Hailed as one of the world’s greatest storytellers, Roald Dahl’s tales have been translated into 59 languages and he has sold more than 200 million books worldwide.

He is everywhere these days: from school set texts to the award-winning stage version of Matilda The Musical enthralling audiences on Broadway and in London’s West End. There’s Twit or Miss, an app based on the Roald Dahl characters, and Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood take on The BFG (2016).

Roald Dahl smoking a cigar – 100 yearsRoald Dahl, December 1971

But our focus is on Wales, primarily Cardiff, where Dahl was born to Norwegian parents. The natural landscape of Wales inspired the backdrops to his stories and provided him with a wealth of treasured childhood memories. Here are five places around Cardiff and beyond to uncover the man behind the madcap characters and timeless stories.

Llandaff

Dahl spent his early childhood in the Llandaff district to the north of Cardiff and attended Llandaff Cathedral School from 1923.

It was here, aged just seven years old, that he and a bunch of friends came up with “The Great Mouse Plot”, a harebrained scheme to leave a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers at his local sweet shop to scare the miserly manager, Mrs Pratchett.

Llandaff cathedral, CardiffLlandaff Cathedral by michael kooiman on Flickr (license)

“We all have our moments of brilliance and glory, and this was mine,” Dahl later wrote in his first autobiography, Boy. He thought he had got away with it, too, until Pratchett reported the boys to the school and the headmaster canned them as punishment. Today a blue plaque marks the site of the former High Street sweetshop forever associated with The Great Mouse Plot.

The Norwegian Church, Cardiff

Dahl’s Oslo-born father, Herald, had come to Cardiff to seek his fortune in the late nineteenth century and established a successful ship broking business, Andresen and Dahl.

Cardiff’s Norwegian Church, established in 1868 by the Norwegian Seamen’s Missions, was a beacon for expat families and the young Roald was christened here in 1916. Today the building is known as the Norwegian Church Arts Centre and hosts regular events. There is a small plague inside to remember Dahl and the Dahl Gallery – exhibiting photographs and paintings from local artists – is located upstairs.

The nearby public plaza at the heart of Cardiff Bay, home to the Senedd (Welsh Assembly Building) and the Wales Millennium Centre performance centre, has been reverentially named Roald Dahl Plass.

Norwegian Church Arts Centre, formerly Norwegian Sailors' church, now an arts centre, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

Cardiff Bay

Dahl would have set out from the docks of Cardiff Bay for boarding school in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in 1925. He would travel to and from school in an old steamer ship and suffered from terrible homesickness for his house and family in Wales.

He faked an acute appendicitis during his first term at school and was sent home across the Bristol Channel. He later wrote in Boy, “I felt so wonderful at being away from that dreaded school building that I very nearly forgot I was meant to be ill.”

The kindly Dr Dunbar in Cardiff’s Cathedral Road soon realised he was faking but gave him a note for a couple of days off school.

Cardiff bay CCRestored by Ben Salter on Flickr (license)

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

The family moved to Bexley in Kent in 1927, while Dahl was still at boarding school, but this wasn’t the end of his close connection to Wales. The Dahl family spent every Easter holiday in the stately Pembrokeshire resort of Tenby, West Wales, and always stayed at the same cottage, The Cabin.

In the book My Year he describes fondly how he and his family “had donkey rides on the beach and long walks with the dogs along the top of the cliffs opposite Caldey Island … we adored Tenby.”

The Grade I-listed property remains in the ownership of the Dahl family to this day and is still available to rent as a holiday home. It boasts fantastic views across Carmarthen Bay to the Gower, while a blue plaque commemorates the treasured Dahl connection.

Great Britain, Wales,Tenby, boats moored in harbour of old seaside town

Dahl 100 events

The final festival programme is still under wraps but amongst the highlights revealed so far are a Dahl-themed concert at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, an exhibition of illustrations by principal Dahl artist Quentin Blake and a programme of outreach events across the country by Literature Wales to share Dahl’s stories.

There will also be a section devoted to Dahl at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye in May next year and workshops as part of the annual Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival next spring.

