According to a report by The Guardian on 17 October, Elvinger shot the photo in Arctic Norway. The pictured polar bear and her cub were interested in Elvinger’s boat, from which they started licking water leaking from the ship’s kitchen.
The competition invites professional as well as amateur photographers worldwide to submit their nature and wildlife pictures. According to their website, the next competition entry period will start on Monday 23 October and run until Thursday 14 December.
As you may have read, my friend Max is going to be spending a few months up at the top of Norway – Tromsø in fact, 200 miles inside the arctic circle; and I’m looking forward to visiting him once he’s settled, to get an idea of what it’s like to spend winter in perpetual darkness and summer in perpetual light and (OF COURSE) to see the epic Northern Lights. So to whet your appetite, here’s a list of the top five places from which to experience the most remarkable natural phenomenon in the northern hemisphere.
This gorgeous auroral display over Sweden’s Abisko National Park was captured on Feb. 16, 2015 by photographer Chad Blakley (www.lightsoverlapland.com). Credit: Chad Blakley / http://www.lightsoverlapland.com
Photos don’t do the northern lights justice.
To fully appreciate the glory and grandeur of this celestial display, which is also known as the aurora borealis, you have to settle beneath the ever-changing lights and watch them curve and curl, slither and flicker.
“I was camping, just lying out in a field in a sleeping bag on a late September night and looking up at the stars,” said Terry Onsager, a physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. [Amazing Auroras: Stunning Northern Lights Photos]
“All of a sudden, the most spectacular lights and swirls and rays just filled the sky, dancing and darting here and there,” Onsager told Space.com. “It was just unbelievable.”
Onsager had his aurora experience in northern Norway — one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. You could follow in his footsteps, or blaze your own trail somewhere along the “auroral zone” that encircles Earth’s northern reaches. But you need to know when and where to go. For example, the summer of 2017 may be a good time for a vacation, but a better time to see auroras is actually between winter and spring.
Read on to find out when and where to see the northern lights, and what powers this dazzling display.
If you’re planning an aurora-viewing trip, make sure not to schedule it in the middle of summer. You need darkness to see the northern lights, and places in the auroral zone have precious little of it during the summer months.
You also want clear skies. Winter and springtime are generally less cloudy than autumn in and around the northern auroral zone, so a trip between December and April makes sense, said Charles Deehr, a professor emeritus and aurora forecaster at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute. Ideally, time your trip to coincide with the new moon, and make sure to get away from city lights when it’s time to look up, he added.
“Dress warmly, plan to watch the sky between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, although an active period can occur anytime during the dark hours,” Deehr wrote in the Geophysical Institute’s guide to aurora viewing, which has lots of great information. “Active periods are typically about 30 minutes long, and occur every two hours, if the activity is high. The aurora is a sporadic phenomenon, occurring randomly for short periods or perhaps not at all.”
You can get an idea of how active the northern lights are likely to be in your area by keeping tabs on a short-term aurora forecast, such as the one provided by the Geophysical Institute here: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast
And you can have an aurora experience without even leaving your house if you so choose. The Canadian Space Agency offers a live feed of the skies above Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronomy/auroramax/.
Where to go in Europe
So where should you go? If you live in Europe, the easiest thing to do is head to the far northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland.
“In general, Scandinavia is set up,” Deehr told Space.com. “They’re in good shape for this.”
“Abisko has developed a reputation for being the No. 1 aurora-watching destination on the planet, due to the fact that it is located in a very special microclimate with less precipitation than any other location on Earth that is located within the aurora zone,” photographer Chad Blakley told Space.com via email. (The company Blakley co-founded, Lights Over Lapland, has been offering aurora tours in Abisko for more than five years.) [Lights Over Lapland’s 2017 Abisko Aurora Tours]
Iceland is also a good choice, Deehr said, as long as you make sure to set aside enough time to compensate for cloudy skies. (The island nation’s weather can be uncooperative.) [Iceland 2017 Northern Lights Tours]
Russia, by contrast, “is pretty much out,” Deehr said. While a decent swathe of the auroral zone lies in northern Russia, such areas are relatively hard to get to and lack the tourism infrastructure most travelers are after, he explained.
Where to go in North America
There are also plenty of options for good aurora viewing in North America. But you should probably steer clear of far eastern Canada, which tends to be quite cloudy, Deehr said.
“Between James Bay and the west coast of Alaska — anywhere along that auroral zone is a good place to be,” he said. (James Bay is the far southern portion of Canada’s huge Hudson Bay.) [Northern Tales Yukon 2017 Aurora Tours]
For example, he said, a northern lights trip could center on Yellowknife or Whitehorse, in the Canadian Yukon. Or a traveler could take a train across the auroral zone to the town of Churchill, on the western shore of Hudson Bay — an area famous for its polar bear population.
“It’s great, adventurous country,” Deehr said of the Canadian auroral region.
In Alaska, anywhere from Fairbanks north offers good viewing. In Fairbanks itself, residents see the northern lights on about eight of every 10 nights, Deehr said. [Alaska Tours’ 2017 Aurora Tours]
The northern lights result when charged particles streaming from the sun collide with molecules high up in Earth’s atmosphere, exciting these molecules and causing them to glow.
“It’s like the fluorescent lights in our offices — they’ve got current running through them that excites the atoms, and the atoms glow,” Onsager said.
The different colors of the northern lights come from different molecules: Oxygen emits yellow, green and red light, while nitrogen is responsible for blue and purplish-red hues.
Earth’s magnetic field lines channel these solar particles toward the planet’s north and south magnetic poles, which explains why auroras — the aurora borealis and its southern counterpart, the aurora australis — are high-latitude phenomena.
Indeed, the aurora borealis is visible most nights, weather permitting, within a band several hundred miles wide that’s centered at about 66 degrees north — about the same latitude as the Arctic Circle.
This “standard” aurora is generated by the solar wind — the particles streaming constantly from the sun. But solar storms known as coronal mass ejections (CME) can ramp up the northern lights considerably and make them visible over much wider areas. Last year, for example, a CME allowed skywatchers as far south as Illinois and Ohio to get a glimpse. However, if you’re planning an aurora-viewing trip weeks or months in advance, you can’t count on any help from a solar storm and should therefore head to a destination somewhere near the northern ring. [The Sun’s Wrath: Worst Solar Storms in History]
The southern auroral ring lies above Antarctica and is very difficult for skywatchers, or anyone else, to get to. That’s why this article focuses on the northern lights — for reasons of practicality, not antipodean antipathy. (Southern Hemisphere dwellers take heart: The aurora australis can sometimes be viewed from New Zealand and Tasmania.)
Editor’s note: If you capture an amazing photo of the northern lights and would like to share it with Space.com and our news partners for a story or gallery, send images in to managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story from CNN, originally posted in April 2016, has been updated for 2017.
Here’s a bit of summer fun from the Telegraph. I got twelve – how many can you guess? 😉
Few sights are more impressive than planet Earth from a plane window. But how easily can you recognise cities, mountains and countries from the sky? We’ve devised the following quiz to put your knowledge to the test and mark what it is expected to be the busiest day in history for flights to and from UK airports (that’s July 21st).
For those that often find themselves wondering which town, lake or river they are flying over, there’s actually an app with the answers. Flyover Country provides information on points of interest below, and, so long as users input their flight path before takeoff, does not require the purchase of expensive Wi-Fi access.
Sunsets may grace the covers of many a travel brochure, but there’s a lot to be said for catching dawn instead.
Firstly, as these breathtaking shots prove, sunrise provides arguably the best natural light with which to take photographs.
It’s also the only time of day at which you’ll be able to dodge tourists at the world’s most-visited landmarks, India’s Taj Mahal for example.
In cold climates such as Sweden, the sun rises for just a few hours during the dark winter, so morning is your only chance to witness the snowy landscape when it’s bright.
In Africa, daybreak is by far the best time to witness its wildlife on safari, and in other hot countries, it’s the opportune time to take a solitary hike before the sun gets too oppressive.
Read on for MailOnline Travel‘s most spectacular spots around the world to enjoy before everyone else wakes up.
Head off on a road trip along Australia’s Great Ocean Road and be sure to get a head start on the driving just as the sun comes up, captured here from the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park
Not many destinations in the world inspire such wanderlust as the Turkish Cappadocia mountains, best enjoyed from a hot air balloon at sunrise
Kenya is another region where it pays to drag yourself from slumber in the early hours, in order to catch a morning dose of ‘golden hour’, seen here in the Amboseli National Park
Valparai, a lesser known scenic spot in India’s Tamil Nadu region, is located 3,500 feet above sea level and is often shrouded in a gentle mist first thing in the morning
Cape Town, a sleepy city in the west of South Africa, is renowned as being one of the best vantage points in the world from which to witness the sun rise, seen here peeking around Lion’s Head
The magestic Bunyeroo Valley in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges looks particularly fine under the first morning light
A tiny Moroccan village in Berber appears to be bathed in a bolt of liquid gold as the rest of the Atlas mountains loom grey in the background
During the winter months in the northernmost reaches of Sweden, the sun rises briefly in the morning to paint the sky red, seen here over the Abisko National Park, but quickly retreats. True daylight isn’t witnessed here until summer rolls around
In Antarctica, however, the opposite is true. From September until around April, the sun rises early over the icebergs and doesn’t dip away again until midnight. Even then, it never fully sets
It looks upon first glance like a raging fire emerging from behind Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex, but rather it’s a cloud lit up by the rising sun
Patagonia sees a lot of dramatic weather over the epic landscape of the Andes, and this early morning rainbow is no exception
African safaris dotted around the continent typically take their guests on drives at the crack of dawn, as it’s the best time to witness wildlife. A pack of hyenas are seen here on the Tanda Tula grounds in the Kruger National Park
Varanasi, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is one of the most colourful parts of the country – its sunrises being no exception
Alternatively, stay closer to home and admire English country scenes like this dawn view of Corfe Castle in Dorset
Some buildings and structures are stunning to behold at first glance, while others reveal themselves as something special when they’re shown at a certain angle, as these incredible images demonstrate.
The pictures are all shortlisted and commended entries in the architecture category of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards – the world’s largest photography competition.
They include sublime pictures of The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, multi-coloured doorways in Tokyo and Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina.
A picture taken in China, meanwhile, elevates a tangle of roads from the mundane to high art – the aerial angle turning them into a mesmerising pattern.
Another image shows the famous London Aquatics Centre – a remarkable building that looks all the more striking thanks to photographer Katarzyna Young, who captured its ‘signature curves’ and bright hues in some style.
MailOnline Travel showcases images that will urge you to stop and look at the buildings around you in a different light. Images from the competition will be displayed at London’s Somerset House between April 21 and May 7, 2017 and the winners will be announced on April 20.
A reflection of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, during sunset
A Manhattan sunset shot from Queens across the East River. This is ‘Part 2’ in a New York Trilogy that photographer Lars Sivars calls ‘NYC Light’
Yukihito Ono simply said of her entry, left, ‘I found colorful doors in Tokyo’ The amazing image on the right is of the Cayan Tower, Dubai Marina
This picture taken in China elevates a tangle of roads from the mundane to high art – the aerial angle turning them into a mesmerising pattern
The London Aquatics Centre was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid in 2004 before London won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The photographer who took this image, Katarzyna Young, said of it: ‘I tried to capture the signature curves of Zaha Hadid’s architectural designs. My eye was also drawn to the vivid colour of the building’s windows as well as on how the shadows and light define the structure’
Called ‘Walking in the Light’, this image by photographer Amri Arfianto captures a woman at The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi crossing through a keyhole-shaped patch of sunshine
This image shows the office building called Dockland in Hamburg, Germany, and was taken in summer of 2016
This image shows the facade of the Bodegas Ysios wine cellar in Laguardia in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. The cellar building was designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. The building is designed to integrate into the hilly landscape of the Sierra de Cantabria
Pictured left is the Square Colosseum building in Rome just after sunset. The photographer, Claudio Cantonetti, said: ‘The very difficult task has been to compose carefully and avoid the traffic’ Pictured right is Modena Cathedral in Italy. Consecrated in 1184, it is an important Romanesque building and a World Heritage Site
A fascinating image of a building reflected from the River Danube
Urban life: A helipad in China next to row upon mesmerising row of highway traffic
Portuguese photographer Luis Pina said: ‘This photo was taken on February 28, 2016, in the Stuttgart Library, in Germany. I really like this Library because it’s like no other Library I’ve ever seen. I actually find that this modern and ethereal look helps one concentrate. This was my first set of photos with my new Sony A7RII and Sony Zeiss 16-35 f/4’
This image shows the stark facade of the Silver Beach Hotel, taken by Aldi Bulboaca
Here’s Moscow looking like a city from the future, where photographer Ivan Turukhano caught a girl sitting by a window in a courtyard
An industrial tank in Amsterdam looks like a work of art in this picture. The photographer said: ‘The shadows create a light and feather like abstract on this otherwise bold and heavy storage tank’
The need to accommodate Hong Kong’s dense population has created public housing with ‘unique and spectacular facades’, according to photographer Denise Y K Tsang
An interior shot of the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photographer Jimmy Reid said: ‘I love the classic feel of this cinema and the formation of the chairs is almost hypnotising to me’
This picture was taken in October 2016 in Berlin near the government headquarters. Photographer Volker Sander said: ‘I saw the straight and diagonal lines and I found that it was a good composition with the coloured squares inside’
The view from Switch House at Tate Modern towards the Shard in London
The Photographer said: ‘Prostitution is legal in Greece and the authorities decided to stipulate that all brothels must have permits. There are different kinds of brothels. The upper class ones are called Studio. The difference from the normal brothels are the buildings – more discreet, the attitude of the prostitutes, more polite, and the price, obviously higher. A person welcomes the clients and once inside there is a waiting room where the girls available come out to show themselves. At this point the clients decide whether to stay or to leave. These brothels are recognizable by a pink light sign with the word Studio’
Another picture of the Ysios winery in Laguardia, this time showing the detail in the roofing. The photo was taken on a hot Sunday morning in early September 2016
China, Fuling, Chongqing municipality – an area that has been transformed in recent years from rural to urban. Daily life there has been captured here by Julien Chatelin
An architecture detail of a building at Valletta old city, Malta, captured by Greek photographer Elias Joidos
The skies darken as a storm approaches Larung Gar in Sichuan, China, home to the Five Sciences Buddhism Academy
Nearly 10,000 monks and nuns live in Larung Gar, pictured in this entry by Ming Keung Tam. In 2016, reports emerged from Tibet that there was a mass demolition drive in the unique town by the People’s Republic of China
‘During my visit to Rotterdam in October 2016 I saw these yellow cube houses and looked for a special perspective,’ said photographer Martin Seraphin
A mind-boggling picture of a skyscraper in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo
This eye-popping image shows the dense urbanisation of Hong Kong – it was taken by local Chak Kwong Man
Human civilization has come a long way since the early days of our species. Rising out of caves and undeveloped lands, humans have built cities and homes that the early generations could never have imagined.
The widespread growth of globalization has made it harder for historic cultures to be preserved. This is what makes the Dukha people of Mongolia so fascinating and amazing. The nomadic tribe has lived in the same region for centuries. During that time, they developed a special relationship with the wild animals. In fact, this relationship is so amazing it will leave you in awe.
Fortunately for us, photographer Hamid Sardar-Afkhami recently visited this lost tribe and documented what he saw through a series of stunning photographs.
Through their unique culture, the Dukha people have developed a unique relationship with neighboring reindeer. They use them as means of transportation over the treacherous terrain they call home.
Children are taught how to train a reindeer at an early age.
The reindeer are docile and gentle companions, even to the smallest of Dukha children.
This young girl prepares to clean and bathe a reindeer baby.
The Dukha are also known as the “Tsaatan,” a term that means “reindeer herder.”
These days, there are only roughly 44 Dukha families left. This totals 200-400 people. The reindeer population is diminishing as well.
The Dukha primarily survive off of the tourist industry. People visit and pay money for performances, crafts, and of course, reindeer rides.
They don’t just train reindeer. They also train wolves!
The Dukha hunt small woodland animals like rabbits. This earns them about two US dollars.
The Dukha also train golden eagles to aid in their hunting.
Eagle hunting is considered a privilege. Those who are able to do it are well respected by the tribe.
The Dukha believe they have a spiritual connection with all animals.
The connection allows them to feel at home in nature and maintain their culture despite the growing influence of the outside world.
It’s breathtaking to see the Dukha tribe and their relationship with the natural world. The way they’ve preserved their way of life is just incredible.
A lucky Irish traveller has won the job of her dreams – and a huge trophy – after beating 75,000 applicants to become the official Instagrammer for Royal Caribbean.
Ciara Flynn’s winning photograph of two young Buddhist monks has afforded her the chance to travel the oceans in complete luxury as the cruise ship’s social media photographer.
The budding shutterbug from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, will journey for three weeks across three oceans on three different ships this summer with all of her food, drink, accommodation, entertainment, flights and expenses covered by Royal Caribbean.
This picture of two monks in Kathmandu won Ms Flynn the job of a lifetime. She commented on the snap: ‘I spent hours sat in a monastery at Kathmandu just watching these young monks before I shot this picture. Seeing them subtly switch between being children and monks gave me a glimpse into a different and fascinating culture’
Ms Flynn also submitted this shot of a street vendor in Colombia into the competition, which was entered by 75,000 applicants
She also submitted this snap of a volcano in Peru. After her win she said: ‘Capturing the magic in the ordinary moments in life tells a much richer story than words ever could, so I’m thrilled to be able to get the chance to do this with Royal Caribbean’
Ms Flynn, who earns a living working as a tour guide to fund her travels around the world, will also receive £3,000 cash prize.
Applicants were asked to post their most inspiring image on Instagram, with the hashtag #ExtraordinaryExplorer.
Although entries were limited to British and Irish candidates, it struck a chord with travellers all over the world, with almost 350,000 people worldwide posting to the hashtag, hoping that their image might be considered.
Ms Flynn’s adventure will take her to three continents with destination highlights including New York, the Caribbean, Asia and the Mediterranean.
She will be travelling on Ovation of the Seas from Beijing, Anthem of the Seas from New York and Freedom of the Seas in Barcelona.
The search to find someone to fulfil the Instagram ‘Intern-Ship’ was launched by Royal Caribbean in January. This image of a peaceful temple in Seoul was one of the shortlisted entries
This Instagram of Milford Sound in New Zealand, with the 5,540ft Mitre Peak shrouded in cloud, was also shortlisted
City splendour: A shot of New Year’s Eve in London (left) and of a snowy Central Park in New York were also shortlisted
Ms Flynn said: ‘Becoming Royal Caribbean’s Extraordinary Explorer is the experience of a lifetime. I’ve always loved photography and have been doing it for as long as I can remember.
‘Capturing the magic in the ordinary moments in life tells a much richer story than words ever could, so I’m thrilled to be able to get the chance to do this with Royal Caribbean.’
She continued: ‘I spent hours sat in a monastery at Kathmandu just watching these young monks before I shot this picture [her winning entry]. Seeing them subtly switch between being children and monks gave me a glimpse into a different and fascinating culture. As a unique moment in time, I wanted to use Instagram to share it with the world.’
The search to find someone to fulfil the Instagram ‘Intern-Ship’ was launched by Royal Caribbean in January.
The campaign was the brainchild of Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director UK and Ireland, and came in response to data showing that more and more people were using social media channels as inspiration when booking their holidays.
The budding shutterbug from Dublin, Republic of Ireland, will travel for three weeks across three oceans, on three different ships this summer with all of her food, drink, accommodation, entertainment, flights and expenses covered by Royal Caribbean
Bouldin said: ‘Our research revealed that social media has redefined the holiday market. Over half of 18-24-year-olds rely completely on channels such as Instagram when researching holidays and more than a third of people said that seeing their friends’ bragging posts from abroad had encouraged them to book a trip.’
A judging panel comprising travel blogger Johnny Ward; Travel Weekly Editor-in-Chief Lucy Huxley and Royal Caribbean’s Ben Bouldin sifted through the entries, and were huge fans of Ms Flynn’s winning entry. The shot was taken shortly before a trek to Mount Everest and provides a rare snapshot into the lives of two children half the world away.
Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director, UK and Ireland, said: ‘Ciara’s entry was everything we were looking for when we launched our Instagram “Intern-ship”. Her image has strong visual appeal, originality and inspires viewers to jump out of the ordinary and explore the world.
‘Most importantly, it also captures a subtle but amazing moment that draws the viewer into her story.
‘We’re confident that throughout the “Intern-ship”, Ciara will be able to skillfully shoot similarly amazing moments on board our fleet, capturing the imaginations of the younger generation and inspiring them to consider cruising as their next big adventure.’
This piece by Lilly Lampe of the New Yorker got me thinking about travel from an entirely different perspective. I went to Thailand some time after the ’04 tsunami and the devastation it had caused was still evident. Although I took lots of pictures, it really didn’t occur to me to take any of the aftermath of the destruction, and I have to say I wonder how some people can bring themselves to be so fascinated in others’ misfortune. Guess that’s human nature for you…
The collapsed Xuankou school buildings, part of a tour of ruins from the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, Sichuan, China. All photographs by Ambroise Tézenas / Courtesy Dewi Lewis Publishing
The French photographer Ambroise Tézenas was travelling in Sri Lanka when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck, killing more than thirty thousand people on the island within minutes. Four years later, he came across a newspaper article explaining that a train from the disaster, still sitting where the waves had deposited it in the Sri Lankan jungle, had become a tourist attraction. Tézenas was perplexed that anyone could casually visit the remnants of the horror that he had witnessed first-hand. From this disconnect, he found inspiration: he travelled around the world to sites of historic calamity—from Rwanda and Auschwitz to Chernobyl and Dealey Plaza—to document their afterlives as destinations of so-called “dark tourism.”
Rather than take advantage of press access, Tézenas set strict rules limiting himself to the average visitor’s experience. He took paid tours, spent limited time at each location, and shot only what members of the public could see. The resulting images, which are collected in the new book “I Was Here,” are complex interrogations—of how countries reckon with their past crimes, of the commodification of tragedy, and of the human impulse to look upon death and disaster. Amid the wreckage of the Wenchuan earthquake, a tour group gathers for a photo op. In the former Soviet border zone, young people play “escape from the U.S.S.R.” spy games. At Karostas Cietums, a military prison in Latvia, children over twelve years of age can stay overnight and “live the part of a prisoner.” “At the end,” Tézenas told me, these sites “leave the individual with not much to understand history.”
Still, Tézenas’s images belie the simple moralizing that’s often wielded against disaster tourism. He said that he “couldn’t help being moved” by many of the locations he visited, and his empathy extended to his fellow-sightseers. Through his lens, they come across not as callous voyeurs but as poignant foils to the macabre memorials. In a commemorative park in the border town of Maroun al-Ras, the site of a major battle in the 2006 Lebanon war, children play on a brightly painted jungle gym. In the ghost town of Chernobyl, saplings grow.
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Oświęcim, Poland
The Iranian-built park in Maroun al-Ras, Lebanon
A sculpture of Lenin in Grūtas Park, near Vilnius, Lithuania
Karostas Cietums Military Prison, Karosta, Latvia
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The remains of the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane, the site of a 1944 Nazi massacre
Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas
The Hezbollah-operated Mleeta Resistance Tourist Landmark, southern Lebanon
Xiaoyudong Bridge, part of the Wenchuan earthquake ruins tour, Sichuan, China
Born in Paris, Ambroise Tézenas gained international recognition through his first book, Beijing, Theatre of the People, which won the European Publisher’s Award for Photography in 2006. Shortlisted for the Prix de Académie des Beaux-Arts and the Prix Pictet Prize, his work has been exhibited widely in Europe and features regularly in major international publications, including the New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. His work is held in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France public collection. Ambroise Tézenas is represented by Galerie Mélanie Rio in France.
Such a coooool piece from Iceland Magazine. I haven’t done much trekking around Scandinavia, far less Iceland itself, but it has always appealed, particularly after seeing these stunning photographs…
SÓLHEIMAJÖKULL GLACIER An outlet glacier in the much larger Mýrdalsjökull glacier in South Iceland. Photo/Páll Stefánsson
There are only two photographers in Iceland who are household names. One of them is Páll Stefánsson, who has been travelling high and low around Iceland with his cameras since 1983. He shoots people, but mainly landscape.
PÁLL STEFÁNSSON At the Holuhraun eruption site last winter
The wonderful sub-arctic light is Páll’s personal friend; it touches the mountain top whenever he wishes. Or maybe he is just a very patient man with the instinct of a hunter, knowing when and where to put down his tripod to capture the perfect moment.
Páll is a multiple winner of the Photographer of the Year award in Iceland and has received awards from Time, Life, and Europress.
Páll has published more than 30 books and shot more than 300 magazine covers. He is the editor and chief photographer for Iceland Review magazine but has also worked for The New York Times, Geo, UNICEF, Leica Cameras, Condé Nast Traveler, Hasselblad, UNESCO, and SONY, to name just a few.
THE LANDMANNALAUGAR REGION The blue-green mountains are called Grænagil or Green Ravine and you can see why. Photo/Páll Stefánsson
Páll has just published his newest book. It’s called Iceland Exposed and is a grand photographic opus on Iceland with an introduction written by Haraldur Sigurðsson, a world-renowned volcanologist and the owner of the great Volcano Museum in the town of Stykkishólmur, west Iceland.
Included in the book are also a few short personal essays by Páll, or short stories from his travels around Iceland. Below is one, also featuring the other photographer whose name most Icelanders know.
The southernmost glacier in the country, called Sólheimajökull, is a glacial tongue that extends south from its big brother, Mýrdalsjökull. Between the Ring Road and the tongue runs a six-kilometer stretch from which you can catch a glimpse of Dyrhólaey, the southernmost point in the country.
ICELAND EXPOSED Photographer Páll Stefánsson was born 1958 and is a legend in Icelandic photography.
The glaciers are retreating; Sólheimajökull is retreating the fastest. It has withdrawn a few kilometers since I first went there. And it’s never the same from one time to the next. In this glacier world the light intensifies, reflects off the white and black ice. There, the rainbow becomes strongest. I know. I’ve seen it, armed with my camera.
One autumn, I went there with my friend RAX, the photographer Ragnar Axelsson. I went up on the glacier, hypnotised by all the rainbows, the light. After hours of hard work, I came back down to find RAX sitting in the car. He played me his favourite song and it resonated in the stillness.
Happy, I told him about my victories, how I had beaten the light and the slippery ice far up on the glacier. Then darkness came. I had forgotten to take off my lens cap. I didn’t realise it until I unfastened the Linhof film camera with viewfinder on top, from the tripod. RAX’s song never became my favourite song. -PS
A series of 100-year-old images from the Holy Land have revealed a fascinating insight into rural life in the last ruling days of the Ottoman Empire.
The dramatic mountains and barren deserts surrounding Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine and Jordan have deep cultural significance for the different religions living in the area.
These black and white lantern slides from the Oregon State University Visual Instruction Department show the traditional houses, clothing and manual labour that were typical of the early 20th century.
But the various locations in the slides, including Nazareth, the Garden of Gethsemane and Mount of Olives, are all also written about in the bible as key sites of religious and historic importance. Nazareth for example is described in the New Testament as the childhood home of Jesus, and it has long been a popular centre for Christian pilgrimage. Elsewhere, the city of Shechem is the home of the Samaritans, an ancient people who reject all of the Bible except the five books of Moses.
