Fire and Fury: Last December, around 100 tourists set out for New Zealand’s White Island, where an active volcano has attracted hundreds of thousands of vacationers since the early 1990s. It was supposed to be a routine six-hour voyage, including the highlight: a quick hike into the island’s otherworldly caldera. Then the volcano exploded. Alex Perry reports on an epic story of heroism, tragedy, and survival—one that uncovers troubling questions about the risks we’re willing to take when lives hang in the balance.
Moby and Me: Sperm whales are extraordinarily intelligent animals with deep family connections and the ability to communicate across oceans with sonic clicks. But when Rowan Jacobsen had a close encounter with one in the Caribbean, he saw a creature far stranger than he’d ever imagined.
Prisoners of the Sun! Tintin and Snowy couldn’t make it, but when Mark Jenkins and his friend Large headed to South America to witness a total eclipse from the top of a 20,000-foot mountain, they ran into enough scrapes, snafus, and banana peels to fill a comic book. It’s almost as if somebody up there didn’t like them.
My Midlife Crisis as a Russian Sailor: For a book project about 16th-century polar explorer William Barents, Andrea Pitzer needed to reach the remote Arctic island where he and his men came to grief. She booked passage on an expeditionary boat out of Murmansk, then headed north on a trip marked by unforgettable scenery, unexpected loss, and wild magic that changed her life.
Are social media and selfie culture killing the outdoors? Nah, but as a visit to some heavily Instagrammed places reveals, they’re challenging our notions about whether there’s a right way to appreciate nature—and who gets to do it. —Lisa Chase
Motorcycle Camping: Take two wheels way off the beaten track.
Packs: Haulers for every occasion.
Overlanding: How to trick out your ride for off-road expeditions.
Portfolio: Seth Langbauer follows Mongolia’s taiga dogs across its eastern steppe.
The Object in Motion
As the world tries to contain the spread of COVID-19, travel seems like a faraway dream. But Ian Frazier reminds us that there’s no more promising feeling than the start of an adventure.
Lockdown: How professional climber Kyra Condie stays fit and healthy through the coronavirus pandemic.