In this week’s #RGchat – our weekly Twitter chat – we got chatting about some of the world’s most amazing natural wonders. We asked you to share pictures of the natural wonders you’ve been awed by on your travels – and here’s what you came up with.

There were majestic mountains…

Stunning captures of the Northern Lights:

And incredible sunsets.

Plus a whole lot more…

Join #RGchat every Tuesday at 11am BST/GMT. Follow @RoughGuides for updates.

Travel photographer Tim Draper has shot images for more than 20 Rough Guides guidebooks, visiting far-flung corners around the world. Here he shares some of his favourite shots of Mexico.

I began my journey in Tijuana, firstly heading slowly down to the tip of Baja, then across the Gulf of California by ferry, up into the hills on the Copper Canyon Railway, stopping off in colourfully-painted towns en route to Mexico City.

I have so many great memories of my time in Mexico, but perhaps my favourite moments were those spent wandering through dusty mining towns, lost and forgotten in time. Or stumbling across a surprise Bob Dylan gig in Zacatecas, exploring the Volkswagen Beetle-infested streets of Taxco and enjoying the wild energy of Mexico City accompanied by a few street-side tacos.

Old convenience store, San Luis Potosí

Local festival outside Zacatecas

Volkswagen beetle taxis, near the Zócalo, Mexico City

Guanajuato, the Bajío

Coloured houses of Guanajuato

Guanajuato’s painted streets

Early morning light on a small church

Houses in Taxco

Taxco street scene

Chiapas balloon sellers

San Cristobal las Casas church, Chiapas

All images © Tim Draper. Explore more of Mexico with the Rough Guide to MexicoCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

In this week’s #RGchat – our weekly Twitter chat on all things travel – we asked our followers where they’ve seen the best sunset. The result was a barrage of wanderlust-inducing images that have us itching at the toes to get out and watch the sun go down in some faraway, dreamy place.

We were so impressed by our readers’ photography that we’ve collated our favourites into this post, so you too can feel the pull of sunset in all its orangey and pinky glory.

Inspired to get snapping? Here are some tips to up your sunset photography game.


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Photography rule number one: don’t point your camera directly into the sun, right? Well, not all the time. It’s actually not so bad at sunset. The ‘magic hour’, ‘golden hour’ or whatever else you want to call it, is a beautiful, transcendental time of day when the light just gets better and better, until it gracefully glides down below the horizon. It can turn a scene into a total cliché or an Instagram sensation, depending on your taste. Here are 11 photography tips to help you make the most of the golden hour on your travels.

1. Keep an eye on the time

Most weather apps will give you the precise time for sunset, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the ‘hour’ in golden and magic hour is approximate and will vary at different times of year and different latitudes. The nearer you are to the equator, the shorter the light show will be, but head towards the Arctic or Antarctic in summer and you could be watching the sunset for hours.

A baby elephant at Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

2. Use the daytime to recce potential sunset spots

While you’re racing around from museum to café, gallery to bar or mountain peak to valley during the day time, keep an eye out for spots that might make a good compositions at sunset. You can use a compass or apps like Photographer’s Ephemeris to get a better idea of precisely where the sun will set and what the light will fall on. You can also use apps like Photo Spot Land (and Instagram, of course) to see what others have shot in the same place.

Mount Teide, Tenerife, Canary Islands

3. Keep yourself fed and watered throughout the day

Often the excitement and endless discovery of a trip to a new place will leave you exhausted by the time your sightseeing day is over. But it’s worth staying fed and watered throughout the day so you’re full of energy and raring to go when the sun decrees it’s photo time. You can reach for that sundowner cocktail once the light has well and truly gone.

Ramsgate Lightbouse, Kent, England

4. Sunset tours

Sunset tours are popular excursions on offer in many a destination and well worth looking into as a way of accessing views worth shooting after regular public transport has stopped for the day. But they can also be quite expensive, more focused on fleecing your money for overpriced dinners than allowing you to access great compositions. Find out from the operator before you embark to make sure you’ll have enough time for photography.

Heading back to the super jeep at Vesterahorn, Iceland 

 

5. Create silhouettes with your composition

One of the most obvious ways to give a sunset life and dynamism is to create a strong composition with a silhouette in front. Look for interesting shapes in the landscape – architecture, trees, people are good for this – to form your composition.

Fishing nets at Cochin, Kerala, India 

6. Get up high

Many a city or tourist town has a sunset viewing platform and it’s as good a place to start as any. But if you want your pictures to really stand out, you’ll have to get off the beaten track – keep your eyes open for alternative paths and options lest your photos end up looking exactly like everyone else’s.

