Updated: Jan 4
Destinations to Ignite Your Love of Photography
THE WORLD AWAITS. Where will your next photo adventure take you? Based on weeks of reading travel and photography books, watching vloggers on YouTube, researching travel trends from tourism boards and considering world events over this past year, I've picked the planet’s 20 most exciting destinations (in my humble opinion) for 2020. So, grab your photo gear, pack your bags and let's go!
1. Magdalen Islands, Canada
The Magdalen Islands (also known as Les Îles de la Madeleine) have everything a photographer would want in a destination: white sand beaches and red sandstone cliffs that are dotted with vibrantly painted houses and jaw-dropping seascape scenery. This isolated archipelago is in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and consists of 12 islands, one of which is completely uninhabited.
2. Tasmania, Australia
Once considered a backwater, Tasmania is now one of Australia’s fastest-growing tourism destinations. Tasmania is about a 1.5-hour flight from Sydney to the city of Launceston. Around 40 percent of Tasmania is protected by National Parks and Reserves so if you are looking to get off the grid and discover a magical rainforests, dazzling white-sand beaches, snow-capped mountains, towering waterfalls, beautiful rivers and lakes, a massive population of native animals, underground cave systems, the list goes on - Tasmania seriously has it all!
3. East Java’s Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia
East Java possesses a mysterious milky aquamarine and highly acidic crater lake. This volcano spews out blue lava thanks to its incredibly high levels of sulphur. The active Kawah Ijen Volcano is part of a complex of volcanoes in Banywang Regency, Java. Unlike regular volcanoes whose bright red lava is visible in the day, Kawah Ijen’s blue burning flames can only be seen at night. One of the best ways for photographers to capture this phenomenon is to take one of the pre-sunrise hiking tours (gas mask required).
4. Tohoku, Japan
The Tohoku Region (東北地方, Tōhoku Chihō, literally "North East Region") consists of six prefectures in the north of Japan's largest island, Honshu. It is well known for its countryside, mountains, lakes, hot springs, high-quality rice and rough winters. I would recommend travelling along the shorelines of the Japan Sea to capture the stunning blue sea, rapid mountain stream current, the burning setting sun, and the daily life of people living close to the sea. One of the key photographic opportunities might be Lake Towada, the mysterious lake that reflects the sky and the mountains like a mirror. If you want to visit Japan in 2020 but you want to avoid the crowds of the Summer Olympic Games, Tohoku is less than three hours by train from Tokyo and should get a gold medal for the best unknown travel wonderland.
The Maldives is an environmental protection trailblazer. It was the first nation to champion the need to address climate change in the United Nations General Assembly, in 1987. This idyllic, 1,200-island archipelago has a climate that is a dream, where fish swim happily in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, and where 99 percent of the territory is water. The Maldives offers so much more than sand, sun and sea as the islands are blessed with a rich culture and heritage. A holiday in the Maldives is a chance to gain an insight into this unique country, by exploring island villages, sourcing local handicrafts, visiting heritage sites and the National Museum, tasting local cuisine, and watching cultural performances.
6. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, City of a Hundred Spires, is a UNESCO monument and one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I would suggest that Prague is the equal of Paris in terms of beauty. Thanks to the architecture of the Italian Renaissance, it’s no wonder the southern Czechia (Czech Republic) town of Telč is sometimes called the Czech Florence. The Old Town Hall with the famous Prague Astronomical Clock. The winding lanes of the Jewish Quarter, which you know from the novels of Franz Kafka, steeped in the legend of the Golem. Cafes enticing you to come and have a seat, boutiques and sight-seeing cruises on the Vltava. The Gothic Charles Bridge and Church of St. Nicholas in the Lesser Town, the most beautiful Baroque church in Prague. The Palace Gardens set away from the bustle of the city, Petřín with a lookout tower reminiscent of a small Eiffel Tower and Prague Castle … Each of Prague’s districts has its own characteristic atmosphere and unique charm.
7. Wales Way, United Kingdom
For those looking to venture across Wales in the most inspiring way possible, the Wales Way is a must. The Wales Way is a new family of three national routes – The Coastal Way, The Cambrian Way and The North Wales Way. The Coastal Way travels the west coast around Cardigan Bay, a 180-mile (290km) road-trip between the sea and mountains. The Cambrian Way crosses the spine of Wales for 185 miles (300km) between Llandudno and Cardiff, through National Parks and big green spaces. The North Wales Way leads 75 miles (120km) past mighty castles into the island of Anglesey.
