A week in Umbria. Part 1: Todi

The majority of visitors to Italy make a beeline for the big-hitting, headline attractions: Rome, Venice, Florence, the Amalfi Coast…  But if you want to avoid the crowds while still soaking up Italy’s gorgeous scenery, fantastic weather, and incredible cultural heritage, you could do a lot worse than ignoring the … Tell me more

Memento Mori in Naples

With its fabulous food, edgy culture and seaside location, Naples is becoming an increasingly popular city break destination. Where once tourists simply passed through en route to the Amalfi Coast, today more and more are stopping off for a few days to explore Naples’ narrow alleyways, enjoy some of the world’s finest pizza, and take … Tell me more

The wall art of Naples – where old meets new

Naples is one of Italy’s largest, oldest, and most colourful cities, and like any Italian city, it’s full to bursting of centuries-old art.   From its UNESCO-heritage-labelled Centro Storico, to the stunning hilltop monastery Certosa di San Martino, the city is generously sprinkled with palaces, churches and grand houses – and each is coated from top … Tell me more

Behind the scenes on a Tanzanian safari

Africa.  The Serengeti. The Ngorongoro Crater.  The names alone conjure up thrilling images of vast open plains, with hundreds of wildebeest peacefully grazing while a dignified herd of elephants cuts a ponderous path across the landscape.  Or of nature, red in tooth and claw: a cheetah stalking noiselessly through swaying grasses; a muscular lioness sinking her claws … Tell me more

India: a nation of selfie-lovers

The India found in the guidebooks is a magical and mysterious place.  Where exquisite palaces gleam and sparkle on the shores of majestic rivers.  Where dark-eyed beauties walk demurely between crumbling temples, their vibrant saris wafting the fragrance of perfume and spices.  Where monkeys play amongst statues of ancient gods and tigers stalk noiselessly through … Tell me more

All aboard the Indian Night Train

The classic stereotype of Indian rail travel, in many Western minds, is the one from films like Slumdog Millionaire.  Crowded, dirty trains, often delayed, idling for hours with no explanation.  People leaning out of open doors, perched between the carriages, or even sitting on the roof.  Narrow, uncomfortable sleeper berths.  Putrid toilets.  It’s … Tell me more

Ol Doinyo Lengai – Mountain of God

Most climbers travelling to Tanzania have only one target in mind: the towering summit of the six-kilometre high Mount Kilimanjaro.  Ask them if they’re planning on scaling Ol Doinyo Lengai and odds are you’ll get a blank stare.  Ol Donny-who?! But if you want a serious challenge, in much less time than it … Tell me more

How to take great photos of markets

I’ve photographed markets from Cuba to Myanmar, and from Tanzania to Hungary, and I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of them.  They are probably my favourite type of place to take photographs.  Markets are so buzzing and vibrant, there’s so much going on, so much activity and colour.  Seeing who’s selling and buying, … Tell me more

How to climb Kilimanjaro in 10 steps

So your itchy feet have got the better of you and you’ve decided you want to climb Kilimanjaro?  Excellent decision!  But now you’ve got to actually organise and (eeek!) do the damn thing!  Here’s how… (Disclaimer: it does take a few more than 10 steps to get to the top of Kilimanjaro!) … Tell me more

The Unsung Heroes of Kilimanjaro

No one survives even a day on Kilimanjaro, let alone making it to the top, without a frankly embarrassing amount of support from an enormous team of guides and porters.  It’s their job to carry your stuff, cook your meals, supply you with safe drinking water, put up your tent, take it … Tell me more

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Day 8 – Descent

This is the eighth and final part of my day-by-day account of what it was really like to climb the Lemosho Route on Mount Kilimanjaro.  If you missed it, Day Seven is here. Unsurprisingly, I slept amazingly well the night after the summit – as did everyone. There’s nothing like a midnight start … Tell me more

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Day 6 – To Base Camp

This is the sixth part of my day-by-day account of what it was really like to climb the Lemosho Route up Mount Kilimanjaro.  If you missed it, Day Five is here. I woke well before the morning wake-up call on Day Six to a weird feeling in my face.  I scrabbled through my pile … Tell me more

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Day 4 – Lava Tower

This is the fourth part of my day-by-day account of what it was really like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  If you missed it, Day Three is here. We were now almost halfway through the trip, and the altitude was finally starting to affect me.   I had a terrible night’s sleep (difficulty … Tell me more

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Day 3 – Shira Plateau

This is the third part of my day-by-day account of what it was really like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  If you missed it, Day Two is here. As dawn broke on day three, and with barely a cloud in the sky, we got our first proper look at where we were going: the highest point … Tell me more

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Day 2 – The Forest

This is the second part of my day-by-day account of what it was really like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  If you missed it, Day One is here. It’s not something that had occurred to me before starting, but the nights on the mountain are LOOOONG.  The sun set at around six … Tell me more

Climbing Kilimanjaro – Day 1 – Getting Started

For several years I had talked occasionally about how ‘One Day’ I would climb Kilimanjaro.  It was one of those challenges that sounded like it might be a Good Thing to do (in a totally bonkers-painful, crazy-yet-hopefully-rewarding kind of way) but for a long time looked like it would be one of those … Tell me more

The Road To Kilimanjaro – Weeks 4 to 1

This is the second part of my Kilimanjaro countdown.  Read the first part here. FOUR WEEKS TO GO I’m starting to get really nervous now. I keep waking up in the middle of the night in a sweaty panic but I’m not really sure why exactly.  I’m doing all I can … Tell me more

The Road To Kilimanjaro – Weeks 9 to 5

A beginner’s guide to climbing a mountain… In September I will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  At 5895m above sea level it’s the highest point in the African continent, and certainly WAY higher than anything I’ve ever scaled before.  I’m not an experienced hiker: I live in London, which is pretty much … Tell me more

Iceland’s falls and springs

Iceland is famous for being, well… icy.  Clue’s in the title, after all!  Snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, whirling blizzards, ancient glaciers… when it comes to the white stuff, Iceland’s got it covered.  Literally! But when all that H2O isn’t busy being frozen, Iceland has two other watery attractions: waterfalls and … Tell me more

Don’t Step On The Cracks!

This is the Svínafellsjökull glacier in Iceland.  Have fun trying to pronounce that!  In Icelandic, ‘ll’ is pronounced something like tl, with a flattened tongue and a click in the back of the throat.  So I guess you’d say ‘SVEEN-a-FETLS-yok-utl.  Or just start confidently with ‘Sveen’ and then tail off. They’ll probably … Tell me more

Red Robes And Ringtones

One of the things you can’t fail to notice when you travel around Myanmar is the large numbers of Buddhist monks. They’re everywhere, going quietly about their business, and in their red robes with their shaven heads they’re impossibly picturesque and photogenic, especially against all that beautiful scenery and stunning architecture. … Tell me more

Inside Myanmar’s Monasteries

In my previous post about Myanmar’s Buddhist monks, I noted how photogenic they are.  With their shaven heads, red robes, and peaceful expressions, they have this amazing ability to step into a location, no matter how dull or ugly, and transform it into an eye-catching scene. You see them everywhere.  Mornings are … Tell me more