing and winter mountaineering courses but my technical climbing skills sill leave a lot to be desired. I have mastered basic rope, ice axe and crampon skills but don’t practise them as often as I’d like.

Unknown treks: 10 off the beaten trail adventures

unknown treks -swedenSander van der Werf/Shutterstock

From remote deserts to polar escapes, these unknown treks will get you far off the beaten trail

I spent 10 years living in London, riding the crowded tube to work, fighting for space with those around me and standing in queues at bus stops, supermarkets, anywhere really – I am British after all.

Naturally, this inspired daydreams of escaping it all and running off to the wilderness with only my backpack, tent, camping stove and a handful of freeze-dried meals.

In search of puffins in Mykines, Faroe Islands

puffins arguing on Mykines, Faroe Islands

We journey to Mykines, the westernmost island of the Faroes in pursuit of its famous puffins

“We do not have bad weather,” says the Faroe Islands website.

“Just a lot of weather.”

Adrift in the Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Iceland and Norway, the 18 islands of the Faroes do indeed have weather. It is palpable here: an ever-looming presence that snatches away your car door, rattles against your window and cries shrilly into quiet lulls.

Best road trips in the world – by continent

The Ring Road in Iceland is a very close contenderShane WP Wongperk/Shutterstock

The best road trips in the world have inspired artists through the ages, from Kerouac and Steinbeck to the talents at Pixar. Here, we attempt to explain why

When it comes to road trips, we’ve had our fair share of mishaps. We’ve battled a whiteout in Iceland, got stuck in a ditch in Turkey, broken down in Chile and changed a tyre in Namibia’s lion territory.

Kruger National Park vs private game reserves in South Africa

Manyeleti Game Reserve lions 1Atlas & Boots

An at-a-glance guide to choosing between Kruger National Park and the private game reserves in South Africa

When it came to planning our trip to South Africa, Kia left me to my own devices, knowing how much I enjoy poring over maps and researching potential routes. Mostly, this is fun but also occasionally stressful as I know I’ll be responsible if things go wrong.

With this in mind, I took pains to answer a central question: what are the pros and cons of Kruger National Park vs private game reserves in South Africa?

Manyeleti Game Reserve: our first safari in South Africa

Manyeleti Game Reserve lions 6

A safari in South Africa is said to be the ultimate wildlife watching experience. We went to Manyeleti Game Reserve to see for ourselves

Our safari in South Africa was always going to be strange. Our expectations were buoyed by the myth and drama of this renowned destination but equally subdued by our safari in Namibia which was simply unsurpassable. With this in mind, we knew that South Africa would both delight and disappoint us.

Visiting Eswatini: why this tiny country blew my mind

Interesting facts about Eswatini Swaziland white rhinosAtlas & Boots

Visiting Eswatini was never high on my bucket list. How utterly foolish of me

I’m not going to lie: visiting Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) was a box-ticking exercise. Landlocked between South Africa and Mozambique, this dot on the map offered an opportunity for Peter to tick off another country in his quest to qualify for the Century Club.

I was less enthused. We had only 11 days to see South Africa and trying to squeeze in Lesotho and Eswatini seemed like a bit of a stretch. Peter insisted it could be done and so I begrudgingly said yes.

10 most visited countries in the world

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, TurkeySamet Guler/Shutterstock

We profile some usual suspects plus one or two surprises in the top 10 most visited countries in the world

Have you dreamed of a romantic kiss atop the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you’ve thrown a wish into the Trevi Fountain or stopped and stared at the Sistine Chapel. If so, you’re certainly not alone.

According to the latest UNWTO Tourism Highlights report, France and Italy are two of the most visited countries in the world.

Driving the hairpinned Sani Pass to Lesotho

interesting facts about Lesotho Sani PassVAIZ HA; CC BY 2.0

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.

Tracking leopards and cheetahs at Okonjima Nature Reserve, Namibia

We visit one of the world’s best places to see cheetahs and leopards: Okonjima Nature Reserve in Namibia

I’ll be honest: in theory, I like the idea of staying at an eco lodge; in practice, however, I’m unenthused by the prospect of drop toilets, limp water pressure, poor ventilation that leaves everything a little damp, or open walls that grant entry to bugs. This might explain why I was sceptical about staying at Okonjima Nature Reserve in Namibia.

As stewards of conservation charity AfriCat, Okonjima is exactly the sort of place that might offer imperfect facilities under the banner of Doing Good.