Over looking London from Greenwich, London, England

7. Try using the sun as back light

When the sun is low in the sky, it’s a good time to try using it as back light. Because it’s softer and less harsh than the bright sun of the day. Tip for the techies among you, if you can get your camera off ‘auto’ setting, and set the camera to under exposure by up to a couple of stops, you’ll have more interesting results.

Windsurfer and Martello Tower at Clacton on Sea, Essex, England

8. Look at what the light is illuminating

It’s not just about the disappearance of that glowing orb in the sky, don’t forget to look at what the sun is illuminating. The tallest and biggest structures will remain in light for longer and some architects may even have taken evening light into consideration when designing and positioning their building (enter: Stonehenge).

In many tropical countries, the heat of the day is often too much to bear, so many activities like fishing, sport and commerce take place in the cooler late afternoon or early evening light giving you plenty of options for telling the story of life in that place.

Fishermen on Varkala beach, Kerala, India 

9. Head to the hills

The golden hour is the perfect time to photograph natural geographical features in the landscape. The intense quality of the light will illuminate different minerals within the rock formations, bringing out hues not visible during other times.

Sea cliffs at West Bay, Dorset, England

10. Don’t try to be too ambitious with your sunset itinerary

There’s often a temptation to race around and fit in lots of locations in during the golden hour, but with an ever-changing magic to behold from one moment to the next, you just need to keep shooting from where you are. Take as many pictures as you can; often you won’t know which was the optimal moment until you’re looking back and editing later on.

Through the trees at Fløyen, Bergen, Norway 

11. Use editing apps to make your pictures look more like what you’re experiencing

Unless you’re using very high-end gear and are super confident with handing your camera on the manual modes, you’re probably at the mercy of the in-built presets the manufacturer has installed. Some of these are great and work very well, but the biggest problem your camera will encounter when deciding how to capture the scene is the huge disparity in light levels between the sky and the shadow areas of the picture.

It will either expose for the brighter areas or for the darker areas, which will look more pronounced on your resultant image. You can easily modify your results by raising the shadows and decreasing the highlights either in camera or by using an app. Adobe Lightroom software is very effective for those willing to invest, and Snapseed is an excellent mobile app that can re-balance your image.

On the beach at Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India 

All images © Diana Jarvis, you can see more of her work at www.dianajarvisphotography.co.uk. Explore more of the world through pictures by following us on Instagram

Sunset is one of our favourite times of the day – it’s an excuse to sit back, drink in hand and take in the scenery, whether you’re high above your favourite city at a rooftop bar, or you’re on the beach catching those last few rays.

But where is the most beautiful place in the world to see the sunset? We’re pretty sure this beguiling nation is up there. Here are 12 amazing photos from across the country…

Sunset over the river in Monywa

Fishermen on Inle Lake

Sunset over Bagan‘s southern plains

Tourists watching sunset from Shwesandaw in Bagan

Shwesandaw, Bagan

Mrauk U, Western Myanmar

The beach at Sittwe

The stupas of Mrauk U

The river in Hpaan

The Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock)

Sunset over Bago

Ngapali beach

Explore more of Myanmar with the Rough Guide to Myanmar (Burma)Compare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go. 

Renowned the world over for its decorated tribes, the Omo Valley is a stop on many a tourist route in Ethiopia. But visits to the area can cross ethical boundaries, and few tourists are allowed the pleasure of a genuine experience with local people. Here, Rough Guides photographer Tim Draper tells us about his experience photographing some of southern Ethiopia’s most fascinating tribes. 

As a travel photographer I desperately wanted to capture creative and authentic portraits in the Omo Valley, whilst hoping to avoid the negative experiences told in tourists tales of ‘zoo-like’ excursions.

After spending almost a week researching tour companies in Addis I carefully chose my driver, and together we planned our trip around the Omo villages.

We stayed overnight in most villages, camping or sleeping in huts. It was a good way to get to know the tribes, spending long afternoons with them while tourists came and went, barely getting out of their vehicles before they were whisked away.

If you don’t want a zoo-like experience in Omo, you’d do well to keep your camera in your pocket for a little while longer, try to connect with the people on a deeper level than that of a fifteen-minute whistle-stop photo opportunity.

I took my pictures methodically and slowly, with good humour and in a relaxed atmosphere. After all, good travel portraits – like good travel experiences – require time, care and trust.

Arbore children

Two women on market day

Hamer tribeswoman

Mursi girl holding gun

A painted Karo tribesman

Karo tribes people by the Omo river

A painted Karo tribesman

Mursi tribeswoman with lip plate

A painted Karo tribesman poses with his gun

A Hamer girl with red ochre hair

Painted Karo tribesman with gun

Hamer tribe, mother and child

Young child in the Mursi village

A tribal ceremony in the Bena village

Bena tribe, mother with her children

A Bena family sit outside their home

Hamer tribe girls

See more of Tim’s photography here. Explore more of Ethiopia with the Rough Guide to EthiopiaCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

Every photographer will agree that sunrise photography is one of the best times of day to indulge in some snapping, but managing to make it out of bed in time is another thing entirely.

