Hiking in Aigüestortes National Park, Catalonia

Aigüestortes National Park 12Atlas & Boots

We spent a day hiking in Aigüestortes National Park across a wild landscape of twisting waters and soaring summits in the Catalan Pyrenees

Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Catalonia, deep in the Catalan Pyrenees, is the region’s best-kept secret: Aigüestortes and Lake Sant Maurici National Park or Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici in Catalan.

Aigüestortes is absurdly pretty. Mighty jagged peaks tower far above evergreen forests and myriad glinting lakes. It’s a landscape begging to be hiked – and so we did.

Hiking Great Shunner Fell: my first ‘Dales 30’

Hiking Great Shunner Fell was my first of the Dales 30, the highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales. One down, 29 to go…

As many of you will know, Kia and I recently moved to the country. It’s taken me eight years, but I’ve finally convinced Kia that life is better away from the busy south. As such, we’ve moved to the small and charming market town of Richmond on the edge of Yorkshire Dales National Park.

As well as enjoying the delights of Richmond, the best thing for me about our move is having easy access to the countryside, right on our doorstop. It takes five minutes to drive into the national park, one of Britain’s 15 breathing spaces, while at the end of our street is a walking trail along the River Swale that gets us into the park in just 15 minutes.

Climbing Carrauntoohil: Ireland’s highest mountain

things to do in the reeks district CarrauntoohilValerie O’Sullivan

Climbing Carrauntoohil is an excellent introduction to the Reeks District, Ireland’s adventure playground

The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in Kerry are Ireland’s highest mountain range and the inspiration behind the region’s newly renamed Reeks District, home to Carrauntoohil which at 1,038m (3,406ft) is Ireland’s highest mountain.

High cliffs, mountain lakes and fast-running rivers define the range which runs 19km along the eastern boundary of the Iveragh Peninsula. Known as the backbone of the Kingdom of Kerry, the sandstone mountains have been hewn over hundreds of thousands of years by glacial erosion and extreme weather.

8 South Island short walks with big views

South Island short walks new zealand Lake MathesonAtlas & Boots

We review eight South Island short walks showcasing New Zealand’s extraordinary scenery in just a short stroll

If you don’t have the time or legs for the Great Walks of New Zealand, then these South Island short walks are the next best thing. With grand views on par with some long-distance hiking trails, these quick walks showcase the best of New Zealand’s diverse and sometimes bizarre scenery without the aching feet, sweaty backs and muddy boots. 

8 best day hikes on North Island, New Zealand

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We review the best day hikes on North Island. No tents, sleeping bags or bulky backpacks required

New Zealand is one of the best hiking destinations in the world and although the South Island steals the headlines for long-distance hiking, the North Island has much to offer in terms of shorter trails.

Don’t let lower distances fool you though: these trails may be short, but they are not always sweet. Some are thoroughly challenging. What they all have in common is spectacular scenery. Emerald lakes, rugged coastlines and rocky stalagmites are defining features of these day hikes on North Island.

7 best day hikes in the Blue Mountains, Sydney

Hikes in the Blue Mountains Sydney Cliff Top Walking TrackDreamstime

We explore seven of the best day hikes in the Blue Mountains, or the “Blueys” as they’re affectionately known to “Sydneysiders”

We were ready to head to the hills. We’d had a great time exploring Sydney and climbing the Harbour Bridge, but were keen to get back into the outdoors. And so we ventured from our comfy dwellings at Mantra on Kent in Sydney for a day trip to The Blue Mountains.

Climbing Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak

Climbing Mount Kosciuszko in Australia may not be on every visitor’s itinerary, but it’s the easiest way to bag one of the seven summits (sort of)

“So does this really count as one of your seven summits?” Kia asked as we started to break trail.

“Not really. But if I’m on my deathbed and one short, it will have to count,” I replied.

I may have mentioned climbing the seven summits (the highest mountain on each of the seven continents) once or twice or ten times before. I dream of climbing them all, no matter how improbable

Mount Lofty walking trails: six routes to the summit

Mount Lofty walking trails 16Atlas & Boots

The Mount Lofty walking trails crisscrossing the Adelaide Hills all lead to one place: the summit – and some of the finest views in south Australia

In the Adelaide Hills, located just 15km east of Adelaide, sits Mount Lofty and its panoramic views across Adelaide’s skyline and beyond. The Adelaide Hills – an elevated landscape of rolling vineyards, rambling forest and steep ridges – have long been a peaceful retreat for the residents of Adelaide.

Leap of faith: hiking to the vertiginous Tigray churches

Tigray churches over the plains

To reach the Tigray churches of Ethiopia, one must scale sheer rock, inch along narrow ledges and skirt around yawning chasms – all in bare feet. Naturally, we leapt at the chance

I was feeling uncharacteristically nervous. It wasn’t the narrow ledges with sheer drops that had me spooked, but the prospect of climbing with ropes – something I’d never done before.