The ancient city of Shechem, lying between the twin mountains, Ebal and Gerizim is half-way between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea
The summit of Mount Gerizim where Samaritans believe Abraham built his altar for the sacrifice of his son Isaac
The city of Shechem from the north. Shechem is the home of the ancient people, the Samaritans, who reject all of the Bible except the five books of Moses
The Cave of the Patriarchs, also known by Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham or the Ibrahimi Mosque, is a series of subterranean chambers located in the heart of the old city of Hebron in the Hebron Hills
A few miles to the south of Bethel is the hill of Ramah, where it was written that Saul was anointed to be king of Israel
Jerusalem from the summit of New Calvary hill. In the foreground is the northern wall of the city and the Damascus Gate
The Garden of Gethsemane and Mount of Olives in Jerusalem – a range of hills with four summits to the east of the city
A view of Mount Gerizim from Mount Ebal, with the village of Askar at the foot of the mountain in the distance
The Hill of Moreh from the south. In the foreground is the home of a farmer and his family – a one-room house that is built of clay
The New Calvary hill from the south. It is said that this was place of execution for criminals
Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. Directly in front is the south eastern corner of the modern wall, which follows the course of the ancient wall
The village of Samaria from the minaret of the mosque, along the eastern slope of the Samaritan mountain
On the north of Jerusalem, just outside the wall, is this hill called The New Calvary. This hill has been used as a Muslim burial-ground, and under the hill is a series of caves
Cedar trees in Lebanon. The demands of trade have left only a few groves of these trees remaining
A shepherd climbs the rocks on a hill which looks over the ancient town of Bethel from the south
A Muslim school in Ramah, where a teacher, with a page of the Koran in his hand, reads to young pupils seated in a circle
Directly west of Mount Hermon, and separated from it by a deep and wide ravine stands a mountain range which is known as Mount Lebanon range, pictured here. These mountains run from 6000 to 8000 feet high, with two of the peaks a thousand feet higher
The largest of the three mountains on the east of the plain of Esdraelon, is Mount Gilboa, which is seen here from the summit of the Hill Moreh. In the middle is the village of Shunem
Mount Hermon, as seen from one of the foothills on the north west. The view is in midsummer, when most of the snow on the summit has melted, swelling the little stream in front
These two people, one on horseback, the other seated on a rock, are at the ruins of Bethsaida, looking towards the Mount of the Beatitudes
Inside the Tomb in the Garden at New Calvary, where two Syrian girls from the English school are seated
A view from Hill Moreh to the town of Nazareth in the distance, over the plains of Esdraelon
“Being a total Santa skeptic in my younger years, I wanted to capture the real stories of the men behind the fuzzy white beards and sleek velvety duds,” she told The Huffington Post.
So, Koeth set out to create a series of stunning photos that offer glimpses into the lives of off-season Santas. Here are their answers, as told to Koeth.
Santa Joe waves goodbye to frigid winters and heads to a condo in Florida.
Joe Corcoran, also known as Santa Joe, is an Irish Catholic from the Bronx and is also the New York City Bloomingdales Santa. Several years back, Corcoran and his wife bought a condo in Oriole Gardens Retirement Community in Margate, Florida. Eighty of the units in the community are filled with his family and friends from back in the Bronx. He told Koeth: “We all grew up with each other and want to grow old together.”
Santa Roy works at an investigative firm and picks up the banjo.
Roy Strohacker is a retired police officer. In 1984, he was named one of the top 10 law enforcement officers in the state of Florida. He currently operates his own investigative agency and has more than 40 years in the law enforcement and investigative field. In his spare time, Strohacker plays banjo with his son and sings with the Great American Dixie Band. He also collects American political memorabilia like old flags and Japanese swords and reads and translates Japanese.
Santa Lance rocks out in a band to beat the summertime blues.
Lance Willock, 77, is a former salesman from Peoria, Illinois. Music has always been his passion. He would run home from work on Fridays, dapper up, and meet with his band to entertain at one of the many local hotspots.
“I met my wife, Rosemary, while playing in a club. She never knew it was going to end up like this … in fact, she’d probably run the other way if she thought about it,” he told Koeth. Willock and Rosemary live in a retirement community in Stuart, Florida.
Santa John runs a Mensa chapter.
John Snyder, 67, is a Vietnam vet with a purple heart and was born and raised in Queens, New York.
“When I got out of the army, I wanted to be a playboy for a while before I settled down — to sow my wild oats so to speak. Well, I met my wife, fell for her and married her right away, so I had to give that all up,” he told Koeth.
John served as the president of Mensa, the largest and oldest high IQ society, for several years in South Florida. Snyder and his wife Theresa are both active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and currently reside in Kendall, Florida.
Santa Gregg does woodwork ― and also reminisces about his days as a former stripper (you read that right).
Gregg Henry is a carpenter at Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
“I make big, expensive toys for very wealthy boys and girls,” he told Koeth.. His career in woodworking started 40 years ago.
“The only thing I haven’t done is coffin making. I don’t really have much interest in that,” he said. Many years ago, following a painful divorce, Henry spent two years being a male exotic dancer.
“My stage name was Grizzly Gregg because I had the beard and everything back then. I found that taking off your shoes is really hard to do when you’re standing up,” Henry said.
Santa Ernie just chills out in the summer with his partner of 23 years.
Ernie Tedrow is originally from Baltimore, Maryland. After his mother passed away, he moved to Orlando and started in the hotel business where he worked his way up to director of sales and marketing.
“One week a month I would travel. I’d fly to Chicago in the morning, pick up the client in a limousine, take them to Oprah’s restaurant for lunch, sign a half million dollar contract, take them back to the office, fly back and be home for dinner. I absolutely loved it,” he told Koeth..
Tedrow now lives in Tamarac, Florida with Everett, his partner of twenty-three years. He is a community association manager for condos and homeowner association in South Florida. “I figured, I’m fat, old, and bald … and I have a career!”
Afghanistan in 1969 was a very different place from the terrorist-infested war-torn country it is today.
Fascinating images from Frenchman Francois Pommery, taken during visits there in 1969 and 1974, reveal a nation of mesmerising vistas and welcoming, friendly people, happy to talk to him and have their photographs taken.
Mr Pommery hitchhiked all the way from France to Afghanistan in 1969 to the rarely visited region of Nuristan, using a travel bursary he was given while studying in Nevers.
Two women in veils approach a horse and cart in Hérat – Afghanistan’s third-largest city
A young boy pictured in Herat in 1974. The atmosphere on the sun-drenched street is relaxed and friendly
A couple in the village of Waigal, in the Want District of Nuristan Province, in 1969
A man and a woman in Waigal in 1969. Pommery said that the people he met were happy to pose for photographs
Mr Pommery hitchhiked all the way from France to Afghanistan in 1969, using a travel bursary given to him as a student
The people of Nuristan (pictured) live at heights of up to 6,000 feet in wooden huts
Those who live in Nuristan (pictured) are said to be descended from Alexander the Great – and sometimes have blond hair and blue eyes
‘In search of adventures, I decided to go there. I left France in July 1969 by hitch hiking. I had to walk for the last part of the trip as some valleys were only accessible by foot.’
The people of Nuristan are said to be descended from Alexander the Great and sometimes have blond hair and blue eyes. They live in wooden huts at heights of up to 2,000 metres.
A local in Nuristan rests in the sun. The inaccessibility of the region didn’t put Mr Pommery off
Mr Pommery said: ‘Friends had gone to Afghanistan in 1965 and mentioned a beautiful region, the Nuristan (pictured is a local girl from the region), where they had been bounced back as you need special permission to get there. In search of adventures, I decided to go there’
A glass-blower at work in the city of Herat. Mr Pommery said he was treated well where ever he went
A repair workshop on a dusty road in Bamiyan. The scene is an idyllic one, with fresh fruit for sale and lush trees lining the route
Houses in Kabul march up a dusty mountain. Mr Pommery revealed that he was welcomed on his first visit by a village chief in Nuristan who put him up in a house they reserved for travellers
Meat hangs up in a butcher’s shop in Herat, watched over by a man and a young boy
But the inaccessibility of their homes didn’t put Mr Pommery off.
He said: ‘Nuristan was described as an inhospitable mountainous region, a risky place to go, but I didn’t find that at all.
‘The people were very welcoming. After a three-day walk I arrived in the village of Waigal with another Frenchman I had met on my way.
‘The village chief welcomed us and installed us in a place reserved for people travelling. We struggled to understand each other and had to draw what we wanted to say on our note books.’
The contrast between old and new modes of transport was stark
A street in Kabul that looks homely and quaint, with home wares being sold from the pavement and cyclists pootling along the road
Mr Pommery discovered a land of dramatic desert mountains and tranquil lakes
On his second visit Mr Pommery went to Bamiyan to admire the Buddhas sculpted in the cliffs
The tallest Buddha in Bamiyan was 170 feet. The statues were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001
This fascinating picture was taken by Mr Pommery from the head of one of the now-destroyed Buddhas
A horse, covered in red balls, delves into a nosebag by the side of a road for a feed
The incredible Buddha statues in Bamiyan, viewed from a distance. The irrigated farmland contrasts hugely with the dusty rocks that surround it
A lake in Band-e Amir National Park glistens in the evening sun
The stunning Band-e Amir National Park – Afghanistan’s first and a landscape that’s home to six eye-catching lakes
The turmoil of modern Afghanistan is far removed from the peaceful scenes that Mr Pommery encountered
A woman in a burka walks pasty rickety buildings in Herat in 1974
Mr Pommery returned to the country in 1974 with his wife and friends, as tourists, but this time he upgraded his mode of transport from walking and hitch hiking to a Land Rover.
He said: ‘We stayed one month. Nothing had changed apart from the fact that the king had been thrown out by the prime minister at that time, Maoud.
‘This time we went to Bamyan to admire the Buddhas sculpted in the cliffs. The tallest was 170 feet.’
Mr Pommery stressed that he was always treated very well. He said: ‘People called us the French doctors and asked us to treat injuries for which we could only apply ointments that we had in our bags. And they loved posing for photographs.’
Mr Pommery said: ‘People called us the French doctors and asked us to treat injuries for which we could only apply ointments that we had in our bags’
The language barrier meant that Mr Pommery was forced to communicate by drawing in his notebook
A striking image of a young boy wearing a cap and a man, relaxing by a stone wall on the route to Bamiyan
A Kabul bus pulls over at a petrol station, along with a jumble of trucks and cars
A brightly painted Afghan truck in 1974 with a jet plane motif
A dried up riverbed snakes through Kabul, with locals using the bridge to hang rugs from
Adventurer: Mr Pommery himself, exploring a village in Nuristan in 1969
Mr Pommery’s mode of transport for his return trip to Afghanistan in 1974
Some roads in Afghanistan are long and lonely – and run through barren landscapes with little respite from the heat
Thanks to MailOnline for the story. You can see amazing photos from all of Francois Pommery’s travels on his website
A field bursting with multicoloured flowers forms a kaleidoscopic pattern from above, fireflies create a flickering river of light among the trees and lush green grass covers impressive rock formations.
I featured this extraordinary project last year and have since had numerous comments and questions from fans of Benjamin Grant, asking when he will be releasing a book. Well I’m delighted to announce that he just has: Overview is out now through Amphoto Books. Thanks to CN Traveler for the feed – just awesome! – Ned
Photos from space, from drones, from intrepid photographers hanging out of helicopters—in case you haven’t noticed, we love when we’re given a different perspective on the world we live in, zooming out to appreciate the shapes and colors we can’t quite grasp with two feet on the ground. Here, Benjamin Grant of the popular Daily Overview Instagram account shows a selection of the high-definition, stitched-together satellite photos included in his new coffee-table book.
Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant, Seville, Spain
Photo by Microsoft Corp
The solar concentrator of the Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant contains 2,650 heliostat mirrors that focus the sun’s thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through a 460-foot-tall central tower. The molten salt then moves from the tower to a storage tank, where it is used to produce steam and generate electricity. In total, the facility displaces approximately 30,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
Tulips, Lisse, Netherlands
Photo by Microsoft Corp
Every spring, tulip fields in Lisse begin to bloom and are at their peak by late April. The Dutch produce a total of 4.3 billion tulip bulbs each year, of which 53 percent is grown into cut flowers. Of these, 1.3 billion are sold in the Netherlands and the remainder is exported.
Photo by DigitalGlobe Inc
Evaporation ponds are visible at the potash mine in Moab, Utah. The mine produces muriate of potash, a potassium-containing salt that is a major component in fertilizers. The salt is pumped to the surface from underground brines and dried in massive solar ponds that extend vibrantly across the landscape. The water is dyed a deep blue—darker water absorbs more sunlight and heat, so it cuts the amount of time it takes for the water to evaporate and the potash to crystallize.
Olives, Córdoba, Spain
Photo by Microsoft Corp
Olive tree groves cover the hills of Córdoba in the southern Andalusia region. Approximately 90 percent of all harvested olives are turned into oil; the remaining 10 percent are eaten as table olives. With rising temperatures and changing weather patterns, olive groves on high hills or slopes will probably suffer less, but groves on low altitude areas or plains may become totally unproductive.
Marabe Al Dhafra, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.
Photo by DigitalGlobe Inc
The villas of Marabe Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates are home to approximately 2,000 people. Located in one of the hottest regions of the world, the record high temperature here is 120.6 degrees Fahrenheit (49.2°C).
Delray Beach, Florida
Photo by Microsoft Corp
Because many cities in Florida contain master-planned communities, often built on top of waterways in the latter half of the 20th century, there are a number of intricate designs that are only visible from above.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Texas
Photo by Microsoft Corp
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, stretching across 27 square miles, is the tenth-busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, accommodating more than 64 million travelers each year.
Port of Singapore
Photo by DigitalGlobe Inc
Cargo ships and tankers—some weighing over 300,000 tons—wait outside the entry to the Port of Singapore. The facility is the world’s second-busiest port in terms of total tonnage, shipping a fifth of the world’s cargo containers and half of the world’s annual supply of crude oil.
Jacksonville Interchange, Florida
Photo by Microsoft Corp
A so-called “turbine interchange” connects two highways in Jacksonville, Florida, consisting of left-turning ramps sweeping around a center interchange, creating a spiral pattern of traffic.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Photo by DigitalGlobe Inc
Angkor Wat, the famed temple complex in Cambodia, is the largest religious monument in the world (first it was Hindu, then Buddhist). Constructed in the 12th century, the 8.8 million-square-foot site features a moat and forest that surround a massive temple at its center.
Gribbens Basin, Michigan
Photo by Microsoft Corp
The tailings—waste and by-products generated by mining operations—seen here were pumped into the Gribbens Basin, next to the Empire and Tilden iron ore mines in Negaunee, Michigan. Once the materials are pumped into the pond, they are mixed with water to create a sloppy form of mud known as slurry. The slurry is then pumped through magnetic separation chambers to extract usable ore and increase the mine’s total output. For a sense of scale, this photo shows approximately 1 square mile of the basin.
Courtesy Benjamin Grant
Nishinoshima is a volcanic island 584 miles south of Tokyo. Back in November 2013, the volcano began to erupt and continued to do so until August 2015. Over the course of the eruption, the area of the island grew in size from 0.02 to 0.89 square miles.
The Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia
Photo by DigitalGlobe Inc
Rub’ al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, is one of the largest sand deserts in the world. It covers 251,000 square miles, and includes parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. In the center of the desert there are a number of raised, hardened formations that were once the sites of shallow lakes, thousands of years ago. For a sense of scale, this photo shows approximately 135 square miles in Saudi Arabia, near the border with Oman.
Shadegan Lagoon, Iran
Photo by DigitalGlobe Inc
Dendritic drainage systems are seen around the Shadegan Lagoon by Musa Bay in Iran. The word ‘dendritic’ refers to the pools’ resemblance to the branches of a tree, and this pattern develops when streams move across relatively flat and uniform rocks, or over a surface that resists erosion.
…And from one photography competition to another: this time the Rough Guides with a breathtaking array of travel-inspired images from around the world.
From a farmer herding his camel to a fisherman reflected in mirror-like salt flats, amateur shutterbugs from across the world have been submitting their spellbinding entries to Rough Guides’ first ever photography contest.
The team of travel experts were faced with over 2,000 images from India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and beyond, in categories which included landscapes, wildlife shots and portraits.
After the strongest entries submitted during the six week contest were whittled down to a shortlist of just 20 favourites, an image of a young girl having green make up applied to her face for a festival by Somenath Mukhopadhyay has been crowned the winner.
Rough Guides’ judges said of the top entry: “This image skilfully captures the stillness of the moment and the concentration on the child’s face. The colours are vibrant and we loved the way your eye is drawn into the face with the shift of focus.”
Illustrating the beauty of Earth in every recess, candid shots of children in the mountains and dramatic shipwrecks under the sea have been praised alongside worshippers lined up in an Indian mosque and wild moose running free in the Canadian hinterland.
Wow – wow and wow again – just LOVE great animal photography! I can never seem to capture the moment, I’m always too busy enjoying the breathtaking scenery or chatting with the locals..!
Well here the Zoological Society of London, an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, announces the winners of its 2016 photography prize.
With six thought-provoking categories including “Catch Me if You Can” and “At Home in the Habitat”, the charity’s competition aims to inspire wonder in the animal kingdom.
Attracting nearly 3,000 entries from around the world, the winners were selected by a panel of expert judges including ZSL Honorary Conservation Fellow and television presenter Kate Humble, best-selling author, explorer and photographer Levison Wood, and renowned ornithologist Bill Oddie.
The overall winner was Pratik Pradhan with his stunning image of a fan-throated lizard chosen as winner in the “Weird and Wonderful” category, which then went on to beat fierce competition and take home the coveted Judges’ Choice award.
Having spent years waiting to get his perfect shot in the Chalkewadi plateau in India, Mr Pradhan said: “I observed this male who repeatedly took the same path while scanning his territory and checking out all of the females.
“It was not easy to maintain a sharp focus on the lizard running towards me while keeping it at eye level – it took me three years to capture this image the way I wanted.
“They have a thin flap of skin called a gular appendage, between their throat and their abdomen, which they can flap and flash at will – normally these are whitish or creamish in colour, but what’s interesting is that during the breeding season the males develop a wonderful coloration ranging from blue to black to red and orange.”
Enjoy these glorious images. 😀
Ready-set-GO – Pratik Pradhan, Weird and Wonderful Winner and Judges’ Choice
In-flight fight – Alicia Haydon, Catch Me If You Can Junior Winner and Judges’ Choice Junior Winner
Kingpin – Mike Reyfman, Weird and Wonderful Runner Up
Baby baboon – Oskan-Ozmen, Urban City Life Highly Commended
Emerging – Gideon Knight, Deep and Meaningful Junior Winner
Catching the Sun – Jeremy Cusack, Deep and Meaningful Highly Commended
Strategies for Drinking – Carlos Perez Naval, Urban City Life Junior Winner
Italian coffee company Lavazza has just launched its beautiful 2017 calendar, entitled We Are What We Live.
We Are What We Live is the last journey in the trilogy of The Earth Defenders, a project conceived by Lavazza in collaboration with Slow Food, a global, grassroots organization which aims to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions. For three years, the project has been celebrating the multitude of farmers who, for millennia, have struck a happy balance with the land, above all through the act of producing our food that is first and foremost an exchange.
“My collaboration with Lavazza and Armando Testa was magical”- Denis Rouvre
From India to Laos and Vietnam, from Sri Lanka to Indonesia, the 2017 scenario is Asia. After Steve McCurry’s pictures in Africa (2015) and those of Joey L. in Central and South America (2016), award-winning French photographer Denis Rouvre, again under the creative direction of Armando Testa, now explores the faces of the Asian Earth Defenders – just as he probed the depths of the environments in which they live and which they defend daily with love and energy. Their sacrifices and dedication make it possible to improve the living conditions of the local communities and fight against the new threats of climate change.
Part humankind and part environment, the 2017 We Are What We Live calendar is composed of 12 sets of photos displayed side by side: on one side is the face of a man or woman laid bare, portrayed in their essence and naturalness; on the other is a landscape that represents the environment in which they live and the nature they work. In Rouvre’s stunning pictures it is as if the two halves – the human and his environment – were overlaid and had shaped each other; each portrait is also a landscape and each landscape ends up being a portrait.
“We are what we live. At the centre of the 2017 Lavazza Calendar there is the physical bond, the symbiosis between humans and their environment. One cannot prosper without the other,” comments Francesca Lavazza. “The two are tied so profoundly that they share satisfactions, suffering, bad weather, sweat. In this third chapter of The Earth Defenders project, we went to Asia. Here nature explodes in all its exuberance, and what clearly emerges is the mutual relationship of defence and safeguard linking farmers, breeders and the environment around them. It is a great lesson for all of us, but above all an invitation to respect and take care of the land, to ‘live’ it and learn to love it.”
The 2017 calendar illustrates to me the profound relationship between the land and the people who live on it: a love for each coffee plant, the battle against a hostile climate, the desire to learn new techniques, respect for traditions and roles, and the union of quite different communities in the same corner of the world.
“How many can claim that they own a magic mirror? In Tanjung, everyone can. So that means we live in a very special place. The mirror has various powers. It calms the spirit. It inspires legends. It transforms reflected hillsides into an embrace. It is a source of life for an entire community that comes together to grow coffee in the surrounding hills. It is a mirror that you listen to and with which you can dialogue, just like in fairy tales. It is the mirror of the lake of Tanjung. It is the mirror of its people.” Tanjung Harapan, Sumatra, Indonesia
“I was born at the foot of tall hills, amidst the foliage of the Mother Forest. My roots are in this corner of the world. I immediately modelled my life according to changes in climate. I learned to absorb rain. To stand up to the wind. To dry off in the sun. To generate shade. To generate the shade that, here, means generating coffee. Because in order to grow at the Equator, coffee needs to be sheltered from the heat of the sun. And ever since I was born I have had one task: protecting it. Because I am from Pilla. And I am a woman. And I am a plant.” Pilla, Sumatra, Indonesia
“Two souls live in me. An ancient one, acquired from my ancestors. A modern one, stemming from my will. Together they are the essence of this region: the spirit of Karnataka. The former inspires me every day to go to the coffee plantations to continue the work of those before me. The latter forces me to pay more and more attention to them. So to do this I plant new tall trees amidst the crops. They help filter sunlight so the heat of the rays will not jeopardize their growth. So I can create an ideal climate and achieve perfect development of the plant, which goes hand in hand with that of the community. All of this thanks to my two souls. That are tradition. That are progress.” Karnataka, Chikmagalur, India
“At Maussawa space is vaster. I realize that looking at it from up here. I admire its vastness extending as far as its borders, sometimes imagining that I cross them and others that I am conquering them. Ever since I have been in the world I have nourished and supported this land. I offer flour, lumber and, above all, treacle: a natural sweetener that has survived the massive cultivation of sugarcane, which took land and primacy away from it since the colonial age. But I withstood the test of time, without ever bending to headwinds. Now everyone recognises my role. They safeguard it through rituals. They teach it and hand it down. Because I am the lifeblood of this forest and this community. They call me the Kitul palm. They call me the woman of Maussawa.” Halpola, Kotmale, Sri Lanka
“Kotagiri is a forest of tall trees backed up by rock faces. It is a magnificent and delightful place with plenty of rainfall. That life is difficult around here is something that not even the foliage can conceal. But Kotagiri also has its pleasant side. It is merely difficult to reach because it is amidst the tallest treetops and narrow mountain gorges. That’s where the beehives with Jenu are: the most prized multi floral forest honey in all of India. So every day, for centuries, someone climbs up and hunts for honey, while others defend it. It is a high-altitude duel of agility and mutual respect, in which victory is very sweet indeed. A struggle for survival that pits the king and queen of the forest against each other. The man of Kotagiri, the bee of Kotagiri.” Kotagiri, India
“I am a girl of these mountains. I will be a woman of these mountains. I am the daughter of coffee growers and I grow coffee. I will be the mother of coffee growers and will always grow coffee. I collect the rains that nourish these lands in the wet season. I will use the water I’ve collected to nourish these lands when the dry season arrives. Every day I learn the best production techniques. Every day I will teach the most sustainable production techniques. I work so that the role of women will be recognized in our country. I will work so that the role of women will be recognized in our world. I am my today. I will be my tomorrow.” Karnataka, Chikmagalur, India
“Before this place was called Paksong, meaning “Two mouths of the river”, it was known as “Land of Gold” because of its fertility. A generous, volcanic land poised between waterfalls and mountains, that welcomed into its arms and its foliage everyone who ventured here. A land where we cultivate coffee — and, above all, respect. Because here in Paksong we live together peacefully. We “co-exist”: we exist together. Among the various ethnic groups — the Laven, Yahen, Ta-oy and Lao — but also with different crops: coffee as well as cabbages, chilli peppers, aubergines and fruit trees. It is easy to understand why complete harmony with the environment is the only rule for living here. On this land that is red, but rooted in gold. Rich in values and fruits. That is culture. That is cultivation.” Paksong, Laos
“You breathe in a special atmosphere in Paksong. We feel the world is watching us and we are proud of it. Because here we all share the same dream and, together, we try to make it come true. We want to improve the conditions of the Planet through our Arabica plantations. We are a sort of huge natural laboratory, in which even the tiniest results that are achieved here at Paksong are an enormous step forward for everyone’s future. The consumption of water and energy, the emission and absorption of carbon dioxide, fertilizers: everything is taken into consideration to minimize any environmental impact. And in this daily miracle we are the body and the breath. We, men and trees. We, women and plantations.” Paksong, Laos
“The heat of this land is part of me. And I am one of its elements. I bring light here when climate changes cast shadows. Because that which can no longer yield anything starts growing again thanks to my commitment. I burn plants that have become non-productive because of the alternation of drought and bad weather, allowing new crops to be planted. Mainly coffee. So that, along with the forest, the community can also advance. I am proof that, at times, what dies with ashes can be reborn from those ashes. That’s why I am respected and even venerated in the community of Ea Sin. I am a generating and regenerating force. I am man. I am fire.” Quang Tien, Buôn na Thuôt, Vietnam
“There is a legend in Jatiluwih. It is about a dragon that passed through here one day and was moved by the beauty of this place. His tears fell to the ground and spawned Dewi Sri, goddess of prosperity. Later, when her body left these lands to return to the heavenly kingdom, red rice grew in its place: a unique wild variety famous for its fragrance. Since that day, I too have been on this land. I bathe these green terraces to give them ever-new lifeblood and I protect this rice from the risk of extinction. I allow these ancient rituals to continue. I give new generations the opportunity to continue the work of the first builders of the subak, the irrigation system. I nourish the land so it can nourish people. Because I am the water of these rice paddies. Because I am the woman of these rice paddies.” Jatiluwi, Bali, Indonesia
“Once I had a garden as big as a coffee plantation. Back then, sun and rain alternated harmoniously. The grateful land yielded its fruits and my garden flourished. Then one day things became more difficult: I started to face serious problems and damage. So in the rainy season I observed increasingly intense precipitation and in the dry season long periods of great heat and no water. I heard about global warming for the very first time, and my garden almost stopped yielding any fruit. But I wasn’t alarmed. If anything, I learned the concept of resilience, because someone showed me by example, and my garden immediately flourished once more. As it did before, better than before. And if Vietnam is now the second leading producer of coffee in the world, it is also thanks to the fabulous story of my garden – and my story. Me, the man of this land and the climate of this land.” Quang Tien, Buôn na Thuôt, Vietnam
“After a long journey by sea, I decided to stop on these shores. The beaches of Kusamba proved to be ideal for my adventure. I wanted to produce wealth for the people who live here. So I started a cycle that has been repeated daily ever since. Reaching the shore with the waves. Drying myself in the sun. Resting in the huts. Giving the community self-determination and pride. It seems easy to describe now, but it wasn’t at first. I could only do it in the name of my purity. The same as that of those who live in Kusamba. Because I am the salt of this sea. Because I am the man of this beach.” Kusamba, Bali, Indonesia
Cataclysmic lightning and swirling tornadoes: these stunning images represent some of the world’s most dramatic weather events.
All finalists in the Weather Photographer of the Year 2016 competition – a brand new contest judged by The Royal Meteorological Society and The Royal Photographic Society – certainly put the UK’s recent thunderstorms down a few notches.
More than 800 photographs were submitted earlier this year, with winners across various categories announced last weekend at the Royal Meteorological Society’s Amateur Meteorologists’ Conference in Reading.