Here are nine tips to inspire you to drag yourself from your slumber before sunrise and make the most of that magical early morning light.

1. Investigate the scene the day before

It’s not always easy to know where the best place to shoot at sunrise will be if you’re only in the location for a short period. It’s worth having a look around the day before if you have the time.

Deal pier, Kent, UK

2. Ask locals for some advice on the best place to head

In all but the most remote of areas there will be knowledgeable locals – shopkeepers, waiting staff in cafés etc – who might be able to point you to places a little more off the beaten track.

Kolukkumalai tea plantation, Kerala/Tamil Nadu border, India

3. Use a compass to check the sunrise position

Even if you’re staying on the east coast and you’re sure the sun will rise from behind the sea, it’s always worth checking a compass first (your smartphone probably has you covered) as a little kink in the coastline could see your view dramatically altered.

Smartphone app The Photographer’s Ephemeris tells you all sorts of localised facts about your chosen location and can help you work out what the sun will shine on as it peeps over the horizon.

Jokulsárlón beach, Iceland

4. Pack your bag the night before

If you’ve only got five minutes between waking and heading out in the morning, you don’t want to waste valuable time fretting about whether you’ve got your cable release or filters with you. It’s wise to make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need before you go to sleep.

And don’t forget to pack some emergency snacks to keep you going until breakfast.

Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India

5. Head to further northerly or southerly latitudes for longer in bed

There’s no excuse to miss the best of the morning light when the sun doesn’t rise till 9 or 10am, or maybe even later depending on how far north you go in winter months (and this goes for places at a similar latitude in the southern hemisphere in summer).

There’s plenty of time for your eight hours sleep as well filling up on the B&B breakfast before heading out.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

6. Look around at what else the ‘the magic hour’ is illuminating

It’s not all about the moment in which that glowing orb pops over the horizon. Take a look around you at what the low light of the sun is illuminating. There’s a transcendental quality of light that brings out the hues of the landscape in ways in which make you realise that watercolourists or impressionist painters weren’t just on loads of drugs after all.

HMS Belfast, London, UK

7. Camp out the night before

The best way to minimise travel time the next morning is to camp out as near to your chosen location as possible. If you’re lucky, you may only need to open your tent flap to reveal a stunning vista.

The causeway to Lindisfarne, Northumberland, UK

8. Don’t be put off by a patchy forecast

With accurate forecasts and apps that can predict the weather down to the hour, it’s easy to be put off by a less than perfect forecast the night before – but even if the app tells you it’ll be mostly cloudy, it’s still worth setting the alarm.

You never really know what local climatic conditions will give rise to, and clouds can add immeasurably to the drama of your photographs.

Clacton-on-Sea pier, Essex, UK

9. Keep your eyes and ears open for other early risers

Many of the world’s creatures are far more active at dawn and dusk – particularly in warmer climates when the air is cooler – but it’s the more reclusive animals you’ll find at dawn because there’s much less human activity to interrupt them at this time. Take advantage of this and snap away if something catches your eye.

Poilão island, Guinea Bissau

All images © Diana Jarvis. You can see more of Diana’s work on her website

Each month we look at a different destination through the lenses of the best photographers on Picfair, and this month we’re focusing on New York City. It’s beautiful in summer or winter, but spring is one of the best times to visit and see the city bloom into a colourful metropolis. Here are 19 of our favourite pictures of New York City from Picfair.

The city from Central Park

New York City by Sam Moore / Picfair

Chinese New Year parade

Chinese New Year Parade by Sven Hartmann / Picfair

Bright lights of New York City

nightime in new york by Sam Moore / Picfair

The Brooklyn Skyline

Brooklyn Skyline by Ben North / Picfair

A busy city by day

New York City by Sam Moore / Picfair

The colours of Manhattan

Colourful street view in Manhattan by Perry van Munster / Picfair

Radio City in the rain

Radio City in the rain by James Bridle / Picfair

New York City in the rain

Slushy Streets by Sven Hartmann / Picfair

Sunset on the streets

Sunset at New York City by Ike Han / Picfair

The Brooklyn Bridge

little Glasshouse by Sven Hartmann / Picfair

Under Brooklyn Bridge

under the bridge by Sven Hartmann / Picfair

The music of Central Park

The Central Park violoncelist by Javier Raduá / Picfair

Skyline at dusk

What a Skyline… by Dan Martland / Picfair

Binoculars in Manhattan

Binoculars in Manhattan Sunset by SOMATUSCANI / Picfair

The New York subway

subway by Sven Hartmann / Picfair

Times Square in the early hours

Times Square NYC @ 4AM by Killian Moore / Picfair

Basketball in the city

Urban Sport by Sven Hartmann / Picfair

The supermoon in New York City

Supermoon NYC by Dan Martland / Picfair

The view from the Highline

Building Decoration Along the High Line, New York City by David Stone / Picfair

Explore more of New York with the Rough Guide to New York CityCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

It’s not just appearance that makes up the beauty of a place. Often, travellers will cite the people as the most beautiful thing about a country or culture. In Southeast Asia, there’s no doubt there is beauty in every form – and now our readers have voted to decide which countries are the most beautiful. Here are Southeast Asia’s most beautiful countries ranked by our readers.

