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10 Stunning Travel Photos From a Former Bond Trader

Travel2Unlimited
Travel2Unlimited

Whenever we encounter an incredible place, who isn't compelled to take a photo beside it, if only to prove to everyone (and occasionally ourselves) that we were actually there? I asked uber-traveler Rus Margolin of Travel2Unlimited, a former bond trader turned world traveler, to send me his most epic photo ops and be our stand-in at extraordinary places we might not ordinarily go.

1. The Wave, Coyote Buttes, USA

Near the Arizona-Utah border is a remarkable sandstone formation known as the Wave. Located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, access is extremely limited: you can win one of only 20 daily permits either through an online lottery or just showing up early in the morning. “Then it’s a 12 mile return hike without a trail or a map. 50% of those attempting usually get lost without getting to the Wave,” says Rus. Get your permit, find your way, and prepare for an Epic. Photo. Op.

2. Kamchatka, Russia

Here’s an outdoor paradise located 8 time zones east of Moscow, with over 300 volcanoes, half of them active. “Climb Avachinsky volcano and peer in the active caldera, or walk into Mutnovsky caldera and see nature in action – steam, fumaroles, sulphur, gases and boiling mud,” says Rus. To get there you‘ll have to fly to Moscow and take a long flight to Petropavlovsk, but the photo ops are priceless.

3. Jellyfish Lake, Palau

Located in the Western Pacific, Palau offers some of the world’s best snorkeling, scuba diving, and underwater photo ops. Flying in from Tokyo or Guam, you can rent your own island for the day, hike in the tropical jungles, or float with millions of golden jellyfish in a bottomless lake. The jellies, rotating counter-clockwise as they float to the surface, are harmless. “You feel like you are on a different alien planet," says Rus.

4. Camping in Antarctica

To get this photo among thousands of Emperor penguins, Rus spent several days camping on an ice shelf off the coast of Antarctica. “You can spend hours watching them feed their chicks.” Emperor penguins are the largest of the penguin species. For this photo op, you’ll need to get on a 5-hour charter flight from Chile, and hop on another 4-hour small prop plane to the penguin ground. “It’s a once in a lifetime,” adds Rus.

5. The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

The world’s largest salt desert makes for epic photo ops, especially when you play around with perspective on the snow-white salt landscape. Create optical illusions (like Rus holding the 4x4 Land Rover), take huge jump photos, and snaps of you dipping in the bright red and green mineral lakes. “You may need to acclimate to the air at 15,000 feet before you go jumping ,” says Rus. To get to the Salar de Uyuni, either take the train from La Paz, or cross over the Atacama to Bolivia with a tour company from Chile’s San Pedro de Atacama.

6. The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan

A place name as epic as “The Door to Hell” demands an epic photo op. Located hundreds of miles from the nearest village in the middle of Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert, the door is actually a large crater caused by an ill-fated drill for natural gas. When the drilling rig collapsed into an underground cavern, it sparked a huge fire fed by unlimited quantities of gas. “The crater has been burning since 1971, “ says Rus. “It wasn’t easy to get here, but it was worth seeing the night light up by the burning hot inferno.”

7. Hang gliding in Rio

There are few cities as beautiful as Rio, and few experiences as epic as hang gliding. Hunky tandem instructors hang out at the beach in Sao Conrado, taking tourists up the mountain into Pedra Bonita national park for the flight of a lifetime. Launching off a wooden platform into thin air, you’ll be too busy gawking at the view below you to think about taking any photos. Fortunately, the instructors tape a remote-controlled camera to the wing for epic shots like these.

8. Somerset Island, Canada

When the midnight sun burns during summer in the high Arctic, it’s nigh on impossible not to take epic photos. “This is unadulterated, pure raw nature and you are part of it,” says Rus. We met each other at Arctic Watch, the most northerly eco-lodge in the world, where we hiked the tundra with muskox, watched thousands of beluga whales, and swam in crystal waterfalls like this one. Epic all the way.

9. Sossusvlei, Namibia

Sossusvlei sits inside Namib-Naukluft Desert National Park, an alien landscape of bright red and yellow dunes and semi-petrified trees. “Surreal would be a perfect word to describe it,” says Rus. Arriving late in the afternoon, watch the sun cast shadows on the dunes, some of which rise as high as 100 metres. “You can also hear the dunes moving if you stand still,” adds Rus. Another epic location, for an epic photo op.

10. Easter Island

Watching the sun rise or set over the mysterious moai statues in Easter Island has to belong on a list of epic photo ops. Most of the statues, located throughout the island, have fallen over, but some still stand upright. “Ahu Tongariki has the most moai for sunrise, and Ahu Hanga Roa is perfect for sunset,” says Rus. Nobody quite knows what prompted the islanders to erect the statues, and effectively wreck their civilization doing so. In the meantime, we’ll hop in the photo for another snap of a lifetime.

Follow Rus and his incredible journey around the world at Travel2Unlimited. 

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Move Over, Hygge: Còsagach Is How You Get Cozy In Scotland
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Hygge, a concept related to the warm, contented feeling of being indoors during wintertime, originated in Denmark. But Scotland has made it clear that Danes don’t have a monopoly on coziness. As The Scotsman reports, VisitScotland—the country's national tourism agency—is reviving Còsagach, an old Gaelic term that could unseat the hygge trend this season.

Còsagach, like hygge, is the sensation you get when you’re snug, sheltered, and cozy. According to VisitScotland, Scotland is a popular destination for tourists looking to unwind, and the organization predicts that Còsagach will be a hot trend with visitors in 2018.

“It’s no secret that Scotland can have, at times, rather harsh and ferocious weather,” the trend forecast from the company’s insight department [PDF] notes. “In the winter when the storms rage and the waves crash against the rocks, there is nothing more satisfying than being curled up in front of the fire, book and hot toddy in hand, listening to the weather outside.”

However, you don’t need to be under a blanket at home to properly experience Còsagach. The comforting feeling can be found almost anywhere—at a restaurant, ski resort, or, in true Scottish tradition, a pub. And though it is a great antidote to winter blues, VisitScotland emphasizes that it’s not exclusive to any one season.

Even if you aren’t planning a trip to Scotland in the near future, there are ways to incorporate Còsagach into your routine. Try repurposing some of the activities associated with hygge—just don’t tell your Scottish friends where you got your inspiration.

[h/t The Scotsman]

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Want Priority Boarding On Your Alaska Airlines Flight This Holiday Season? Wear an Ugly Christmas Sweater
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Between steep fares and crowded terminals, flying during the holidays isn’t fun. But on Friday, December 15, a special Alaska Airlines promotion will ease boarding stress and transform packed planes into mile-high ugly sweater parties, in honor of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the airline will offer free early boarding to travelers willing to don their holiday worst at the airport.

The promotion is good for all Alaska Airlines flights in the airline’s 115-city network, and for flights offered by Virgin America and Horizon Air (both of which are operated by Alaska Airlines). In addition to escaping the waiting crowds, passengers who share the most festive knitted looks will be featured on Alaska Air's social media pages if they tag their photos and videos using the hashtags #UglySweaterDay and #MostWestCoast. And since no plane aisle-turned-catwalk is complete without a soundtrack, “festive holiday-themed boarding music will play all month long to help get guests into the holiday spirit,” according to a press release.

Worried you’ll be the only person on the plane wearing a sequined Rudolph cardigan? Even if other passengers don’t get the memo, airline crew will also be wearing ugly sweaters—so feel free to unleash your inner Chevy Chase from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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