Lonely Planet released their much-anticipated list of countries that ever traveler should visit, and while there are some countries that make the list year after year, the 2016 edition included some newcomers that will have us travel photographer’s anxious to cash in our airline miles. We have used some of our favorite photographer’s images, thrown in a couple of my own, and lastly, scoured our favorite photo community, 500px, to show you the photography potential of each of these 10 countries. Check out what Lonely Planet has to say on their website.
What do you think of this year’s selections? What countries shouldn’t have made it, and more important, which countries would you add?
#1 – Botswana
2016 will mark Botswana’s 50th year of independence from the United Kingdom, but this is not the reason that this landlocked country in Southern Africa tops the exclusive list. Home to some of the planet’s best wildlife viewing locations like Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta, an impressive 17% of the country is dedicated conservation land. The Okavango Delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa and recently became Unesco’s 1,000th World Heritage Site. It’s located in Northern Botswana, and the delta is produced by seasonal flooding. Between June and August is when the delta is at it’s peak, bestowing an incredibly high concentration of wildlife. Adventure, wildlife, and some of Africa’s best landscapes make Botswana the country to visit in 2016.
#2 – Japan
We recently showed you 20 images that will inspire you to travel to Japan, and after you look through them, it is easy to see why this island country off the coast of Asia comes in at number 2. Ancient temples, majestic snow covered mountains, snow monkies, and the bustling “you have to see it to believe it” city of Tokyo make it no wonder why Japan will host the 2020 Olympic games.
#3 – United States
Lonely Planet refers to the National Parks as the main reason why the United States is third on the list, and for good reason. The National Park Service is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary in 2016, and it is a scary thought indeed to imagine what would have become of places like Yellowstone, Zion and Yosemite if not earmarked for the conservation.
#4 – Palau
One of the least well-known countries on the list, Palau comes in fourth place, almost solely for the incredible diving and snorkeling that most tourists flock here for. The government has reserved all of its marine territory to conservation, giving Palau’s crystal blue waters the nickname “Serengeti of the Sea” For photographer’s not only will be the clean beaches and beautiful sunsets give you plenty of images but bring an underwater housing unit for your camera to truly capture what makes this country incredible.
#5 – Latvia
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities, and the rest of Latvia isn’t much different. Ancient and character filled castles, churches, and gothic buildings inhabit the old cities, making it an ideal destination for architectural photographers and history buffs. Nature photographers will flock to Gauja National Park, the River Amata, the Kurzeme coastline, or the countless clear blue lakes.
#6 – Australia
No, they don’t put the shrimp on the barbie down under. The only reasons why Australians even know the word shrimp is because of the 100s of Americans that repeat the classic movie line on a daily basis. They do, however take pride in their BBQ Prawns, as well as their modern and sophisticated cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. But the real treat in the land down under is the beautiful nature that takes over most of the massive land mass. But, when planning a trip to Australia, don’t forget to carve out some time to visit one of the most impressive landscape photography destinations in the world, the island state of Tasmania.
#7 – Poland
Mountains, sand dunes, marshes, and incredible snow in the winter make Poland a perfect location for lanscape photographers. But don’t forget about the old, yet modern and contemporary cities that house the majority of Poland’s 38 million people. Warsaw and Krakow are just two of the don’t miss cities that showus why the number of visitors to Poland continues to climb at a strong pace year after year.
#8 – Uruguay
This small country, which lies between it’s massive neighbors of Brazil and Argentina, is known for it’s beautiful surf and fishing beaches and “gaucho” culture, which is the South American equivalent to the cowboy culture of the United States. But when you aren’t strapping a GoPro to your horse’s head, be sure to check out the capital of Montevideo, which has one of the most photogenic old towns in all of the Americas, or walk the cobblestone streets of Colonia Del Sacramento, which sits above the beautiful Rio De La Plata. Wildlife photographers will find an abundance of subjects in the seaside town of Cabo Polonio.
#9 – Greenland
A surprise addition, as Greenland is not an easy or inexpensive place to visit, especially if you are in search of some of the iconic photos that make Greenland such a landscape paradise. Often, a multi-day boat rental would be necessary to capture the incredible light that comes with the endless summer days. But for those who can afford the financial and time investment, Greenland is one of the last little-touched locations on earth. Our friends at Iceland Photo Tours run photography sailing cruises year round, taking much of the planning out of the work.
#10 – Fiji
Another one of the world’s nest SCUBA diving locations makes the list at number 10, but in addition to the marine life, Fiji adds a strong tourism infrastructure. Upscale beach resorts on secluded islands to backpackers exploring the mainland of Viti Levu, Fiji was made for travelers. Photographers can enjoy shooting sunsets on the beach, surfers riding clean breaks, and clear night skies. For those brave enough, grab an underwater housing for your camera and swim with the sharks!