Overall Weather Photographer of the Year 2016 was awarded to Tim Moxon for Tornado on Show. Mr Moxon said this was “one of the most photogenic tornadoes of the year”, snapped near the town of Wray, Colorado.
In first place for the over 16s category was Ben Cherry’s Sprite Lightning photograph. Judge Michael Pritchard praised him for “making the most of circumstance and having the serendipity to capture a very rare form of lightning”.
In the under 16s, James Bailey scooped the top prize for his image Hailstorm and Rainbow over the Seas of Covehithe. And as for the public’s favourite, more than 2,500 voters handed the accolade to Paul Kingston’s Storms Cumbria image.
I must say, some of the best I think are from the UK; thanks to the Mail Online for the extraordinary pics. Polishing up my long lens now..! – Ned
Overall Winner: An apocalyptic tornado near the town of Wray, Colorado, taken by Tim Moxon. He said: ‘We were among a number of people, including those you see in the shot, nervously enjoying the epic display nature put on for us’
First Place in Over 16s: Ben Cherry, who took this in Punta Banco, Costa Rica, says ‘I set up the frame to include the pulsing storm and the milky way as I liked the contrast – then this sprite strike illuminated the sky and my jaw dropped’
Froth: In the under 16s, James Bailey scooped the top prize for his image Hailstorm and Rainbow over the Seas of Covehithe
Public’s Favourite: Paul Kingston’s Storms Cumbria. He said: ‘The image I captured shows the inner harbour wall at Whitehaven, Cumbria, being hit by a monstrous wave, dwarfing the surrounding man-made structures’
Battle: A clash between two storm cells in New Mexico in June 2014, each with its own rotating updraft, taken by Camelia Czuchnicki, who remarked ‘it’s the rarity of such scenes that keep drawing me back to the US Plains each year’
Nebraska storm: Stephen Lansdell’s Mama Factory – the photographer and self-described ‘storm chaser’ said ‘this was so beautiful taking on many forms during its life and ending with one of the most spectacular shows I have ever witnessed’
UFO over Caucasus: This image was taken by Dmitry Demin from the cable car to Mount Cheget Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia
Goldfish of the sky: According to photographer Alan Tough ‘in early February 2016, unusually cold Arctic stratospheric air reached down as far as the UK, which triggered sightings of these rare and beautiful Polar Stratospheric Clouds’
Nick of time: Paul Andrew, who took this dramatic photo at California’s Mono Lake, said ‘over the space of about 90 minutes I photographed the unfolding scene, only just making it back to the safety of the car as the heavens opened’
Paula Davies says of her delicate feathery image, which was taken from a car windscreen in North Yorkshire: ‘I was attracted by the colours resulting from the low early morning sun’
Another image from Camelia Czuchnicki, who explains: ‘This low precipitation supercell formed late in the day over Broken Bow in Nebraska in May 2013 – a stunning spectacle which we photographed for over an hour’
The Guanabura oil tanker being hit by lightning, taken by Graham Newman. He says: ‘Shortly after taking the shot, the lightning cell closed on my position on the beach and I grabbed up my equipment and ran for my life’
Shrouded peak: Stephen Burt’s Matterhorn Banner Cloud, taken in Switzerland on May 26, 2014, from the Gornergrat glacier
Ice sculpture on Plynlimon: Unbelievably, this hill resides in Northern Ceredigion, Mid Wales. Photographer Allan Macdougall comments: ‘This stile and wire fence became a thing of beauty with the glowing translucent fluting of the ice’
Photographer Mat Robinson reveals: ‘This was between Tadcaster and York, away from the A64, with the sweep of the road acting as a perfect guide for the eye towards the centre of the storm’
Apparition: Steve M Smith took this photo in North Wales. He says: ‘On the hills we were shrouded until late morning when a clear way emerged along the ridge towards Foel Fras in the Carneddau’
Mat Robinson says of his shot: ‘I live in Sheffield and each year I challenge myself to be the first Peak District photographer to catch the new snow – this was the third successful attempt’
Other-worldly: Scientist Michal Krzysztofowicz, who works for the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica, says ‘this solar phenomenon was caused by diamond dust, where ice particles cause the light to refract into a halo’
One of the most fascinating, recently man-made places on the planet IMHO, Shekhawati is an area in north-east Rajasthan, that huge arid state of northern India which was home to the ancient Rajput princes and now includes the cities of Jaipur (formerly Dhundhar), Jodhpur (Marwar) and Bikaner. I am lucky enough to have trekked around the region in 2014 and cannot wait to go back.
Rajasthan’s formerly independent kingdoms created a rich architectural and cultural heritage, seen even today in their numerous forts and palaces (mahals and havelis) which are enriched by features of Islamic and Jain architecture.
The development of frescoes in Rajasthan is linked with the history of the Marwaris (Jodhpur-pali), who played a crucial role in the economic development of the region; many wealthy families throughout Indian history have links to Marwar.
The haveli is unique to this part of the world. Between 1830 and 1930, the Marwari merchants erected extravagant mansions in their homeland (Shekhawati and Marwar) and commissioned artists to paint elaborate murals which were heavily influenced by Mughal architecture.
The havelis were status symbols for the Marwaris as well as homes for their extended families, providing security and comfort in seclusion from the outside world. The havelis were closed on all sides with just one large main gate.
Sadly, most of Shekhawati’s havelis have fallen into disrepair and remain abandoned due to the understandably exorbitant upkeep costs; however, a small window into the world of these painted mansions is finally being preserved. In this piece for BBC Travel, Neelima Vallangi paints us a stunning picture.
A former home of opulence Forgotten in the barren landscapes of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, the Shekhawati region was once home to the unabashed extravagance of India’s billionaires. Today, many of the billionaires’ grand havelis (mansions) are crumbling – the fading frescoes marking the only vestiges of the area’s vanished glory.
Drenching the dusty towns in colour With paintings covering nearly every inch of the grand havelis, the towns and villages of Shekhawati encompass the world’s largest concentration of magnificent frescoes in a single region. To protect these once grand estates from crumbling further, two districts within Shekhawati have banned the sale of the havelis to anyone who could harm their heritage look. Their aim is to conserve and promote Shekhawati as a tourist destination.
The rise of merchant success Founded by the eponymous Rajput chieftain Rao Shekha in the late 15th Century, Shekhawati prospered immensely at the turn of the 19th Century. The region reduced taxes to lure merchants and diverted all caravan trade from the nearby commercial centres of Jaipur and Bikaner. Merchants belonging to the Marwari and Bania community, a renowned ethnic trading group in India, moved into Shekhawati from the surrounding towns, and amassed great wealth through a flourishing trade in opium, cotton and spices. Modest merchant homes started giving way to grand mansions by the end of the 19th Century.
Where wealth melds with artistic expression When trade moved from caravan routes to sea routes and railways in the 1820s, Rajasthan’s trade centres were on a steady decline. However, the enterprising merchants of Shekhawati followed the money trail and moved to the fledgling port towns of Bombay and Calcutta on the Indian coast, sending back enormous amounts of money to their homes in Shekhawati and thus heralding an era of uniquely painted havelis that acted as lavish displays of wealth.
Most Havelis were built in a similar architectural style – usually two storied buildings with two to four open courtyards arranged within a rectangular block. Each courtyard and the corresponding rooms were designated for specific purposes. The first courtyard after entering the house was for men and their business dealings, the second was for women and the other two were for cooking and animal stables. But the merchants left no stone unturned in giving their mansions a distinct look, with ornately carved wooden entrances, pompous mirror work and the defining differentiator: ostentatious paintings depicting daily life and mythology.
Frescoes adorn every surface Inspired by the 17th-century ochre frescoes introduced by the Rajput kings of Jaipur in Amer Fort, the merchants commissioned intricate paintings on every inch of the mansion walls – including exteriors, interiors, ceilings and even the spaces under the arches and eaves. Scenes from the ancient Hindu epics of Mahabharata and Ramayana – along with plenty of decorative floral designs and patterns – were the most common motifs featured in the frescoes for a large part of the 19th Century.
A wide range of colours Painters were first commissioned from the city of Jaipur, but after noticing a rising interest in frescoes, members from the potter community in Shekhawati started learning the craft and created a proliferation of distinct styles across different villages. It is not entirely clear if the artists had full reign over the designs or if they were given specific instructions in choosing patterns and mythological scenes.
Before the mid-19th Century, traditional pigments made from minerals and vegetables dominated the colour palette, with intense shades of reds, maroons, indigo, lapis lazuli and copper blue along with bright yellow supposedly made out cow’s urine. Starting in the 1860s, synthetic pigments came into use, which were cheaper and offered a wide range of new colours.
Mixing myth and the modern By the early 20th Century, the frescoes began depicting European influences and modern advancements – recollections from what the well-travelled merchants had seen in the big cities. In some rare cases, the painters were sent to observe and recreate the scenes. Among the traditional motifs, there are frescoes of Queen Elizabeth, Jesus, cherubs, steam engines and gramophones, as well as whacky creations mixing mythology with modern inventions, such as Hindu gods in chauffeur-driven cars (pictured).
Abandoned for good The havelis and frescoes of Shekhawati blossomed until the early 20th Century; after which, the rich business tycoons left the desert wasteland for better opportunities in bustling metropolises like Bombay and Calcutta and even abroad. After the trade moved elsewhere, there was little development in the arid lands of Shekhawati, and the havelis were abandoned for good.
Some of the biggest names in the Indian and global business scene today – including the likes of the steel baron Laxmi Mittal, Kumar Birla of Aditya Birla Group, pharmaceutical billionaire Ajay Piramal and Nepal’s only billionaire, Binod K Chaudhary, had their origins in the villages of Shekhawati. In fact, according to Forbes, almost 25% of India’s 100 richest were from Shekhawati.
The high cost of upkeep By the 1950s, the thriving towns that had raised these billionaires were falling into steady despair. Selling or renovating these rural family bungalows – some of which could house up to 50 families at once – is a difficult job. The cost of upkeep is high and many of the properties, usually shared between multiple heirs, are embroiled in legal disputes. But since havelis are private properties, the government cannot do much to preserve them.
A new life for the Shekhawati mansions Luckily, the beauty and cultural significance of these painted havelis is not lost on everyone. In 1999, French artist Nadine Le Prince bought the 1802-built Nand Lal Devra Haveli (now called Nadine Le Prince Cultural Centre) and painstakingly restored it to its former glory in the town of Fatehpur. In the neighbouring towns of Dunlod and Nawalgarh, Seth Arjun Das Goenka Haveli and Shri Jairam Dasji Morarka’s family mansions have also been restored and turned into museums for public viewings. A few other havelis-turned-museums are scattered in the hinterlands of Shekhawati, and some like Malji ka Kamra, Koolwal Kothi and Castle Mandawa have been turned into heritage hotels.
While some of the havelis may crumble and fall apart – their glory lives on in others.
We can’t help but fantasize about galaxies far, far away. Luckily, Earth is full of surreal and otherworldly places that are just a plane ride away—no warp speed required. Thanks to CN Traveler for some awesome shots.
Bromo Volcano: East Java, Indonesia
Mount Bromo is perhaps the most well-known volcano in East Java’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, thanks to its accessibility and epic sunrise views.
Lake Natron: Monduli, Tanzania
This salt lake sure is beautiful to look at, but its hellish 120-degree temperatures and dangerously low pH levels make it a less-than-ideal vacation spot. There is one major upside: The surplus of scarlet-hued algae attracts millions of flamingos, making the area one of the species’ major breeding grounds.
Glowworm Caves: Waitomo, New Zealand
Leave it to New Zealand to make even worms look beautiful. The Waitomo Caves hold thousands of bioluminescent larvae that leave long strings of mucus (sounds gross, looks dazzling) and glow like a subterranean Milky Way.
Scenic might be an understatement: This 100-square-mile attraction contains thousands of sandstone pillars that are nature’s version of skyscrapers—some even stretch taller than the Empire State Building’s midpoint. It’s no wonder this site was a major inspiration for the world of Pandora in Avatar.
Hang Son Doong: Vietnam
Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong, the largest cave in the world, could hold an entire city block of Manhattan—including 40-story skyscrapers. It has its own lush vegetation where sunlight filters in from sinkholes above, and clouds even form near the ceiling when moisture condenses there. In other words, it’s practically its own little world lurking under the earth’s surface. (Alamy)
Jökulsárlón: Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
The glacial lake of Jökulsárlón and its frozen beach are considered a natural wonder of Iceland, with black volcanic sands providing a stark backdrop for the chunks of ice that wash ashore.
With UFO-like dragon’s blood trees as its most notable feature, the island of Socotra looks like it was transported to Earth from a distant planet. (Getty)
Grand Prismatic Spring: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
As its name suggests, the largest hot spring in the United States is essentially a rainbow ring of vibrant colors.
Dos Ojos: Tulum, Mexico
This cavernous cenote with double entry points—hence the moniker “Two Eyes”—is so incredible it was featured in the IMAX flick Journey Into Amazing Caves and an episode of Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth. It’s perfect for snorkelers, experienced scuba divers, and daredevils willing to surface in the system’s bat cave.
A kind of geological wonderland of salt formations, acidic hot springs, and gas geysers, this visually stunning hydrothermal field vies for the title of world’s hottest spot with average summer highs reportedly hitting up to 114F°.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
The 13,800-foot climb from Hilo’s beaches to the moonscape at the summit of Mauna Kea isn’t for the faint of heart. It is one of the longest sustained climbs on Earth, but it’s worth it to view the world as a land above the clouds.
Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley): Chile
Have you ever dreamed of exploring the moon? A trip to Valle de la Luna in Chile’s Atacama Desert is a much shorter flight. Years of erosion have left behind jagged peaks, dry riverbeds, and a landscape startlingly similar to that of our favorite celestial body’s.
Lencois Maranhenses National Park: Brazil
The geography of Brazil’s Lencois Maranhenses National Park is like nothing else on Earth. The rainy season (around early June) fills every trough with water and the world becomes an M. C. Escher print: It is either a drowned desert or a sandy lake, depending on how the mind’s eye frames what it is seeing.
White Desert: Farafra, Egypt
The landscape of the White Desert can be deceiving: What first appears to be a cool, snowy landscape is actually a mind-bendingly hot region of western Egypt. The desert is known for its wind-shaped chalk rock formations, which often resemble giant mushroom clouds frozen in time.
Love love LOVEthis from the BBC site: a Hollywood film editor has photographed some of India’s poorest people – capturing the look on their faces when they see themselves in a photo for the very first time. – Ned
A white-haired beggar sits outside the 13th-century Konark Sun Temple in Odisha, India, a wide smile spread across his face. His hands, deformed by leprosy, cradle the first photo of himself he has ever seen.
Swapna, a young mother in Kolkata, lives in a grass hut without electricity or running water. She has no photos of her wedding, but thanks to Hollywood film editor Bipasha Shom, she owns a portrait of herself and her five-month-old son, Neeladri.
These two are among hundreds of impoverished Indians that Shom has gifted with a photograph. “Many of these people are surviving on a dollar a day or less, and a photo is a luxury item,” she said. “They do not have the means to buy cameras, let alone afford to make prints.” Some have cell phones but they are very basic models, with no photo capability or with extremely low resolution images.
Born in Kolkata, but raised in New Jersey, Shom, 47, was in her teens when she first began giving away photographs while visiting relatives in India. “It was something I knew how to do, so that is what I offered,” she said. “While photos were not high on the list of priorities, I felt that it was important for people to have a record of their lives. Imagine not having any photos of your wedding, your children, your parents.”
Last December, Shom returned again to Kolkata, this time with her husband, Chris Manley, a cinematographer and director of photography for the TV series Mad Men, their two children and a photographer friend, Julie Black Nichols. They spent four weeks giving away hundreds of photos in Kolkata and the coastal town of Puri. While Shom photographed people of all ages, Manley and Black captured her subjects gazing in awe at their photos for the first time.
What made this trip unique was Shom’s use of instant photography. “I had been taking pictures using a SLR camera, then getting prints made and returning to the community to hand them out,” she said. “The process became so much easier with an instant camera. We could have gotten a wireless printer and done it that way, but there is a magical element to instant photography that I love. That moment when people see their image develop on a blank piece of film is priceless.”
“It was incredible to see people’s reactions to the photos,” Shom said. “We’d approach people who looked pretty intimidating and then watch as their faces just melted into huge smiles as they watched the photos develop. Mothers would ask us to take group photos with their kids. People would run into their homes and pull out their elderly grandparents so we could capture their only image.”
Shom particularly enjoyed photographing children with the help of her daughter and son, Priya and Devan. “It was really powerful for them,” she said. “We take so much for granted in the US. We don’t realise how much we have and how luxurious our lives are.”
To keep the project going, Shom has founded a nonprofit, GivePhotos, and is raising money to buy cameras and film to ship to photographers in India and other interested countries.
While she has found the project rewarding, Shom admits she sometimes questions the value of giving photos to those who have so little. But then she quickly pointed out that it’s often family photos that people grab when fleeing a house fire.
“We realise that giving a photo is not like building a school or a hospital or feeding the hungry, but I think a photo is something that feeds the soul,” she said. “It’s hard to know how these images will impact people’s lives but I think we’ve brought some small amount of happiness.”
Icebergs: huge, cool, majestic, mysterious… and mighty dangerous. Ever seen one? I haven’t yet, though it’s defo on my bucket list.
The following photos from MailOnline Travel have really got me fired up to go to Antarctica. There are a number of specialist tour operators to go with but Polar-Latitudes are probably one of the best: any company describing its business as “adventure travel” is good to go in my world!
Breaking from land and bobbing in the ocean for centuries upon centuries, icebergs are surely one of nature’s most beautiful masterpieces.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of them crack off glaciers and slide into the sea from the northern and southernmost tips of the globe. Only ten per cent of an iceberg is visible from above the surface of the water; the rest of its mass lies beneath it.
Formed from snowflakes settling into land and being compressed over time before breaking away in lumps, some defiant icebergs started their lives more than 30,000 years ago.
Polar-Latitudes glaciologist Robert Gilmore, who heads a pilgrimage to Antarctica every year, tells MailOnline Travel: “They melt incredibly slowly. And they move slowly too – two knots at most depending on the current.
“Icebergs vary hugely in appearance: the darker streaks found in some can be a result of icy water that fills the crevasses and later refreezes. The bluish icebergs are older and more compact, so they don’t refract light – it’s an optical illusion of sorts.”
Enjoy these stunning images with me.
Icebergs melt on a midsummer night at Jökulsárlón in Iceland, looming over crystal-clear water, under a tempestuous sky
Only ten per cent of an iceberg is visible from above the surface of the water, the rest of its mass lies beneath it, as seen here in Ralph A. Clevenger’s Antarctic photo
Whipped into grooved peaks by Greenland’s stormy weather, this iceberg looks worthy of a carefully carved sculpture
A colony of chinstrap penguins turns this ancient ice formation into a fun park, photographed in the Scotia Sea, Antarctica
This heavily textured Perito Moreno glacier is found at the Los Glaciares National Park in the Santa Cruz province, Argentina
Each year, hundreds of thousands of icebergs crack off glaciers and slide into the sea from the northern and southernmost tops of the globe; this one’s exact location is unknown
Icebergs vary hugely in appearance – the darker streaks found in some can be a result of ice water that fills the crevasses and later refreezes. Pictured, a bald eagle finds its perch in Alaska
While in Antarctica, photographer Alex Cornell captured this rare phenomenon – a flipped iceberg caused by an imbalance in its frozen body
Penguins gather in Antartica’s Iceberg Alley, a region of stunningly ancient glaciers located in the western Weddell Sea
Glaciologist Robert Gilmore tells MailOnline Travel: ‘They melt incredibly slowly – and they move slowly too, two knots at most depending on the current.’ Pictured, an Antarctic tabular iceberg that has degraded and is falling apart
A dry dock formation, its melting ice sculpted by waves and floating in calm seas around the Gerlache Passage, Antarctica
Large old icebergs contain centuries of windblown sediment and minerals, visible as layers when they roll over, as seen in this image from the U.S. Antarctic Program
A comparatively modest iceberg floating near the face of Jakobshavn in Isfjord, Ilulissat, Greenland during the summer
A jutting iceberg, location unknown, its vast moulded peaks viewed from both above and below the silvery clear water
A brief scene of magic unfolded here when the sun came out and mist was rising from Ilulissat Icefjord, the sea mouth of Sermeq Kujalleq – the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere
An iceberg resting atop the glassy Jökulsárlón glacial lake in southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park
An iceberg at Alaska’s Inside Passage – the seemingly bluish icebergs are older and more compact, so they don’t refract light, forming an optical illusion
Tablet glaciers reach into the distance in Antarctica, in the circumpolar current just north of the South Shetland Islands
When I was a kid I watched the old Agatha Christie whodunnit, Murder on the Orient Express – and ever since I’ve had a strange yearning to travel on the infamous Venice-Simplon. Imagine my disappointment to come across this piece in MailOnline travel about one of their abandoned old trains. Dutch photographer Brian Romeijn took some eerily haunting shots of it: rusty, dusty and rather sad… 😦
Haunting photos show decaying ‘Orient Express’ train that was once a symbol of luxury
An urban explorer has captured these remarkable photos of the decaying remains of a passenger train that was once one of the finest ways to travel.
With their glory days long gone, the train carriage and locomotive have been left to rot at a train yard in Belgium, where they have become a popular attraction for photographers and adventurers.
Rotterdam-based photographer Brian Romeijn, 40, snapped these eerie images, which show the abandoned train’s rusting exterior, torn seats, dust-covered windows and floors and compact engineer’s room.
The train carriage and locomotive have been left to rot at a train yard in Belgium, attracting urban explorers
It has gained a reputation among urban explorers as an old Orient Express train, but it is a former Belgian national train
It has gained a reputation among urban explorers as an old Orient Express train. Those trains were a symbol of luxury when they operated under that legendary name from 1883 to 2009.
But that suspicion is incorrect. The locomotive, according to www.seat61.com, is ‘the only survivor of three class 654s built in 1936 for the Oostende-Brussels-Cologne run, redeployed after WW2 to Brussels-Tournai’.
After 126 years on the rails, the last train service operating under the Orient Express name was from Strasbourg to Vienna in December 2009, bringing an end to a celebrated history.
The Orient Express, when it started in 1883 – run by La Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits – was actually known as the Express d’Orient and ran between Paris and Istanbul.
It became the Orient Express in 1891 and by the 1930s operated scheduled services throughout Europe.
It’s not to be confused with the privately run Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Very few Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits luxury carriages still exist.
This snap shows the compact engineer’s room, where equipment is rusting, gauges are still installed and wires are exposed
Romeijn said the engineer’s room was ‘kind of claustrophobic and the noise of the engine must have been tremendous’
The abandoned locomotive and carriage have become a popular attraction for photographers and adventurers
After visiting the forgotten train in Belgium, Romeijn told MailOnline Travel: ‘I really could feel how it must have been used in its heyday.
‘Wealthy gentlemen with high hats are joined by ladies in beautiful dresses on their journey.
‘Also the area of the engineer was kind of claustrophobic. There is very little space inside and the noise of the engine must have been tremendous.’
From scaling giant skyscrapers to doing handstands on a beam 1,394ft high, these daredevils show no fear in chasing that perfect shot
The quest for that perfect holiday selfie is one that can often be fraught with danger.
Whether it’s scaling imposing rockfaces, or posing next to a wild animal, the lengths some will go for a memorable photograph often has no limits.
And that is definitely the case with these daredevils. Thanks to MailOnline Travel for this truly awesome article.
Abudi is a championship-winning parkour professional who, having earned a degree in electrical and electronic engineering, left to focus on his passion full time. Here he is pictured at the top of the World Trade Centre in Dubai
Oleg Sherstyachenko, who also goes by the name Cricket, is featured in a new documentary on the risk-taking ‘Urbexers’. Here he sits at the top of the Marina 101 Tower in Dubai, which is 1,394ft high
In the Red Bull release, Oleg talks about how he wants to feel what ‘fear’ feels like, and this photo taken in Dubai is just a taste of how he gets to that level
A new eight part series from Red Bull TV explores the mindsets, motivations, and escapades of today’s new adverturers: the urban explorers.
These daring ‘urbexers’ use their expertise in climbing and stealth to explore inaccessible areas, from giant skyscrapers in Dubai, a heavily guarded bridge above Moscow to an abandoned space centre in Kazakhstan.
Revealing seldom-seen locations above and below cities across the globe, the series meets individuals who risk injury and imprisonment in their determined quest to explore and see the world from a whole new perspective.
The series sees Abudi partner with Oleg where the two urbexers¿ different styles and outlooks are contrasted – Abudi¿s caution and spirituality juxtaposed with Oleg¿s fearlessness
Without a safety harness in sight, Russian daredevil Oleg Sherstyachenko performs a handstand at the top of Marina 101 in Dubai
The financial district in Moscow provides the risk-takers with the perfect opportunity to scale the highest buildings
Self-documenting their adventures and sharing heart-stopping views with thousands of dedicated social followers, some of the urbexers’ antics defy belief.
In this footage, we are introduced to Oleg Sherstyachenko, who also goes by the name Cricket. He bravely leaps between gaps in the roof of a bright blue residential building in Moscow before perching on the end of the beam as the wind rushes all around him.
The fearless freerunner, who was born in Yekaterinburg and now lives in Moscow, makes viewers squirm in their seats as he runs across the beams several storeys above ground.
Now that’s a selfie! You can quite clearly hear the wind howling as the Russian daredevil snaps that top shot
The footage introducing the Red Bull series shows Oleg walking across the beams of a bright blue residential building in Moscow
The Russian risk-taker has a rich back-story having left a remote Siberian village at the age of 18 in pursuit of fame and the thrill of exploration.
The series sees him explore his troubled past and introduce viewers to his girlfriend. Poignantly, he also talks of how he is fascinated to know what fear feels like.
Urbex: Enter at Your Own Risk is available on Red Bull TV via the app and website.
Also featuring in the documentary alongside Oleg is Abudi Alsagoff, Elaina Hammeken, Vadim Makhorov, Vitaliy Raskalov and Bryce Wilson.
Oleg was born in Yekaterinburg and now lives in Moscow, and the series delves into his troubled upbringing
Two thrillseekers will be shown getting this selfie high above the Seri Saujana Bridge, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It’s that time of year when all your mates are jetting off to far-flung shores and seemingly can’t get through their hols without posting at least twenty selfies a day to FB, grinning inanely in front of some gorgeous minaret or sun-drenched coastline while you slave away in your stuffy office in the sad knowledge that you can barely afford a coach trip to Bognor*.
Well now you can wow your friends by pretending you’ve been somewhere exotic: UK-based phone company Three has come up with “the top places to trick your friends into thinking you’re abroad this summer with no need to even leave the country, in a newly commissioned list of ‘Top 10 UK Holiday Fake Spots’.
The list consists of 10 different locations spanning right across the UK – from the Scottish Highlands right down to the beaches of Cornwall – that bear an uncanny resemblance to foreign destinations. By visiting one of the sites, you’ll be able to up jazz up your social media feed and trick your friends into thinking you’ve jetted off somewhere exotic, without actually having set foot out of the UK.”
Selfie stick anyone..?!
A sunny French get-away? Nope, it’s Cornwall’s St Michael’s Mount – just one of the UK’s photogenic spots that can masquerade as a foreign destination
The intended location in real life, the boast-worthy Mont St Michel, an island commune in Normandy, France
Brighton’s stately Pavilion (pictured) could, to the untrained eye, resemble India’s sprawling Taj Mahal
The real deal: A white marble mausoleum on the south bank of India’s Yamuna river, which attracts seven to eight million tourists every year (Photo: A Murphy)
The Norfolk lavender fields (pictured) don’t look too dissimilar to the highly-desirable Provence Vineyards of France
The vineyards of Provence, where foodies and wine connoisseurs flock to enjoy the region’s pricey delights
Locations on the list include the Norfolk lavender fields, which don’t look too dissimilar from the highly-desirable Provence Vineyards of France.
