Features // Off the beaten track

Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron
Beneath the Mountain of God: Tanzania’s Lake Natron

Just a stone’s throw from some of Africa’s most celebrated safari destinations, the astonishing Lake Natron remains irresistibly isolated and under-explored. But with so much to offer and with the world outside drawing ever nearer, Christopher Clark is left wondering what the future holds for this hidden highlight. The air seems hotter and drier with…

6 reasons to visit Bogotá: South America’s underrated capital
6 reasons to visit Bogotá: South America’s underrated capital

Polluted, rainy and business-orientated. Let’s face it, a trip to Bogotá hardly sounds appealing. And many travellers don’t bother to probe much further than this bleak reputation, seeing Bogotá either as somewhere to be skipped out altogether, or as merely a logistical blot on a more exciting itinerary. Other Latin American cities such as Buenos…

Why now’s the time to visit Nottingham, England
Why now’s the time to visit Nottingham, England

It may not feature on top of everyone’s British city bucket list, but it’s time to see this East Midlands city in a new light. Nottingham boasts a slew of new attractions for 2016, a recently expanded tram network and a burgeoning independent arts scene. Plus, in the year when the stalwart British fashion designer…

Emilia-Romagna: Tuscany without the crowds
Emilia-Romagna: Tuscany without the crowds

Blame Frances Mayes. Ever since she penned Under the Tuscan Sun twenty years ago the region has seen an unstoppable influx of English and American tourists descend on the area, which has left neighbouring regions, with just as much to offer, decidedly in the shade. Emilia-Romagna, home to an officially designated ‘Food Valley’, the majority…

16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos
16 captivating pictures of hill tribes in Laos

Professional travel photographer Tim Draper has shot images for 24 Rough Guides guidebooks, visiting far-flung corners around the world. Here he shares some of his stunning shots taken in northern Laos, where he spent time with the Akha people. I‘d been trudging steadily uphill through dense jungle in heavy rain for over seven hours when I caught…

10 of the best weekend breaks in the UK
10 of the best weekend breaks in the UK

From city breaks to romantic countryside escapes, options for short trips in the UK abound. Whether you’re looking to get active, overindulge or just chill out, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our pick of the best weekend breaks in the UK. Need more inspiration? We’ve also rounded up 20 of the most memorable places to stay. Best for romance:…

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?
Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie over a thousand kilometres apart. Southern Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), formerly Saigon, was the US base during the Vietnam War and since the country’s unification has transformed into a thoroughly modern, thriving metropolis. The somewhat less modern…

Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations
Why the Northern Cape is one of South Africa’s must-see destinations

The Northern Cape, home to diamond mining capital Kimberley and wilderness of the Kalahari Desert, remains South Africa’s least visited province. But it just doesn’t make sense, according to writer Meera Dattani. Here she tells us why it’s one of South Africa’s top destinations. So why should I go? If empty roads flanked by saltpans, sand dunes,…

7 must-visit places in Scotland you’ve probably never heard of
7 must-visit places in Scotland you’ve probably never heard of

Scotland sports such a strong selection of tourist attractions – from castles and cabers to kilts and whisky – it’s easy to forget that there is much more to this land. Venture away from the cities and you’ll find that Scotland holds over ten percent of Europe’s coastline and almost 300 mountains over 3000ft-tall. Ready to explore?…

Trekking in Thailand: the best routes
Trekking in Thailand: the best routes

Thailand is ripe for trekking. From its dripping, pristine rainforests to its towering, mist-enveloped mountains, there is a landscape that just begs you to get out on two feet and explore. But the real joy of trekking in Thailand here is nothing to do with the scenery, it’s the people that make every step count, from…

10 great reasons to visit Northern Ireland
10 great reasons to visit Northern Ireland

It has often had to play second fiddle to its southern neighbour, but Northern Ireland offers a diversity of attractions that frequently confounds first-time visitors. Rejuvenated and irrepressible, Belfast now rivals any of the UK’s capital cities, but in addition, the country manifests superb natural heritage – including one of the world’s great coastal road…

6 incredible journeys in South America
6 incredible journeys in South America

South America is blessed with some of the most astonishing landscapes on earth. This dynamic continent has enthralled travellers for centuries with its array of natural wonders, ancient ruins and modern metropolises. It holds some of the world’s most impressive beaches, most fascinating cultures and most thrilling adventure activities. But one of the greatest joys…

Strange lands: the eternally-burning fires of Central Asia
Strange lands: the eternally-burning fires of Central Asia

