There’s no better way of capturing the magic of your once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventure than through a camera lens, and there’s nothing more rewarding than returning home to friends and family with incredible, self-made mementos from some of the best nature photography destinations in the world.
Whether it’s vast deserts, dramatic mountains, rushing waterfalls or the otherworldly northern lights in Finland, the world is full of so many natural wonders to capture that the main challenge is knowing where to start.
To help get you inspired for your next photography holiday, or your next exploration to a far-flung corner to the planet, we’ve come up with some of the best nature photography destinations in the world so that you can forget about the research and planning, and simply sit back and drink in the views.
Most Photographed Places in the World
To kick us off, let’s start with the obvious choices. After all, there is a reason the most photographed places in the world hold that accolade. If you’re looking to capture the most spectacular natural wonders, this is not a bad place to start.
1. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The chances are you’ve seen this incredible bay of limestone karsts bursting from an azure sea blue plenty of times. Often, there’ll be the figure of a smug kayaker in the foreground. But there’s a reason so many visitors from around the world flock to this incredible bay, a maze of islands dotted with floating villages, beautiful beaches and magical views around every corner.
Bring your camera and join the many hundreds who’ve taken incredible pictures of the natural beauty here, on a tour that also gets you off the beaten track in Vietnam and away from the crowds.
2. Reine, Norway
The Lofoten Islands off the north coast of Norway feel like the very ends of the earth. Once there, you couldn’t feel more immersed in the dramatic scenery, whether it’s in one of the quaint fishing villages hunkered under brooding coastal mountains, or on one of the jaw-dropping peaks with an endless view along the spiny ridge of the archipelago.
Reine is one of the most photographed places in Lofoten, and it’s easy to see why. On this incredible tour of the Lofoten Islands, we’d certainly recommend waiting for the perfect shot when you come to the stunningly situated village.
3. Grand Canyon, USA
Probably one of the most famous natural features on earth and certainly one of the most iconic landscape photography locations, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and Nevada has its place as one of the most photographed places in the world for good reason. With almost 6 million visitors per year, and almost all of them getting a picture of the stunning natural wonder, that’s a decent amount of images floating around in the ether.
You can escape these crowds though. Visit locations like Roosevelt Point, The Rim Trail or the Desert View Watchtower to imagine you have all this magnificent beauty to yourself.
4. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
For all those who want to play with perspective in their shots, there’s nowhere better than this vast, otherworldly salt flat in southern Bolivia, left behind by evaporated, prehistoric lakes. The size of Jamaica, there are times when the entire horizon can be one, endless, uninterrupted expanse of salt – perfect for anyone who wants to get a bit creative with their camera.
If you’re lucky and arrive at the right time of year, you could even be treated to the sight of Salar de Uyuni turned into a huge, natural mirror – there’s little wonder this is one of the most commonly photographed sites on earth.
5. Gullfoss, Iceland
Quite possibly Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls (although there is certainly some pretty stiff competition for this honour), the ‘Golden Waterfall’ is a breathtaking sight. You can walk right up to the massive two-tiered falls, and literally feel the pounding of the cascading water as mist throws up rainbows into the deep gorge below.
Making up part of Iceland’s essential Golden Circle, it’s a place that if captured properly, can really get across the power of nature in a photograph. Of course, as we’ve already mentioned, there are plenty more waterfalls in Iceland to discover, including a few iconic ones along the south coast. When searching for nature photography destinations, it’s hard to top the land of fire and ice, particularly if you happen to catch the northern lights overhead.
Best Places for Wildlife Photography
Of course, the natural wonders in our world aren’t limited to just physical features. All over the planet there are unique opportunities to spot wildlife that lives in the more untouched corners of the planet. Wildlife photography is a patient game, so here are a few of the best locations to save you at least a bit of time.
1. Etosha National Park, Namibia
Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries on earth, which makes it one of the very best for seeking out the wilder parts of the world to discover beautiful wildlife. Etosha National Park, located in the north east of the country, is a haven for some of the most spectacular wildlife on earth, and a gem for anyone hunting for the best places for wildlife photography.
Watch out for lions, elephants, zebra, giraffes, black rhinos and more as you head out with expert local guides on safari. With their help and in-depth knowledge about how to find the wildlife you want to see, you’ll be able to capture some of the most beautiful animals on earth through your lens.
2. La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica
In a country with so much biodiversity, nature photography opportunities are everywhere. Otherworldly cloud forest teeming with life, mangrove forests along the coast, and steamy rainforests hide sloths, spider monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, and all manner of beautiful tropical birds and frogs.
On an adventure with Not In The Guidebooks, you’ll visit all of these ecosystems and more, so that you can come away with stunning images of your time in this wildlife paradise.
3. Fort William, Scotland
Somewhere a little closer to home now, so perhaps it’s an unexpected inclusion on this list, but the Scottish Highlands can rival anywhere in the world as a nature photography destination. With breathtakingly rugged mountains, deep lochs, wild coasts and vast swathes of forest, the region around Fort William also provides homes for red squirrels, golden eagles, red deer, otters and harbour seals.
On this Scottish Big Five adventure, you’ll stand the best chance at catching a glimpse (and hopefully capturing the perfect image) of some of the continent’s most spectacular wildlife.
4. Erawan National Park, Thailand
Whilst Thailand might be famous for its pristine, white-sand beaches on the south coast, it is also one of the very best nature photography destinations in the world. With lush jungles and mountains in the north, criss-crossed with streams, waterfalls and lagoons, Erawan National Park in particular is one of the most biodiverse places in Asia.
From Asian elephants and black bears, to leopard cats and sambar deer, this is the kind of lesser-known photography destination that will wow people when you return home.
5. Gerês National Park, Portugal
Another part of the world you might not immediately think of when considering where to have your next photography holiday, Gerês National Park in northern Portugal is in fact one of Europe’s last real wilderness areas. Declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, this park of pine-forested mountains, clear streams and waterfalls is home to Iberian wolves, wild horses, ibex, otters, wild boar and more.
As well as the great range of wildlife, Gerês National Park also boasts a wide variety of human relics and marks, such as third-century tombs, picturesque villages and an ancient, barely-known history – it’s definitely a destination for those that have a thirst for the path less travelled.
Here at Not In The Guidebooks, we work hard to scour the earth searching for incredible experiences that combine your passion with your holiday. We find that it’s experiences that really stick with our travellers, so whether it’s cooking in Italy, painting in France or yoga in Portugal, or immersing yourself in a language in Paris, surfing in Costa Rica or hiking in Vietnam, we have an endless variety of holidays and experiences that ensure you create travel moments that live long in the memory.