The main event, however, is City of the Unexpected, a Cardiff-wide installation of productions produced by National Theatre Wales and Wales Millennium Centre in September next year.

It’s like Dahl himself said: “Many wonderful surprises await you!”

More information on events can be found on RoaldDahl.com or at VisitWales.com. Explore more of Wales with the Rough Guide to WalesCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, find tours and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundaries, and few tourists are allowed the pleasure of a genuine experience with local people. Here, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper tells us about his experience photographing some of southern Ethiopia’s most fascinating tribes. 

As a travel photographer I desperately wanted to capture creative and authentic portraits in the Omo Valley, whilst hoping to avoid the negative experiences told in tourists tales of ‘zoo-like’ excursions.

After spending almost a week researching tour companies in Addis I carefully chose my driver, and together we planned our trip around the Omo villages.

We stayed overnight in most villages, camping or sleeping in huts. It was a good way to get to know the tribes, spending long afternoons with them while tourists came and went, barely getting out of their vehicles before they were whisked away.

If you don’t want a zoo-like experience in Omo, you’d do well to keep your camera in your pocket for a little while longer, try to connect with the people on a deeper level than that of a fifteen-minute whistle-stop photo opportunity.

I took my pictures methodically and slowly, with good humour and in a relaxed atmosphere. After all, good travel portraits – like good travel experiences – require time, care and trust.

Arbore children

Arbore Children of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Two women on market day

Market day in the Omo valley, Ethiopia

Hamer tribeswoman

Hamer tribeswoman, Ethiopia

Mursi girl holding gun

Mursi girl holding gun

A painted Karo tribesman

Painted Karo tribesman

Karo tribes people by the Omo river

Karo tribes people by the Omo river, Ethiopia

A painted Karo tribesman

Painted Karo tribesman

Mursi tribeswoman with lip plate

Mursi tribeswoman with lip plate

A painted Karo tribesman poses with his gun

Painted Karo tribesman with gun

A Hamer girl with red ochre hair

Hamer girl, Ethiopia

Painted Karo tribesman with gun

Painted Karo tribesman with gun

Hamer tribe, mother and child

Omo Valley Hamer tribe, mother and child

Young child in the Mursi village

Young child in the Mursi village

A tribal ceremony in the Bena village

Tribal ceremony in the Bena village

Bena tribe, mother with her children

Bena tribe, mother with her children

A Bena family sit outside their home

Bena family sit outdside their home

Hamer tribe girls

Hamer tribe girls, Omo valley, Ethiopia.

See more of Tim’s photography here. Explore more of Ethiopia with the Rough Guide to EthiopiaCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

He has met cannibals in Papua New Guinea, played with mountain gorillas in Rwanda and has several flower and animal species named after him. In a career of more than sixty years, naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough’s name is synonymous with utterly absorbing wildlife documentaries, including 1979’s Life on Earth, which became a yardstick for quality wildlife show production.

Sir David returned to our screens at the end of last year with the much-anticipated Planet Earth II – and the nation fell in love with him all over again. To mark his birthday on May 8, we celebrate the career of one of Britain’s best-loved personalities and one of the most travelled people in human history. Just don’t call him a “national treasure”…word on the street is it’s not his thing.

1. He would reincarnate as a sloth

In a Twitter Q&A in last year, Sir David confessed he’d love to be a sloth for a day. This half-blind, half-deaf, slow-moving creature endeared itself to the broadcaster during filming of BBC’s Life of Mammals, with its relaxed eating technique and regular napping.

2. He started out as a trainee

Sir David began his career in 1952 as a BBC Television trainee at the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace in north London – he didn’t even own a TV himself then. He worked his way up to a senior manager and in the 1960s and 1970s, worked as controller for BBC Two and director of programming at BBC Television before resigning in 1973 to make documentaries again.

3. He’s had several species named after him

From the extinct ‘Materpiscis attenboroughi’ fossil fish in Western Australia, which Attenborough highlighted in his 2008 Life on Earth series, to the newly discovered Madagascan ghost shrimp, Ctenocheloides attenboroughi, several species bear his name.

