As most of you know by now, I am a photographer. (If you want to see more of my travel landscape photography, feel free to check it out over at www.lotsasmilesphoto.com.) I love nothing more than a breathtaking scene and I get giddy immortalizing it and its associated memories in pixels. In fact, while I can’t wait to experience some worldwide history and culture, while I long to stand atop some world-renowned trails, and while I’m an incurable foodie, I am most looking forward to the photography opportunities. There’s so much to see; how could I not?
Here are the top items on my photo op bucket list.
#6: New Zealand landscapes
New Zealand is known for its expansive Middle-Earth vistas – mountains, plains, and everything in between. I briefly visited New Zealand when my family were moving back to the States after having lived in Australia. But we only had time for the more touristy North Island. We toured the glow worm caves and campervanned from place to place, but we didn’t get to see the arguably more beautiful South Island. As a travel landscape photographer, I itch to take some long hikes and slowly digest the views firsthand – sans hobbits.
#5: China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
The first time I saw a picture of the remarkable Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, I knew I had to find my way to it. This park features unique geological towers draped in foliage and often caressed by mist. This is an ideal scene for a photographer. It’s unique like Bryce Canyon, with the lush colors of the Pacific Northwest. How could I not love it? And bonus: it provides some awesome hiking.
And there’s a danger in looking up how to spell this park’s name. I literally just stumbled upon another that I’m now adding to the list: Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park, also in China. Stunning waterfalls and multi-colored lakes? Sign me up!
#4: Icelandic northern lights
Much like Alaska or Norway, Iceland has so many things to photograph, so it’s already a “must” destination for me. However, what I most want to capture is the green and pink bands of the aurora borealis. True, countless photographers before me have pointed their cameras skyward for this very reason. But these images are tantalizing, and I can’t wait to do the same. I’ve never seen the aurora before, so this only adds to the allure. And I’m sure there are many places we could go for the northern lights, but Iceland is already hot on my list, so why not there?
#3: The African Big 5
I’ve always wanted to go to Africa. I would love to see the massive sand dunes and shoot the unparalleled night sky. I even hope for a chance to visit a local tribe. But I have a real soft spot for wildlife photography.
To see a wild cheetah dashing across the savannah.. to witness giraffes (many subspecies sadly recently added to the endangered species list) in their natural habitat… to be awed at the magnificence of elephants trumpeting.. or a herd of zebras.. or the king – the majestic lion. I also hope to catch an elusive glance at the African leopard; I could never say no to photographing the grace of a big cat.
While I’d also be happy to see rhinos and cape buffalo – the last official members of the “Big 5” – I’m not as excited at the prospect of these encounters as I am at the others. But the abundance of life in the rich ecosystem of Africa puts it high on my list!
#2: Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park
The Patagonia region comprises of the southern tip of South America, including both southern Chile and Argentina. Some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world can be found here, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to a number of stunning national parks. There are actually two parks I’m really excited about: Los Glaciares and Torres del Paine.
Los Glaciares National Park, as the name suggests, is home to dozens of glaciers, all fed by one of the largest ice caps in the world. We fell in love with glaciers when we visited Norway, and I can’t wait to see more – perhaps even take a tour across one! And with all the beautiful details of ice, I’d have plenty to photograph.
But I think if I had to choose between the two, Torres del Paine National Park would win by a nose.. or some horns. Home to the famous Los Cuernos mountains, glacial lakes, waterfalls, and stunning alpenglow on the namesake Los Torres, this is a photographer’s paradise.
#1: Antarctic glaciers
My ultimate dream is to make it to Antarctica. True, I’m not really one for the cold. But an opportunity to visit the world’s most remote continent is the chance of a lifetime. With ice several kilometers deep and over 200 thousand years old, there’s no other place like it on Earth.
I would love to photograph its glaciers and its penguins. The blues and whites… the purity of this untouched place. Just to be there. I am absolutely thrilled when it snows; it’s one of my favorite things to shoot. Antarctica would be a euphoric playground for my photographic trigger finger.
Whether you’re an avid photographer like me, you love collecting simple snapshots, or you just want to see beautiful sights with your own eyes, these spots have so much to offer. And if I don’t stop listing them, I’ll just keep finding more to visit. The world is an amazingly beautiful place, and I can’t wait to photograph it all! Now I just have to decide which lenses I can live without…
Want to streamline your trip planning?
Which photogenic place do you most want to visit?
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