And Camel Valley Vineyard, Cornwall, could pass, given the right angle, for the Loire Valley.
The pretty tourist town of Portmerion in Wales was suggested as a lookalike of Italy’s colourful Amalfi Coast.
And Brighton’s stately Pavilion could, to the untrained eye, resemble India’s sprawling Taj Mahal.
Danny Dixon, of Three, said: ‘It’s easy to forget about the immense amount of beauty – both natural and man-made – prevalent across the UK that, if set in a more glamorous holiday destination, would probably get a lot more social media love than it currently does.
‘The list we’ve created aims to celebrate some of these sites, while also providing people that aren’t able to get away this summer with a fun way of tricking friends into thinking they’ve jetted off abroad.’
Camel Valley Vineyard, Cornwall (pictured), could also masquerade as the Loire Valley in France
The Loire Valley, otherwise known as ‘the Garden of France’ – a lush wine region located in the centre of the country
The tourist town of Portmerion in Wales (pictured) – not a far cry from Italy’s colourful Amalfi Coast
In reality, the Amalfi is a stretch of coastline on the southern coast of the Salerno Gulf in Southern Italy
The Top 10 list in full is:
Camel Valley Vineyard, Cornwall
Loire Valley, France
St Michaels Mount, Cornwall
Mont St Michel, France
Norfolk Lavender Fields
Provence Vineyards, France
Amalfi Coast, Italy
Brighton Pavilion, Brighton
Taj Mahal, India
Wasdale Valley, Lake District
Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Mount Sunday, New Zealand
Achmelvich Beach, Scotland
Porto Pomos, Cyprus
Pistyll Rhaeadr Waterfall, Wales
* Bognor Regis is a small seaside town on the south coast of England, renowned as one of the UK’s first holiday resorts
Matthew Karsten is Expert Vagabond, one of the top three travel bloggers by visit/Google Analytics in 2015. This is his own personal view of one of Europe’s most fun and varied cities. – Ned
I’m totally addicted to Snapchat. The other day I walked to some of Madrid’s famous sites & shared the experience live from my phone. Here’s the result.
Are you on Snapchat? I was a little late to the party, thinking it was something for teenagers. But I was finally convinced after watching this video. It’s a powerful social media platform with a super-engaged fanbase. Plus it’s just a lot of fun!
It took a while to get the hang of, but now that I’ve been using it for a few months, it’s become one of my favorite social sharing tools.
Earlier this week I took to the streets with my iPhone to give followers a live look at the city of Madrid and a few of it’s popular tourist attractions.
LifeProof FRĒ Power Case
If you’re already subscribed to my email newsletter, you’ll know that I’ve been hanging out in Madrid for the past 3 weeks to work on some blogging stuff and prepare for a big adventure in August.
Most of my days are spent in front of the computer, but I do make time to see tourist attractions in the city every so often.
Earlier this week I charged up my new LifeProof FRĒ Power Case to ensure my phone would have enough juice for all the Snapchatting, and left to explore Spain’s capital on foot.
The waterproof & shockproof case doubles my phone’s power with an integrated 2,600-mAh battery.
Puerta Del Sol
I began the tour at Plaza Puerta del Sol, the heart of the city. It’s kind of like what Times Square would be to New York. It’s one of the busiest areas of Madrid and a popular place for tourists to hang out by the fountains.
From there I strolled up the pedestrian walkway towards Calle Gran Via, stopping briefly inside a Jamón Ibérico shop. This delicious cured ham is very popular in Spain, and it’s impossible to miss the huge legs of ham hanging from ceilings and windows in these shops.
No visit to Spain is complete without massive ham consumption.
Who Needs a Shoe Shine?
Next up was the Spanish Royal Palace. While it’s the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, they choose to live in a different palace nearby instead. The big one is only used for state dinners or special functions.
You can visit part of the palace for €11 and get a glimpse of royalty!
In my Snapchat story below, you’ll see giant frescos on the ceilings, massive chandeliers, and a whole room decorated in porcelain. This building is really quite impressive — it actually has over 3,400 rooms! Crazy.
The Spanish Royal Palace
Tapas & Vermouth
Tapas are little appetizers like meats, cheeses, or fish on bread served with alcohol. Often with a plate of olives too. You can order some as a snack, or order many to make it a full on meal.
The best tapas bars are standing room only — a popular pastime for Spaniards.
Moving on from the Royal Palace, I walked down to a local bar called Los Gatos to share plates of delicious tapas and glasses of vermouth with a few travel blogger friends who were in town.
Maybe you’ve heard of them… check out the video below!
Follow Me On Snapchat! expertvagabond
Are You On SnapChat?
Don’t have Snapchat? That’s ok. I saved my Snap Story for you on YouTube. If you already use Snapchat, just open the app on your phone and take a photo of my yellow icon above to automatically follow me! Cool, right?
The image earned its photographer Anthony Lau the grand prize of a seven-day trip for two on the Polar Bear Safari at a National Geographic Unique Lodge: Churchill Wild-Seal River Heritage Lodge. Anthony can settle into this cozy lodge on the banks of the Hudson Bay and head out on guided excursions to photograph polar bears and other wildlife against a dramatic landscape of snow and ice; he’ll enjoy incredible cuisine and stories around the fireplace, and then can take a short step into the night to capture the mesmerizing northern lights.
The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus 20 and lower, with a constant breeze of snow from all directions, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. I saw horsemen showing off their skills and commanding the steed from a distance. I quickly grabbed my telephoto lens and captured the moment when one of the horsemen charged out from the morning mist.
It was 5:30 a.m. and I had just arrived in Varanasi, India, off a sleeper train. I got to my guesthouse and instinctively climbed the seven flights of stairs to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As I looked over the side of the rooftop terrace, my jaw dropped in disbelief. Below were mothers, fathers, children, cats, dogs, and monkeys all sleeping on their roofs. It was midsummer in Varanasi and sleeping without air-conditioning was pretty difficult. Can you spot the curry?
It was when I drove back home feeling disappointed with the fact that I had finished the day in vain without any anticipated subject that I heard the joyful voice from the car window like “quack, quack!” There they were: red foxes. Around the end of the winter, they meet the season of love; they care for and love each other enough to make us jealous.
I was in the Brazilian Pantanal along the Rio Negrinho. I realized that the river, at certain points of the loops, created places where there were many yacare caimans. I saw a yacare sink suddenly, and I immediately looked for the best location to photograph when it resurfaced. The whole thing lasted only a fraction of a moment.
I made this photo during my recent photographic expedition in Atacama Desert, in April 2016. I embarked alone on this adventure to find images not yet published of the most arid desert in the world and its contrasts. Despite the Atacama Desert being one of the best places on the planet to do night photography, in my prior research I discovered that there were not many night photos in the main tourist destinations there.
Marrakesh, Morocco, is an exciting city for any traveler, but I was tired of walking on the crowded street and being asked for money from local people, so I was looking for a place to settle down. Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef Madrasa, it was still a more quiet and relaxing place than outside. Suddenly a beautiful reflection appeared on the shallow pool when I was taking a rest.
This photo was taken on my last trip to Guangzhou, China. This place is the school dormitories of South China Normal University. When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break. After lunchtime, they needed to go back to study.
Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia, during a thunderstorm. It is symbolic of the rejuvenation that the city, famous for a unique blend of centuries-old buildings and modern structures, has enjoyed in recent years. While many of its old neighborhoods fell into neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s, a UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation.
From a fog-shrouded city to nail-biting mountaineering, the spectacular winning entries for this year’s ‘Dronestagram’ contest
When it comes to photography, they truly are high-flyers.
Drone-operating photographers submitted over 6,000 images to the third Dronestagram contest – and the winning entries, as you can see from this MailOnline article, truly are on another level.
The drone’s-eye-view shots were submitted to three categories – travel, nature and wildlife, and sports and adventure – and include a stunning image of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Italy surrounded by fog, a mesmerising overhead shot of a camel tour in Australia and a breath-taking snap of a fiery volcano in the Indian Ocean produced by the photographer pointing the lens right into the cone.
Claiming the top spot in the sports and adventure category is a nail-biting image of a rock climber 400ft high in Moab, Utah, shot by photographer Max Seigal.
He said: ‘I spent the day filming a couple friends of mine who were trying to put up a first ascent on some epic climbing routes in the desert. Using the drone, I was able to capture images that would have never been possible before!’
Dronestagram, supported by National Geographic, was one of the first social networks dedicated to aerial photography and boasts tens of thousands of followers. All winners in the competition will be published in the National Geographic magazine.
First place, travel: Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy was captured in this mesmerising shot on a foggy day just after Christmas by Francesco Cattuto. The photographer had gone on a walk with his girlfriend and was astonished when he saw the results of this drone shot
Second place, travel: This spectacular camel tour was snapped at sunset by honeymooner Todd Kennedy in Cable Beach, Australia
Third place, travel: While on a visit to Gran Canaria Island, aerial photographer Karolis Janulis captured a shot of the colourful Playa de Amadores
First place, nature and wildlife: Aerial photographer Michael Bernholdt took this photo of Demark’s Kalbyris Forest with his Phantom 3
Second place, nature and wildlife: Szabolcs Ignacz captured a flock of sheep on the move in Marpod, Romania
Third place, nature and wildlife: Photographer Jonathan Payet needed a mask to take this image above the Piton de la Fournaise volcano on Réunion island in the Indian Ocean, due to the sulfur present
First place, sports and adventure: Claiming the top spot of the category was a nail-biting image of a rock climber 400ft high in Moab, Utah, shot by photographer Max Seigal
Second place, sports and adventure: Juan Pablo Bayona was covering a competition in Cúcuta, Colombia, when he decided to try something different and photograph the swimmers from above. The result was spellbinding
Third place, sports and adventure: This incredible image shows photographer Tj Balon’s friend as he snowboarded through powder in Cordova, Alaska
Hmong ladies walking me to the village of Tivan, in Sapa. During my four-week trip to Vietnam I spent three days at one of the hill tribe’s homestays, and it was one of the best experiences I had in Vietnam.
On the island of La Gomera, in the Canaries, in January every year there is a celebration of its patron: Saint Sebastian. The inhabitants descend upon the town for the Romería, a weekend of parading, dancing, singing and feasting in traditional dress. This is a fortunate, candid photograph, taken at midnight. I was drawn to the “ancientness” of the imagery juxtaposed with the use of the mobile phone.
While driving to the east of Vienna, towards Bratislava, I came across a large wind farm, and felt the low light and clouds added to the dramatic scene.
Alexandra Louise Clintworth
A double rainbow that I felt was showering luck and love over Naples – with Mount Vesuvius looking on.
A man sells homemade snacks from his cart on the promenade by the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Shortly after this image was taken there was a huge downpour and everyone had to run for shelter.
Field of Light Uluru is the British artist Bruce Munro’s latest light installation, with more than 50,000 light stems. The frosted-glass spheres bloom as darkness falls over Australia’s spiritual heartland.
Above the chaos of thousands of flapping prayer flags, in Tibet, a buddhist throws prayer slips into the wind.
I’ve been trying to get to this place, Coyote Buttes in Utah and Arizona, US, for many years. I finally got there in January this year. It was worth waiting for. Dreams do come true.
As we approached the start of the Thorong La pass in Nepal this horseman came towards us. I managed to get a shot before he got by us on the narrow path.
Golden Mist on Elterwater in the Lake District. After a 4am alarm and a two-mile run to the top of the fell behind our campsite, I waited for the moment when just enough of the lake started to reappear from behind the mist and the sun reached out from the other side of the valley.
This photograph was taken while staying at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, at Christmas 2015. Every morning the Rothschild giraffes come up to the manor for breakfast.
Doug Stratton, runner-up
I took this at 7am during an unusually quiet moment in the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, in Kyoto, Japan.
JUDGE MICK RYAN SAYS:
‘The classic lead-in and vertical lines of this walkway through a bamboo forest are made complete by the two figures in the distance and the light illuminating the pale green of the canopy.’
Ed Clarke, runner-up
Taken on a bright, sunny day in winter, on Tahunanui beach in Nelson, New Zealand. The beach was full of people enjoying the long weekend for the Queen’s birthday; but nobody was having as much fun as this man and his dog playing by the sea.
JUDGE MICK RYAN SAYS:
‘A peaceful image with subtle, pastel tones and lots of negative space – the frame doesn’t always have to be filled – highlight a powerful focal point of man and dog. Perfect timing, too.’
Alastair Swan, winner
The fantastic landscape of Bagan in Myanmar features hundreds of temples and pagodas as far as the eye can see. Experiencing this sight at dawn from the basket of a hot air balloon will remain engraved in my memory for ever.
JUDGE MICK RYAN SAYS:
‘What a magical photograph and place. The Buddhist temples and pagodas fill the plains of Bagan in Myanmar at sunrise… the golden hour providing beautiful light to illuminate the retrogression of the temples and balloons toward a misty, mountainous distance. An excellent, exotic photograph that makes you want to book a flight.’
Pinpointing every breathtaking place on the planet could take a lifetime, but the guys in the know at CN Traveler think that these 50 otherworldly landscapes and awe-inspiring natural wonders need to move to the very top of your travel bucket list. (All images from Getty unless otherwise indicated)
Cappadocia, an area in Turkey where entire cities have been carved into rock, is pretty incredible on its own. But whenever hot-air balloons pepper the sky, its beauty level simply skyrockets.
Salar de Uyuni: Daniel Campos, Bolivia
The reflective surface of the world’s largest salt mine is like something from the imagination of Salvador Dali—although we’re happy it actually exists in real life.
Mù Cang Chải: Vietnam
Mù Cang Chải manages to be one of the most breathtaking spots in Vietnam, with terraced rice fields and mountainous landscapes.
Benagil Sea Cave: Algarve, Portugal
The southern coast of Portugal is lined with exquisite beaches and caves, including the famous Benagil Sea Cave (skylight included).
Iceland’s Snæfellsjökull glacier, complete with ice caves and craters, has appeared in Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and the film Batman Begins.
There’s a reason why more than 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year: It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world, but a lot easier to access than Mount Everest or the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s over 12,000 miles long, thousands of years old, and can be seen from space—no wonder the Great Wall nabbed a spot on this list.
Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley): Alaska
Despite controversies over name changes and a shrinking elevation, Denali’s beauty is worth braving the extreme low temperatures.
Isle of Skye: Scotland
With fairy pools and bright green hills, the magical Isle of Skye is the stuff dreams are made of (regardless of whether you’ve binge-watched Outlander yet).
Bromo Volcano: East Java, Indonesia
Mount Bromo is perhaps the most well-known volcano in East Java’s Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, thanks to its accessibility and epic sunrise views.
While it may not be the first place you’d pick for a vacation abroad, Samarkand is a standout with intricately tiled buildings and colorfully dressed locals. It also has a rich history as a Silk Road stopping point.
Holland is known around the world for its rainbow-hued fields of tulips, especially those located in and around Keukenhof. Millions of bulbs are planted in the park each year—visit in mid-April to see the flowers during their peak season.
Machu Picchu: Peru
Machu Picchu’s panoramic views and intricate (and a tad mysterious) stone walls more than validate the site’s worldwide fame.
The Great Barrier Reef: Queensland, Australia
Although the largest living thing on Earth can be seen from space, the best vantage point belongs to the avid snorkelers and scuba divers who visit each year.
Moravian Fields: Czech Republic
It’s more believable to think the Moravian Fields are the product of an oil painter’s genius brushstrokes, but these pastel-colored hills are very much a reality.
Socotra kind of looks like it was transported to Earth from a distant planet. The UFO-like dragon’s blood trees are the island’s most notable feature.
Bagan (formerly Pagan): Myanmar
Bagan’s ancient city skyline is like nothing else in the world, with ochre stupas and temples rising above the surrounding forests.
Santorini is officially one of the best islands in the world—and one of the most picturesque. The small village of Oia is particularly captivating, with its whitewashed buildings and bright blue roofs.
Slope Point: South Island, New Zealand
The next time you want to complain about the wind messing up your hair, just consider the trees of Slope Point, which have been permanently twisted and windblown by intense Antarctic gusts.
Lake Louise: Alberta, Canada
As is the case with most glacial lakes, Lake Louise is surrounded by rugged mountains and filled with clear, vibrant water.
Valle de Cocora: Quindío, Colombia
In case you were wondering where to find the world’s tallest palm trees (palma de cera), you needn’t look further. The lithe trees are even more incredible set against the backdrop of misty green hills and sharp mountains.
Pamukkale: Denizli, Turkey
The stacked pools in Pamukkale are usually surrounded by snow and frozen waterfalls, but the blue waters are hot and open to bathers. You’ll never be satisfied with your hotel’s infinity pool again.
Torres del Paine National Park: Patagonia, Chile
Torres del Paine is like a microcosm of all the things that make Patagonia such a spectacular place: sky-high mountains, blue icebergs, and mythical lakes.
Wulingyuan Scenic Area: Zhangjiajie, China
Scenic might be an understatement in this case. This 100-square-mile attraction contains thousands of sandstone pillars that are nature’s version of skyscrapers—some even stretch taller than the Empire State Building’s midpoint.
Angkor Wat: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Some popular tourist attractions are worth braving the potential crowds for, and Angkor Wat is at the top of that list. No matter how many Asian temples you’ve seen, this one will always be the grandest and most breathtaking.
Redwood National Park: California
Standing in the middle of California’s Redwood National Park is a humbling experience to be sure, especially when you look straight up at the 2,000-year-old, 300-feet-tall natural giants.
Na’Pali Coast: Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai boasts one of the world’s most insanely beautiful coastlines, which makes you work a bit to soak up its wonders—Na’Pali can only be seen from a helicopter, catamaran, or rather grueling hike.
Halong Bay: Vietnam
Halong Bay, located in northeast Vietnam, is beloved for its blue waters and spread of limestone islands, all occupied by tropical trees and wildlife.
Painted Cliffs: Maria Island, Tasmania
Tasmania’s Maria Island is a motherlode of fascinating geology, including the swirling, Triassic-era limestone of the Painted Cliffs.
Jodhpur (“Blue City”): Rajasthan, India
Jodhpur is an ancient city with plenty to offer modern travellers, like bustling bazaars, incense-scented air, and delightfully Smurf-like buildings as far as you can see.
Eerie pictures taken by a French photographer showing decaying kitchens, derelict churches and stately manors being reclaimed by nature, have been stunningly captured in a beautiful Daily Mail Travel article I just had to include. – Ned
These eerily beautiful images of abandoned places are the work of a fearless photographer who is travelling the world to capture stunning scenes inside derelict buildings.
Romain Veillon, from Paris, has travelled across Europe and to countries in Africa and South America to photograph derelict buildings: everything from decaying houses, and decommissioned trains to abandoned casinos and empty prisons. The 32-year-old Parisian’s mesmerising pictures are featured in his first hardcover book, called Ask the Dust.
The urban explorer said he has been impressed by derelict places since he was a child, when he played in abandoned buildings near his grandparents’ houses.
Veillon told MailOnline Travel: ‘I always loved to go there and try to imagine what could have been their stories and how people used to live and work there.
‘With time I decided to try to capture the spirit and timeless atmosphere we can experience there, to show how time has stopped there and how decay and nature slowly take back possession of it.’
Veillon’s photos are featured in his first hardcover book, called Ask the Dust, and he hopes to visit abandoned buildings in Asia soon to add to his collection. He is highly secretive when it comes to the buildings he has photographed, choosing not to reveal most of the exact locations because he fears they would be ‘trashed’ by vandals.
Romain Veillon, from Paris, has travelled around the world to take photos of abandoned buildings, including this house in Belgium
The 32-year-old urban explorer snapped this image of a staircase in a crumbling building during his travels through Portugal
While he visited Poland, Veillon toured an abandoned building where he took this photo of a dusty piano that has partially toppled over
In this old home in France, the ceiling and walls have started to fall apart and cave in, leaving debris all over the beds and floor
Veillon snapped photos of several abandoned buildings when he visited Romania, including this church that no longer has a roof
Although most of his photos were taken in European countries, Veillon has visited Namibia and Argentina (pictured: an estate in Italy)
Although some visitors might find it creepy, this abandoned church in France was a peaceful location to photograph, said Veillon
Impressive paintings adorn the crumbling walls of this property in Italy. Veillon prefers not to disclose the exact location of his photos
Veillon said he chooses to keep the locations a secret so they aren’t ruined by vandals (pictured: a grand estate in France)
Once a stately manor, this abandoned property in Scotland – with a fireplace and wood-panelled walls – has been reclaimed by nature
Many of Veillon’s photos have been taken in France, including this one at an abandoned building that is being overtaken by vines
An old pram and wardrobe were left behind in this decaying house, which was photographed by Veillon during his time in Italy
Veillon took this shot when he visited the derelict amphitheatre at the UFO-shaped Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria
Veillon’s work includes everything from photos of this abandoned house in Italy to decommissioned trains and a derelict casino
Vegetation has taken over this abandoned conservatory at a property in Belgium. Veillon’s new book is called Ask the Dust
Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous – thanks Mail Online! – I love what ordinary human beings can do with a camera and nature… 😀
Goats [actually sheep] framed by the sunset, a grazing bison and the Milky Way dazzling the Badlands of South Dakota.
These breathtaking images are the prize-winning entries of a photographic competition run to capture the spellbinding beauty of America’s National Parks.
Over 15,000 entries were submitted to the fifth Share the Experience Contest last year, with both travellers and amateur photographers sharing their favourite images from the 400 parks in the National Park system.
First place of $10,000 (£6,922) was awarded to Yang Lu, for a sunset shot at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah. This was followed by Koustubh Kulkarni’s picture taken at 49 Palms Trail at Joshua Tree National Park in California, in second place.
America’sNational Park Service is currently in its centennial year and to celebrate is offering 16 days of free entry in 2016, the next dates being August 25 – 28.
Here are the winning photographs that seek to inspire travellers to take advantage of the parks’ stunning landscapes.
Grand Prize Winner: First place of $10,000 (£6,922) was awarded to Yang Lu for this sunset shot at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah
Second Place Winner: This picture of Big Horn sheep was taken by Koustubh Kulkarni on the 49 Palms trail at Joshua Tree National Park, with the setting sun casting beautiful hues of orange, yellow, pink and blue over the flock
Fan Favourite Winner: Matthew Sorum submitted this image of a large bison grazing in Yellowstone National Park. It was highly commended
Anyone who’s watched more than two episodes of The Twilight Zone — or read the angry comments when we named the most beautiful place in every state — knows that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Undaunted, we proceeded to tell you about all the beautiful places you didn’t know existed in California and New York and even in Nevada, because believe it or not, there actually is beauty there outside of a strip club.
But enough about America, there’s a whole big world out there; and it’s full of stunning scenery that you’ve probably never laid eyes on — until now. Here are 20 of the most spectacular places on the planet.
Ever wonder what happens when freezing water traps methane bubbles created by bacteria feeding off dead matter on the sea bottom? Welcome to Abraham Lake. Here, those bubbles of methane (undetectable in your standard, non-frozen lake) create pockets that resemble millions of orbs trapped in the ice. Just don’t light up while you’re snowmobiling; if the ice cracks and those bubbles burst, methane is highly flammable.
Cueva de los Cristales
Don’t feel bad for not knowing about this “Cave of Crystals” — until 2000, nobody had heard of it. That year, two brothers mining for silver drilled here and accidentally uncovered an epic cavern filled with translucent, 30ft crystals, some of which are nearly half-a-million years old. If you can stomach a 20-minute van ride through a mine shaft, you’ll be greeted by triple-digit temperatures and 90% humidity thanks to the magma field that flows a mile under your feet.
Dean’s Blue Hole
Long Island, Bahamas
There are some spectacular beaches in the Caribbean. And some other-world crazy cenotes in Mexico. Dean’s Blue Hole combines the two — albeit underwater — and is the largest blue hole in world. Although honestly, the white sand beach and limestone walls that surround the hole could make this list as well, they’re equally as stunning. That said, descend past the initial 60ft bottleneck and Dean’s Blue Hole opens into one of the largest underwater cenotes in the world, complete with turquoise water, seahorses, and tropical fish (it’s a hotspot for tarpon and snapper). Clear visibility and no current make it a place as scenic below the surface as above.
OK, OK, so we couldn’t resist throwing at least one US spot on the list. About an hour outside of Aspen, and an eight-hour hike from the nearest road, there’s a ghost town at the base of the Rocky Mountains. And the lone remnant of that ghost town is this old mill. If you visit in the fall, the combination of golden leaves, blue sky, and white snowcapped peaks might be the most unexpectedly beautiful vista in the American West.
Misiones Province, Argentina
Iguazu Falls aren’t that obscure, but they’re probably just another one on your mental list of big waterfalls to visit some day, up there with Niagara and Victoria. Which sells them WAY short. This isn’t so much a waterfall but a venerable city of waterfalls — 250 of them stretching nearly two miles — that dumps 53,000 cubic feet of water PER SECOND. Throw in the fact that they’re located in a gorgeous South American rainforest, and you’ve pretty much got one of the most impressive feats of nature on the planet.
The name literally means “bedsheets of Maranhao,” the state in Northeastern Brazil where these coastal dunes sway over 600 square miles of shoreline. The dunes are formed when the Parnaíba and Preguiças Rivers bring sand from the country’s interior to the ocean, and then the ocean currents — aided by northeasterly winds that blow inland — send that sand back to the shore. Though the area might look like a desert, temporary lagoons spring up in between the dunes during rainy season and often double as exceptional fishing holes.
Cavernas de Marmol (Marble Cathedral)
Lake General Carrera, Chile
What happens when you take a Patagonian peninsula made completely of marble and surround it with a massive glacial lake? Weird, swirling marble caves that change color, that’s what! These only-accessible-by-boat caves near the Chile-Argentina border reflect the color of the water that flows through them, shining turquoise in the spring and deep blue in the summer. The reflections also change the appearance of the patterns in the marble; meaning, if you visit the caves at different times of year you’ll have a completely different experience. Then again, after the 1,000-mile drive from Santiago and lengthy boat ride, once might be enough.
Forest of Knives (Tsingy Forest)
The name might sound like the setting for Halloween 12: Michael Does Madagascar but the surreal beauty of this limestone forest is anything but horror-inducing. Quite the opposite. Here, slabs of rock stab upward 200ft in the air, mixing with trees to create a literal forest made of leaves and jagged peaks. Climbing here is the main attraction but be warned, it can be dangerous: slip and you could find yourself with a Ginsu-like gash.
Dennis van der Water/Shutterstock
Seven-Coloured Earth of Chamarel
One of the problems with rainbows, other than the fact that there’s never a pot of gold at the end of them, is that as soon as you try to Instagram one… POOF!… it’s gone. If only rainbows were made out of sand that could withstand thousands of years of rain and erosion. Well, guess what rainbow lovers, meet the Seven-Coloured Earth of Chamarel! These rainbow dunes in Mauritius are formed by sand of seven distinct colors — red, brown, violet, green, blue, purple, and yellow. Even cooler: pick the sand up, put it in a bottle, mix it up — eventually it’ll resettle into the same seven distinct layers. Every time.
It’s hard to believe when standing under an oppressive sun in the middle of 1,300ft-tall sand dunes that this valley was once a lush forest fed by the Tsauchab River. That, of course, was 900 years ago. Since then, the area has become so parched that the remaining trees didn’t even have enough water to decompose, and now sit as charred relics. Add rusted sand and a deep-blue sky, and this is one of the most colorfully desolate places on the planet.
Antarctica Hiking to the top of an active volcano is cool, but you know what’s really badass? Sailing into one. Tough to do in most places, but not Antarctica; this active volcano (which last erupted in 1992) in the South Shetland Islands has a horseshoe-shaped caldera, and ships can sail right up to its smoldering beaches. As you cruise around the volcanic bay, you’ll see both snow and ash covering the lava formations amidst the steam.