In 2015, the first living species native to the UK was named after him; the Attenborough’s hawkweed or Hieracium attenboroughianum is a wildflower discovered in the Brecon Beacons by plant taxonomist Dr Tim Rich.

13 Mar 2008, London, England, UK --- Sir David Attenborough, the world's most famous naturalist and broadcaster at the "Amazing Rare Things" exhibit at the Queens Gallery in London. The exhibit brings together the works of four artists and a collector who have shaped our knowledge of the world around us. Leonardo da Vinci, Cassiano dal Pozzo, Alexander Marshal, Maria Sibylla Merian and Mark Catesby, all of whom lived at a time when new species were being discovered around the world. --- Image by © Andy Rain/epa/Corbis

4. He called an American president a villain

In an interview with BBC Wildlife magazine in 2005, Attenborough named George W Bush as the era’s top “environmental villain”. While he’s not usually political, he is vocal and passionate about environmental issues.

At a fundraiser at London’s Science Museum in 2015, he expressed his concern about people’s lack of contact with the natural world. “Over half the world’s population is urbanised and the thought that some children may grow up not looking at a pond or knowing how plants grow is a terrible thing.”

5. Baby gorillas tried to steal his shoes

“Bliss,” is how Sir David describes one of his most memorable moments in wildlife broadcasting. Filming baby gorillas in Rwanda for the Life on Earth series in 1979, he recalls how two baby gorillas try to take off his shoes. The footage is truly heartwarming.

6. He loves wildlife, but he’s really not a fan of rats…

Not many people are, to be fair, but he’s really scared. In his book, New Life Stories, he writes: “I don’t mean that I mildly dislike them as I dislike, let us say, maggots. I mean that if a rat appears in a room, I have to work hard to prevent myself from jumping on the nearest table.”

7. He can do a mean wolf impression

During filming for BBC’s 2002 Life of Mammals documentary series, David Attenborough shows his aptitude for impressions with a remarkable howl. It’s spot-on.

He manages to communicate with a pack of wolves who assume it’s one of their kind and proceed to congregate in full view of the cameras, before they begin the long and arduous winter hunt for tasty elk.

8. He’s a unique BAFTA winner

Sir David is the only person who has won BAFTA awards for programmes made in black and white, colour, HD and 3D – testament to an enduring career. In fact, his Flying Monsters documentary all about the pterosaurs (flying reptiles), was the first 3D programme ever to win a BAFTA.

9. He has a record number of British honorary degrees

With more honorary degrees from British universities than any other person – 32 at last count – he tops a list which beats Nobel Prize winners, Olympians and world leaders. These degrees are awarded by universities to recognise the work carried out by an individual – no exams or coursework required…

1986 David Attenborough

10. Fossils were his first love

“I’ve always loved fossils,” he told the Radio Times in January 2016 after a trip to Patagonia to film the newly discovered 8ft thigh bone of a dinosaur species, believed to have weighed 70 tons (it was as tall as two African elephants and possessed a 40ft-long neck).

The young David grew up in Leicestershire where iron limestone contains prehistoric sea creatures. He’d often cycle up to twenty miles to the quarries and smash boulders to discover the fossils. “It’s the first time it’s seen the sunshine in 150 million years and you’re the first human being ever to have seen it. I think that’s pretty exciting.”

11. He has no interest in retirement

At the age of 91, with seven continents, multiple awards and countless programmes under his belt, his enthusiasm, curiosity, and desire to connect humans to the natural world remain unabated. When asked about retirement, he’s often replied, “It would be boring, wouldn’t it?”

Yes, sir, it would. Happy birthday David Attenborough.

Buenos Aires is often associated with steaks, but they are far from the most common cut served up in the parrillas (meat restaurants) of Argentina‘s capital. In fact, many of the cuts are different from the European or North American standards. It’s often the tastier (and cheaper) bits of beef – and a fair amount of offal – that is most popular in BA, so here’s a guide to getting the most of parrilla menu and ordering like a local.