In far-off lands, largely undiscovered by travellers today, there are fires eternally burning; some natural and some man-made. These impressive fire craters can be found across Central Asia, fed by the vast oil reserves that lie beneath this region. They’ve featured in both local folklore and Hollywood movies as the entrances to Hell. If you’re…

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand
Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim beneath cascading waterfalls. Running through Thailand’s rainforests and temples and looping around its islands and beaches is the so-called “banana pancake trail”, a well-worn, tried and tested backpacker route that has…

The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods
The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods

Beyond the mystical sounds of gamelan and the intricate craft of batik, Bali boasts a world of subcultures often overlooked by visitors. The art makes bold statements, nightlife sometimes involves a new tattoo, and music is anything but serene. On an island where locals are often denied entry from bars and clubs, an experience off…

15 beguiling pictures of Uganda
15 beguiling pictures of Uganda

I’m an Aussie girl and have been living and working in Uganda for the past fifteen years. Apart from my “regular” day job, I’m also a freelance photographer. I arrived in Uganda in August 2000, with my husband, after an eight-month 4×4 overland journey we started in London, in December 1999. It was during this journey I…

Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors
Sri Lanka: 10 tips for first-time visitors

A country in the throes of massive change, Sri Lanka’s heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009. With more tourists…

Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop
Copenhagen’s best kept secret: Retro Bobby’s arcade barbershop

Bobby’s mullet blows in the wind as he pilots his dinky motorcycle down Copenhagen‘s cobbled backstreets. Wobbling past kebab shops and contemporary design stores on his way to work, he looks like a living relic from a bygone era: the 1980s. A turtleneck peeks out from beneath his blue denim jacket, which perfectly matches the…

Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region
Your Southeast Asia itinerary: 8 ideas for exploring the region

You can’t expect to fit everything Southeast Asia has to offer into one trip – or two or three or four, to be fair – and we don’t suggest you try. So, to help you start planning, we’ve put together 8 ideas for your Southeast Asia itinerary from The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget. For those taking a big, extended…

Bolivia’s most beautiful journeys
Bolivia’s most beautiful journeys

As T.S. Eliot once said, “The journey, not the arrival, matters,” and nowhere is this truer than travelling in Bolivia. Here, we’ve picked five of the most beautiful travel routes through the country. Follow these to witness some of the finest scenery Bolivia has to offer. For magnificent mountains: La Paz to Copacabana Mode of transport: Bus…

15 things everybody learns backpacking in Southeast Asia
15 things everybody learns backpacking in Southeast Asia

From psychedelic milkshakes to overloaded tuk-tuks, there are some things everybody comes across when backpacking in Southeast Asia. Whether you spent the brunt of your time beaching, boozing, motorcycling, meditating or trying to see it all – here are 15 things you likely learned. 1. Getting from A to B is surprisingly fun All-night bus rides with bad action movies…

Isla de las Muñecas: Mexico’s terrifying island of haunted dolls
Isla de las Muñecas: Mexico’s terrifying island of haunted dolls

They hang from trees and clothes lines. Bits of plastic bodies jammed onto fenceposts and nailed to cabin doors, decaying heads strewn among the island’s greenery, gazing at visitors through insect-infested eye-sockets. Welcome to Mexico‘s Isla de las Muñecas, or Island of Dolls. Located deep in Xochimilco, a borough just 28km south of Mexico City, the Isla de las Muñecas…

10 things everyone learns travelling solo
10 things everyone learns travelling solo

Ask anyone who’s ever travelled solo, and they probably wouldn’t want to adventure any other way. It might be daunting at first, and it’s certainly simpler for some people than it is for others. But spending time alone on the road is among the most rewarding travel experiences out there. Whether it’s a long trip…

Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks
Scandinavia for first-timers: 7 ideas for short breaks

On the face of it, Scandinavia isn’t a very sensible place for a holiday. For one thing, it’s almost always going to be colder than the place you’re leaving behind. And when it comes to basics like food and accommodation, it’s probably more expensive too. But if you don’t mind throwing a few warm jumpers…

A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences
A trip to remember: 7 uniquely Scottish experiences

There’s nowhere quite like Scotland. This epic land of mighty mountains, plunging glens and surging rivers offers a sweep of experiences that you just cannot find anywhere else. If you’ve ever wanted to have your own kilt fitted, canoe down a river fuelled by a wee dram or hop on Europe’s only scheduled flight to land…

21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon
21 pictures of Iceland to make you swoon