Visiting Erta Ale volcano: the ‘hike to hell and back’

Erta Ale has been described at as the hike to hell and backAtlas & Boots

Erta Ale in Ethiopia is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and looms above a deadly desert. We ask if it’s worth the risk

The 4×4 steams across the desert, lurching over rocks and cracks. Sand whips against the window, almost liquid in its motion. Immediately behind me sits our military escort: two men with automatic rifles slung casually across their laps.

I hate to say it, but there is a distinct sense of lawlessness in the air. I hate to because this is Africa and, for centuries, westerners have come to the continent to gather tales of risk and adventure for recounting at dinner parties over and cheese and wine.

I don’t want to be that guy, but it’s true: here, in the Danakil Depression in the Afar Region of Ethiopia, it really does feel like anything could happen.

Hiking in Mauritius: five trails with stunning viewpoints

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Hiking in Mauritius is hot, sticky and exhausting, but with some of the finest viewpoints in the world, thoroughly worthwhile too.

Hiking in Mauritius is like exploring Jurassic World, albeit without Chris Pratt and a ferocious dinosaur in tow. The scenery boasts sapphire-blue waters and powder-white beaches encircling jagged jungle-clad peaks that surge from sugar cane fields below. It is the spectacular crests with unimpeded viewpoints of the island in all its glory that provide the finest hiking in Mauritius. We take a look at five of the best trails.

Hiking Le Pouce (The Thumb) in Mauritius

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Hiking Le Pouce in Mauritius is a quick and rewarding hike offering stunning panoramic views of this beautiful tropical island

After hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius, we were keen to see more of the country’s extraordinary scenery and so chose Le Pouce, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin who writes about his ascent of Le Pouce in his journal of 1845.

At 812m (2,664ft), Le Pouce – or The Thumb, so named because of its thumb-shaped peak – is the third highest mountain in Mauritius.

Hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius: a guide

hiking in Mauritius le morneAtlas & Boots

A guide to hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius including a map to the trail entrance and our hard-earned tips and caveats

I wasn’t worried about hiking Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius. After climbing Nevis Peak in St Kitts & Nevis and navigating sections of sheer rock on Spencer Trail in the US, I thought hiking Le Morne Brabant would be easy. I certainly wasn’t expecting to quit a few metres from the top…

Hiking to Yazakyi Monastery in Myanmar

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We hiked to Yazakyi Monastery above the Burmese village of Pindaya and found a picturesque settlement straight from the pages of National Geographic

On my last visit to London, I asked my niece to grab a tenner from my wallet for the pizza fund. (We have a family of eight siblings and 21 nieces and nephews, so ordering pizza requires a basic level of crowdfunding.)

She rifled through my wallet, first pulling out some US dollars, then my tattered entrance card to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, then the business card of a tourism official in Malawi. She smiled cheekily and said, “Ada marayreh?”.

The Bengali phrase – which loosely translates to ‘flouncing about’ or ‘gallivanting’ – is usually used pejoratively by prim auntie-jis to chide young women for venturing outside and being seen in ‘improper’ situations (e.g. walking with a boy, entering a cinema, going on holiday).

Climbing Adam’s Peak: all 5,500 steps of it!

View seen after climbing Adam's Peak

We set off on an overnight climb to Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka’s most sacred mountain. Here’s how we fared

I was already exhausted by Sri Lanka. So far, we’d had two men barge into our hotel room in Bentota, got stuck in a toilet in Tissa, been pinned to a wall on a train to Galle and battled flying cockroaches on the road to Udawalawe.

5 hiking trails around Ella, Sri Lanka

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Some of the best scenery in Sri Lanka awaits you on the hiking trails around Ella in the Hill Country

Many people head to Sri Lanka for the beaches – and the country does have some of the finest in the world – but it was Sri Lanka’s Hill Country that really captured our imagination. Carpets of tea plantations and alpine forests emerge from creeping morning mists to reveal some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (if not the world).

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

oslo-hiking-trails-Sognsvann lake north of Oslo

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.

8 short but sweet Cappadocia hikes

Cappadocia hikes 11 Zelve valley - 2Atlas & Boots

Our selection of quick Cappadocia hikes explore some of the most bizarre and magnetic scenery in the world

Hiking around Cappadocia in Turkey is a unique experience offering some of the most surreal scenery in the world. There are numerous options available, from brief walks to full-day treks and beyond. Below, we take a look at some short but sweet Cappadocia hikes offering excellent vantage points with extraordinary views.

Rarotonga Cross Island Walk in the Cook Islands

rarotonga cross island walk

The Rarotonga Cross Island Walk is one of the best hikes in the South Pacific. Even the most inexperienced hiker can get up there with a bit of care

We stood outside our hostel, staring up at the morning sky. It had been raining all night long and the ominous clouds still threatened to thwart our plans. Adrienne, the hostel owner, had already warned us against doing the Rarotonga Cross Island Walk.