This seven-mile-long, mile-wide channel between the mountains on Booth Island and the Antarctic peninsula was originally nicknamed the “Kodak Channel” because it was so photogenic. Although today, it would probably be “Instagram Channel.” Either way, you want to catch it when the entrance isn’t blocked by ice and the boat can make the trip inside.
Even if you don’t hit this wetland in September, when the seepweeds mature from green to bright red, the 16-mile marsh is still one of the most beautiful spots in China to glimpse birds and wildlife. But if you are there in September, you’re in for a treat. The red fields attract flocks of over 200 species of birds as they migrate from Asia to Australia, and you can nod approvingly at them all from wooden bridges built over the water.
Sea of Stars
Vaadhoo Island, Maldives
There are more than a few bioluminescent bays in the world, where a species of phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates glow/illuminate the water when an influx of oxygen disturbs their cell membrane. This one on Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives stands out, however, because the bright-blue light appears to be reflecting the stars over this island.
El Nido is classically known as the gateway to the Philippines’ Bacuit Archipelago and, according to (urban?) legend, was Alex Garland’s inspiration when he wrote The Beach. Although, yes, Leo’s adventure was set in Thailand, the limestone cliffs, bright-green foliage, and turquoise waters here apparently make it hard to distinguish between the two. Also, just so you know: a trip to El Nido requires a seven-hour bus ride.
Lord Howe Island
There’s a reason you haven’t heard of this island 375 miles off New South Wales: there’s no cellphone coverage. Which means as beautiful as it is, nobody can go all selfie-stick/Instagram crazy while they’re there; they’re forced instead to do something novel like appreciate the wildlife. Wildlife that, because of the island’s perpetual isolation, includes birds, insects, and plant species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world.
The island also sits near Earth’s most southerly coral reef, making for world-class diving and snorkeling. Which is even better considering you don’t have to share — only 400 visitors are allowed on the island at any given time.
An otherwise unremarkable residential bay in Sydney makes this list not for its water, but for the ship that sits near the coastline. Built during World War I, the SS Ayrfield ran supplies to American troops in the Pacific during World War II before an oil company bought it in the 1950s and stationed it in the middle of this bay. Then nature took over. Now, it’s a man-made island filled with trees and wildlife, and one of the most decrepitly beautiful sights in the world. A work of art almost unto itself.
Chapel of Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe
Le Puy-en-Velay, France
Talk about wonders of the world; even with today’s technology, imagine how hard it would be to build ANYTHING on top of a small pointy rock? Now imagine building a stone cathedral in 962, without cranes, hydraulics, or anything other than actual people hauling stones up 268 stairs. Sounds fun, right? But the result is this beauty, built atop a basalt needle with a sweeping view of the city below.
Crystal Cave at Skaftafell
Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
Blue ice is more than just the GOOD ice pack the nurse gives you when you sprain your ankle. It’s a brilliant, aqua-colored geologic formation that results when air bubbles are compressed out of ice over time. And it is in abundance in this cave at Vatnajokull National Park. Don’t let the 22ft shoreline entryway fool you; the cave tapers down to as few as 4ft, and will crack and pop when you walk inside. That doesn’t mean it’s about to collapse, though; it’s just the sound of glacial movement against the volcanic island.
Picos de Europas
While the Alps and the Pyrenees get all the attention, this tiny range near the northern coast of Spain is equally as beautiful. The range only stretches about 26 miles (and its highest peak, Macizo Central or Macizo de los Urrieles, is barely 8,000ft tall), but when it comes to skiing and snowshoeing away from the masses, it’s a tough location to beat. And thanks in part to an abundance of wildflowers and Spanish brown bears, it’s one of the prettiest places in Europe to spot exotic wildlife in the summer.
From the dazzling array of fresh fruit, spices and textiles, the sprawling Imphal market in Manipur could be mistaken for any other bazaar in India but it has one distinct difference – all 4000 traders manning its stalls are female.
Ima Keithel which translates as ‘mothers’ market’ is a meeting ground and trading hub, run exclusively by women and is reportedly the largest all-women market in Asia and possibly the world.
Although there is debate over when exactly it was established, some say the market dates back to the 16th century. This female-only workforce originated during the ‘Lallup’ era when men from the Meitei community were called upon to serve the King leaving the women the responsibilities of commerce and farming, according to Oddity Central.
Only married women are allowed to run the stalls and family members pass their trade on to the next generation keeping the enterprising spirit alive.
Despite threat of closure over the years, the market is still thriving. It did however take a battering during an earthquake in January which killed nine people and destroyed some of its structures.
Tourists visiting the region will be greeted by friendly traders offering a lively blend of traditional handcrafted items, modern clothing and local produce.
This female-only workforce originated during the ‘Lallup’ era when men from the Meitei community were called upon to serve the King leaving the women the responsibilities of commerce and farming
Local delicacies: A Manipuri woman sells smoked and dry fish in Ima Keithel market
A woman vendor on her way with yongchak to Ima market (left) and one of the 4000 traders at the market sells garlic (right)
This market is said to reflect the empowerment of the women of Manipur. A woman vendor sells Yongchak
Female shoppers look delighted at the selection of traditional handcrafted items, modern clothing and local produce available to buy
Tools of the trade: Women sell farming and kitchen implements and other hardware at the mothers’ market
Fabric of life: A view of the section of cloth and textiles being sold at Ima Market in Imphal, Manipur
Family members pass their trade on to the next generation keeping the enterprising spirit alive at the market. Vendors wait for customers
Despite threat of closure over the years, the market is still thriving. Women buy fish at Ima Market
Amazing pictures of snow-hit Manhattan, old world China and a death-defying mountain road compete for National Geographic Traveler’s top photo prize. Thanks to Mail Online Travel for sharing these incredible images with us.
These stunning snaps of frozen landscapes, ferocious animals and candid moments are among those in the running for National Geographic Travel’s coveted photographer of the year contest.
The annual competition celebrates the best in travel photography with entrants submitting snaps from their time in destinations such as China, India and the US.
Based on these spectacular shots, competition will be stiff this year. National Geographic Traveler has revealed some of the entrants so far and they are nothing short of breathtaking.
Photographer Michele Palazzo captured this shot of New York’s Flatiron Building as the city was walloped by Winter Storm Jonas
Photographer Karen Morris-Lanz was invited to have lunch with a husband and wife during her travels through Longsheng, China
This mind-bending road cuts through the Gorges du Dades between walls of rock near to Boumalne, Souss-Massa-Draa, Morocco
Among the astonishing snaps is Angiolo Manetti’s mesmerising photo of a winding road in the Gorges du Dades near Boumalne, Morocco. Drivers must carefully navigate the narrow road, frequently named one of the world’s most dangerous, which takes many twists and turns between walls of rock.
One of the most eye-catching images is from Aashit Desai, who photographed devotees as they carry the palki, or sedan chair, of the god Shiva on the day of Somvati Amavasya, the no moon day, in Jejuri, India. The main ritual is the offering of turmeric powder, but so much is used that all the devotees are covered in it from head to toe.
Photographers have until May 27 to enter the competition. The grand prize winner will receive a seven-day polar bear photo safari for two in Churchill, Manitoba, in Canada’s Arctic – the self-proclaimed polar bear capital of the world and a popular destination for nature photographers.
During a snowstorm in Bryce Canyon, Utah, a tree cuts a lonely figure against the frozen landscape, where visibility was almost zero
Devotees covered in turmeric carry the sedan chair of Shiva at the Khandoba temple in Jejuri, India, on Somvati Amavasya, a no moon day
Ari Ross came face to face with this scarred polar bear on Wahlenbergfjorden, off of Svalbard, Norway, while in the safety of a boat
A Japanese larch’s twig looked like hands and feet of a ballet dancer when exposed to illumination (location: Biei, Hokkaido, Japan)
This is a general view of Eid ul Fitr Prayer at Alamgir Mosque in Varanasi, Uttarpradesh, India. Eid prayers, also known as Salat al-Eid and Salat al-Eidain , is the special prayer offered to commemorate two Islamic festivals.This image depicts the Hindu–Muslim brotherhood exploring the dynamics of communal relations in Varanasi-a holy city of the Hindus. Location: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
This amazing stacked architecture of Hong Kong shows the housing of its rather dense population. It’s visually striking to understand that your whole horizon is built from people’s lit windows. It shocks you that each life so big and important to the person himself and his close circle looks just like a tiny star in a huge sky next to millions of the same stars. Location: Hong Kong
I’m a stickler for honesty in my travel blogging so I was pleased to see this feature from SmarterTravel via HuffPost.
With so many beautiful photographs of far-off destinations circulating the Internet, it should come as no surprise that some of these unbelievable places truly should not be believed. Through the power of Photoshop, artists can create beautiful scenes of fantasy worlds. But often, such images are taken out of context and advertised as real. You might have seen some of the following photographs making the rounds—the bad news is they’re totally fake, but the good news is there are places in the real world that are just as beautiful. Luckily for us, we live in a world so magnificent that it sometimes surpasses our imaginations.
The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye Scotland
One of the most popular picture hoaxes on the Internet, this photo and its bright purple trees are totally Photoshopped. On top of the fake color, this photograph isn’t even from Scotland’s Fairy Pools … it wasn’t even taken in Scotland. It is actually a photograph of New Zealand’s Shotover River—it’s just as beautiful, but somewhat disappointingly green.
Go Instead: If brightly colored trees stoke your wanderlust, head to Japan for cherry blossoms. In springtime, Japan comes together for Hanami, which literally translates into “flower viewing,” to celebrate the short window of two weeks in which the flowers bloom. One of the best places to see the bloom is Goryokaku Park in Hokkaido, but if you can’t make it to Japan, the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is just as beautiful.
Moon and Star Island
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution/Share Alike)
Ben, 30, said: ‘When you dive under the wave and look up at the surfing passing by, you enter into a different world.
‘It’s a whole new perspective that the ocean is offering you – it’s mesmerising and fascinating.
‘The feeling of being underwater and looking at the wave breaking and the surfer passing through is amazing.
‘In Tahiti the water clarity is unbelievable, which is a great opportunity for underwater shots.
‘You want the surface of the water to be very glassy, so you can see through from the water below.
‘There are only a few days per year when the water is that clear and that glassy, so these pictures are the result of a long quest – you need to be in the right place at the right time, with the right surfer.
‘What people don’t realise when they look at the pictures is the power that the wave generates – it’s not easy to place yourself in that situation and get good pictures. It’s enthralling but challenging.
‘The wave is really powerful, and breaks on a few inches of water over the sharp coral reef – you always run the risk of getting caught by the wave, which could be dangerous.
‘But the feeling of seeing the perfect frame lining up through your lens is the best feeling ever – it’s unreal.’
Photographer Ben Thouard comes up for some air, before plunging back to the bottom of the ocean to snap away
In the TV show An Idiot Abroad, Ricky Gervais sends his buddy Karl to the Petra Monastery in Jordan, where Karl learns that the best view isn’t actually standing in front of the monastery but from a cave across the way. And what he says upon realizing this is actually freakin’ enlightening: “You’re better off livin’ in the hole looking at the palace, than living at the palace looking at the hole.”
Karl’s right: sometimes the better vantage point is where you least expect it (or rather, where you will encounter the fewest number of selfie sticks). Which is why we tracked down eight lesser-known spots for seeing some of the world’s biggest attractions.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Rome, Italy Viewing spot: The Knights of Malta Keyhole
Unfortunately, there’s no other way to marvel at Michelangelo’s handiwork than to go inside of St. Peter’s Basilica, but you won’t want to miss seeing it from this other stealthier spot. It’s a teeny keyhole that perfectly frames the Renaissance church! Get there by climbing Aventine Hill and finding The Knights of Malta building, HQ to the world’s oldest order of knighthood.
Bangkok, Thailand Viewing spot: The Deck
This Buddhist temple is a must-visit in Bangkok, but can be a real pain to get to — we’re talking jumping boats and dodging tourists. If you don’t really care about climbing the temple, book a table at The Deck restaurant for sunset drinks (by Western prices, it’s reasonable). You’ll enjoy a breathtaking view of Wat Arun sparkling on the water, with a breeze and cocktail thrown in for good measure.
Athens, Greece Viewing spot: Filopappou Hill
So Acropolis admission is going up this year (because, Greek debt crisis), but hold onto your Euros: one of the best spots to admire the ruins is actually totally free. Climbing up Filopappou Hill, you can get an awesome panorama of Athens, the Aegean, and even a full shot of the Acropolis — no backdrop of tour groups necessary.
Berlin, Germany Viewing spot: Invalids’ Cemetery
Go ahead and get that necessary selfie against some East Side Gallery graffiti, but also take time to check out Invalids’ Cemetery where a decrepit, lesser-known piece of the Berlin Wall still remains. Here in what was once “no man’s land” between East and West, you’ll also find the resting places of WWI veterans and Nazi leaders.
Christ the Redeemer
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Viewing spot: From a helicopter
OK, OK, so not really a secret spot (or even an accessible one really), BUT if you’re only going to splurge $150 on a token tourist chopper ride once in your lifetime, trust us — Rio’s the place. Forty thousand feet in the air is where you’ll get the most epic view of Christ the Redeemer, including the bottom part, which can’t be seen from ground entry.
Los Angeles Viewing spot: Lake Hollywood Park
Hiking Hollywood Ridge and Beachwood Canyon are the most popular ways to set eyes on this crucial American landmark, but your best view is actually (perhaps too sensibly) from underneath. Locals love to disagree about where that prime real estate is, but when it comes to overall experience, there’s Lake Hollywood Park. It’s one of the easier spots to find with a clear view of the sign, and a pretty location on its own boasting greenery and a neighboring reservoir.
Cliffs of Moher
County Clare, Ireland Viewing spot: Coming from Doolin
Google Ireland’s most famous attraction, and you’ll pull up words like “tourist trap” and “overrated” pretty quick. But blogger Shannon O’Donnell found a route through pastures starting in a charming village called Doolin (another town, Galway, is where most tourists head in from). Trade-off? There’s a high probability you will be stepping in cow patties.
Agra, India Viewing spot: Yamuna or Agra Rivers
Ah Taj Mahal, there you are as the world’s No.1 tourist trap and bane of happy-go-lucky travel photographers everywhere. Getting the money shot of this architectural wonder can be unbelievably tricky, and that’s why your best bet is on riverbanks, or even ON the water. Hire a boat to float out for a unique, full frontal angle. Trade-off? Sewage smell. Better than big crowds and fending off scams? You decide.
This is probably my all-time fave photography competition and I am thrilled every year to see such awesome pictures and the patience and sheer perseverance they represent in the talented folks who capture them. Also true testament to the beauty of our planet and how we MUST realise how precious she is before it’s too late… 😦
Thanks to Mail Online for the reproduction of these fantastic shots.
Representing more than 50 countries, the artists, according to a jury chair, presented an ‘inspiring feast of imagery’
Organisers reveal their firm favourite was a seahorse photographed by Italian photographer Davide Lopresti
Subjects that wowed the judges also include a bear fishing for its lunch and a pod of whales huddling together
The bar for making a splash in the UK-based Underwater Photographer of the Year contest is set extremely high.
Representing more than 50 countries, these artistic champions, according to jury chair Alex Mustard, presented judges with an ‘inspiring feast of imagery.’
Despite the overwhelming amount of talent, organisers reveal their firm favourite was from Italian photographer Davide Lopresti.
Simply entitled Gold, Lopresti’s stunning image shows a vibrant seahorse amidst the ocean’s tranquil waves. Describing the image, he said: ‘Over the years the Mediterranean’s population of seahorses has drastically reduced. Their numbers have only recovered thanks to public awareness and a significant restocking campaign.
‘Areas of the sea have now been set aside, protected from harmful fishing methods, like trawling. This has allowed vulnerable and delicate creatures, like sea horses, to return. This is what I hoped to celebrate with this image.’
As for all the other winning photos, Mustard reveals: ‘It was astounding and humbling seeing the quality. Every single image that placed is an amazing moment from the underwater world.’
Lopresti’s stunning image shows a vibrant seahorse amidst the ocean’s tranquil waves. Describing the image, he said: ‘Over the years the Mediterranean’s population of seahorses has drastically reduced. Their numbers have only recovered thanks to public awareness and a significant restocking campaign. Areas of the sea have now been set aside, protected from harmful fishing methods, like trawling. This has allowed vulnerable and delicate creatures, like sea horses, to return. This is what I hoped to celebrate with this image’
This image was taken by Mike Korostelev from Russia. He said: ‘Cages are more commonly associated with photographing great white sharks, but I constructed a cage to keep me safe as I captured the fishing behaviour of the bear. I waited many hours in the cold water for the bear to come close enough to make my photo. The bear’s strategy is to start by sitting down, putting his head under the water and looking for fish. Once the fish start to ignore him, he creeps closer before making his crucial lunge to snare a large salmon in his paws, or teeth’
Photographer Mathieu Foulqui from France took this incredible image of Caribbean reef sharks in the marine sanctuary of Gardens of the Queen in Cuba
Gabriel Barathieu from France took this photograph using a wide angle lens and took home the prize for highly commended
Greg Lecoeur, who took this image, said: ‘The French Polynesia is an amazing place for nature lovers. In the lagoon of Moorea I was snorkeling with an abundance of marine life, most notably these black tip sharks. The topography of the mountains in the background inspired me to release this half and half photo’
French photographer Greg Lecoeur also snapped this mesmerising image of a pod of pilot whales circling beneath the surface
Alejandro Prieto from Mexico, who took this amazing picture, said: ‘Returning from a dive with bull sharks in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, I saw a beautiful flock of seagulls flying very low over a crowded beach. They usually fly low over the people looking for food. This behaviour allowed me to try to shoot them from beneath the water. With this photograph I want to show that ordinary subjects can become extraordinary depending on the perspective you see them’
During the Swim the Island contest in Liguria, Italy, a competition in which hundreds swim in the sea and compete over a distance of six kilometers, photographer Lopresti snapped away as the athletes made a circle around the island of Bergeggi
Dutch photographer Tobias Friedrich, who took this amazing picture, said: ‘We planned to dive in April in Greenland to specially photograph the icebergs. In spring the visibility is very good’
Damien Mauric, from the UK, said of his picture: ‘I like to create images showing marine life in motion and Raja Ampat in Indonesia is probably the best place on earth for creating this type of image’
Helen Brierly shared her picture of marine life ‘suspended in the inky blackness of the open ocean’
Morettin from Italy said his image was made using a double exposure technique performed directly in the camera without changing the lens
Gianni Colucci from Italy also captured seahorses. He said: ‘During a night dive at around midnight, I found this pair of seahorses. I watched, mesmerised as they swam in the shallows holding each other by the tail. The scene was something majestic, a magic only enhanced by the beauty of the location, illuminated by the full moon’
Photographer Behnaz Afsahi took this picture in Jellyfish Lake in Palau. He said: ‘The thousands of jellyfish in this lake are simply breathtaking to behold’
Qing Lin, from Canada, shot this scorpion fish in a hurry, saying: ‘This weedy scorpion fish was surrounded with many photographers when I found it. When it was my turn, I only had four minutes left before needing to ascend, so I took several shots in a hurry. I felt so disappointed and kept thinking about how beautiful it looked while. I decided to go back the following day. The characteristic of this fish is her beautiful lace, so I thought backlighting it would emphasise its details’
Lecoeur captured the moment that a larva lobster drags off a pelagic jellyfish to eat it and to use its protection
A Starry Weever (Trachinus Radiatus) poses and its mouth and eyes convey an appearance of seriousness
Photographer Fabio Galbiati impressed the judges with this image of a pristine mangrove
South African photographer Pier Mane took this image after deciding to ‘turn away from the action’. He said: ‘Weary of shooting sharks head-on, and keen to avoid bubbles in my shot, I decided to turn away from the peak action and the crowds it attracts. I wanted sun rays, dramatic foreground, background perspective, and – the cherry on top – to capture the ‘master of the house’ in all of its mystique. The three sponges were well-positioned to set the scene beneath the boat and it took countless shots to balance the elements I wanted, but perseverance, patience and practice all paid off’
Australia’s Ross Gudgeon described how perseverance paid off where this image was concerned. He said: ‘Gobies on sea pens and whip corals are a very common subject for macro photography and I’m always trying to come up with a new way of shooting them. I have had many attempts to get a shot like this’
Speaking of his photograph, Matteo Visconti from Italy said: ‘Harlequin shrimp (Hymenocera picta) are one of my best critters to shoot because of their colours and shape’
Marty Engels Dunmore said this incredible shot of the famous Kittiwake wreck took a lot of research
Dan Bolt said that his shot was taken just off of a headland in a beautiful bay where a reef system is favoured as a laying ground for the eggs, or ‘mermaids purse’ of the smallspotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula)
In the age of social media ubiquity, some popular destinations are instituting selfie (or, more specifically, selfie stick) bans. This interesting piece is by Lilit Marcus for Conde Nast Traveller.
While not a full-on ban, Mumbai police are instituting patrols in zones where selfie mishaps are most common, like the city’s oceanfront promenade, a popular pedestrian area. Most recently, two teenagers drowned while trying to get that perfect aquatic backdrop, the latest in a string of snap-related deaths around the country. India leads the world in deaths-by-selfie: Of 49 globally recorded fatalities over the past 3 years, nearly 40 percent have occurred there.
All Disney parks have banned selfie sticks on their grounds as of July 1, 2015. Previously, Disney had banned the sticks in rides where they were the most dangerous, but after complaints from visitors and employees alike they extended the ban. “We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie-sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” a rep for The Mouse told the Washington Post.
The annual summer music festival in Chicago (this year it’s happening from July 31-August 2) is the first major music festival to ban selfie sticks and other similar devices. The festival organizers have added these sticks to the list of banned items, which also includes skateboards, aerosol cans, and illegal drugs.
The Palace Museum, Beijing
Cin Paradiso WOM
The Palace Museum, usually referred to as the Forbidden City, is a hugely popular tourist attraction in Beijing, but it’s also extremely delicate. For that reason, Chinese officials have banned selfie sticks there, saying they pose a risk to the antiquities and also to other people, particularly in the most crowded sections. The museum’s director said that the ban will be strictly enforced: “Our staff will stop visitors using such devices when necessary.”
South Korea hasn’t passed any laws related to selfies, but they recently passed one about “selfie sticks,” a popular device that can hold up your phone and snap the photo for you. These devices make it easy to snap better selfies from different angles, but they’re connected to your phone via Bluetooth, which means that the sticks could be used to access your personal data. South Korea is cracking down on unregistered knock-off selfie sticks and will now regulate them via a government agency that monitors telecom devices.
Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada
Debra Behr / Alamy
Staff at Lake Tahoe, on the California-Nevada border, are asking visitors not to take pictures of bears, especially selfies that have them turning their backs to said bears. A recent uptick in the number of selfies with bears in the background are “presenting a safety issue,” according to a spokesperson for the park. It’s possible that they’re thinking about a 2013 incident where a couple on safari were gored by rhinos after their guide suggested they get closer to the animals for a better photo.
The Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Hemis / Alamy
Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has a contentious relationship with social media and photography. The institution had a photography ban, repealed it in May 2013, then re-instituted the ban in March 2014. The museum said that photography there, one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist sites, “caused tension between those wishing to photograph and those wishing to view the paintings.”
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Art Directors & TRIP / Alamy
The hajj, a trip to the holy city of Mecca, is one of the most important requirements in Islam. But the rise of technology is causing conflict as younger Muslims use social media to document their pilgrimages. Several prominent clerics and scholars have asked people to refrain from posting selfies, especially of them visiting or touching holy sites, claiming that such photos go against Islamic principles of modesty.
Sistine Chapel, Vatican City
Nic Cleave Photography / Alamy
The Sistine Chapel has banned photography, including snapping shots of its famous ceiling painted by Michelangelo. This rule has nothing to do with overcrowding or trying to move people along more quickly, though. The ban dates to 1980, when the Vatican raised $3 million in necessary renovation funds from Japan’s Nippon Television Network in exchange for exclusive photo and video rights to the art within. Though the ban is still technically in place, enforcement isn’t very strict and plenty of tourists have been able to snap pictures.
Garoupe Beach, France
Hemis / Alamy
Leave it to the French to treasure their exclusivity, even on vacation. The southern French beach Garoupe banned selfies, which it calls “braggies,” claiming that constant photo-sharing was ruining the true beachgoing experience. “The Garoupe beaches are among the most glamorous and pristine beaches in all of France,” said a spokesperson. “We want people to be able to enjoy our exclusive beach in the moment, not spending the majority of their time bragging to their friends and family back home.”
Running of the Bulls, Pamplona
Alan Copson City Pictures / Alamy
Running while selfie-ing doesn’t seem very safe. And selfie-ing while running away from bulls seems even less safe. Authorities in Pamplona, which hosts the annual Running of the Bulls, have imposed a no-selfies rule and are fining violators. This summer, a British man was fined €3,000 (about $4,000) for taking a picture of himself participating in the run, prompting one Spanish newspaper to ask “Is this the most dangerous selfie ever?”
New York state
Patti McConville / Alamy
New York became the first state in America to outlaw people having direct contact with—or taking pictures of themselves with—dangerous cats like lions, tigers, and leopards at places like zoos. Although the politician who sponsored the bill claims that social media wasn’t the only motivation behind the law, a growing trend of “tiger selfies” on social media did play a major role. Now, people caught violating the law face $500-$1,000 fines, and the Tinder Guys With Tigers tumblr is out of material.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Some of the country’s most popular museums are taking a stand against selfie sticks, including the National Gallery, the Getty Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (pictured). These museums have all cited issues with selfie sticks causing injury to works of art or other museum patrons, but they haven’t gone for full-on photography bans just yet.
Hey there all you romantics: I spotted this piece in the Mail Online Travel – just perfect for Feb 14th.
Check it out… ❤ ❤ ❤
It appears that love is not just in the air, but also hidden in natural wonders all over the planet.
From peaceful atolls, vibrant islands and rocky cliffs there are heart-shapes surprises to be discovered among the landscape.
Sir Richard Branson is even a fan of the phenomenon, forking out for a heart-shaped island resort in Australia.
Romantics may wish to spend a day exploring Croatia’s perfectly shaped paradise, Galesnjak, which received international fame after it was captured by a Google Earth satellite in 2009.
Travellers can also visit Tupai, a tiny atoll located just north of Bora Bora. There are flights available for tours and couples can even tie the knot on the stunning island.
Here are some of the most spectacular natural wonders – that are sure to capture your heart.