Iceland‘s landscapes look different from every angle and at every time of day. Whether it’s a late-morning sunrise in the middle of winter, or the aurora borealis dancing in the skies above a glassy lake, the country produces vistas that make even the most travel-weary adventurers say “wow”. The climate can be challenging, but the rewards are plenty –…

7 signs it’s time to book your next trip
7 signs it’s time to book your next trip

Is life at home getting you down? Each day starting to feel like a track repeat? Perhaps you’re thinking about giving it all up – selling the worldly possessions you’ve accumulated in exchange for the freedom of the road? We feel for you. But before you actually do quit your job, sell your house or abandon your beloved…

Biking the Balkans – the video that will kickstart your wanderlust
Biking the Balkans – the video that will kickstart your wanderlust

Have you ever wanted to just set off? To grab your bag and go – with no map, no partner, no fixed address. In our video of the week, online entrepreneur Jacob Laukaitis does just that. Travelling from Lithuania to Greece and back with a GoPro Hero 4 strapped to his chest, Laukaitis journeyed across…

Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail
Undiscovered Southeast Asia: 9 places to get off the tourist trail

Southeast Asia is the quintessential backpacker destination – all noodle stands, grungy hostels and full moon parties, right? Not necessarily. There are still plenty of authentic Southeast Asian escapes. You just need to know where to find them. Start here. 1. Trek the path less followed in Umphang, Thailand Want to trek Thailand in peace?…

9 of the best road trips in Europe
9 of the best road trips in Europe

From the sunny shores of Portugal to the darkest dungeons of Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, the following itineraries can be easily combined, shortened, or altered to suit your wayfaring tastes. If you’ve got wheels, wanderlust and a spot of time, here’s some adventure fuel. Start your engines: these are the best road trips in Europe.…

Quiz: where should you go on your next road trip?
Quiz: where should you go on your next road trip?

Is the open road calling you? Are you craving a holiday behind the wheel? If so, we’re here to help. This quiz will help you pick the perfect road trip, whether you want to embark on one of the world’s most famous drives or strike out into the wilderness.

The best places to catch late summer sun in Europe
The best places to catch late summer sun in Europe

The days might be getting noticeably shorter and the crowds might be dispersing – but that doesn’t mean summer in Europe is coming to close. There’s still plenty of sun to be found if you know where to look. Whether you’re after balmy beaches or a relaxed city break, this is our pick of the best places for late summer sun…

In pictures: the 30th Bog Snorkelling World Championships
In pictures: the 30th Bog Snorkelling World Championships

In August 2015 the world’s finest athletes gathered in one place to push their bodies to the limits. No, we’re not talking about the Beijing World Championships, we’re talking about the 30th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships. By Peter Barnett © www.focusdisplay.co.uk That’s right. Last weekend around 150 competitors from across the globe assembled at Waen…

5 cities, 20 days: Pakistan from north to south in 2 minutes
5 cities, 20 days: Pakistan from north to south in 2 minutes

Pakistan is a country filled with unexpected highlights. Contrary to many preconceptions, its borders hold soaring mountains, glassy lakes and intricately-decorated mosques. Our video of the week gives an insight into Pakistani life. In this 2-minute clip, film-maker Umar Bhutta returns to his homeland, travelling from north to south, visiting five cities and mile-upon-mile of stunningly beautiful countryside along the way. “It…

22 places you have to see to believe
22 places you have to see to believe

Photos don’t do justice to some places on Earth – you just have to go and see them. From the ancient pyramids and the Taj Mahal to the Golden Rock and the Colca Canyon, some sights are too stupendous to appreciate on screen. Get your bucket list at the ready, these are 22 natural and man-made…

Want to support Nepal? Go there on your next trip
Want to support Nepal? Go there on your next trip

Four months after two devastating earthquakes struck the country, Nepal is slowly getting back on its feet. Shafik Meghji explains how, ahead of the peak tourist season, travellers can help the country recover by booking a holiday. Why should I go? Tourism is a vital part of the Nepali economy, directly supporting almost 500,000 jobs,…

Meet Ed Stafford, the ultimate British explorer
Meet Ed Stafford, the ultimate British explorer

World-Record holder, explorer, ex-Army Captain, occasional naked island-dweller… is there anything Ed Stafford can’t do? Ahead of his new Discovery Channel show – Ed Stafford: Into the Unknown, in which he heads to harsh environments, including West Papua and Ethiopia, on just a few hours’ notice to explore unsolved mysteries showing up in satellite images…