Firstly, here are the secrets to cracking the carta (menu). Asado is best translated as barbecue, parrilla (pronounced ‘parr-e-sha’ with the Buenos Aires accent) is the grill itself or the restaurant that specialises in serving meat, and parrillada is a platter of different types of meat, often served sizzling on a charcoal-heated grill. Achuras means offal.

It’s also worth remembering that all the meat is shared between everyone at the table, and it all arrives in a fairly strict order. Also non-negotiable is a bottle of Malbec, so fill up your glass, leave your preconceptions and squeamishness at the door and tuck in.

Chinchulines

Straight in at the deep end with chinchulines (chitterling). It doesn’t help that they look like what they are: small intestines. But crisped up they can be the highlight of an asado – imagine pâté wrapped in crispy crackling.

Molleja

The best thing on the menu (for this writer anyway). There are two types of molleja (sweetbreads). There is the thymus gland from the neck or the pancreas around the heart known as molleja de corazon. The latter are better, but both are served crispy on the outside and have a creamy scallop-like texture inside. They are delicately ‘offally’, and with a squirt of lemon a delectable dish.

Mollejas, Buenos AiresImage by Magalie L’Abbé on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Morcilla

These little sausages, which usually appear alongside the chorizo at the beginning of a meal, are very similar to black pudding, though perhaps a little more peppery than you’ve had before.

Asado de tira

Once the offal and the chorizo have been gobbled up, it’s time to pay attention to the main meats. Asado de tira is probably the most common cut at an Argentinian asado. It is a long strip cut across the ribs with the tasty, fatty and fibrous meat dropping off the bone.

Vacio

Vacio is far from the most tender cut of beef, but is often the tastiest. It’s cheap and unctuously meaty; no wonder it’s on everyone’s plate.

Entraña

Known in the UK and US as the skirt steak (very trendy now), this is best flash grilled nice and red in the middle. It is rich in meaty flavour.

12390096753_d52e509e82_kImage by Capitu (ou Marcela) on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Steaks

If, after the above wonderfully tasty cuts, you’re still not convinced to skip the steak, bife de chorizo (like sirloin) or ojo de bife (rib-eye) are the ones to watch out for.

Chimichurri

No asado is complete without the sauce chimichurri. Made from parsley, garlic, oil, oregano and vinegar, and sometimes with chilli flakes (it’s as spicy as Argentinian food gets), you quite simply can’t have your meat without it.

Provolone

Somehow cheese always seems unhealthier once it is melted, but who cares, you’ve just gorged on half a cow anyway. This little roundel of Italian cheese is grilled along with everything else and is, as you’d imagine, oozy and addictive.

Chimichurri, Buenos Aires, ArgentinaImage by Isabelle Boucher on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Ensalada rusa

This salad has somehow become an asado standard. It is a mix of boiled potato, carrots, peas and hard-boiled egg, all mixed with loads of mayonnaise. It may be the only vegetable on the table, but it is by no means healthy.

The rest…

There are more dishes on the menu that even some Argentinians can’t stomach, not least of all the stomach or mondongo, which is common in hearty Andean stews.

The riñones are kidneys, the seso is the brain, pulmones are lungs, higado is liver, and the ubre is the udder. All of which is probably enough to make a vegetarian shudder.

Explore more of Buenos Aires with the Rough Guide to ArgentinaCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

*This competition is now closed*

Always wanted to be a travel writer? Well you’re in luck. Last year we ran our travel writing competition and the winner, Steph Dyson, has become one of our regular contributors. This year, we’re opening it up again to seek out the best untapped travel writing talent.

Enter the competition and you could become a Rough Guides writer, as well as bagging £2000 (approx US$2800) to spend on a trip of your choice.

Ends Soon!

The Prize:

The winner will get a £2000 (or local currency equivalent) travel voucher to spend on planning an unforgettable trip with GapYear.com, a bundle of Rough Guides books, and their winning work will be featured on RoughGuides.com.

Created by backpackers for backpackers, GapYear.com connect travellers with an unrivalled range of tours, volunteering projects and working holidays in over 100 countries around the globe.

