11 things to do in Gauja National Park, Latvia

Gauja national park lead image

From hiking along precipitous escarpments to exploring ancient caves, we share the best things to do in Gauja National Park, Latvia

Over half of Latvia is covered in forest with northern Latvia and particularly the Gauja Valley home to some of the country’s most stunning arboreal scenes. I spent a few days exploring Gauja National Park, the country’s oldest protected area, and found an adventure playground ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.

Bogshoeing in Latvia: silly but outrageously good fun

Peter bogshoeing in Ķemeri National Park, Latvia

Bogshoeing in Latvia? Nope, we hadn’t heard of it either. But the wetlands of Ķemeri National Park are more than a bog-standard destination

It’s a cliché I know, but travel never ceases to surprise me. I’ve hiked all over the world – from high-altitude treks in Nepal and Pakistan to remote expeditions in Greenland and Norway – so when I was invited to the tiny Baltic nation of Latvia with its highest point just 312m (1,024ft) above sea level, I wasn’t expecting to find much in the way of expansive wilderness. But, despite its size, Latvia devotes a substantial amount of space to nature and outdoor pursuits.

El Chaltén hiking trails: our top 6 picks

El Chaltén is one of the best hiking destinations in Argentina4kwonderland/Shutterstock

We’ve selected six of the best El Chaltén hiking trails, showcasing the finest Andean vistas around Argentina’s trekking capital

Patagonia’s El Chaltén hiking trails should be on the bucket list of every serious hiker. The trekking capital of Argentina provides access to a network of well-maintained hiking routes with some of the most breathtaking alpine viewpoints on the continent.

Non-technical mountain climbs: 13 trekking peaks

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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 still 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.

When nature calls: why going to the toilet in the outdoors may be about to change

A toilet roll hanging on a branch in the wild

Burying your waste may no longer be the most sustainable way to go to the toilet in the outdoors, according to new research

The number of people using public lands in the US has been steadily increasing for years. The pandemic accelerated the trend as lockdown-weary Americans flocked to outdoor spaces in record numbers. The increase in visitors saw several parks and landmarks introduce reservation systems to counteract the unsustainable rise in visitor numbers.

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. 

Best things to do in Ushuaia, the capital of the end of the world

Seven years after our first visit, we return to Tierra del Fuego to rediscover the best things to do in Ushuaia, the capital of the end of the world

There are few places left in the world that still evoke the romance of old-world exploration. They inspire nostalgia for a time we never knew; places to which we’ve never been.

We know their names in the same way we know Neverland and Narnia: shrouded in legend and lore. Cartagena, Antarctica, the Northwest Passage and Vinson Massif. Even men sounded greater then: Drake, Amundsen, Livingstone and Shackleton.

Training for Kilimanjaro: 7 tips for a successful summit

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Completing some basic training for Kilimanjaro will make your climb easier, safer and ultimately more enjoyable

I climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, back in 2010. At 5,895m (19,340ft), it was my first high-altitude trek and even though I had some hillwalking behind me, I had no experience of trekking at altitude, wasn’t fit enough and didn’t have the right gear. In hindsight, I was fortunate to make the summit considering I was so underprepared.

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.

How to choose hiking boots: a beginner’s guide

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Our guide on how to choose hiking boots will ensure you enjoy every step of the trail. Here’s how to pick the perfect pair

Footwear is a hiker’s most critical piece of gear. Inappropriate or poorly fitted boots or shoes can spoil a day on the trail and have you wincing with every step. But with a dizzying array of choices, from lightweight trail running shoes to double-layered plastic mountaineering boots and everything in between, knowing where to start can be bewildering.

7 US national parks that require a reservation in 2022

The US national park service was reportedly banned from tweeting following its anti-Trump retweetsDreamstime

America’s outdoor spaces are becoming increasingly congested, so more US national parks will require a reservation in 2022

In 1872, the US established Yellowstone National Park, the first protected site in the country and only the second in the world after Bogd Khan Uul in Mongolia. Yellowstone soon became the international standard for the preservation of biodiversity and cultural history; a standard that has since been widely replicated around the globe.

Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2021

Peter in the Lake District during the Coast to Coast

As we come to the end of another difficult year, we reflect on our highs and lows – on and off the blog

I thought that things would be different this year. We ended 2020 on a low but hopeful note and I really thought the world would be back to normal this year. 

Instead, travel continues to limp on. Here in the UK, lockdown hangs like the sword of Damocles, yet again threatening our trip to Antarctica. There is a sense of time ticking by, especially for Peter who has lost two years of climbing in his prime, which has impacted his lifelong dream to climb the seven summits. 

20 most beautiful mountains in the USA

Most beautiful mountains in America: Maroon BellsZhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The most beautiful mountains in the US are a contentious subject, for this is a land that brims with beauty. We scoured the states and whittled them down to a list of 20

Legendary climber​​ Reinhold Messner said that there are three rules of mountaineering: “It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.” 

Eight-thousanders: the 14 highest peaks in the world

Nanga Parbat was once known as "killer mountain"Witthawas_Siri/Shutterstock

The eight-thousanders are so ferocious that only 44 people have summited them all. We explain why they bewitch climbers all across the globe

Most boys grow out of their fascination with mountains and the great outdoors. Those that do not usually end up on the side of a mountain, asking ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ But, as the saying goes, the best alpinists have the worst memories and so they venture once again into the ether.

Ice work: 10 first ascents by female mountaineers

Norwegian adventurer Cecilie SkogFair Use

In a world dominated by men, a select group of women have shattered the ice ceiling. Here we review some daring first ascents by female mountaineers

I’ll be honest: it rankles to write the words ‘the first female’ to do such and such. It feels patronising, as if to say you weren’t good enough to play with the big boys but I’ll pat you on the head anyway. 

Introducing the Highlander Olympus trek in Greece

peter during his Highlander Olympus trekAtlas & Boots

Peter joins the Highlander Adventure team on Greece’s highest peak to scout the new Highlander Olympus trek launching next year

Trekking may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a visit to Greece. Ancient ruins steeped in mythology, island-hopping across the Aegean or feasting on the country’s delectable cuisine will all likely register first. Enter Mt. Olympus, the highest and most storied of all Greek mountains.

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

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The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits

Previously, I’ve written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal.

This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me!

Winter hiking: 6 tips to get you started

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Winter hiking without experience is taxing at best and lethal at worst. We share some tips to help you prepare properly

Winter hiking is a polarising sport: some love it, others hate it. Too often, people have bad experiences not because they’re inherently resistant to cold, but because they’re under-prepared. They make not just basic mistakes like packing the wrong gear but also arrive mentally unprepared.

Coast to Coast Walk tips: all you need to know

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We’ve collated all our Coast to Coast Walk tips in a detailed Q&A-style guide to help you along this classic English journey

I recently hiked England’s Coast to Coast Walk which crosses northern England from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. As the route practically passes my home in Richmond, I decided to walk the footpath twice and experience the celebrated trail in both directions.