8 incredible treehouses you’ll want to stay in immediately
8 incredible treehouses you’ll want to stay in immediately

Staying the night in a treehouse – everyone’s favourite childhood fantasy – has now become a reality. Treehouse hotels have sprung up around the world, with mystical woodland hideaways now found everywhere everywhere from Costa Rica to Thailand. Here are 8 of our favourites. 1. Treehotel, Sweden Sweden’s Treehotel, built by some of the country’s finest…

Offbeat America: 7 weird and wonderful things to do in the USA
Offbeat America: 7 weird and wonderful things to do in the USA

It’s hard to encapsulate the full depth and variety of the USA – any nation that can marry cities as life-filled as New York, San Francisco and LA with landscapes as breathtaking as those of Alaska, Arizona and Hawaii is beyond easy summary. Its rewards come in droves, from all-American icons like baseball, blues and bourbon to…

7 things you probably didn’t know about Senegal
7 things you probably didn’t know about Senegal

Say Senegal or mention West Africa and misinformed mutterings of ebola start to spread quicker than the virus itself. Sitting on the western shoulder of Africa, Senegal is frequently overlooked by travellers – but for little good reason. While the excellent birding and beaching in The Gambia – the country that slices Senegal’s coastline in two…

Eerie film shows the ghost city of Pripyat, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster
Eerie film shows the ghost city of Pripyat, 30 years after Chernobyl disaster

A swimming pool lies empty, plants encroach through broken windows, hospital bed frames are red with rust and Soviet signs and murals are faded ruins of what was once art from another world. This is Pripyat, Ukraine, and it’s been abandoned since 1986. This eerie video shot using a drone shows the near post-apocalyptic destruction caused by the…

12 hiking tips you need before setting off
12 hiking tips you need before setting off

Walking: just putting one foot in front of the other, right? How hard can that be? Yes, a walking trip is something that anyone can do, but it is also something that is widely misunderstood. Hiking boots that don’t fit, a water bottle that isn’t big enough, a phone battery that never lasts – these…

15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany
15 unforgettable things to do in Tuscany

Tuscany harbours the classic landscapes of Italy, familiar from a thousand Renaissance paintings, with its backdrop of medieval hill-towns, rows of cypresses, vineyards and olive groves, and artfully sited villas and farmhouses. It’s a stereotype that has long held an irresistible attraction. Nowadays Tuscany is among Italy’s wealthiest regions, but it remains predominantly rural, with great tracts of land still…

8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles
8 unknown islands you need to discover in the British Isles

Everybody knows the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Skye. But what about the other 6000-odd British Isles? Yes, we did say 6000. From the chunky Shetland Islands in Scotland’s far north to the sunny Isles of Scilly slung out from the coast of Cornwall, the British Isles are made up of islands of all shapes and…

The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey
The film that will inspire your next trip to Turkey

The allure of Istanbul is hard to beat. This thrilling city bridges two continents with a history spanning more than 2000 years. And with Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport hitting an all-time record for flight traffic this July, its status as a top city-break destination has been further cemented. But what about the rest of the country? “More…

5 things you didn’t know you could do in Yorkshire
5 things you didn’t know you could do in Yorkshire

Yorkshire, it has been said, is “a country in a county”. The very name brings countless images to mind – wild moors, headlands and cliffs; rugged dales and enormous beaches; medieval cities, churches and monasteries; formal estates and vast steelworks; coal mines and woollen mills. This diversity is part of the county’s appeal – its…

8 things you didn’t know you could do in the UK
8 things you didn’t know you could do in the UK

So you’ve gawked at the guards of Buckingham Palace, hiked up Snowdon and hit the beach – what next? From lethal motorcycle races to mountain towns that look like something out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, here are 8 unconventional things to do in the UK. 1. Horse about at Scotland’s Common Ridings The Common Ridings of the Scottish border towns of Hawick, Selkirk,…

Yerevan: a city swaggering into a new era
Yerevan: a city swaggering into a new era

The break-up of the Soviet Union gave the world an impressive array of new capitals. Some have since become familiar fodder on travel itineraries – think Tallinn’s Baltic charm, Kiev’s bulbous cathedrals and Riga’s drunken Brits. Others, for better or worse, remain something of a mystery. Step forward Yerevan, capital of Armenia, a city swaggering into…

Page 1 of 41234
20% off ebooks

Subscribe to the Rough Guides newsletter and get 20% off any ebook.

Join over 50,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month.