Heart of the ocean: If you are lucky enough to get a helicopter ride over Australia’s Great Barrier Reef you should look out for Heart Reef, in Hardy Reef, which is a stunning composition of coral that has naturally formed into the shape of a heart
Sir Richard Branson owns the tranquil Makepeace Island off Australia’s Sunshine Coast. The secluded sanctuary offers 20 explorers the chance to stay in luxury villas with access to a lagoon pool and island bar
At sunset the silhouette of this heart-shaped hole in the rocky cliffs of Calanques de Piana on Corsica Island, France, is breathtaking
Contrasting against the lush green mountain, this bright turquoise heart-shaped lake is located near Ala-Kul Lake, Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan
This large formation of vegetation in New Caledonia is called the Coeur or Heart of Voh. It was made famous in a photograph taken in 1990 and published a few years later on the book cover Earth from Heaven, by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Heart Island in Galesnjak, Croatia, first gained worldwide recognition in 2009 when Google Earth captured its unique shape with this satellite image. Galesnjak is uninhabited and does not have any tourist facilities, but visitors can travel by boat for a day with their loved one
Travellers can also visit Tupai, a tiny atoll located just north of Bora Bora, with flights available to tour or tie the knot on the stunning island
In Germany there is a heart-shaped island in Kleine Muritz Lake, perfect for lovers wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the world
At the foot of Dunsinane Hill in Perthshire, Scotland, surrounded by fields, is a cute heart-shaped pond
Those travelling by boat may not be able to fully appreciate this small heart-shaped island in Germany located where the Ruhr River joins the Kemnade reservoir, as it is best viewed from above
Have the ultimate romantic retreat on Tavarua Island in Fiji. The 29-acre island is surrounded by a stunning coral reef
Located in the Bavarian Alps, this beautiful heart-shaped islands sits on Germany’s Lake Walchensee
Those flying above the British Columbia landscape in Canada can catch a glimpse of this unusually carved lake
In 2013 it was rumoured that Angelina Jolie bought the heart-shaped Petra Island near New York as a 50th birthday gift for partner Brad Pitt but this was later disputed
This scenic property in Pas-de-Calais, Louches, France, comes with its own heart-shaped lake – ideal for romantic strolls
Those who venture up Austrian Alps should look out for a glimpse of this heart-shaped glacier lake during the trip
Water in this reservoir in Goldried, High Tauern National Park, Austria, is collected in the shape of a heart
Lake Pupuke is a heart-shaped freshwater lake occupying a volcanic crater between the suburbs of Takapuna and Milford on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand
Venice has always had celebrity pulling power and these wonderfully nostalgic black and white photographs, dating from the 1940s through to the 1970s, show some of the world’s most beautiful people enjoying arguably the world’s most beautiful city.
Venice played host to the very first international film festival and long attracted the rich and famous to sample its renowned waterways, from Hollywood actors to acclaimed artists. As you will see below, some of the greats, like Salvador Dali or Mick and Bianca Jagger, enjoyed a relaxing gondola ride, while American actress Gene Tierney tried having a punt herself.
Thanks to the Mail Online for digging up these gorgeous shots.
British actress Claire Bloom and her husband American actor Rod Steiger hiding under an umbrella. They were in Venice for the film festival in September 1963
The sandy beaches of the French Riviera might be the obvious choice for celebrity spotting today but these vintage photographs show that the waterways of Venice were once the go-to spot for holidaying stars.
While George and Amal Clooney are names still drawn to the romantic city, these images, dating from the 1940s to the 1970s, reveal that everyone from Gary Cooper to Salvador Dali has fallen in love with the dreamy destination at some point.
Actors including Sue Lyon and Anthony Quinn are pictured enjoying a relaxing ride on a gondola while action man Sean Connery tries his hand at driving his own boat.
For Spartacus legend Kirk Douglas, it was all about enjoying the beach and socialising with stylish locals, while others, such as Elizabeth Taylor and her then husband Eddie Fisher, preferred to retreat to Burano island and are captured enjoying a candid moment by the lagoon.
It comes as no surprise then, that the Italian city was the host of the world’s first film festival in 1932 and it was the place to be seen.
Even today, more than 80 years since the first Venice Film Festival, the coastal city remains dazzling and popular.
Rock star appeal: British singer Mick Jagger sits next to Bianca Jagger in a gondola, with the gondolier behind them in Venice in 1971
Legendary American actor Paul Newman, wearing a tuxedo and a bow tie during a trip on a water taxi with St. Mark Square in the background, Venice 1963
Spanish artist Salvador Dali pulls a dramatic pose on a gondola while the gondolier rows on behind him
Glamorous riviera: American actor Kirk Douglas, wearing just a swimming suit, signing the thigh of the painter Novella Parigini while another woman looks on at Lido Beach in 1953
Taken around 1960, Elizabeth Taylor and her then husband, singer Eddie Fisher, on holiday on Burano Island in the lagoon at Venice
French actress Brigitte Bardot with her partner, the french jazz guitarist Sasha Distel, in 1958. The extravagant star is surrounded by men in tuxedos
American actor Sue Lyon, known for playing Lolita, is pictured wearing a strapless, striped bikini and reclining on a gondola in 1962
American actor Gary Cooper, pictured in 1955, wears a blazer and a tie as he enjoys his gondola ride in St Mark’s Basin
Taken in 1951, American actor Gene Tierney, wearing a striped short-sleeved nautical-style shirt, lounges on a gondola boat
Later, donning a hat, Gene Tierney tries her hand at rowing a gondola. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ellen Berent Harland in Leave Her to Heaven
Shaken not stirred: A dishevelled Sean Connery rides a water taxi with the wind is his hair, overlooking the Venetian lagoon in the 1970s
American actor Warren Beatty pictured outside the Excelsior Hotel in 1965. The hotel was also where the first film festival was hosted
French actor Cathrine Deneuve on the set of the movie ‘Mayerling’, wearing a coat and and a beret. She holds a paintbrush in her mouth while photographers snaps away in March 1968
Mexican actor Anthony Quinn wearing a plaid blazer, with the actress Barbara Steele, sitting in a water taxi on the Canal Grande in 1958
Another amazing story from Travel Mail Online: guess this little dude has gathered more memories in a few months than most of us can achieve in a lifetime.
Love this! – Ned
Four-year-old covers 17,000 miles and visits 41 European countries… in a SIDECAR
Vladimir Barbu is only four years old, but chances are this adventurous youngster has seen more of the world than many adults.
That’s thanks to his parents revving up the itinerary for their summer holiday last year and taking him on a four-month adventure through 41 European countries covering 17,000 miles – in a trusty sidecar. A 2014 Ural Ranger model fondly nicknamed Zair.
And the photographs look incredible.
Instead of a normal summer holiday last year, the Barbu family decided to embark on a four-month adventure through 41 countries – and the photographs look incredible
Forget planes or boats, the trio travelled in their trusty 2014 Ural Ranger sidecar, fondly nicknamed Zair
Fun in the sun: Photographer Mihai Barbu pictured with his girlfriend Oana and son Vladimir in the Sahara desert in Merzouga, Morocco
The four-month adventure took the trio from Romania covering 17,398 miles in total. Here is a map of their route around Europe
In total, the Romanian family – Mihai Barbu, 36, his girlfriend Oana and Vladimir – covered 17,398 miles during their trip, taking in sights like stunning snow-capped peaks in Switzerland and taking part in activities such as camel riding in the Moroccan desert.
The trip was supposed to be to just a handful of countries – a ‘warm-up tour’ for a bigger adventure. The Family never imagined their expedition would end up as long or exciting as it was.
‘Vladimir was very happy,’ photographer Mihai Barbu, 36, said to MailOnline Travel.
‘I don’t think there’s one single child on this world that would not love riding in a sidecar.’
One of the many exciting experiences Vladimir had was camel-riding in Merzouga, Morocco. Although the trip was supposed to be a ‘warm-up tour’ around Europe – for a bigger trip at a later date – the family never imagined their expedition would end up as long or exciting as it was
The family gaze down on a spectacularly blue river in Montenegro, with green hills flanking it on both sides
Water baby: Vladimir and his adventurous parents enjoy swimming in the sea in Greece
The Barbu family pose on the vibrantly coloured streets of the blue city of Chefchouaen, Morocco
To keep costs down, the Barbu family camped in camp sites or in the wild, checked into cheap hotels, or stayed with friends.
And other nights were spent sleeping under the stars in Morocco on a hotel roof.
By day, little Vladimir can be seen exploring spectacular mosques, playing with monkeys and gazing down on spellbinding mountain valleys.
Vladimir’s parents were determined to give him a summer he would never forget, and had many incredible moments on the road
Treasured memories: Vladimir kisses Oana in the Blue Mosque’s yard in Istanbul, Turkey
A night under the stars: Among their many sleeping options was the chance to stay on a hotel rooftop in Morocco
Time for a sunbathe: Mihai captured the moment the travellers took a break in a parking lot in Greece
‘In my opinion, motorcycles are the only option when it comes to travel and seeing the world,’ photographer Mihai Barbu, who forked out £10,660 for the unusual mode of transport, told MailOnline Travel.
‘With cars and planes you don’t get to experience that much. You don’t get to feel warm when it’s hot and wet when it’s raining.’
For Mihai, exploring new destinations by road felt fairly familiar.
‘In 2009 I did a solo trip to Mongolia, on a BMW F650GS Dakar,’ he said.
‘I love motorcycles, I used to own two bikes, and when Vladimir came into our lives I had to buy a third one, with three seats.
‘We bought the bike with the only wish that it would keep us away from home for as long as possible.’
To keep costs down, the Barbu family camped in camp sites or in the wild, checked into cheap hotels, or stayed with friends
Taking to the water: Vladimir splashes around during a swim in Austria, and was captured by his photographer dad
Love in the Lofoten Islands in Norway: The family played on beach during their epic four-month expedition
Getting up early, the family were able to witness a spectacular sunrise in Spain over the rolling countryside
The fun trio pose next to some brightly coloured doors in Porto in Portugal
When reminiscing about the trip, Mihai said it felt like a dream.
‘I often look at the pictures and wonder if it’s really us that did that,’ he said. ‘I can’t say we have any future plans to hitting the road, but we dream a lot.’
For highlights from their trip and Mihai’s photographic work, see his Instragram page.
Making friends along the journey: The four-year-old had the chance to play with some wild monkeys in Morocco
The family transported all of their belongings and tent on the back of their side car, which cost around £10,660 to buy. Pictured is Stelvio Pass (Italy)
Pictured is the last time the family would use their tent in Greece, and it couldn’t have been better weather for it
Do look down: The family pulled over to take in this incredible view of Monaco and its ocean setting
A moment of still: Instead of watching TV and playing video games, Vladimir got to experience sights such as Sedlo Pass, Montenegro
Matching outfits: Vladimir and his mother wear the same green jacket on the ferry from Tallin in Estonia to Helsinki in Finland
As well as spellbinding natural landscapes, there were also opportunities to see some historic wonders. Pictured is Doonagore Castle in Ireland
Windy: The explorers braved going up on the deck during their ferry ride from Morocco to Spain
The family got to spend their summer close to nature, camping in the wild to keep the costs of their holiday low
While most of the weather looks idyllic, the family also had to battle through a sand storm in the Sahara desert
Along the way, the family collected stickers from all the locations they managed to visit. Here is Mihai putting the last one on
A reminder if you’ve got a bigger budget and are looking for luxury accommodation in Morocco, head to the vibrant city of Tangier and one of two glorious hotels: the El Minzah, frequented by Hollywood legends and inspiration for the infamous Rick’s Bar in Casablanca, or the Grand Hotel Villa de France, favourite haunt of Impressionist painter Henri Matisse.
Love love LOVE these photographs – what an inspirational couple! Big thanks to the Mail Online for a really interesting creative angle.
Meet the globetrotting dog who visits abandoned places and poses for photographs.
Three-year-old bull terrier, Claire, travels the world with owner Alice van Kempen, 48, to seek out abandoned buildings and vehicles.
Dutch photographer, Alice, has visited countries including Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands, in pursuit of her passion for urban exploring, taking her pooch as her trusted companion.
This shot was taken in an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Belgium. Alice writes: ‘Claire got murdered’ as she poses beside wellington boots
Claire poses for a photograph as she stands ironing a colourful tea towel in an abandoned farmhouse in the Netherlands
This empty train carriage in Belgium proved to be the perfect location for a glamorous shot featuring Claire in a fur scarf
Alice travels the world seeking out abandoned buildings and vehicles to photograph and pursue her passion for urban exploring
Ready for take off: Piloting a deserted plane in Belgium, the pooch poses wearing green tinted aviators in the captain’s seat of the aircraft
Alice, who has worked as a freelance dog photographer since 1998, said: ‘From day one I had a connection with Claire. [She] loves modelling, she really does – I’ve never seen a bull terrier or even another dog like her.
‘She’s brilliant too – she sometimes has to sit absolutely still for seconds at a time without blinking or making the slightest movement.
‘Everything about bull terriers is unique; their egg-shaped head, the piercing glint in their coal black eyes, their strong bodies and their fun-loving attitude.’
Dutch photographer, Alice, has visited countries including Luxembourg, Belgium (pictured) and the Netherlands, taking Claire with her
Alice, who has worked as a freelance dog photographer since 1998, snaps away as her dog washes some clothes in a Netherlands tub
The 48-year-old photographer said: ‘Everything about bull terriers is unique; their egg-shaped head, the piercing glint in their coal black eyes, their strong bodies and their fun-loving attitude.’
This stunning forsaken castle in Belgium appears to be in beautiful condition still. Claire perches on a ledge and stares down at a dirty doll
In the same castle, this room has seen better days. The ceiling droops down above Claire who sits beside a teddy bear on a luxury sofa
Claire looks as though she is burgling an abandoned cafe in Luxembourg in this shot. Kitted out with a black mask, the pup looks like she has been caught red-handed in this image
Alice got the idea of photographing Claire after a trip to the abandoned town of Doel inspired her to take up the hobby more seriously.
‘It’s not an idea that I had straight away, one day a little over two years ago I went to a ghost town in Belgium called Doel.
‘It was my first introduction to urban exploring and I soon got the idea it would be interesting take photographs of Claire at these locations.
‘I always feel safe with Claire at my side because I know she can protect me if it comes to that.’
Claire sits in the bathroom of a run down retirement home and she poses with a toilet brush. Alice said that the pup is ‘extremely patient’ and sometimes has to sit still for longer periods of time to get the right shot
Alice got the idea of photographing Claire after a trip to the abandoned town of Doel (pictured) inspired her to take up the hobby
The three-year-old bull terrier travels the world with Dutch photographer Alice van Kempen (pictured: abandoned plane in Belgium)
Alice researches locations from home, taking her time to achieve the perfect image (Claire pictured in a farmhouse in Belgium)
Here Claire is pictured preparing herself to clean the property – which happens to be a deserted farmhouse in Luxembourg
Alice researches shoot locations from home, taking her time in her pursuit of the perfect image.
She said: ‘As for the pictures I take, preparation starts at home.
‘I search for new locations on the internet and I’ve also got a list of buildings and places I want to visit. When I’ve decided where I want to go, I start looking at pictures taken by other photographers for a bit of inspiration.’
X-rays and old leather satchels remain scattered around this old doctors surgery in Belgium which was used for a photo by the duo
Praying in an abandoned chapel: Claire appears to be focused on a wreath of dead flowers leaning against a wall in Belgium
In an abandoned monastery in Belgium, the bull terrier is positioned beside a set of wooden rosary beads and a confession box
Sitting in a dusty and rusted children’s pram in an abandoned villa, the dog stares out of the window which is no longer covered by drapes
Alice takes scarves, hats, handbags, necklaces, glasses and tools as accessories for the shoots. (Above: Claire in an abandoned home in Belgium)
In a villa, the pooch looks out of the window as she sits beside a newspaper and an old birds cage in the time-forgotten room
Alice added: ‘This is to get an idea how Claire can be photographed as sometimes I take accessories with me – I’ve got a collection of scarves, hats, handbags, necklaces, glasses and tools.
‘Finding a new location is great fun but getting inside is where the real fun starts.
‘Claire and I have crawled underneath fences, climbed walls, jumped through windows but lots of times the door is open.’
Beside a rusty wheelchair and discarded teddy bear, Claire poses wearing a stethoscope and glasses in this old nursing home in Belgium
In an abandoned castle in France the pup sits in shards of light splayed across the darkened room
Looking fabulous: the smiling pooch poses in rollers and a blonde wig beneath a hair dryer in an old farmhouse in the Netherlands
Alice has taken her time mastering and refining her techniques but admits she’s learned more in the last two years than ever before.
She said: ‘Once we’re inside we check the building from top to bottom and I always start photographing the best spot in the house first.
‘This type of photography is totally different to what I’m used to do but I’ve learned more about photography in the last two years then I ever have before.’
Alice has taken her time mastering and refining her techniques but admits she’s learned more in the last two years than ever before
Alice said: ‘Once we’re inside we check the building from top to bottom and I always start photographing the best spot in the house first’
‘This type of photography is totally different to what I’m used to do,’ Alice added. (Pictured: Claire beside an old music player in Belgium)
Looking a little stressed, the young pooch perches on a pew as she waits for the doctor in this former surgery in Belgium
In Luxembourg, the three-year-old pet takes a rest on a bed which is covered in spider webs that have thickened over time
In a derelict monastery in Belgium, Clare stares out of the window as she sits in a left behind wheelchair in a dusty second floor room
Trending hashtag on Instagram #fromwhereidrone shows spectacular aerial photographs of landscapes around the world like you’ve never seen them before
Photographer Dirk Dallas, 33, first posted an image with #fromwhereidrone last year and has since seen it go viral
Over 10,000 people have followed suit uploading their most stunning aerial captures bearing the same hashtag
Pictures include fiery autumnal landscape around Neuschwanstein Castle and swimmers with a spotted whale shark
Dallas created an Instagram featuring the most breathtaking shots and has shared a selection with MailOnline Travel
These stunning aerial pictures prove that birds really do have the best view.
A recent boom in drones being bought for personal and professional photography has seen many taking to Instagram to post their breathtaking captures.
A hashtag that is currently trending is #fromwhereidrone, where people can showcase the most jaw-dropping images from above. Here MailOnline Travel shares some of the most stunning.
Fire and Ice: Instagram user @anthony_morganti posted this mesmerising shot of a fiery-coloured coastline round Lake Mead, Nevada
User @razdood perfectly captured the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois with an orangey sun peeking through the top
This stunning image, uploaded by @Goldie_berlin, is of the island of Lonubo, Maldives, a romantic location where guests can stay
Uploads bearing the searchable tag include an autumnal landscape featuring the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle and three swimmers exploring the ocean alongside a spotted whale shark.
The most incredible of these drone captures are now featured on the website of the man who actually created the hashtag.
Photographer Dirk Dallas, 33, thought up the play on words of the popular #fromwhereistand and included it in one of his picture captions of an aerial shot in 2014.
‘I started using the hashtag on every drone photo I posted and each time there were a few people that seemed to think it was funny so I kept posting with it,’ he said to MailOnline Travel.
‘One day, several months later, I decided to actually click on the tag and to my surprise I saw over 500 drone photos tagged with it as well. I was blown away!’
Uploads bearing the searchable tag include a fiery autumnal landscape featuring the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle, captured by @jacob
Dirk Dallas (@dirka) who created the hashtag features some of his own work in the mix including this image of a woman in a striking red dress in lying in the desert
User @vadim uploaded this stunning city skyline using the trending hashtag #fromwhereidrone
The Californian decided to dedicate an Instagram page to the best images with the tag, and has seen the page gain tens of thousands of followers.
He now features a drone image or video every single day and has a website of the same name dedicated to tips on buying and capturing incredible images and featuring inspiration from uploads he has seen.
‘The response to the hashtag has been incredible. I’m excited to announce that as of December the hashtag has passed 10,000 photos on Instagram,’ he said.
‘Based on the comments and emails that I have received, there are lots of people that have gotten into drone photography because of the amazing photos found through the hashtag and @fromwhereidrone account.
‘My goal was to have people inspired by this new form of photography so I am always happy to hear when someone shares that with me.’
@michaelmatti added this image of the heart-shaped Lake Karagol in northeast Turkey, with its lush surrounding trees visible
Another one of Dallas’ uploads on his Instagram (@dirka) was this stunning image of a sunrise shining over a railway bridge
@_epicspence shared this incredible shot of waves crashing on a beach which had been one of over 10,000 bearing the tag
The talented photographer features some of his own work in the mix including an image of a woman in a striking red dress in lying in the desert and one of a sunrise over a railway bridge.
‘My advice for beginners is to first get an inexpensive drone so that you can get the hang of flying something in the air remotely and get some of the crashes out of the way before having an accident with something really expensive,’ he advised.
‘For those who want to just jump right in with a fantastic drone that features a great camera then I would recommend the DJI Phantom 3.’
Drones have come under recent fire with many no-fly being applied to public and private spaces.
A sunset over the San Gabriel Mountains in California was perfectly captured by Dan Marker-Moore (@danorst)
Eric Ward (@littlecoal) uploaded this captivating images with the tag line ‘Next level shot of an Instameet’
The Lotus Temple, as captured by @amos.chapple. Designed by an Iranian exile, the building serves as the centre of the Bahai’i faith in Delhi
In March it was announced that the equipment is now banned from parks near Buckingham Palace and other senior Royals’ homes amid fears they could be used by spies or would-be terrorists.
‘Anyone who buys a drone definitely needs to take some time to first look at the rules and regulations established by the authorities in their area.
‘Here in the United States the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established some rules for drone pilots which include the following: You can’t fly higher than 400 feet, you must be able to see your drone at all times, you must stay at least 5 miles away from any airports, you can’t fly in National Parks or near stadiums or racetracks during an event and you can’t photograph people in places where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission.’
Next Dallas hopes to capture Dubai so he can shoot the amazing beaches, architecture and desert landscapes.
Three swimmers had a once-in-a-lifetime experience exploring the ocean alongside a spotted whale shark and @postandfly was there to capture it from above
The South Maroubra Beach in Australia looks tranquil when photographed by drone by @gabscanu
Entitled the City of Angels @dylan.schwartz posted this spectacular picture of the Los Angeles skyline
The turquoise waters and golden sands of Seychelles looks dreamy when @brahmino’s drone panned over it in the sky
Dallas now features a drone image or video every single day and has a website of the same name. There is even some of his own captures such as this incredible image of a swimming in a crystal clear pool
@colbyshootspeople posted this image of Fjaðrárgljúfur in Iceland and captioned it saying, ‘the only thing more insane than Iceland’s scenery is Iceland’s language #fromwhereidrone’
India has long been associated with colour thanks to its festivals, costumes and food.
It’s home to Holi, a festival that’s entirely devoted to colour. Taking place during the Spring Equinox each year, the Hindu festival celebrates love and life with revellers throwing coloured powder at each other.
The country also boasts numerous colourful temples, like Meenakshi Temple in south India’s Madurai, where the walls are painted in different shades of rainbow. In grand palaces such as Taj Majal, stone inlay is used to add colour to the marble exterior.
The love of colour extends to everyday life as well.
Its women wear bright and daring saris, adorned with reflective mirrors, shiny threads and topped with gold. The men are no less colourful with their turbans, kurtas and scarves.
Even its food is peppered with various hues thanks to its rich blend of pungent herbs and spices.
As these photographs show, colour is everywhere in India.
Colourful trucks, like these in Rajasthan, north India, are a common sight in the country. Their decoration varies according to the region
Rising up to 170 feet in the air, the 14 towers of the Meenakshi Temple are adorned by an impressive display of around 33,000 sculptures – all accentuated with a riot of bright colours
At a sari factory, this woman raises a length of dyed fabric. The materials a generally coloured with natural dye and hung out to dry
This building in Kolkata, east India, is made alive by the colourful saris hung out to dry. They fall in contrast to the blue background
A group of people sit outside in Himachal, north India. Somehow, even among all the colours, their individual shades seem to stand out
Victoria Terminus in Mumbai is lit up in glorious shades of purples and reds but its beautiful architecture is left plain in the day
A man sells coloured powder with spices at his stall in Mysore, south India. As well as Holi, the powders are also used for decorations
This village woman shows off her colourful outfit in Gujarat, west India. She wears bangles up to her arms to complete the outfit
In Allahabad, north India, take a dip in the Ganges while wearing saris. Hindus bathe in the Ganges to cleanse themselves of their sins
This boy tries to wash off the colour splashed onto him during Holi. People apply oil on to their skin to make the colour removal easier
Colourful umbrellas are set outside a shop in Jaipur, north India, allowing shoppers to easily admire the products and browse
This Indian man wears a traditional Rajasthan turban. As turbans are a Sikh man’s personal choice, this man is clearly very colourful
The man above reads a paper as he tends his colourful stall in Mysore, south India. Colourful food is also seen in the country’s spices
Spectacular photographs reveal why China is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth
Ancient and intoxicating; China has long excited travellers keen to explore its vast and varied landscape.
Although it may be one of the largest countries on earth, these stunning photographs prove it is also one of the most beautiful.
From rainbow-coloured rolling hills that look like they are from another world, to an abandoned village clad in vines in Shengshan Island – the Asian country is a visual feast.
Natural treasures such as the turquoise lakes of Jiǔzhàigōu National Park and sunsets on the rice fields in Yuanyang County are just two of the picturesque landscapes that have long attracted tourists to the country. Meanwhile the famous Great Wall of China is a huge pull for visitors, but how many have stopped to admire the end of the structure juttinginto the sea?
Around every corner is an inviting panorama with one of the most incredible being the world’s largest Buddhist settlement in Larung, which features thousands of red wooden huts contrasting sharply against the green hills.
MailOnline Travel takes you on a visual journey to explore this breathtaking country in all its natural glory and reveal why China is well worth a visit.
Turquoise pools: The neon-coloured limestone ponds of the Huanglong valley are a visual feast for those looking for a slice of paradise. Nearby you’ll find snow-capped peaks and a wealth of animal life
Kaleidoscopic hills: With its rolling hills, rocky peaks and multitude of colours, this terrain is positively other-worldly. However, the spectacular lunar landscape can actually be found at the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in Gansu Province, China
Mosaic beauty: The terraced rice fields in Yuanyang County become flooded paddies from December to April and create pools that resemble broken mirrors. As the sun sets, colours are scattered in the reflective waters
Early morning journey: A Qj Doubleheader puffs its way uphill to Shangdian On The Jitong Tielu leaving a billowing trail in its wake
While many can instantly recognise pictures of the Great Wall of China, the fascinating end of the famous landmark is less well-known
Vines climb the old stone walls, weave through the windows and doors and creep along the crumpling paths in an abandoned Chinese fishing village which has been reclaimed by mother nature on Shengshan Island
Among the green rolling hills in the Larung Gar Valley in China, the last thing you would expect to see in the countryside are thousands of red wooden huts that have been built in a massive cluster. Despite its secluded location it is home to the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, the world’s largest Buddhist settlement
The simplistic beauty of this Sundried Kelp farm in the water is truly mesmerising. The cultivation area is located in the Fujian Province
Pearl Shoal Waterfall is regularly called the most beautiful waterfall in the Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park in the northern Sichuan province of south western China. Unsurprisingly, the waterfall gets its name from the pearly droplets of water created as it cascades down the rocks
You can see why this winding driveway in Tianmen Mountain National Park is called Serpentine Road. The road took eight years to construct. To get there, you need to drive up Tongtian Avenue, which has 99 turns thought to symbolise heaven having nine palaces
The stunning Unesco World Heritage Site of Jiǔzhàigōu National Park is visited by more than two million people every year who are lured by its turquoise lakes, cascading waterfalls and its deep green trees
Detian Waterfall is a transnational waterfall in the Sino-Vietnamese border. In spring, the fiery-red kapok trees scatter around the waterfall making it more exquisite
The Stone Forest or Shilin is formed of jagged limestone formations in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan Province which feature coloured plants dotted among it
Looking like a scene from a movie, the Maijishan Grottoes, cut in the side of the hill of Majishan in Tianshui, Gansu Province, feature a stunning selection of murals and sculptures surrounded by winding walkways and spiral stairs
Stomach-jolting: You have to have nerves of steel to take on this vertigo-inducing trail – Mount Hua Shan in China. Situated in Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), a mountain range in the southern Anhui province of eastern China, the risky walkway is lined with tight and rickety walkways high up in the air, with the threat of a long, lethal drop below
Take a boat and weave in and out of the dotted man-made islands that make up the Qiandao or Thousand Island Lake
Lè Shān’s gigantic, 1,200-year-old Grand Buddha sits carved from a cliff face overlooking three busy rivers: the Dàdù, Mín, and Qīngyì. The giant statue has fingernails larger than the average human, and attracts multitudes of tourists to the area
Eagles battling in the snow, a tiger prowling the long grass of India and an erupting volcano in Chile.
These are some of the stunning images in the running for the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards – with many capturing breathtaking shots of mother nature at her finest in the likes of Switzerland and Canada.
One photographer, Z Chen from China, submitted an incredible still of the sunset around Viti, a crater in Iceland that is shaped like a love heart, and another, Amri Arfianto from Indonesia, captured the moment a male peacock spread his tail feathers with eye-popping style.
