Between Peaks and Pages: Inside the Adventurous World of Atlas & Boots
Kia & Peter
Peter Watson and Kia Abdullah, are two passionate souls with an insatiable hunger for exploration.
24th May | 8 min read

Table of Contents

    Peter Watson and Kia Abdullah, are two passionate souls with an insatiable hunger for exploration.

    Peter, a seasoned travel writer and gifted photographer, has graced the pages of prestigious publications such as the Guardian, the Telegraph, BBC Travel, and National Geographic, among many others. You'll often find him traversing the trails of the awe-inspiring Greater Ranges, fueled by his love for trekking and climbing. Currently, he has set his sights on conquering the seven summits, those majestic peaks that stand tall on every continent.

    On the other hand, Kia, an author and travel aficionado hailing from the vibrant city of London, adds her own unique flair to their adventurous pursuits. Her exceptional thriller novel, Take It Back, garnered critical acclaim from renowned publications like the Guardian and the Telegraph. Kia's evocative writing has graced the pages of the New York Times, the FT, and the BBC, among others. When it comes to adrenaline-pumping activities, she revels in hiking, diving, horseback riding, and all things that take her to great heights, whether it's skydiving, via ferrata, or bungy jumping. Yet, she always insists on a hot shower and a cozy bed at the end of an exhilarating day.

    Atlas & Boots

     Peter and Kia hiking in Argentina

    Together, Peter and Kia embarked on a shared vision, birthing Atlas & Boots, an award-winning outdoor travel blog. Since its inception in 2014, their humble digital haven has captivated the hearts of over 150,000 curious souls each month. They thrive on uncovering the most thrilling activities in far-flung corners of the globe. From swimming alongside magnificent whales in the South Pacific to conquering the epic ranges of Asia through arduous treks, Peter and Kia are dedicated to sharing their adventures and inspiring others.

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    The Origin of Our Passion for Travel and the Great Outdoors

    Kia and I met in London back in 2010. We started on opposite ends of the outdoor spectrum. In fact, a week after we met, I went off to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro while Kia remained warmly cocooned by her desk as writers prefer to be. Over the ensuing years, we drew each other towards the middle; to what they describe as outdoorsy-ish. We love the outdoors, wildlife and nature and cannot think of a better way to spend our time.

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    Peter on the summit of Kilimanjaro in 2010 (highest mountain in Africa)

    The Frequency and Duration of our Epic Journeys

    This varies depending on the trip and destination but we do try to limit how often we fly. For example, we recently went to Central America so as it was a long-haul flight we chose to spend a month in the region and see as much as possible. In the past we have spent a year travelling across the South Pacific and South America; three months in Asia; six weeks in Australia and New Zealand; a month in Southern Africa; another in East Africa; and another travelling around Europe by rail. 

    That said, we do sometimes take shorter trips for a week or two and I’m often away on treks or climbs which tend to be for two to three weeks at a time.

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    Kia and Peter toasting crossing the Arctic Circle in Svalbard

    Our Quest for the Next Travel Destination and the Art of Pre-Trip Preparation

    Nearly all our trips are nature or wildlife focused so that usually dictates the where. For example, we’ve visited the polar regions and Southern Africa to see the unique landscapes and go wildlife watching. Other than that, I’m always chasing mountains. In terms of preparation, we tend to do the planning on the road and see where things take us. We still use guidebooks though.

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    Peter camping along the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland

    How We Pack For Our Trips

    How we pack can depend on the type of trip. When I’m on an expedition, I pack very differently than when we’re travelling together as I need specialist camping and climbing gear and clothing. Regardless of the trip, one thing I never leave without is my Swiss Army penknife. I’ve had it for years and it always comes in handy.

    Remarkable Adventures and the Ultimate Bucket List Quests

    Visiting Antarctica was a landmark trip for us. The trip was filled with so many magical moments including meeting penguins, watching a humpback whale sleep and crossing the Antarctic Circle at 66°33′. It really was a trip of a lifetime. 