Whether it’s rescuing endangered tigers in India or surfing deep blue waves in Morocco, they guarantee exhilarating experiences on every continent and provide dedicated support and advice throughout every step of the journey.

Last year’s winner, Steph Dyson, said: “I’d always wanted to visit Patagonia in the south of Argentina and Chile, but didn’t have the funds to take such a trip. So thanks to Rough Guides and GapYear.com, I booked onto a 34-day tour with Intrepid.”

Two runners up will also receive a bundle of Rough Guides books and will be published on RoughGuides.com.

tuk tuk in Sri Lanka

Why enter?

If you’re not sure whether you should enter your writing, here are some wise words from last year’s winner, Steph:

“Winning the competition has opened up so many opportunities with both Rough Guides and other travel writing websites.

“The feeling that other travellers are reading my writing, and hopefully being inspired to discover new places as a result, is very addictive and has certainly given me the confidence to pursue a career in writing.

“Having the chance to write for such a globally-renowned publication and work with the Rough Guides web editors has also been invaluable: the feedback and guidance I’ve been given has really helped me to develop as a writer.”

How to enter:

To enter, all you need to do is write a 500-word feature, based on a personal experience, on one of the following themes:

  • Close to home
  • The most beautiful place in the world
  • My best day on Earth

Entries should be emailed to [email protected], either as a .docx (Microsoft Word) file, or pasted into the email itself. Entries should be no more than 500 words and no less than 450 words. Applications close at 12:59 BST on the 1 May 2016.

Market in Peru, Cusco

5 tips for writing a great piece

• Have a clear idea. Can you summarise your story – its setting and its angle combined – in a line or two?

• Take special care over the opening. Stories don’t have to start smack-bang in the thick of the action by any means, but this can be a useful way to engage the reader from the off.

• Readers will turn away at the drop of a hat – keep them with you by clearing your story’s path of all obstructions (such as a dropped hat, unless it’s contributing something).

• Judiciously employ observations (local colour): combined the right way, sights, sounds and smells can spellbind.

• Use temporal and spatial markers to ensure the reader knows where (and when) they are at all times.

Read last year’s winning entry here, and the runners-up here.

Good luck!

Open to the UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA entrants over the age of 18 only. For full Terms & Conditions see here.

Letting it all hang out has never been so newsworthy. In the past year or so, we have seen an influx of over-the-top pranks at world heritage sites including Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, and the Great Pyramids of Giza. It all culminated last summer when ten backpackers made headlines for baring all at the summit of Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu. Facing a possible prison sentence, their stunt prompted the UK government to issue a code of conduct for travellers.

As an antidote, here’s the naked truth on where to take your clothes off, legally, or just for fun. Spoiler alert: gratuitous nudity ahead!

Reveal it all in a Finnish sauna

In the depths of midwinter, Finns take off their clothes the way most of us put them on: swiftly, routinely, and often first thing in the morning.

In barely-lit, pine-clad rooms, they come at all hours of the day to socialise, catch up on news and even do business in the buff. Then they streak across the snow, before jumping into a hole cut in a frozen lake. It’s a ritual undertaken without any hint of prudish self-consciousness.

Lake in winter in Finland, EuropePixabay / CC0

As the inventors of the sauna, boasting one for every household throughout the country, tradition is firmly on the Finn’s side. Each sauna, rich with steam and moisture, has its own rules, and swimsuits are often banned for hygienic reasons. That pocket square you see hanging up on the peg? It’s your towel.

Such awkward moments can be found at Rajaportin in Tampere, the oldest sauna in the country, dating back to 1906, while the popularity of smoke saunas and ice swimming brings nudists to Kakslauttanen, on the road north to the Arctic. Best not be shy: it can squeeze in a hundred people across its three bathhouses. Proof, if needed, that the Finnish sauna retains a life that goes way beyond legend.

Drop your trunks in Germany

If a Berliner asks you to go for a walk in the Tiergarten or Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, maybe its best to double-check your answer. They’re prime tanning spots – think well-done frankfurters, without the buns.