So far, this year’s ‘open’ category submissions, sent in to the World Photography Organisation, include an extraordinary variety of incredible images of wildlife and some of Earth’s greatest landscapes.
All winning and shortlisted photographers will be included in a global press campaign in London in April 2016 – the selected Open Photographer of the Year will also receive $5,000 (£3,260) plus flights and accommodation to the awards.
Launched in 2008, the awards are dedicated to supporting and cultivating photographic culture and are open to photographers of all levels – from amateurs to ‘fully-fledged’ professionals – and winners will be selected in four categories (professional, open, student and youth).
The open and youth competitions close on January 5, while entries for the professional competition must be submitted by January 8.
Zay Yar Lin from Burma shared this image of a fisherman ‘leg rower’ from Innlay Lake in Myanmar rowing his boat with his legs
Giovanni Frescura from Italy shared his image – of an eagle latching on to another as they battle in the snow – with the competition
Eduardo Minte from Chile captured the spectacular moment the Calbuco Volcano – the third most active Volcano in Chile – erupted for the second time this year. The volcano had been dormant for the last 43 years until this April
Amri Arfianto from Indonesia submitted this breathtaking image of a peacock spreading out its tail feathers to display the bright eyespots
Antje Kakuschke from Germany snapped this image of hundreds of King Penguins standing together and looking in different directions
These monkeys were caught having a soak in a hot spring during a light snow flurry in Japan by photographer Christopher Yeoh, Australia
Simone Cmoon from Switzerland sent in this incredible image of the stars, flowers and settled snow above The Bernese Alps
Joanna Szewczyk from Poland took this eye-catching shot of a lone zebra strolling down a path leading towards mountains and dry land
Douglas Croft from USA captured the moment a gray whale and her calf glided silently through the kelp forests along the Californian coast
Henrik Spranz from Germany sent in his incredible image of a cute critter jumping up to reach wild berries for its lunch
Kris Williams from the UK took an amazing picture of a starry night above a derelict farm surrounded by barley fields on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales
Sara Brudkiewicz from Poland captured a stag caught in the rainfall. The animal stands strong and has water falling from its antlers
Michael Pachis’s incredible image shows a stunning bald eagle captured standing in the rain. The droplets splash against his feathers
Vladimir Cech Junior from Czech Republic managed to capture an image of this stunning tiger prowling through the long grass in India
Taha Ahmed from India captured this neutral coloured pelican and submitted the stunning imagery to the 2016 Sony Photography Awards
This short-tailed weasel was captured mid-air fleeing in the snow with a freshly killed vole – shot by Canadian photographer Stuart McKay
Sheldon Bilsker from Canada published this photo of a Rufous Hummingbird, known for its amazing flight skills, in its natural environment
Z Chen from China submitted an incredible still of the sunset around Viti, a bright blue crater in Iceland that is shaped like a love heart
Govindarajan Venugopal from India submitted his image of zebras stood in a field during sunrise with rays seeping through the clouds
Taha Ahmed from India also submitted this shot, which appears to show both grey-scale and colourful birds in flight at night-time
From the summit of Machu Picchu to the open spaces of Mongolia, National Geographic has assembled a selection of the most amazing places from around the globe.
Garrison Savannah, Barbados
Photographer Susan Seubert writes: ‘While I was on assignment in Barbados, a hotel owner suggested I get up at 3am to watch the Turf Club horses being bathed in the ocean at sunrise. I drove in the pitch black to the waterfront – there, a parade of groomsmen and their thoroughbreds gradually emerged from the dark street, past the glow of a single streetlamp, and into the ocean. As the sun started to reveal the beautiful blue water, the gorgeous horses, and the Bajan men bathing alongside these incredible animals, everything fell into place.’
Photograph: Susan Seubert/National Geographic
Machu Picchu, Peru
A llama’s-eye view of the legendary Inca settlement at Machu Picchu, isolated high in the Peruvian Andes.
Photograph: Jim Turner/National Geographic
Photographer Pete McBride writes: ‘I visited Guanajuato to do a story about Josefa Ortiz Dominguez, a Mexican heroine – and possible distant relative – who helped start the revolution against the Spanish in 1810. This was a key location on the Ruta de la Independencia – the main path of fighting that led to Mexico’s independence. I shot the image at the overlook of this historic, festive town at dusk on the evening of 1 November, Day of the Dead, symbolic timing when chasing the ghosts of my family history.’
Photograph: Peter Mcbride/National Geographic
Bora Bora, French Polynesia Pahia and Otemanu
A barrier reef protects the shallow turquoise lagoon surrounding the Pacific islands of Bora Bora, where the extinct volcanic peak of Mount Otemanu juts into the sky.
Photograph: Frans Lanting/National Geographic
Saunders Island, Falkland Islands
Photographer Jay Dickman writes: ‘This particular afternoon on Saunders Island was quite beautiful, with the lowering sun providing a warm light that washed the wildlife and landscape. As I watched, cycles of waves pounding the shoreline would reveal groups of penguins making their transition from the surf of the South Atlantic Ocean to the sandy shore. This set of southern rockhopper penguins looked to me to be a perfectly formed brigade (in proper ranks, it seemed), marching to their terra firma nests.’
Photograph: Jay Dickman/National Geographic
Mount Washington, New Hampshire
The weather station at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory has recorded wind gusts and arctic temperatures since 1932.
Photograph: Mike Theiss/National Geographic
Photographer Ira Block writes: ‘The weather had been changing constantly in Mongolia’s southern Gobi, not far from the border with China. After a storm passed, a rainbow appeared, then a second one. The gers (yurts) added scale and depth to my composition, but when I saw the rider on horseback I knew this was my chance to add motion to my photo. I waited until they were between the rainbows and started shooting as fast as I could to capture the moment, the light, the rainbows, and the stormy sky.’
Photograph: Ira Block/National Geographic
Sossusvlei Dunes, Namibia
Sossusvlei is home to the largest sand dunes in the world, shaped by the wind. High levels of iron in the sand create its distinctive glowing hue.
Photographer Amy Toensing writes: ‘I’m not a huge fan of photographing performances, but I have to say this one blew me away visually. There were around 400 performers gathered from 10 different Chinese ethnic groups, and many times, as in this image, it appeared they were all onstage together, dancing, singing, and playing instruments. The show takes place at about 10,000 feet (3,048m), with the 18,360ft (5,596m) Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulongxue Shan) as a stunning backdrop.’
Chinese fishermen basking in the glow sunset and reindeer nomads surging across the snow in Russia have scored highly in the competition, which announced its winners on October 31.
Over 15,000 images were submitted by entrants from over 100 countries around the worldand judges included professional photographers Melissa Farlow, Beth Wald and Gmb Akash.
The inaugural event was supported and promoted by many Italian and international photography magazines, and it is hoped to become a springboard for new talents.
From October 31 until November 30, an exhibition will showcase the prize-winning photographs and the best captures of competition in different venues across Siena, Italy. Impressed by the calibre of entrants, a new 2016 edition of the competition is to open on December 15, inviting new applicants until May 2016.
Overall winner: On the River by Vladimir Proshin. Chinese fishermen on a river close to the city of Lishui. The image was taken in 2013 during a photo tour when the author was invited by the ’15th China International Photographic Art Exhibition’ under the patronage of FIAP and the Chinese Photographic Organisation and where he was also awarded with the gold medal
Open colour winner: Cappadocia balloon, by Giulio Montini. ‘Just before dawn on almost every day in this part of Turkey, about 100 hot-air balloons rise into the air simultaneously. The breathtaking spectacle is made even more magical by the rising sun illuminating the peaks of the rocks and the balloons. I was lucky enough to be higher than the other balloons, and was able to isolate one, perfectly illuminated.’
Travel – Honourable mention: Sunrise at the Great Wall of China, by Joseph Tam. ‘Where I was standing is the hardest part of the Great Wall to reach without special climbing gear. This image captures the wall’s timeless magnificence as a true celebration of mankind and a reflection of the rising dragon that is China and its place in the world order.’
Open colour – Honourable mention: Li River Fisherman, China by The Eng Loe Djatinegoro. Fishermen while catching fish from Li River in the northeast of Guangxi Province, using trained Cormorants birds to dive and catch the fish. Cormorant fishing is a traditional method practiced in China since more than a thousand years
Travel – Third Classified: Coming to get salt, by Jørgen Johanson. ‘The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is among the hottest and most inhospitable places on earth. It is also one of the lowest, and Asale lake is 116 metres below sea level. The Afar people are extracting salt here, using camels for transport’
Open colour – Honourable mention: The morning run by Lal Nallath. Lal often goes at dawn shooting in this particular area of Dubai on the way to Al Ain. Every morning there are horses running, camels walking, cyclist riding and many birds flying. One day the horses had taken a new route and lots of dust was flying up. Lal rushed closer and took a silhouette with the lights spilling throughout the horses
Open colour – Honourable mention: Braving the storm, by Joseph Tam. ‘This shot was taken from a fishing village in Dianbai, in China’s Guangdong province. The fisherman in the timber boat is a courier who brings the catches from fishing boats to shore regularly. The swirling threat of the storm clouds and thunderous clamour of the angry waves sends a foreboding message to most’
Travel – Second Classified: In the Gydansky Tundra by Sergey Anisimov. Yamal in Nenets language means ‘land’s end’ and it is the Northern Pearl of Russia: amazing blend of natural beauty and the ancient hospitality tradition. Breeding Reindeer probably is one of the rarest professions; there are about 14,000 nomads living together with the herds of deer
Open colour – Honourable mention: Sweihan Camels by Mario Bejagan Cardenas. Camel racing is closely associated with the unique heritage of the UAE and Bedouins traditional lifestyle. This extraordinary shot shows the parallel reflection of a camel herd with riders taken at Sweihan Camel Race Track in Abu Dhabi
Open colour – Honourable mention: Shwamibagh temple, Bangladesh, by Noor Ahmed Gelal. ‘The Hindu community celebrating the three-day Rakher Upabas festival at Loknath Temple in Barodi, near Dhaka. Devotees offer prayers after lighting earthen lamps and fast until the lamps have burned out’
Travel – Honourable mention: Mini Citybus by Stefano Mirabella. The rear of a minibus with a curious little girl looking out of the window pane, the silkscreened model and the waiting for to complete the scene. Stefano took several shots before this one, wishing the child wouldn’t look into the camera and that an interesting subject passed by on the other side of the street
Travel – Honourable mention: Summer day on the French Riviera, by Sebastien Nogier. ‘Young men diving into the Mediterranean on a hot summer’s day in Nice, southern France. I took this picture in July 2014, in temperatures of about 28C’
Travel – Honourable mention: The Yamuna River by Bruno Tamiozzo. The ‘Yamuna’ River is the largest tributary of the Sacred river Ganges and is venerated by the Hindus. According to Hindu mythology, in fact, Yamuna is Surya’s daughter and sister of Yama, the god of death. Very close to the ‘Taj Mahal’, in the city of Agra, the only way to reach the ‘prohibited’ shore of the river, is a very old wooden boat. The sunrise is one of the quieter moments to navigate on the river, and the climatic conditions create mysterious and extremely fascinating atmospheres
Travel – Honourable mention: Beehive, Sellin, Rügen Island, Germany, by Massimo della Latta. ‘These beach cabins are used all over Germany’s north sea coast. Their position on the white sand, their unique orientation, and the people coming in and out of the ‘cells’ recalled, for me, bees in a hive’
Travel winner: Jumping over the train, Gazipur, Bangladesh, by Noor Ahmed Gelal. ‘At the end of the annual Biswa Iztema, the second-largest Muslim gathering in Bangladesh, a lot of people are rushing to try to grab in any possible way a seat or a space on a train at Tongi railway station’
Travel – Honourable mention: Make-up in a dancer club by Javier Arcenillas. Several dancers from a dance group of different ages are putting make-up on and preparing to work on stage in a dance show in the city of Santiago de Cuba
Travel – Honourable mention: At prayer in Bagan, Myanmar, by Lim Chee Keong. ‘You find a lot of monks and young novices in Myanmar, where Buddhism is very influential. I couldn’t help but fall in love with this country, whose people are very honest, full of enthusiasm and very polite’
Open Colour – Second Classified: Kiev Uprising by Giorgio Bianchi. Riot police deploys in a park next to the old stadium of Dynamo Kiev, preparing to storm the anti-government protesters behind barricades erected in Hrushveskoho Street
Travel – Honourable mention: Omo River, Ethiopia by Fausto Podavini. A child from the Dassanech tribe in South Ethiopia. Despite his young age, his body is already signed by several wounds, symbol of the physical strength of the person
Open colour – Honourable mention: Way by Vladimir Proshin. This is the author’s most beloved photograph taken in the village of Kantaurovo in the central area of Russia. It represents a person who does not work and lives only by donations. The picture is the reflection of man’s destiny, his choice of spiritual life and what a man can reach despite a total lack of money
Open colour – Honourable mention: The Coming Storm by Antonio Grambone. When he has the chance, after it stops raining, Antonio goes with his camera to the little square in Vallo Scalo, a small town near Salerno, looking for interesting reflections that usually get formed on puddles. He took the picture pointing the camera straight at the reflection and then he turned it upside down
Travel – Honourable mention: Runway Cricket by Md. Khalid Rayhan Shawon. Local boys near runway playing cricket under the flying path of an aircraft of the airport
Open colour – Honourable mention: David by Edmondo Senatore. This is one of the many homeless portraits photographed in different Italian cities, interesting experience where Edmondo made about 500 pictures, and that led him to know how these less fortunate people live
Open colour – Third Classified: Celebrating Victory by Md. Khalid Rayhan Shawon. Children inside and on top of a building under construction near the Dhaka International Airport runway watching the air craft landing while, at the same time, one of them is waving the national flag as to celebrate the Bangladesh’s Victory Day on December 16
Photographer Steve McCurry has travelled over 80 times times to India capturing raw moments during his visits. His incredible new book, India, features 100 images of everyday people in extraordinary rural and urban settings.
Tribal elders, hidden winding stairwells and mahouts sleeping next to their colourful elephants.
These are the enchanting moments captured amid the chaos and colours of over 80 visits to one of the world’s most vibrant countries, India.
A photographic love letter to the mesmerising nation, the images were taken by renowned US photographer Steve McCurry, 65, who’s best known for his incredible National Geographic photograph Afghan Girl.
McCurry’s amazing new book, India, documents the raw and exciting moments encountered throughout the 30 years he’s been visiting.
Home to two billion individuals, it comes as no surprise that the Indian project features its fascinating inhabitants in every frame.
While some of the shots are famous worldwide, McCurry’s emotive portfolio contains many that are never-before-seen.
He told MailOnline Travel: ‘I first went to India in 1978. Since then, I have been to India more than 85 times. It has been one of the most important places that I’ve worked and photographed over the past 30 years. I estimate that I have more than 15,000 pictures in my archive from India.
‘There’s something about India that makes you feel like you’re stepping back into another time and age, someplace ancient. I appreciate its vibrancy and its continuity with the past. History is not dead there.’
Printed in stunning resolution in a giant coffee table format, Steve McCurry: India, published by Phaidon on 26 October (£39.95) is the perfect way to escape to the enchanting nation.
Rajasthan, 2010. A Rabari tribal elder stands out from the crowd with a distinctive orange-tinged beach and hair, adorned with numerous accessories
Rajasthan, 1996. A colourful red crowd carry a smiling man during the Holi festival
Srinagar, Kashmir, 1996. A girl and her father go to the floating vegetable market in their shikara in Srinagar. Much of the city is surrounded by Dal Lake, where thousands of people use these canoe-like boats to go to and from their homes
Haridwar, India, 1998. A young child dressed as the Hindu Deity Lord Shiva, often depicted in the colour blue, asks for alms at a religious festival
Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India, 1996. Three city workmen wait for their afternoon tea, delivered each day by a street vendor. Here, the red jumps out of the blue as if in an abstract painting, yet remains centred within the lives of these three men, patiently awaiting their tea
India, 2002. Women climb up mesmerizing stepwells. The magnificent underground structures were ancient forms of water storage and provide respite from the heat and temples
Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 1983. McCurry said: ‘This photograph recorded in 1983 the contrast between a mighty technology – the steam locomotive – and the transcendent aesthetic of the Taj Mahal’
Mumbai, 1993. A devotee carries a statue of Lord Ganesh into the waters of the Arabian Sea during the immersion ritual off Chowpatty beach
West Bengal, 1983. Bicycles hang on the side of a train. The country’s trains carry 20 million passengers a day, packed into, and on top of the colourful carriages that journey through some of the world’s most incredible natural and urban scenery
Rajasthan, 2012. Young mahouts sleep on a stone floor next to their elephant, which is adorned with colourful patterns
Printed in stunning resolution in a giant coffee table format, Steve McCurry: India, published by Phaidon on 26 October (£39.95) is the perfect way to escape to this captivating nation.
Probably my favourite country in the whole world. A must-buy coffee table book! – Ned
This tourist attraction is bound to get your heart pumping! – Ned
A huge 164-foot high glass footbridge is now open to the public in Taiwan and is causing even the sturdiest legs to tremble.
The Republic has opened a glass bottomed bridge hovering 288 feet above a picturesque valley giving spectacular views, not only across to the other side, but also for those brave enough to look down through the glass floor.
Civil servant Hanson Mao, 35, was able to snap these pictures of members of the public using the bridge for the first time in Nantou, Taiwan.
Observers suggest that glass-bottomed bridges are currently “en vogue” in Asia.
There is also a 590 foot high glass-bottomed suspension bridge in Hunan, central China.
Stretching almost 1,000 feet long, the glass suspension bridge is named Haohan Qiao, translating in English to “Brave Men’s Bridge” – and it’s not hard to see why.
The bridge was originally wooden until its conversion using glass panes 24mm thick and 25 times stronger than normal glass.
China also has plans for another glass-bottomed suspension bridge in the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon area, about 185 northwest of Shiniuzhai.
When completed, it will be the world’s highest and longest glass bridge at over 1,400 feet long (426.72m) and 985 feet (300.23m) high.
According to reports, several visitors were so terrified that they could barely move. Some were seen holding on to each other as well as to the railings as they made the crossing.
A glass elevator has also opened at a scenic site in Hubei, central China, allowing visitors to reach the peak of the mountain quicker. It is situated next to a cliff-face and is a staggering 3,543 feet above sea level. The spectacular structure, situated in the province of Huna, was the first of its kind in the world.
Nothing can stop a crazy nineteen-year-old from taking the most dangerous selfies during his travels. But don’t look at these images if you’re scared of heights…!
I feel sick. My hands are getting wet and my stomach just dropped while I was watching a video of Alexander Remnev, showing him on top of a skyscraper and taking selfies in daring positions. Within days, the images of the Russian guy went viral. Who is this crazy daredevil?
Alexander Remnev is a nineteen-year-old guy from Moscow. He has been climbing on rooftoops since the tender age of 14. The photographer travelled to Hong Kong, Paris, Barcelona, and Dubai… just to find tall buildings and make his way up to the roofs of these skyscrapers.
I started following Alexander on Facebook since I saw the first images of him a couple of months ago. My heart skipped a beat, every time he posted a new image from an incredibly high altitude. His photos and videos are amazing and frightening at the same time. Definitely nothing for the faint-hearted.
I emailed Alexander, telling him that I want to feature his images on my blog. He replied in no time, telling me that he has managed to gain access to many rooftops around the world. And he is still not done.
The daredevil wants to travel to Sydney, Singapore, Bangkok and the US to continue his passion for skywalking and photography… I wonder if his mom is on Facebook…
Btw, if you are over 80, you might want to leave this website now, I don’t want you to get overly excited. Let’s get started!! Are you sitting in a comfortable position? Maybe you should hold on to your chair…
Here are 20 terrifying images from the top of the tallest skyscrapers…
Please do not replicate any of those stunts. Climbing on top of a skyscraper is extremely risky and dangerous for your life!
Alexander travelled with friends to Dubai to scale several skyscrapers in the city. The image above shows him with a friend on top of the Princess Tower, the world’s tallest residential building. The tower is a 101 storey and 414m (1,350 ft.) tall.
Rooftopper Alexander in Hong Kong, balancing along a skyscraper without ropes or any safety gear.
“Scared of high altitudes?” I doubt it.
“Over the years, I lost my fear of heights” he says.
Mustang Wanted, another popular skywalker and friend of Alexander is hanging on the edge of the Moscow Brigde in Kiev, Ukraine.
Just by looking at this, my palms get sweaty. Alexander climbed with friends to the top of the Address Hotel in Dubai… The thrill-seeking teenager scaled several skyscrapers in Dubai, without any problems to get in.
“We walked around in Dubai and looked at random skyscrapers.
We just tried to get up. When there was no access, we moved on to another building. But we were lucky, most of them were unlocked…”
On the very top end of the Torch Tower, one of the world’s tallest residential tower and an iconic part of Dubai Marina.
Stunning night view over Hong Kong’s bay…
Jaw-dropping: Alexander on his way up to the Moscow Bridge in Kiev, Ukraine.
Fearless girl sitting next to the edge of Cayan Tower, showing an amazing night view of Dubai.
Getting high on The Center, the fifth tallest building in Hong Kong. The skyscraper is completely structured of steel, it comprise 73 stores with a height of 346m (1,135ft.)
Skywalking became a popular trend in the last years, especially among young Russians. Personally, I get the chills when I look at all those images… The bird’s eye views, the city panoramas, the fearless selfies. A quote comes up to my mind that I read a while ago. These guys live up to this, literally. It goes like this:
If you don’t live on the edge, you can’t see the view.
Walking on Peter the Great, a 98m statue in the Vodootvodny Canal in central Moscow, Russia.
Alexander scaled the Millennium Plaza in Dubai – before getting his GoPro out to take these stomach-churning images of Dubai.
Don’t look down! A brave girl in Hong Kong, on her way up to the roof…
The typical foot selfie, after conquering the Moscow Bridge in Kiev, Ukraine.
Spectacular panorama of a city full of skyscrapers…Alexander holding on to the Cayan Tower in Dubai…
“In some cases, it’s more difficult to climb down than up…” Alexander says.
Dangerous thrill: Getting a dizzying selfie over the skyline of Hong Kong.
Crazy Russians? We couldn’t agree more. But we love his pulse-pounding images.
Skywalker Alexander in his hometown Moscow, Russia.
Bird’s eye view: Another stunning shot from one of Dubai’s skyscraper by daredevil Alexander Remnev.
Breathtaking view: Fearless rooftopper standing on highest point of a skyscraper in Hong Kong.
I must say I do love to get my nose into a good book after a hard day’s trekking, but I’ve never really explored libraries per se. So from heavy Baroque gilding and Gothic oak to ice-white concrete and digital modernism, here are some absolutely incredible pictures to get your literary taste buds going.
Circular wonder: The Library of Congress in Washington DC was founded in 1800 and contains more than 160 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves
The Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart in Germany was built in 1965, with its bare decoration drawing attention to its books
Stunning surroundings: The largest monastery library of the world is Admont Benedictine Monastery in Austria which comprises some 200,000 volumes in its beautiful halls
From a glance the Tama Art University Library’s concrete arches resemble those of a Roman aqueduct, but up close provide an interesting place to settle down with a book
Page turner: The impressive Clementinum library in Czech Republic is magnificently decorated with ornate gilded carvings and a ceiling fresco depicting the Temple of Wisdom
The 213ft-long main chamber of the Long Room at Trinity College Library in Dublin was built between 1712 and 1732. By the 1850s the Library had been given permission to obtain a free copy of every book that had been published in Ireland and Britain
The Austrian National Library is a Unesco-protected site and it is easy to see why, with its captivating gold painted marble pillars
Mexico City’s recently reopened Biblioteca Vasconcelos is an outstanding example of a contemporary digital-age library
The six-floor Baltimore George Peabody Library is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world featuring 300,000 volumes largely from the 18th and 19th centuries
Taking the prize for one of the fanciest libraries around is Wiblingen Abbey’s halls. This 18th century monastery is built in rococo style featuring gold accents and statutes
It is easy to see why stunning New York Public Library took 12 years to build, with high ceilings and gilded decoration. Pictured is The Rose Main Reading Room
Plenty to explore: The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is located in the University of Toronto, featuring the largest collection of publicly accessible rare books and manuscripts in Canada
The Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina) is the Baroque library of the University of Coimbra in Portugal with the walls covered by two-storied shelves, in gilded or painted exotic woods
The Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina) is the Baroque library of the University of Coimbra in Portugal with the walls covered by two-storied shelves, in gilded or painted exotic woods
Built between 1712 and 1732, the Long Room at Trinity College’s Old Library holds the collection’s 200,000 oldest books
The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library contains the principal rare books and literary manuscripts of Yale University, housed within a striking glass network of shelves
The Theological Hall inside Strahov Library in Prague is breathtaking to behold
The Hogwarts-esque Reading Room in the Suzzallo Library at University of Washington consists of rows of brass-lamped, oak study tables, beneath a 65ft-high ceiling
The University of Salamanca in Spain holds around 906,000 volumes to read from wooden chairs that compliment the surroundings
Located in Manchester, John Rylands Library is a striking gothic library, which opened on 1 January 1900. Pictured is the Reading Room which features stained-glass windows
The Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve is a French national library in Paris built by architect Henri Labrouste in 1851, featuring a sea of lamps, wrought-iron railings and arched ceilings
The 85ft-long Library of Convent in National Palace of Mafra houses around 36,000 volumes amassed through royal commission
The Mortlock Wing of South Australia’s State Library in Adelaide, Travel & Leisure’s 2014 winner of Most Beautiful Library in the World
For even more gorgeous book repositories check out Travel & Leisure’s original feature.
This is just gorgeous! Tree tunnels are some of my favourite things to see. Thanks to the Mail Travel for this with some stunning photos…
When nature branches out – it is nothing short of magical.
Whether they’re formed accidentally, naturally or with a little help, Mother Nature’s finest tree tunnels in Europe, America and Asia are a sight to behold.
Here MailOnline Travel reveals the most beautiful tunnels around, from maples to oaks.
Ginkgo Tree Tunnel in Tokyo, Japan
Despite its busy city reputation, Tokyo is home to some of the most beautiful parks, public spaces and botanical gardens in Asia.
The Ginkgo Tree tunnel, which separates a sea of tiny city apartments and crowded public places, comes into its full glory in autumn – when its leaves turn deep yellow.
This particular tree tunnel can be tracked down in the Meiji-Jingu Gaien Park, which was named after the Emperor who passed away in 1912.
Country road in Milton Abbot, Devon
This particular tree tunnel marks the entrance to Milton Abbot in Devon.
The straight path is enclosed by thousands of beeches that intertwine in an arch over the roadway and lead into the small village which was named after forming part of the original endowment of Tavistock Abbey.
Entry to Botany Bay Plantation in Edisto Island, South Carolina
Leading up to the Botany Bay Plantation on Edisto Island, South Carolina, are hundreds of leaning oak trees making up one of the world’s most beautiful tree tunnels.
The Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area is a state preserve, which was formed in the 1930’s from the merger of the Colonial-era Sea Cloud Plantation and Bleak Hall Plantation.
Kawazu Cherry Tree in Shizuoka, Japan
This Kawazu cherry tree tunnel in Shizuoka, Japan, is made up of a row of cherry blossom trees that are lit up at night.
Tourists and locals travel from all over to walk beneath the tunnel which is classed as one of the worlds most attractive walkways.
Central Park in Manhattan, New York
This early morning shot in Central Park, New York City, shows off one of the park’s many tree tunnels that have made it so well known today.
The urban park in middle-upper Manhattan is one of the most visited in the entire United States – as well as one of the most-used filming locations.
The tree tunnels were formed to create a stunning walkway for passers-by when Central Park opened in 1857.
The Dark Hedges in Antrim, Northern Ireland
Dark Hedges is one of Ireland’s most photographed natural phenomena.