    Peter and Kia in Antarctica

    In terms of dream trips, I’m working on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. So far, I’ve ticked off scaled Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Kosciuszko in Australia and most recently Aconcagua in South America. Next year, I’m attempting Denali in North America. After that, I’ll have Vinson in Antarctica and Everest in Asia left although I also plan to summit Puncak Jaya in Indonesia to complete the two separate versions of the seven summits lists.

    However, I am well aware it is a highly improbable dream – I’m around £100k short at the moment! Still, deep inside there’s a kernel of hope that, one day, I will achieve my ambition. I would, after all, rather harbor dreams I won’t achieve, than nurse none at all.

    Charting Our Own Course: The Birth of Atlas & Boots

    We wanted to combine our passions: travel and writing. Kia has authored several books and written for New York Times, the Guardian, the FT, the Telegraph, the BBC and the Times among others while I’ve written for several newspapers and magazines and contributed to a number of books.

    However, we were never in control of our own house so to speak. We were always pitching ideas to editors and publishers who often didn't bother responding. With Atlas & Boots, we get to keep control of our content and all the profits go directly to us. Now people are pitching us instead!

    Penguin Encounters: An Unforgettable Journey to Barrientos Island

    If I’m honest, we find animals are far more interesting and charming than people! The final landing of our Antarctic voyage was to Barrientos Island in the South Shetlands, home to Gentoo and Chinstrap penguins. No one told us beforehand that there was one final surprise in store. The Gentoos had had a successful breeding season, and the colony was full of penguin chicks. We had the honor of watching the feathery little bundles nest, feed and play with their parents. It was nature at its finest.

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    Kia In Antartica

    One of Our Most Exciting Outdoor Experiences

    This was one of the most nerve-racking experiences I’ve ever had. We were on day 13 of a self-drive safari through Namibia when we got our second flat tyre in as many days. We had spent the previous day on a 160km round-trip to the nearest garage to pick up a spare tyre after using the one we had. We’re lucky we did so, because the next day – day 13 – we bust another tyre, this time in the middle of Etosha National Park, known for its abundance of lions.

    The park rules clearly state that you should never leave your vehicle. Unfortunately, there was no phone reception so we couldn’t call for assistance. We waited to see if anyone else would turn up, but Etosha is a big place and we could have been waiting for hours. 

    We decided to change the tyre ourselves. Kia kept watch and would sound the horn if she saw any movement. I worked silently and quickly while dripping with sweat and Kia scanned our surroundings. Fifteen minutes later, the tyre was on and we got back in the car, laughing with relief and possibly a touch of hysteria. 

    Half a kilometre down the road, we stopped laughing. There, we spotted a lion lazing beneath a tree and we realised that this story could have easily ended differently. We could easily have been two stupid tourists who got killed by lions because they flouted official safety rules. Fortunately, day 13 wasn’t unlucky for us.

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    Kia On Easter Island

    Essential Safety Measures

    Always carry a spare. And maybe follow the rules.

    How GAFFL is Empowering Solo Adventurers

    I’ve been a solo hiker for years. It’s not because I’m anti-social (I think) but because I don’t have any friends who are into spending days or weeks on the trail or camping in the wild. Personally, I don’t know what's wrong with them but they think the same about me. But there are people out there like me who are into the same pastimes so I expect GAFFL would be useful to meet those like-minded people to share some of these experiences with.

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    Peter meeting Nims at Aconcagua base camp 2020

    Essential Advice for First-Timers and Thru-Hikers Embarking on Epic Journeys

    Pack light. Whether travelling or hiking, life will be easier if your backpack is lighter. If you’re not sure if you need it, then you probably don’t. The only essentials for travel these days are your passport, wallet and phone.

    Lessons We Wish We'd Have Learned Before We Started Our Adventures

    I wish I’d started spending time in the outdoors sooner. I could have taken more hikes, climbed more mountains and seen more wildlife. My advice to other would-be travellers is to just get out there and see the world. Travel with curiosity; cast off your daily routine; and go – arms wide open, caution to the wind – from coast to countryside and everywhere in between.

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    Peter and Kia kayaking in the Arctic 2

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