8. Kalahari Desert, Southern Africa
One of the main attractions for a photographer to the Kalahari Desert is one of the few International Dark Sky Sanctuaries. This vast 120,000-acre !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park is among the world’s darkest places and is one of the world’s darkest places and best areas for viewing pristine night skies. Night really falls in this park, which is virtually totally free from pollution – including light pollution, natural atmospheric pollution and man-made pollution. On the SQM (or sky quality meter, pronounced “squim”) scale of darkness, with 22 being as unadulteratedly dark as you can get, !Xaus Lodge and its environs measure an average of 21.6.
9. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Unique combinations of geologic colour and erosional forms decorate a canyon that is 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep. Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size. To get the most profound views and photo opportunities in multiple directions, spend time researching the area. For sunrise, I would recommend Lipan, Cape Royal (North Rim), Powell Memorial, Navajo and Point Imperial (North Rim). For sunset, I prefer Lipan, Hopi, Mather and Yavapai. Experienced hikers love the Nankoweap Trail, a dramatic North Rim-to-river route. But all views are unforgettable, from both rims down to the Colorado River.
10. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey
Visit Göbekli Tepe and feel the pulse of time… this is where the remains of the earliest religious structures built by man yet to be discovered. At about 11000-13000 years old this site pre-dates both pottery and writing and is far older than either Stonehenge in England or the great Egyptian Pyramids. In fact, less time separates us from the builders of Stonehenge than separates the builders of Stonehenge from the last known use of Göbekli Tepe.
11. Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia
Kamchatka is a peninsula located in the northeastern part of Russia. It is surrounded by the Okhotskoye Sea, the Beringovo Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. This region has a very unique environment which makes it a place to visit when you’re longing for picturesque views, unforgettable travelling, and unity with nature. There are more than 300 volcanoes in Kamchatka, from 28 up to 36 of them are active, or potentially active. Kamchatka volcanoes are included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Kamchatka is home to the Valley of Geysers which is located at the junction of the above-mentioned rivers Shumnaya and Geysernaya. The Valley of Geysers has the second-largest concentration of geysers in the world (after Icelandic geyser fields) and is the only geyser field on the Eurasia continent. If you come there in winter, prepare for heli-skiing, and skiing as well. If you go there in summer, trekking, diving, photo safari, and bird watching are at your service.
Guatemala, the heart of the Mayan world, must be one of the most photogenic countries in the world. Alive, magical, mystical and ancestral. Its history goes back to four thousand years, when the Mayan civilization emerged, whose legacy remains today with the traditions and culture of its people. Guatemala is a country of extraordinary cultural and natural richness and with a privileged geographical location. The distances from place to place are short, allowing you to visit several regions on the same trip. The colour of its handicraft markets and its regional costumes, the hospitality of its people, the beauty of its natural landscapes that frame volcanoes, lakes, rivers and mountains, make Guatemala etched in the heart of those who visit it. Its natural, cultural and historical patrimony can be discovered in every corner of the country. Guatemala houses the largest number of archaeological sites in the Mayan culture, surrounded by an impressive flora and fauna, which makes them the true lungs of humanity. The magic and mystery of the Mayan world subsist in millenary cities such as Tikal, Yaxhá, Aguateca, Mirador, Quiriguá and Q’uma ‘ Rkaj among others.
13. Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands are seven islands in the Atlantic Ocean where the sun shines all year round. The temperatures are very mild, with an average of 19º C in winter and 23º C in summer. My recommendation for extraordinary photography is El Hierro, the smallest of the Canary Islands. Of the seven, it is the furthest west, but it shares the same climate as the others. Its remoteness and ruggedness mean that unlike Lanzarote or Gran Canaria it remains almost untouched by tourism. A paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Life, in El Hierro, is different. El Hierro is an island with soul.