7. Thailand

An ever-popular backpacking destination, we’re surprised to see Thailand at the bottom of this list. That’s not to say it’s not beautiful, though. With brochure-worthy beaches in almost every bay and some luscious mountain landscapes, there’s plenty to wow travellers in Thailand. And, of course, the people are indeed beautiful – they were even voted some of the friendliest in the world by our readers.

Pixabay / CC0 

6. Laos

This little nation sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam sits in a similar position here. Laos has no coastline to woo travellers seeking pristine beaches, but instead there are some picturesque waterfalls perfect for swimming beneath, plus one of Southeast Asia’s most charming little towns: Luang Prabang.

Pixabay / CC0

5. Vietnam

If the karst rock formations of Ha Long Bay, jutting out of a cerulean sea, aren’t enough to inspire awe, then perhaps the tiered terraces of Sa Pa might just make your heart beat faster. There’s a lot more to Vietnam’s beauty though, including the evocative ruins of Mỹ Sơn and a string of pretty little beaches along its coastline. Not forgetting one of the world’s greatest rivers, the Mekong, and its lush delta in the south of the country.

Pixabay / CC0

4. The Philippines

An archipelago of more than seven thousand islands, The Philippines earns its place as the fourth most beautiful country in Southeast Asia. The island of Palawan is one of the most picturesque spots, with azure waterways flowing between vast rocky cliffs that drop sheer to the water. For some otherworldly beauty, head to the “Chocolate Hills” on Bohol, an undulating landscape of 40-metre-high grassy mounds.

Pixabay / CC0

3. Cambodia

Voted the world’s friendliest country by our readers, it’s no wonder Cambodia takes a top spot in this list too. No-one could deny that, despite the crowds, sunrise at Angkor Wat is a stunning sight. But Cambodia’s beauty extends beyond ruined temple complexes and into brilliant beaches and fascinating floating communities.

2. Myanmar

Tourism in Myanmar has boomed since the NLD lifted its tourism boycott, and for good reason. The country has plenty of travel eye-candy on offer, whether you want to watch the fishermen on Inle Lake, see the sunrise over the thousands of temples in Bagan, or just slowly meander down the Irrawaddy and meet the smiling locals as you go. A deserving destination for second most beautiful in Southeast Asia.

Pixabay / CC0

1. Indonesia

It’s Indonesia that’s captured the hearts and minds of our readers, taking the number one spot for most beautiful place in Southeast Asia. Its astonishing array of natural wonders would make even the most jaded traveller’s jaw drop: beyond the stunning beaches scattered across these 17,000 islands, there are pretty waterfalls, dense jungles and towering volcanoes.

Pixabay / CC0

Explore more of Southeast Asia with the Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a BudgetCompare flights, find toursbook hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go. Featured image Pixabay / CC0. 

Plato said every dog has the soul of a philosopher. While that statement is disputable, the wave-riding canines at the Noosa Festival of Surfing are proof that some dogs, at least, have the soul of a surfer.

Thousands gathered at Queensland Australia’s Noosa Beach this week to watch The Dog Spectacular, the world’s only surfing event where dog and master compete as a team. The doggies lead the way down the beach, leaping with all paws onto the surfboards as soon they were set in the ocean ­– ready to catch a wave.

As pairs of all breeds and ages paddled out together; it was clear that this was not some adrenaline-fuelled competition but an exercise in pure, surf-loving fun.

“It’s a wonderful experience for dog and human,” said Festival Co-Founder Paul Jarratt. “It’s not really about winning or losing; it’s a celebration of all the good things we love about surfing, the ocean and environment that we are privileged to have in Noosa. I think that’s why we attract surfers and their families from all over the world, we’ve got 20 countries represented this year.”

Check out some of the images below for highlights. Special mentions to the dog in sunglasses who rode waves all on his own.

The festival will continue on until the 12th of March, and is a must for anyone planning a trip to Queensland’s aptly named Sunshine Coast.

Because it's Friday, and who doesn't want to see dogs surfing in Australia? http://bit.ly/1QLagU

Posted by Rough Guides on Friday, 11 March 2016

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