The road is made up of an avenue of stunning winding beech trees along a narrow country road.
The trees block out sunlight in certain parts due to the thickness of the branches. At night, many people find the route haunting.
Tunnel of Love, Ukraine
Strolling hand-in-hand with someone special, these young lovers must be in one of the world’s most romantic spots.
India may have the Taj Mahal, and Paris is the city of love, but the Ukraine has this incredible, ethereal Tunnel of Love – made up of an avenue of trees.
There is one thing though, it’s also a train line. And when it’s choo-choo time, the tunnel does get rather noisy.
Maple Trees in Ludington, Michigan
The amber leaves on this tunnel make it one of America’s – and one of the world’s – most beautiful walkways.
Thick maple trees hang over Conrad Road and meet where they create a one-of-a-kind arch for cars and bikes to pass under.
Tunnel of Maple Trees, Lake Kawaguchiko, Japan
This attracts tourists because of its stunning location – near Mount Fuji.
Located just a few kilometres further inland from Fujikawaguchiko town, this tree tunnel, made up of an archway of soft coloured maple trees, sits above the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko.
Battersea blossom in London
In South London lies a mixture of pink and white blossom trees intertwining over the entrance to Battersea graveyard.
The thick trees stand firmly in place to create the archway that brings a bit of beauty to the city.
Cherry Blossom Tunnel, Germany
This walkway is situated in Bonn, Germany, which is home to more than 300,000 people.
The city is known for its beauty and cherry blossoms – which come into bloom for around 20 days each summer – as well as its narrow streets.
Every summer the city’s Heerstraße road becomes a place of beauty when the blossom trees join up and create one of the world’s favourite tree tunnel walkways.
Another photography article but WHAT an incredible one. Infinite thanks to Benjamin Grant (via the Daily Mail Online) for sharing these stunning images with the rest of humanity!
Mesmerising Instagram pictures taken from space show iconic worldwide landmarks as they’ve never been seen before
A photography series, called Daily Overview, has been posting satellite images of Earth’s most iconic landscapes
Inspired by the ‘overview effect,’ which is the sensation that astronauts experience viewing Earth from space
Project creator Benjamin Grant begins with a ‘thought experiment’ to find each eye-catching aerial image
New additions include the blooming tulip fields of Lisse, Netherlands and the medina quarter in Marrakech
This incredible photography series is inspired by what is known as the ‘overview effect’: the sensation that astronauts experience when the view the Earth from space.
New York-based project creator Benjamin Grant starts with what he calls ‘a thought experiment’ and then works to find an eye-catching satellite image on the resulting theme.
Thanks to an official partnership with satellite imaging company Digital Globe, Benjamin is able to zero in on a location to present and post a new photo every single day on his Daily Overview website.
The Spiral Jetty, which is is a counterclockwise coil jutting out from the Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA, makes for a stunning image
The blooming tulip fields in Lisse, Netherlands, offer a stunning sky-high shot – in particular, during the peak bloom season in April
The medina quarter in Marrakech, Morocco is characterised by its winding, maze-like streets, though is hard to identify from the air
The stunning results include aerial views of the 7.8 mile long, circular Nardo Ring test track and the Mad Max-esque Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.
Other highlights include the dense urban sprawls of the medina quarter in Marrakech, Morocco, a plane boneyard in Victorville, California and the otherworldly Gemasolar Thermosolar Plant in Seville, Spain
Benjamin explains: ‘Nearly all of the Overviews focus on the places where human activity—for better or for worse—has shaped the landscape of the planet. Each one starts with a thought experiment.
‘I consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) to convey that idea.
‘A number of themes have now developed for example transportation, agriculture, energy, so I often use those buckets to help generate new ideas as I search for new places to capture.
‘Our project was inspired, and derives its name, from an idea known as the Overview Effect. This term refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole.’
The impressive image of radiating streets is taken at Plaza Del Ejecutivo in the Venustiano Carranza district of Mexico City
Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, resembles the design of an aeroplane when photographed from above
The otherworldly Mount Whaleback Ire Ore Mine, located in Western Australia, boasts a kaleidoscope of colours from the air
The roads crossing along the Stelvio Pass, a road in Northern Italy, are the highest paved routes in the Eastern Alps
At the Huelva Orchard in Spain, fruit trees create a swirl-like pattern on the hills in the ideal temperate climate
The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park gets is vivid colour from pigmented bacteria that grow along its edges
The town of Bourtange, Netherlands – shaped like a star – makes for an incredible satellite image on the Daily Overview
The Gamasolar Thermosolar Plant in Seville, Spain uses 2,650 mirrors to focus the sun’s thermal energy – and looks like an optical illusion from the air
Aluminum toxic waste gathers in the collection pond of a plant in Darrow, Louisiana, though the red mud generated makes for a stunning shot
The social media account also includes an image of the Great Pyramids of Giza, located on the outskirts of Cairo in Egypt
Niagara Falls, which straddle the border between Ontario and the United States, make for a majestic satellite shot
During the Burning Man festival, which is held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA, participants can be seen as a semi-circle
The Nardo Ring is a high-speed circular test track in Italy and photographs like a contained circle from the sky
‘They have the chance to appreciate our home in its entirety, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once. That’s the cognitive shift that we hope to inspire,’ Benjamin adds.
‘From our line of sight on the earth’s surface, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things we’ve constructed, the sheer complexity of the systems we’ve developed, or the devastating impact that we’ve had on our planet.
‘We believe that beholding these forces as they shape our Earth is necessary to make progress in understanding who we are as a species, and what is needed to sustain a safe and healthy planet.
‘As a result, the Overviews (what we call these images) focus on the the places and moments where human activity—for better or for worse—has shaped the landscape.
Each Overview starts with a thought experiment. We consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) to convey that idea.
‘The mesmerising flatness seen from this vantage point, the surprising comfort of systematic organisation on a massive scale, or the vibrant colours that we capture will hopefully turn your head.
‘However, once we have that attention, we hope you will go beyond the aesthetics, contemplate just exactly what it is that you’re seeing, and consider what that means for our planet.’
And, so far, the response to the images has been overwhelming.
Today, the account has amassed over 40,000 followers and Benjamin even sells some of his more popular images as large prints on his website.
An olive tree plantation covers the hills of Curdoba, Spain, and from the air looks more like dots among a field. 90 per cent of all harvested olives will be turned into oil
The Example DIstrict in Barcelona, Spain, is characterised by its strict grid pattern and apartments with communal courtyards
Venice, Italy is fascinating to observe from above, with its canals, bridges and 78 giant steel gates across the three inlets
The canal system of Amsterdam makes for an intriguing subject – all a result of conscious urban planning
Benjamin Grant’s Instagram account, Daily Overview, posts images – taken from space – depicting man’s impact on civilisation. This picture shows Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia
The Moab Potash Ponds in Utah is a stunning example of vibrant colour contrast between the bright blue water and salt
In Norfolk, Virginia, Lamberts Point Pier 6 is the largest coal-landing station in the Northern Hemisphere
Central Park in New York City spans 843 acres, which accounts for six per cent of the island of Manhattan
The Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California, has a large boneyard of over 150 retired planes
The neighbourhoods of Sntosh Park and Uttam Nagar in India are some of the most built-up and densely populated
Cargo ships and tankers are pictured waiting outside the entry to the Port of Singapore – the world’s second-busiest port
A whirlpool interchange, which was first built in 2006, connects three major roads by the Miracle Garden in Dubai, UAE
Located at the centre of 12 radiating avenues in Paris, France, construction of the Arc de Triomphe took nearly 30 years to complete
Our project was inspired, and derives its name, from an idea known as the Overview Effect. This term refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. They have the chance to appreciate our home in its entirety, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once. That’s the cognitive shift that we hope to inspire.
From our line of sight on the earth’s surface, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things we’ve constructed, the sheer complexity of the systems we’ve developed, or the devastating impact that we’ve had on our planet. We believe that beholding these forces as they shape our Earth is necessary to make progress in understanding who we are as a species, and what is needed to sustain a safe and healthy planet.
As a result, the Overviews (what we call these images) focus on the places and moments where human activity—for better or for worse—has shaped the landscape. Each Overview starts with a thought experiment. We consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) to convey that idea.
The mesmerizing flatness seen from this vantage point, the surprising comfort of systematic organization on a massive scale, or the vibrant colors that we capture will hopefully turn your head. However, once we have that attention, we hope you will go beyond the aesthetics, contemplate just exactly what it is that you’re seeing, and consider what that means for our planet.
Thanks to Street View, online virtual tours and that gosh darn Oculus Rift, most travelers have “seen” the world without actually seeing the world. But don’t be fooled: An epic adventure via screen is not the same as an epic adventure in real life.
The shimmering beauty of a tropical coral reef submerged in a sapphire sea is often equated with paradise. But there’s a darker side to the idyll, writes Mary Colwell.
Coral reefs “are beautiful places”, says Ken Johnson, a researcher specialising in coral at the Natural History Museum in London. They have “complex, three dimensional structures like cliffs and turrets” with a huge diversity of life. “We see schools of fish and many types of corals, and overall the sense is of colour and movement.”
Reefs often surround coral islands where white sands are lapped by gentle waves – R M Ballantyne captured this idyll in his 19th Century novel The Coral Island, a tale about 3 boys who are sailing through the Pacific Ocean.
“At last we came among the Coral Islands of the Pacific; and I shall never forget the delight with which I gazed – when we chanced to pass one – at the pure, white, dazzling shores, and the verdant palm-trees, which looked bright and beautiful in the sunshine. And often did we three long to be landed on one, imagining that we should certainly find perfect happiness there!”
Other writers, such as James Montgomery, saw virtuous industry on a reef, where millions of animals and plants work tirelessly together to create a harmonious whole – a fitting model for human civilisation. He captured this notion in his poem Pelican Island in 1828.
“With simplest skill, and toil unweariable, / No moment and no movement unimproved, / Laid line on line, on terrace terrace spread, / To swell the heightening, brightening gradual mound, / By marvellous structure climbing tow’rds the day.”
Every tiny polyp of the coral and all the attendant creatures are involved. “Paradise gradually developed from the toil, as they called it,” says Ralph Pite, professor of English literature at Bristol University, “just as the successful British society and great empire developed out of the toil of individual workers in their factories and homes.”
Science, however, has prompted a reality check on our image of paradise, which is not all it seems. A coral reef can also be seen as a wall of mouths. Each tiny polyp is a predator that can extrude its stomach on to neighbours if they get too close and digest them in situ. It can create a web of slime to trap small creatures that float by or grab them with tentacles and drag the victim to its stomach.
HMS Beagle was tasked with mapping coral reefs
Humans may be too large for such techniques, but many a ship, including Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour, has foundered as hard coral skeletons, made up of calcium carbonate, have ripped through their wooden hulls.
So dangerous were coral reefs to shipping, that in the 1830s the Beagle, with Charles Darwin on board, was sent to map coral islands in the Pacific to help reduce the damage. Darwin’s first book, The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, published in 1842, was on the mechanism of their formation.
As more was discovered about coral reefs, especially with the advent of diving, deeper canyons were explored and a new image emerged.
“The coral reef starts to be similar to the dangerous urban spaces of the Victorian world where down alleys and back streets, in dark corners, all sorts of dangers might lurk,” says Ralph Pite.
Then between 1946 and 1958 a new use was found for a series of coral islands surrounding a lagoon in the Pacific – Bikini Atoll became the site of 23 nuclear tests. A bomb detonated there was 1,000 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima. The islands remain uninhabitable today.
Nuclear explosion at Bikini Atoll, 1946
Now our view of coral reefs has evolved again and they have emerged as fragile, vulnerable places struggling to survive the onslaught of the 21st Century. Threatened by climate change, overfishing, ocean acidification, pollution and physical destruction, they are disappearing from the warm seas of the world.
And the prospect of losing them has inspired not only scientists to take action, but also artists.
Since 2006, huge sculptures, designed to give corals a new place to live, have been placed on the seabed off the coasts of Mexico, Grenada and the Bahamas.
One is of a group of bankers kneeling down, their briefcases by their sides and their heads buried in the sand. Another shows a man typing at a desk. A third is of a crowd of people of different ages standing close together with their eyes shut as though deep in thought or prayer. Then there is the figure of a young girl, arms outstretched, as though embracing the ocean. They are the work of 41-year-old artist and diver Jason deCaires Taylor.
Sculptures are usually unchanging – locked in stone, metal or wood – but these are unusual. They are designed to be colonised by sea creatures and as time passes their surfaces are becoming increasingly encrusted by shellfish and coral.
“The coral applies the paint, the fish supply the atmosphere and the water provides the mood,” says Taylor. In years to come they will be engulfed by life in the sea, with just the vestige of the original form left. “The evolution of the sculptures is fundamental to their existence… It’s creating its own form and own shape with just the silhouette of the human form remaining.”
As a child, Taylor saw coral reefs in Thailand and Malaysia, but “many of these places now don’t exist,” he says. “And to see them diminish and disintegrate so rapidly is what’s inspired me to take action.”
Since Jason deCaires Taylor was born, in 1974, around one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide have been damaged beyond repair, and another two-thirds are under serious threat.
“By creating an artificial reef, not only would it provide a substrate for marine life it would also draw visitors away from natural reefs, which is an increasing problem in some parts of the world.
“I hope they’ll eventually just disappear into the reef system,” he says.
“Coral reefs are the first areas that our planet might lose in the next 50 years so I certainly want to bring more attention to them.”
Ned’s tip: Some of the finest coral reefs I’ve dived are off the Egyptian resort of Sharm-El-Sheikh and despite recent worries I would still recommend going there. Local dive sites include Ras Mohamed, Tiran Island, Ras Ummm Sidd, Pinkys’s Wall, and there are plenty of shipwrecks to explore too. For fabulous service and amenities treat yourself to Le Royal Sharm, part of the Le Royal Hotels & Resorts division of businessman and philanthropist Sir Nadhmi Auchi‘s General Mediterranean Holding group.
Wherever I go, I take my trusted Nikon D200 and a small assortment of lenses. I love to photograph the places I’ve been and the people I’ve met. I love the immediacy of photography; the versatility; the permanence; the quirkiness; the craft. And I love looking at other trekkers’ pictures too – gives me ideas for how to capture my next trip.
I came across this great feature recently on the National Geographic site. I absolutely love San Francisco, and this travel photographer explains how she managed to perfectly encapsulate one of the world’s great city vibes.
National Geographic photographer Krista Rossow traveled to San Francisco to photograph the city for the National Geographic Traveler story “The Social Network.” Here, she shares how to capture the full essence of a city in one frame.
A carefully observed, busy San Francisco street corner led to a photographer’s trifecta of subtle city icons.
When I’m out shooting in a destination I’m always looking for a way to combine more than one characteristic of a place into a single photo. Landscape, architecture, monuments, activities, and people are all elements that can help a photo give viewers a sense of place. The more a photo can say on its own, without even the need for a caption, the better.
While in San Francisco, I had a running list of elements in my head that were distinctive to the city, from obvious locations like the Golden Gate Bridge to elements such as the city’s love of coffee. One day I wanted to capture the iconic San Francisco cable car, so I decided to ride around town on the cable cars and photograph. But I found that shooting from them wasn’t giving me what I wanted, so I decided to try a different approach.
I’d noticed there were a few places where the cable cars have to make turns midway through their route, and I explored the area until I found a café on one of those corners in the Nob Hill neighborhood. Now I had a scene with three elements that said San Francisco: the cable car, a neighborhood vibe showing a café, and distinctive architecture and signs in the background. This photo would clearly tell a viewer that we aren’t just in any American city—we’re in San Francisco.
But I wasn’t ready to shoot yet. I’d found a scene with a telling sense of place, but it was relatively empty. As I stood debating whether I should move on, a young couple took a seat outside with their dog. I loved that they looked as if they had just come from a workout to brunch and that they had a dog with them. Their clothing spoke to how active the locals are, and it had already become clear to me that San Franciscans love their pets.
So over this entire time I’d been observing the scene and not taking a single photo. The stage had been set, serendipitously, at the moment I almost left. But before I started taking photos, I talked to the couple. In a potentially busy scene, you can’t talk to everyone who might cross your lens, but since the couple would figure prominently in the scene, I wanted them to be at ease. I find it helpful to simply let people know what I’m doing—whether I’m shooting for fun or for an assignment—because I’d appreciate the same if I were in their place. In their eyes it usually changes me from the suspicious looking stranger taking photos to someone who loves photography and finds them to be an interesting subject.
Then it was time to get ready for the cable car to pass by. I took a couple of test shots of the scene to see how I wanted to frame it and checked my exposure. I was lucky the dog was tied to a fire hydrant because he filled that blank expanse of sidewalk with something interesting. Also, I liked the touch of humor the dog added to the photo, since he looked a bit left out by his hydrant while his owners had coffee.
I heard the dinging of the cable car and started shooting, getting down low to lessen the expanse of sidewalk even more and to include the architecture in the top left. I took quite a few frames as the cable car quickly turned the corner and hoped the dog would keep looking at me in the right moment. It was late in the morning and the shadows were already quite heavy, which would have put the cable car completely in shadows if there hadn’t have been a reflection off the side of the building.
In the end, the photo that I originally had wanted to be about cable cars became a story about what it’s like to be in a San Francisco neighborhood. It says San Francisco without being too obvious.
Photo Tip: Make a list of the quintessential elements of a place and then keep your eyes peeled for scenes that let you combine more than one element in one photo. Remember that a sense of place can be conveyed not only by physical locations but also through elements such as weather, activity, and people’s clothing and behaviors.
Photographed with a Nikon D800 and a Nikkor 24-70 mm, f/2.8 lens.
A popular wine region in France, an ancient settlement in Turkey and a famous battle site in the US are among two dozen properties that have been added to the UN’s list of world heritage sites.
Unesco’s World Heritage Committee has inscribed 24 properties from around the world, including well-known attractions such as the Champagne wine region and some that many tourists have never heard of but may now receive a tourism boost.
Denmark, France, Iran and Turkey led the way with each country having two locations added to the list, which already includes icons such as Tower of London, the Statue of Liberty and Great Barrier Reef.
Tourists walk through the ancient Greek and Roman settlements at Ephesus in Turkey, once the site of the Temple of Artemis
Already a popular attraction, the vineyards, cellars and sales house in Champagne, France are now a world heritage site
The Alamo, part of the San Antonio Missions, was the site of a famous battle between outnumbered Texas settlers and Mexican forces
The UK’s lone entry was Scotland’s Forth Bridge, which was completed in 1890 to carry trains over the Forth River and is still in use today. The 8,200ft long steel structure was praised in its nomination for being a ‘masterpiece of human creative genius’.
In the US, the only new property added to the list was the San Antonio Missions – five Spanish Roman Catholic sites, including the Alamo.
The Missions were built in the 18th century in and around what is now the city of San Antonio, Texas to convert indigenous people to Catholicism and make them Spanish subjects.
Tourists visit Hashima Island, commonly known as Gunkanjima, which means ‘Battleship Island’, off Nagasaki in Japan
The Forth Bridge in the east of Scotland opened in 1890 and continues to carry passengers and freight over the Forth River
Dating back to the 16th century, the Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System is located on the central Mexican plateau
NEW UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES
Necropolis of Bet She’arim: A Landmark of Jewish Renewal, Israel
Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site, Norway
Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia
San Antonio Missions, US
Singapore Botanical Gardens
Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining
Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus, Germany
Susa archaeological mounds, Iran
The Forth Bridge, Scotland
The par force hunting landscape in North Zealand, Denmark
Tusi Sites, China
Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica
Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System, Mexico
Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale, Italy
Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its sacred landscape, Mongolia
The best known of the missions, The Alamo, was the site of the famous 1836 battle when an outnumbered band of Texas settlers staged a courageous stand before Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his Mexican forces seized the mission.
After the Champagne hillsides, houses and cellars, France’s second entry was the Burgundy vineyards south of Dijon, where the industry has been in existence since at least the 12th century.
One of Turkey’s two entries was the ancient Greek and Roman settlements at Ephesus, once the site of the Temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
China’s Tusi Sites encompass remains of several tribal domains whose chiefs were appointed from the 13th to the early 20th century
Ephesus was one of two attractions in Turkey to be added; the other was Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
In another decision, Japan received world heritage status for a collection of almost two dozen sites that illustrate the country’s industrial revolution during the 19th century.
The unanimous vote in favour of Japan’s bid was approved only after Tokyo and Seoul resolved a spat over whether to acknowledge the sites’ history of wartime forced labour, particularly that of Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island.
The fortress island near Nagasaki was key to Japan’s rapid development during the 1868-1912 era of the Meiji Emperor, who sought to catch up with Western colonial powers.
Until recently, Seoul had objected to the listing unless the role of Korean prisoners forced to work there during World War II was formally recognized.
Ned’s tip: if you’re travelling to Jordan, stay in General Mediterranean Holding’s luxurious five star Le Royal Amman. Or take a break and head down to gorgeous Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea, where you’ll want to check out the fab and fun Le Royal Sharm. See this report for more.
Calling all lovers of adrenaline and adventure: THIS is a spot for your bucket list.
The Swing at the End of the World is a breathtaking little treasure in the mountains near Baños, Ecuador. The high-flying rope swing hangs from a treehouse called Casa del Arbol, beckoning every wanderlust-y soul to come and take the ride of their lives.
A tourist is enjoying the ‘Swing At The End Of The World’, an adventure destination in Banos, Ecuador. The swing carries the swinger out over a deep mountainous canyon and is attached to a treehouse called La Casa del Arbol. The treehouse was constructed many years ago to monitor the Tungurahua Volcano.
Have you already checked off the world’s top cities? Sunk your feet into your fair share of spectacular beaches? Then feast your eyes on these incredible destinations that you most likely have yet to visit…
The icy caves of the Mendenhall Glacier, Southeast Alaska
Why it’s special Bright blue domes of ice as well as flowing streams of cold water running over rocks in the caves of the Mendenhall Glacier. The other-worldly site has caught the attention of the world in recent years because as it’s melting increasingly fast due global warming.
When to visit Tours run from 1 May to 22 September 2015, dependent on glacier conditions.
How to get there While the caves are located only 12 miles from downtown Juneau in Southeast Alaska, the journey is not for the faint-hearted. It’s an adventure in itself involving at least six to eight hours of trekking over rocky terrains. Alaska Tours offer day trips for $228 (£148) per person, which allow you to walk past crevasses, ice caves and moulins. Unfortunately, visiting specific ice caves such as the west flank of the glacier (pictured) cannot be guaranteed due to the melting and constantly changing nature of Mendenhall Glacier. Read a guide to frequently asked questions here.
The ‘mirror’ salt plains of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Why it’s special At 10,500 square kilometres, the world’s largest salt plain is one of the most striking natural wonders of the world, resembling the vast empty landscape of the moon. But after a couple of centimeters of rainfall the plain and thanks to zero wind, it becomes a breathtaking giant mirror reflecting the skies and anything else in its vicinity.
When to visit Unfortunately, rainfall in this region is very low – even in the rainy season, it can rain less than five days per month. You best chance of seeing the giant mirror effect is in January when precipitation is at its highest.
How to get there A number of companies offer one to four day tours from San Pedro, Tupiza and the town of Uyuni to Salar de Uyuni which includes basic accommodation, meals and transport. However, bear in mind a number of tourists have complained about uncomfortable journeys, late arrivals, broken down jeeps, a lack of toilet paper and no drinking water. The three largest tour companies are Cordillera Traveller, Atacama Mistica and Estrella del Sur who charge from 70,000 chilean pesos (£73), excluding the 150 Bolivianos (£14) national park entrance fee.
The pink-coloured waters of Lake Retba, Senegal
Why it’s special Although it looks a little bit like an accident with some food dye, Lake Retba, really does have pink-coloured water. Its distinct hue is caused by the bacteria in the water which produce a red pigment that helps them absorb sunlight, thus giving the lake its pink appearance. This phenomenon also occurs in Australia’s Lake Hillier – also known as the Pink Lake – located off the south coast of Western Australia.
When to visit The pink colour is especially visible during the dry season (which lasts from November to June), particularly from February to April. It’s recommended you visit on a day that isn’t windy.
How to get there The Lake Retba is located about less than an hours drive from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on the Grande Côte (a stretch of coastline).
The blue walls of Chefchaouen, Morocco
Why it’s special Looking like somewhere that has fallen out of a Picasso painting from his infamous blue period, Chefchaouen has existed since 1471. Its medina, or old town, has been painted blue since the 1930s, when Jewish refugees arrived in the town. Believing blue to represent the sky and heaven, they began painting some walls blue. The trend quickly caught on when it was found that the blue appeared to repel mosquitos.
When to visit The weather in Chefchaouen is at its best in spring (mid-March to May), when the country is lush and green.
How to get there There here are daily CTM coach buses travelling to Chefchaouen from main destinations such as Casablanca (takes six hours), Tangiers (takes four hours), Fes (takes four hours).
Ned’s Tip: For the best hotel in Morocco, stay at the historic and wonderful Grand Hotel Villa de France in Tangier. Along with the slightly larger but equally sumptuous El Minzah, it is part of the Hotels & Resorts Division of the General Mediterranean Holding group founded by millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Nadhmi Auchi.
The remote Fenyan Ecolodge, Jordan
Why it’s special
Deep in the heart of the mountainous Dana Biosphere Reserve, is this idyllic candle-lit lodge. The 26-room hideaway boasts 360 degree views of glorious desert and mountain landscapes. Guests tend to embark on hiking and biking trails in the day and settle around and go stargazing in the night, before settling around the campfire with a few board games.
The best time to visit Feynan is a place of low rainfall and high sunshine and there are plenty of things to do all year around. However Spring (April to May) is the most popular time of year to visit with temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s (Celcius).
How to get there Jordan is a relatively small country and Feynan can be reached in 3 hours from Amman and 2 hours from Aqaba or Petra by car. Visit ecohotels.me for full directions.
Ned’s tip: Treat yourself to one night at least at the sumptuous Le Royal, Amman
The glowing Luminous Lagoon, Jamaica
Why it’s special At night, the Luminous Lagoon comes alive with microscopic organisms producing an eerie glow around fish, boats and any other objects in the water that disturb it, including yourselves. Tour operators let you jump in the water and create the glistening blue light for yourselves. It’s said to be the largest and most brilliant of four similar lagoons in the world.
When to visit Jamaica’s driest season is from mid-December to mid-April
How to get there Every night, tour boats depart from the Glistening Waters Marina in Falmouth – located on the North Coast of the island – for a 35-minute ride around the lagoon.
Why it’s special Rolling ridges, thousands of peaks and dramatic rocks make for a spectacular view. Visitors say pictures fail to capture the depth, vastness and sheer size of the natural spectacle located in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province of China. Visitors can walk down the winding hills, past deep valleys and try to spot plunging waterfalls.
The best time to visit The best months to explore the mountains are April, May, September and October
How to get there Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station has regular tourist buses to Sinanyu Ticket Station and the bus journey takes about 80-90 minutes. Then take battery car inside the scenic area. Visit travelchinaguide.com for more information.
The surrealist gardens of Las Pozas in Xilitla, Mexico
Why its special Amid the tropical plants and orchids of Mexico’s Xilitla is an abandoned estate full of fantastical sculptures, winding staircases that lead to the treetops and waterfalls that fill hidden pools. Las Pozas was built by the eccentric British millionaire, poet and patron of the Surrealist movement, Edward James, between 1949 and 1984 and is considered one of the least known artistic monuments of the 20th century. Visitors are free to wander the massive grounds – 80 acres – and climb through fascinating structures of the three-story building.
The best time to visit The site is open all year and Mexico’s dry season falls between December to April.
Where to find it Fly to Tampico via Houston, Mexico City or Monterrey and rent a car and driver in San Miguel de Allende to drive up to Xilitla. For detailed directions visit xilitla.org.
The colourful Danxia landforms, Zhangye City, China