facts about svalbard: Longyearbyen world’s northernmost town from above

Longyearbyen: a walking tour of the world’s northernmost town

Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost town, is easily seen on foot. We share our tried-and-tested route for exploring this remote outpost

It’s okay. You didn’t come all the way to Svalbard, anchored in the Arctic Ocean roughly midway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole, to linger in Longyearbyen. You don’t need to “eat like a local” here or “get under the skin” of the destination. It’s just not that type of town.

Icebergs in Antarctica

Arctic or Antarctic: how to pick your polar adventure

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.

A walkway along Mount Hua Shan – one of the world's most dangerous hikes

Don’t look down: the world’s most dangerous hikes

With bandits, molten lava and wild animals posing a threat, blisters are the least of your worries on the world’s most dangerous hikes

From trekking across the treacherous windswept mountains of South Georgia to picking your way along the rickety walkways of Mount Hua Shan in China, these hikes are not for the fainthearted.

A group photo taken while Kayaking in Svalbard

Kayaking in Svalbard: ice and isolation in the high Arctic

Kayaking in Svalbard among the icebergs of Hamiltonbukta showed us the true magic and magnitude of nature in the Arctic

Sometimes, I hear myself talking about my job and think, “God, I sound ridiculous.” It’s usually when I’m rattling on about where I’ve been and have to check myself, remembering that most people aren’t fortunate enough to visit places like the Galápagos or Easter Island – let alone both in a single trip.

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 in photos lead image 2022

In photos: 20 reasons to visit Svalbard

From vast landscapes and giant glaciers to sly foxes and posing seals, we share some of the myriad reasons to visit Svalbard in the Arctic

Known as the last stop before the North Pole, Svalbard proved to be the Arctic we had always imagined: midnight sun, gleaming glaciers and snowcapped peaks, a frigid ocean riddled with ice and extraordinary wildlife including walruses, sea birds and polar bears.

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. 

Antarctica is protected by the Antarctic Treaty

20 interesting facts about Antarctica

We share the most interesting facts about Antarctica collected on our recent trip to the seventh continent

For a long time, it seemed like our trip to Antarctica wasn’t going to happen. Covid postponed it from 2020 to 2021, and then again to 2022. Even after we got the green light, our nerves didn’t ease. If we tested positive for Covid, we wouldn’t be allowed to board the ship, and daily testing meant that we could be quarantined in our cabins even after setting sail. In short, it was more stressful than expected. 

A scene from Antarctic

20 best books about Antarctica

From harrowing accounts of survival to the heartwarming tale of a rescued penguin, we list our favourite books about Antarctica

The most inhospitable place on Earth is an engrossing setting for any story, be it fictional or factual. Unsurprisingly, Antarctica’s literary canon is filled with tales of tragedy and/or survival against the odds. It would be easy, then, to fill this list with biographies of Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton alone. But Antarctica deserves attention beyond its tales of tragedy.

Antarctica packing list: all you need for your polar adventure

A click-and-pick Antarctica packing list with links to specific products that have been personally tested by Atlas & Boots

A friend of mine recently asked what three things make me happiest, as part of her research for her forthcoming book. I named family and nature which are fairly standard answers. Less common was my third choice of hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness.

With views like this, you will want your own balcony

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

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?

A photograph of a gentoo penguin in Antarctica

In photos: 22 reasons to visit Antarctica

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.

Kia looks out across Paradise Bay

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

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. 

An abandoned whaling boat in Barrow

12 of Earth’s most remote places and communities

From eastern Greenland to northern Alaska, we explore some of the most remote places on Earth

Whether it’s astronomical distances, inhospitable climates or extreme terrains that define these remote and hostile lands, there’s one thing they all have in common: they are on my bucket list. That and the fact that people live there.

seven second summits k2 - 1

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

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!

Ama Dablam is a thing of beauty

30 most beautiful mountains in the world

The most beautiful mountains in the world have captivated climbers for centuries. Here, we examine their lethal appeal

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you,” said John Muir, the renowned naturalist, author and environmental philosopher.

If our resident seven-summit hopeful is anything to go by, Muir makes a valid point. Those who spend time in the mountains seem to be driven by a deeper force.

13 stunning natural phenomena

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.

Poles of inaccessibility - northern pole

Poles of inaccessibility: the middle of nowhere

The poles of inaccessibility are arguably the true last frontiers for explorers. But where and what are they?

I’ve long been fascinated with the most remote places on Earth and the epic journeys of discovery to reach them. I’ve spent countless long mornings lying in bed leafing through giant reference books on the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration and even longer afternoons poring over immense maps detailing epic quests across untamed oceans.

Iceland is one of our Hikes in the cleanest air in the world

10 hikes through the cleanest air in the world

From Canada’s wild backcountry to the jungles of Brunei, we share some fantastic hikes through the cleanest air in the world

A few months after we moved to the country, some friends from London came up to visit. Stepping from the car, one commented that ‘it feels like mountain air up here’. I laughed and said, ‘it’s not that cold.’ He shook his head and said, ‘I don’t mean the temperature. I mean the quality.’