The Arctic landscape and nature will give you amazing photo opportunities under the midnight sun. Greenland is a land of harsh contrasts. A long and cold winter turns into an intense summer with never-ending light. To the west, approximately around the middle of the island lies the Disko bay, a still-water haven and amazing landscapes all around. Just south of the city Ilulissat lies Sermeq Kujalleq, the fastest flowing glacier in Greenland, which is only surpassed by the great Antarctic, spits out gigantic icebergs that follow the 60 km fjord out into the bay. From an intense summer of never-ending sun, it finally hits the horizon at the end of July, producing unbelievable light all over the bay and its many icebergs. Greenland is as close to an unmarred landscape as one can get.
15. Canada's Yukon
Canada's Yukon - rich living-history, stunningly unique geography and more epic scenes than a Hollywood blockbuster. The Yukon territory measures in at a whopping 483,450 km² (that’s about the size of Spain) and is situated east of Alaska, between British Columbia and the Arctic Ocean. Look up in the Yukon and you’ll see at least twenty mountains in the St. Elias Range that exceed 4,000 metres. Keep looking up and you’ll see a handful that exceeds 5,000 metres. And now, really look up and you’ll see it—Mount Logan, Canada’s highest (and North America’s second-highest) peak coming in at a staggering 5,959 metres. Look down and you’ll see a different kind of giant—the mighty Yukon River. Stretching for over 3,000 kilometres, it winds and weaves through the landscape, passing canoe-able rivers and legendary world-class national and territorial parks.
16. British Columbia
From massive mountain ranges and windswept beaches to rainforests overflowing with life, BC’s cities and towns share a deep connection to the wild that surrounds them. Feel your breath pause when a bear lumbers into sight along a rocky shore, or a humpback whale gracefully flips its tail in the Pacific Ocean. Touch calm waters as you paddle a canoe across a glacial lake, or dip into a natural hot spring. Within British Columbia, you can find amazing beaches and coastal scenery, rainforest, islands, mountains, and abundant wildlife. It is truly a photographic paradise.
17. Northern Ireland
I recently visited Northern Ireland and I was so impressed with the Causeway Coastal Route. It is truly one of the greatest drives on earth. The Causeway Coastal Route between the cities of Belfast and Derry~Londonderry is a kaleidoscope of natural landscapes, imposing cliffs, bubbling mountain streams and gushing waterfalls. This stunning slow coastal route starts in Belfast and will take you to the remarkable Gobbins Cliff Path, through the gorgeous Glens of Antrim, towards the famous Giant’s Causeway and the magnificent Mussenden Temple. From Belfast city, via the Gobbins Cliff Path and all the way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site from which it takes its name, this incredible route is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Days are lazily spent driving along unique coastal seascapes, eating fresh seafood and exploring pretty seaside villages. The romantic remains of Dunluce Castle lie teetering on a craggy headland. This 14th-century stronghold was abandoned in 1641 after part of the kitchen collapsed into the sea during a storm. Small wonder this place is said to have inspired C.S. Lewis to create Cair Paravel in The Chronicles of Narnia. From Giant's Causeway to Carrickfergus, there's plenty to see along the scenic weather-beaten coastal byways.
Embark on a photographic adventure in the Republic of Palau as you discover unspoiled beauty and a people shaped by pristine seas and nature, which are preserved by culture. This is an archipelago of natural wonders, including about 200 largely pristine limestone and volcanic islands. Diving is the number-one activity here and is dubbed 'the underwater Serengeti' for its impressive seascape, fascinating wrecks and diverse marine life.
Its location at the intersection of Europe and Africa make Morocco a real crossroads bordered by the waters of the Mediterranean and open to the vast stretches of the Atlantic Ocean. This "farthest land of the setting sun" is rich in contrasts, a destination that beckons you to discover two millennia of history. It's also an adventure into some of North Africa's most stunning scenery, with the desert on its doorstep and the craggy heights of the Atlas Mountains beyond. Morocco is a country of diverse landscape, including palm oases at the foot of soaring plateaus, lush cedar forests, the spectacular Atlas Mountains, and the smooth curves of the Sarah Desert.
Colombia is one of the world’s most beautiful and biodiverse countries that boasts soaring Andean summits, an unspoiled Caribbean coast, the mysterious Amazon jungle, ancient archaeological ruins and cobbled colonial communities. Photographers and nature lovers will enjoy the sprawling canyon of Chicamocha and the snowcapped Andean mountains. Colombia is also full of bizarre sights, making it a paradise for photographers and Instagrammers. Colombia is the only country in South America to border both the Pacific and the Caribbean.