5 nature photos to inspire your next trip

Geological rocks of Meteora

What captures your attention and provides the optimal sensory elements that help shape and define your greatest trip memories?  Is it the food, the architecture, the local art and culture, music and nightlife, or the people you meet? And, including some or all of the above, are you also besotted with dramatic landscapes and the opportunity to leave with beautiful nature photos destined to be framed as your next prized pieces of wall art?

My sister CJ (and best travel buddy) will be the first to tell you “impressive man-made structures have their place, and they’re several iconic landmarks scattered all over the world matching that description.” But for her, the pièces de résistance, the vacation takeaway masterpieces so to speak, always lie in nature.

We’ve been to more than a dozen countries together and she inevitably comes back with images of landscapes, seascapes, clouds, plants and animals. She takes other pictures too, of course, but her beloved nature photos far outnumber anything else.

So for this post, I asked her to help us see the world through her Samsung Galaxy 6 lens and describe what drew her eyes to each scene.


Jamaican countryside

Nestled in the hills of St. Elizabeth there is freedom.  Freedom from the trappings of commercialization and bustling streets that create a cacophony of intrusive noises.  This lone home, enveloped by lush vegetation and surrounded by lung-friendly, pollution-free air, sits atop a hill like a beacon.  Untouched land, friendly people, and rich culture showcased Jamaica at its finest.

South Africa

insects in south africa

Cape Town is steeped in history and known for its popular V&A Waterfront as well as prominent landmarks, but one of my favorite places to visit, other than my safari and Robben Island tours, was Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.  Found on the eastern side of the famous Table Mountain, it is home to several spectacular species of flora and fauna and the immaculately groomed grounds are presided over by a bust of Nelson Mandela, which is near the entrance.

The aromatic and abundant plant life is a potent elixir for the cutest insects. This little fellow was oblivious to all the tourists milling around as he hung out all by his adobrable and lonesome self.  Clearly, there was sonly one thing on his mind…”Gotta get the pollen! Gotta get the pollen!”


Meteora rock cliff

Taking a bus tour can often be mundane and long, but when that trip is transporting you from Athens through the northern highlands to Meteora, there are beautiful natural landscapes and geological sites to behold.  The feeling of catching your first glimpse of the giant monolithic rocks on which several monasteries were built is not something that’s easily described. It is an emotion best experienced in person.


Paradise Beach_Tulum Mexico

Tulum, Tulum, Tulum. What’s not to love about Tulum?  Found in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, the area is home to the ruins of the Mayan walled city, and it once served as a port for Coba.  Today it is a treasured UNESCO Heritage Site. 

I’ve been around beaches all my life, but nothing could have prepared me for the sight of this gorgeous shoreline bordered on either side by turquoise waters and craggy rocks. Not only do you get to stroll through the impressive ruins, you can kick off your shoes and dip your toes in the soft, squishy sand if you are not short on time,

Southwest Florida

PineIsland Sound_Florida

Famous for its shell-lined beaches, Southwest Florida is also known for absolutely amazing sunsets.  No two light shows are ever alike because they were ‘painted’ by the greatest artist ever known. He is Elohim.  It was a perfect evening when the lone bird took flight and a few, friendly dolphins frolicked in the ocean below.    

Those are some of my sister’s top picks. Do you have any tips on other cool spots for beautiful nature photos that you’d like to share? Please drop their names in the comment section below.

5 Nature Photos to inspire your next trip

Heading to Greece soon? Try not to miss Meteora and Delphi

It blows my mind that Meteora isn’t a New World Wonder because it should be. Located in central Greece, this mystical place – a cluster of enormous rock formations topped by monasteries that appear to be suspended in the air almost 1500 feet above sea level – is a stunning masterpiece of nature that’s nothing short of a geological and architectural marvel.
Historians believe the rocks got their impressive shapes through drastic erosion during the Middle Ages, and its massive craters, caves, crevices and peaks offered protection to the locals from the raids of several conquerors. Over time, hermits sought refuge there as the remoteness, height and tranquility of the environment helped them feel more in tune with God and divinity. Eventually, they started building monasteries to live in, and 24 structures were completed and occupied by the late 14th century. Only six buildings are in operation today.

The monks practiced their faith with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, so their lives were simple. And without many material assets, their daily work was hard. 

Imagine living a life of fasting and unceasing prayer and having to make that ascent or descent for supplies in baskets, with scaffolding supported on beams that were driven into the rocks! Thankfully, today we can drive on paved roads and walk up or down evenly-placed steps without too much hassle. Even if you have no strong religious leanings, this place is so spectacular and photo op worthy, it is a must-see.

How to get there
From Athens, you can take a train, car or bus. The travel times are approximately 5 hours by train, 4+ hours by car and 7-8 by bus. You can find details on routes and schedules here.

What you can see and do
You can visit the monasteries to see the chapels, frescoes and artifacts dating from the 14th to 16th centuries, as well as listen to captivating tales about the monks’ motivations, traditions, and way of life. Strict dress codes are enforced, which means no bare shoulders are allowed and women must wear skirts inside. Ladies, if you’re planning to pack only jeans or shorts, don’t worry. You can get a wrap-around skirt at the entrance and return it when you are leaving,Meteora Monastery

The more adventurous thrill seekers among us can get all James Bond while there and go rock climbing, exploring caves, mountain biking, rafting, and more.  If you need a visual of one type of toe-curling action possible, you need look no further than the movies. Roger Moore actually filmed an action sequence in Meteora at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity for his 1981 Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only”. I’ve included a YouTube clip below. Just don’t try it on your own.

Note: To break up the journey to or from Athens, you can stop at the foot of Mount Parnassos to visit the Delphi historic site, a former cultural and religious center which was the sanctuary of Apollo and the shrine of his oracle. It is 80 kilometers northwest of Athens.

(Hover to the middle right section of the below image and scroll right to see another picture and video)