Germany’s fastidious approach to nudity leaves the mind reeling. The country has a full catalogue of opportunities for naked pursuits, from nude sunbathing on river banks to more than 300 private nudist clubs – known as the FKK, or Free Body Culture – all of which endorse a naturistic approach of sport and outdoor living.

Munich has six official urban nude zones, including two large FKK areas for naked sun-tanners on the banks of the Eisbach creek. In the capital, meanwhile, it’s perfectly legal to get your kit off on all of Berlin’s public bathing beaches, which at times can feel like being an extra in a porn film.

31 Jul 2010, Germany --- (FILE)An archive photo dated 31 July 2012 shows nudists (FKK) lying on a beach in Naunhof,Germany. Before FKK was something special with strictly seperated areas, but today, nudists lie out on beaches. One of the oldest FKK clubs in Germany is in Darmstadt. Photo: Waltraud Grubitzsch --- Image by © Waltraud Grubitzsch/dpa/Corbis

Go for a nude scrub in Istanbul

The Turkish hammam you imagine – the one flush with a gruff, moustachioed attendant mopping down a tiled washroom – still thrives in pockets of Istanbul. But close to the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya in tourist-friendly Sultanahmet, it’s possible – at a price – to experience the splendours of a soapy rubdown in far more palatial surroundings.

Such hedonism goes back to the days of Constantinople. Two Ottoman-era classics to try are Çemberlitaş Hamamı, dating back to 1584, and Cağaloğlu Hamamı, the last to be built by the empire.

Perhaps seeking to go out with a bang, it’s an extravaganza, with embroidered columns, tulip-inlaid stones, and marble ablution fountains, give plenty of distractions from having only a loin cloth covering your dignity.

Split into same-sex steam rooms, they’re both hardly racy affairs, but if Istanbul’s streets leave you a little grimy, that exfoliating, sandpaper-rough hand-mit applied by the masseuse will do just the trick. You’ll come out oily and as stewed as an onion, but primped and preened like a strutting pasha.

20 Sep 2012, Istanbul, Turkey --- Turkey, Istanbul, Interior of Haseki Hurrem Sultan Hamam --- Image by © Hans Lippert/Westend61/Corbis

Get cheeky at Burning Man in Nevada

Nude hippies have long made pilgrimages to festivals – cue Woodstock and the more hedonistic Glastonbury-goers of the 1970s. But more recently, naked ramblers have gone stark-raving nude in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada to party at Burning Man, the annual weeklong festival of revelry all in the name of self-expression and art.

Dazzled by a white-hot sun and dust storms, nudists come prepared with fashion goggles, disco masks, and unicorn heads, making the whole affair resemble a kind of apocalyptic Mad Max-themed, techno Coachella.

None of which matters to the 70,000 who immerse themselves in nude art rituals, sun salutations, and all manner of conflagration, while anticipation builds for the burning of the giant man-shaped bonfire. This year, festivities take place from 28 August to 5 September, and whether you dress or undress to impress, it’ll always be just the right amount of wrong.

Naked man, Burning Man Festival. Nevada, USABy Marco Sanchez on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Let it all out for art’s sake in Scotland

On an overcast thundercloud grey day in Glasgow, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to take their clothes off. But at All the Young Nudes – a rock ’n’ roll drawing club – clothes-free models pose to a soundtrack of Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols and David Bowie, while students, office workers, bus drivers, grandmothers, sit sketching in concentration, supping beer and wine.

The idea is the brainchild of a former animation graduate at the Glasgow School of Art and it’s since spawned satellite nights in Edinburgh, Dundee, and, late last year, in East London. Life drawing clubs are nothing new, but this one is different: no tuition is offered, a DJ selects the playlist, and each week brings a different theme.

Previous weeks have introduced a trio of ballet dancers, a string quartert, and models posing naked with birds of prey, including a hawk and bald American eagle from the local zoo.

First-timers may be keen to bare all in the name of art, but a word of warning: it’s more popular than you’d at first think. Considering its runaway success, the club’s organisers now offer nude modelling classes to make sure those with a flair for the dramatic know how to pose properly, bits and all, in front of groups as big as a hundred.

Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

If you’re a resident of Europe, it’s likely you’re happier than the rest of the world, according to the UN. Yesterday, the World Happiness Report Update 2016 revealed seven European nations in the top ten happiest countries in the world.

The report has been released in advance of World Happiness Day (March 20) and ranks 157 countries in order of their happiness index. “Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy,” read the introductory words.

This is the fourth annual report, and while in 2015 Switzerland ranked at number one, this year Denmark has taken the top spot. The United States is the 13th happiest country in the world and the UK sits at 23rd. Here is the full ranking of the happiest 30 countries around the globe.

10. Sweden

stockholm-1191953_1920Pixabay / CC0

9. Australia

Vlamingh Head Lighthouse, Western Australia

8. New Zealand

Wellington, New ZealandPixabay / CC0

7. The Netherlands

Netherlands, tulips

6. Canada

North America, Canada, Yoho National Park, The Valley of the Ten Peaks reflected in the stunning turquoise waters of Moraine Lake.

5. Finland

lake-896190_1920Pixabay / CC0

4. Norway

Lofoten islands, Norway, Europe

3. Iceland

Laki, Iceland

2. Switzerland

Switzerland, mountains – Swiss alpsPixabay / CC0

1. Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark – happiest countries in the worldPixabay / CC0

Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

Robin Hanbury-Tenison is an explorer like no other: not only has he been awarded medals for his work with tribes around the world and for his expeditions across various landscapes, but he’s still doing it all at the age of 80 years old.

So, you say you’re an explorer: what is a modern day explorer?

I would unashamedly describe myself as an explorer. It’s a dying breed and a lot of people are embarrassed by the expression – and then a lot of other people use it when they’re not explorers.

To me an explorer is someone who changes the world through their exploratory activities. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in starting movements like Survival International and have been awarded the Patron’s Gold Medal by the Royal Geographic Society.

Robin Hanbury Tenison with Yanomami tribe, 1981Robin Hanbury Tenison with Yanomami children in Brazil

Tell us about your ‘8 at 80’ challenge.

Last year suddenly it came to me with horrible shock that I was about to enter my 80th year. I’ve always been lucky to be very healthy and I felt quite young. I hadn’t minded any previous birthday, but 80, you can’t get away from it – 80 is bloody old.

So I thought I would spit in the face of fate and the gods and do eight silly things during my 80th year, raise £80,000 for Survival International – and irritate all my contemporaries by showing them that I can still do silly things.

Robin Hanbury Tenison with his dog

So what have you done in your 80th year?

I started with the London Marathon. I hadn’t broken into a trot unnecessarily since I was at school, so that was a shock, but I succeeded and did it in six hours and twenty minutes.

Then I thought I would climb the four highest mountains in Britain. Then I did a skydive. And then the nastiest one: I spent six and a half hours underground in the deepest cave passage in Britain after a 750ft abseil in the dark.

The final one was my attempt to be the oldest person to waterski across the English channel. I set off merrily, with a wonderful team of British water ski champions, at 5am from Dover and it all looked good, but we hit seven-foot waves and I got completely knackered and had to pull out.

The highest mountain in the UKPixabay / CC0

I failed, and the British love a failure, so it was all over the papers. But then I went and did it down in Cornwall. I did the equivalent distance, 21 miles up and down the Camel estuary, just to prove that had it been calm, I could have done it.

What have you learned from your travels as an explorer?

I have huge respect for tribal people. I have been lucky enough to live with, or visit over a hundred tribal people all over the world, but the people I really loved the most, who I have been back to visit recently, are the Penan people of Borneo. I lived with them for fifteen months when I was running a big rainforest expedition for the Royal Geographical Society in the late seventies.

I made great friends with the Penan, who were then still living a nomadic life. They came out of the rainforest to visit our camp and see our doctors – many of them having no contact with Europeans before – and were the most wonderful people. One of the first to come out became my best friend and I went back to see him in Borneo last month; he is now 90 and very old but he is the wisest man I know.

Robin Hanbury Tenison, Penan tribe, Borneo, IndonesiaRobin with the Penan in Borneo

Where is the most beautiful places you’ve visited on your travels?

