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.

Gorilla trekking tips: what to know before you go

A silverback gorilla in RwandaOnyx9/Shutterstock

These essential gorilla trekking tips will help you get the most out of this extraordinary wildlife experience

Found nowhere else in the wild on Earth and once on the verge of extinction, the mountain gorilla – a subspecies of the eastern gorilla – has seen a spectacular revival. A series of conservation measures involving local communities has led to one of Africa’s greatest conservation success stories. Though still classified as endangered, today there are more than 1,000 mountain gorillas roaming the jungles of UgandaRwanda and DR Congo, up from around 480 in 2010.

Ranked: least-visited US national parks

Diablo lake in the North Cascades National ParkAnna Abramskaya/Shutterstock

As America’s public lands register record numbers, we explore the least-visited US national parks

It’s been well documented that America’s national parks and hiking trails have seen a surge in visitor numbers as lockdown-weary Americans flocked to the outdoors. In 2021, Yellowstone received an astonishing 4.8 million recreation visits, up 28% from 2020 (3.8 million), making it the busiest year on record.

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.

How to visit Perito Moreno Glacier: a complete guide

An updated guide on how to visit Perito Moreno Glacier following our second encounter with the giant Argentine wonder

When reporting on our first trip to Patagonia back in 2015, Kia lamented that once you’ve been travel writing for a while, it’s hard to come up with fresh superlatives.

“I mean, you can’t say gaze-catching instead of eye-catching and you can’t say stride-stopping instead of heart-stopping, can you?” she wrote. The source of her discord was Perito Moreno Glacier, a sight so overwhelming that it’s utterly, er, step freezing.

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.

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. 

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.

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.” 

Ranked: best countries for adventure travel

Tourists inside an ice cave in IcelandZhukova Valentyna/Shutterstock

The best countries for adventure travel have been ranked by a panel of experts. We review the results below

The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) has named Iceland the best country for adventure travel for the third year in a row. The small Nordic island nation, famed for its geysers, volcanoes, geothermal lagoons and cinematic landscapes, remains an attractive destination for adventure seekers, particularly those concerned with sustainability.

Real-life hobbit houses that you can actually stay in

One of our favourite real-life hobbit housesNature.house

As travellers turn to nature in a post-pandemic world, we share 10 real-life hobbit houses that offer the perfect retreat

It’s said that humans are one of the most adaptable species on the planet. We have settled the High Arctic and explored the deep sea, making homes in the unlikeliest places. When circumstances change drastically, as they did in 2020, we are able to adapt rapidly to a new way of living. In fact, our collective slowdown last year was so profound, we saw immediate effects on the natural world

National parks in Wales: which one is right for you?

Llyn Fan y Fach is a 20,000 year-old glacial lakeAndreac77/Shutterstock

When it comes to Britain’s breathing spaces, the national parks in Wales compete with the best of them. Here, we explain why

Surrounded by sea on three sides, Wales is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts. While not as rugged as Scotland, or romantically perceived like Ireland, deepest Wales is just as beguiling. 

Lonely corners abound on dramatic mountain passes, deep river valleys and weather-lashed cliffs. Scattered seamlessly across the natural landscape are Iron Age hill forts, Roman ruins and over 600 castles – more per capita, it’s said, than any other country in the world. 

Why I’ve given up eating fish (again)

Kia has vowed to give up eating fishRudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock

At the age of 13, Kia turned vegetarian but 15 years later, she started eating fish again. Here she reflects on why that decision was wrong

There is an inherent hypocrisy in what I do for a living. On one hand, I write about the state of the planet, call for tourism caps and grapple with extinction tourism, but on the other, I continue to fly when I know that it’s the worst way to travel in terms of carbon emissions. 

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths england coast pathDreamstime

Britain’s best long-distance footpaths provide excellent access to the UK’s outdoors while showcasing the finest scenery our isles have to offer

When you think of the best long-distance hiking trails from around the world, little old Britain probably wouldn’t top of your list. Hikers will more likely be drawn to the Triple Crown of the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails in the US, New Zealand’s Great Walks or the famous Annapurna Circuit and Everest Base Camp treks in Nepal.

Adventure travel books 2021: our top 10 picks

We share the best adventure travel books 2021 and explain why each should be on your reading list

From a cross-country road trip in a hostile America to boundless sand dunes in remote China, our crop of adventure travel books 2021 have one thing in common: their journeys are more than just physical. 

Atlas & Boots’ top 10 posts of 2020

Mam Tor in the Peak DistrictDaniel_Kay/Shutterstock

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

Well, what can we say about 2020 that hasn’t been said already? As a writer, I feel that I should be able to say something grand and stirring about the global pandemic, but to be honest, I can’t. I don’t know how to aptly describe the hopelessness and inertia that so many of us have experienced this year.

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. 

17 megadiverse countries of the world

A tiger lazes in Ranthambore in IndiaOndrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

We profile the world’s megadiverse countries, from obvious contenders like Ecuador and Brazil to one or two surprise entries

It should be comforting to know that a mere 17 countries hold more than 70% of the world’s species. It should be easy to rally this small group of ‘megadiverse countries’ to protect the planet’s extraordinary biodiversity. Alas, some of these countries are also the world’s biggest consumers and polluters.