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. 

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.

Diving in Cyprus: our first dive in two years

A friendly turtle visits us on our dive in CyprusAtlas & Boots

After two years at home, we go diving in Cyprus and rediscover the joy of subaquatic life

There was a time when I used to record my dives with all the zeal of a swot on her first day of school. I took my battered logbook on every trip abroad and fastidiously noted down the date, location, depth, temperature, points of interest and so on.

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. 

The travel that changed me: Roz Watkins

Dal Lake in KashmirTappasan Phurisamrit/Shutterstock

From trekking in the hills of Kashmir to evading a rhino in India, author Roz Watkins tells us about the travel that changed her

Roz Watkins is the author of the critically-acclaimed DI Meg Dalton crime series. Set in the Peak District, her novels are known for their extraordinary sense of place. Think moody moors, gnarled forests and creepy local lore. Her protagonist is spirited and sensitive, but what draws me most strongly to Roz’s work is her willingness to venture into the darker corners of society. 

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. 

7 ways nature is flourishing under lockdown

ways nature is flourishing under lockdown fox

The current pandemic has had a devastating effect worldwide but there are some glimmers of light

Human impact on wildlife is almost certainly to blame for the spread of Covid-19, say scientists. The virus is thought to have originated in bats with other wild animals such as pangolins also likely playing a role in its transmission to people.

Things to do in Bonaire: our top 12 picks

things to do in bonaie

We explore the best things to do in Bonaire, from pink lakes to secluded beaches and first-rate diving and snorkelling

Bonaire, a Dutch municipality in the Leeward Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, is known for its rich marine life, exceptional dive sites and desert landscape interior.

Bonaire is surrounded by a fine coral reef that lies meters from the shoreline, making it a snorkeller’s dream. The reef is a designated national marine park and is easily accessed via numerous entry points clearly marked on shore.

Stewards of the wild: 10 famous environmentalists that give us hope 

Jane Goodall is one of the most famous environmentalists of our time.The Nature Conservancy/Fair Use

We profile 10 famous environmentalists, from the girl who lived in a tree for two years to the sea captain faced with Interpol arrest

I recently read a fact that stopped me in my tracks: in optimum conditions, some trees can live forever. They are vulnerable to predators, disease and natural disasters, but unlike humans, these ‘biologically immortal’ trees rarely die simply because they get old.

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.

Visiting Boulders Penguin Colony, Cape Town

It's clear why tourists flock to Boulders Penguin ColonyAtlas & Boots

Boulders Penguin Colony near Cape Town is home to 3,000 African penguins – but does it live up to the hype?

The ‘African Penguin’ is a contradiction in terms. Somehow, the hottest continent on Earth is home to a bird most often associated with the coldest: Antarctica. And yet, the three species of penguin I’ve seen have all resided in warm climes: the Galápagos Penguin off Isabela Island which lies right on the equator, the Little Penguin in super-dry, super-hot Australia and now the African Penguin in Boulders Penguin Colony in South Africa.

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.

14 things to do in Eswatini (Swaziland)

We’ve selected our favourite things to do in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), from tracking big game to climbing the world’s second largest monolith

The tiny African nation of Eswatini took us completely by surprise. As Kia said, visiting Eswatini was never high on our bucket list, but it should have been. We spent just three days and two nights in this fascinating destination, which was never going to be enough.

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.

Searching for sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

With their sluggish limbs and camouflaged fur, sloths aren’t often easy to spot. We pinned our hopes on Manuel Antonio

There were two animals we were keen to see on our National Geographic Expedition to Costa Rica: the red-eyed tree frog and the three-toed sloth.

The first was surprisingly obliging and we took a decent snap on mere day two of the tour. The sloth, however, remained elusive. The one we did spot by a roadside was barely discernible from the surrounding branches and left us eager for more.