Without any hesitation, a rainforest river in Borneo. It’s where I’ve just come back from and where I spent those 15 months living among the Penan.

There’s something about the rainforest; I feel very at home in it. It’s teeming with life, it’s hot, you struggle through for a long time in this wonderful environment, then you come to a little stream where you can just strip off and plunge in – it’s the best feeling in the world.

Robin Hanbury Tenison, Borneo, MalaysiaRobin with the Penan in Borneo

What’s the strangest food you’ve eaten on your travels?

I have very few principles in life, but one I do have is that there is absolutely nothing I won’t eat. I believe there are around five meat sources and five vegetable sources in a British diet, but some tribes have up to 500.

Living with the Penan, they eat a lot of insects like caterpillars – they know which ones are edible and which ones are not. They have little hard ones, a little like potted shrimp, and that’s easy, but the bigger ones with soft centers are harder to express delight as your munch them down, but I tried my best to do that.

Robin runs cultural tours to Brazil with The Ultimate Travel CompanyCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.

We sent Rough Guides editor Rachel Mills to the southernmost tip of the Indian Subcontinent to research Kerala for the upcoming Rough Guide to India. From tea estates in lush green hills to sultry palm-fringed backwaters, plus a host of deserted beaches, she dove beneath the surface and immersed herself in the region’s natural wonders, lavish festivals and heavenly South Indian food.

In this video, Rachel shares tips on the top five things to do in Kerala. Here’s her expert travel advice for your trip to “God’s Own Country”.

Professional photographer Tim Bird shares some of his incredible pictures of India. 

I’ve been fascinated by everything to do with India from about the age of 13 when I first heard the sitar being played on Beatles records. These days I’m an India addict. I’m involved with a small Finnish-based NGO, Tikau Share, which focuses on an impoverished village in the state of Odisha. This has given me the incentive to take the 6.5 hour flight from my Helsinki home to Delhi several times a year.

India is so full of unique visual surprises and such variety of light and landscape, it’s no wonder that so many photographers are drawn to it. It isn’t really a single country. Bihar in the north-east, for example, is as different from Kerala on the south-west coast as Norway is from Spain, culturally, geographically, historically. On each visit I try to visit somewhere new, so I’ll be able to spend the rest of my life exploring and photographing India.

Temple decorations in Bhuj, Gujarat

Temple decorations Bhuj, Gujarat, India

Taj Mahal in morning mist, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Taj Mahal in morning mist, Agra, India

Ganga Aarti Rishikesh ceremony

Traditional ceremony, rishikesh aarti, India

Pushkar camel market, Rajasthan

Pushkin camel market, India

Pilgrims at Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh

Pilgrims at Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India

Marigolds at the market

Marigold at the market, India

Colourful ladies in line for the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

ladies in line for the Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Ladies bathing Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

Ladies bathing Vishakaputnam (Vizag), India

Celebrations at Kumbh Mela, Allahabad

Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, India

 Traditional Kathakali performance, Kerala

Kathakali traditional performance, Kerala, India

Great Rann of Kutch saltpan, Gujarat

Gujarat, Great Rann of Kutch saltpan

Girl dancers in Bihar

Girl dancers Bihar, India

Flower and trinket vendors, Nizamuddin shrine, Delhi

Flower and trinket vendors, Nizamuddin shrine, Delhi, India

Fishermen in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu

Fishermen in Mumallapuram, India

Playing cricket near the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Cricket near the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Children return from school, Dharamshala

Children return from school, Dharamshala

Buddha’s tree, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Bodh gaya buddha's tree, Bihar, India

Bihar village early in the morning

Bihar village morning, India, pictures of India

Temple flower vendor with cow, Udaipur, Rajasthan

Temple flower vendor with cow, Udaipur

Tricoleur doorway, Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu

Tricoleur doorway, Pondicherry, India

Explore more of India with The Rough Guide to India. Tim is leading a unique and exciting 12-day tour designed for photo-enthusiasts to Assam in northeast India in April 2016. For details, visit his website at www.timbirdphotography.com.

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