Do You Ever Pinch Yourself? (Or, Best 13 Instagram Photos of 2013)

2013 photos

Do you ever pinch yourselves and wonder if you’re just living in a dream world?

One of our Facebook fans sounds off, lending us a little perspective on the world around us and the lives we lead

The end of the year is near. A time for reflection. A time to take stock of one year’s passing before moving onto the next.

I know, I know. Everyone is up to their ears in 2013 year-in-review posts at this point. We hadn’t really planned one.

Then I began taking stock, going through Dan’s Instagram photos from the year. I’d like to think that Dan’s eye observes moments and captures scenes that some people might overlook, and increasingly he captures them only with an iPhone. I was moved by the beauty and diversity of our world shown through these images.

I couldn’t help but want to share what I thought were the best, the most representative of these.

Selecting only thirteen images out of almost 500 from over a dozen countries proved challenging. It also reaffirmed something: no matter how much we travel and how much we see of the world, we are still in awe of it — from its unlikely moments of enormity to its twinkles of deceptive insignificance.

To have had the opportunity to see and experience such a disproportionately large slice of our world, we are truly grateful.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Our 13 Best Instagram Photos of the Year

1. Up in the Air

Up in the air, monsoon storm clouds over Mumbai. #skyart or #cloudporn?
Up in the air, monsoon storm clouds over Mumbai. The beginning of our flight to Kashmir that we thought might be our last.

Up in the Air runner up: Greenland, up in the air. En route to New Zealand.

More Up in the Air photos: Photos from the Airplane Window


2. Scotland

Isle of Skye: Black Cuilin range and the triple arch bridge at Sligachan #Scotland #blogmanay
Isle of Skye: Black Cuilin range and the triple arch bridge at Sligachan.

Scotland runner up: Eilean Donan Castle, Scottish highland loveliness.

More Scotland photos: Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh, Scotland: A City of Stone, History and Ales, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay: Celebrating the New Year


3. New Zealand

Road trip New Zealand style. Landscape shape shift at Lake Hawea.
Road trip New Zealand style. Landscape shape shift at Lake Hawea near Queenstown.

New Zealand runner up: Sailboat carves our ferry wake in Queen Charlotte Sound

More New Zealand photos: New Zealand South Island Photos, New Zealand North Island Photos, Tongariro Crossing Trek


4. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague: our old stomping grounds. As freezing and beautiful as I remember. (when the sun shines). Prague Castle background, Smetana Museum and Vltava River foreground
After speaking at TEDx Warsaw, we visited Prague, our old stomping grounds. As freezing and beautiful as I remember. Prague Castle background, Smetana Museum and Vltava River foreground.

Prague runner up: Around the bend: A glimpse of Prague’s frosted cake Old Town.

More Prague photos: All Around Prague


5. South Africa

Sunset along the Orange River - Northern Cape, South Africa
Audrey snaps a few pics at sunset along the Orange River in the Northern Cape

South Africa runner up: Next up in Cape Town: Abseiling down Table Mountain with a view of Lion’s Head

More South Africa photos: South Africa, Best of Our Trip, Johannesburg and Soweto, Northern Cape, the Land out Far, Cape Town, Masiphumelele Township Tour, Cape Town


6. Mumbai, India

The palm peddler of Dadar flower market, Mumbai
The palm peddler of Dadar flower market, Mumbai.

Mumbai runner up: Wee little paan palace, where betel leaf and betel nut parcels are made.

More Mumbai photos: Markets and People of Mumbai


7. Kashmir, India

Wake-up call, misty morning view from our houseboat. Nagin Lake, Srinagar #Kashmir
Wake-up call, misty morning view from our houseboat. Nagin Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir.

Kashmir runner up: Kashmir to Ladakh roadtrip. Bus got stuck in a traffic jam overlooking this jaw-dropper.

More Kashmir photos: Srinagar Photos, Kashmir to Ladakh Bus Journey


8. Ladakh, India

After the snowblinds, Buddhist prayer flags at Ganda La pass (4950m / 16,240 ft). Markha Valley trek, Day 2, nearing midday #harsh
After the snowblinds, Buddhist prayer flags at Ganda La pass (4950m / 16,240 ft) in Ladakh. Markha Valley trek, Day 2.

Ladakh runner up: Stepping off Kongmaru La pass, 5130 meters overlooking layers of the Zanskar range. Markha Valley trek, Ladakh.

More Ladakh photos:Ladakh Photos, Best Of, Markha Valley Trek, Leh, the Capital of Ladakh


9. Costa Rica

One of the more phenomenal sunsets I've been treated to. Taken at the mouth of Rio Baru -- Dominical, Costa Rica.
One of the more phenomenal sunsets I’ve been treated to. Taken at the mouth of Rio Baru — Dominical, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica runner up: Mixed sky, late afternoon at Playa Manuel Antonio. Taking a break after the G Project Summit in the Jungle.

More Costa Rica photos: Costa Rica Photos, Best Of, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, Tortuguero, Costa Rica


10. Ireland

Looking south, the Cliffs of Kerry at dusk. Billed as "the most spectacular cliffs in Kerry" in no fewer than 50 road signs. They weren't kidding. #dna2ireland
After keynoting at TBEX Dublin we took a road trip. Looking south, the Cliffs of Kerry at dusk.

Ireland runner up: Medieval monastic staircase. Skellig Michael in the blazing sun, off the coast of County Kerry

More Ireland photos: Ireland Road Trip Photos, Ring of Kerry, Ireland, Skellig Michael


11. Namibia

Namibian desert sundowner. Mother Nature's colors represent. ROYGBIV
Namibian desert sundowner. Mother Nature’s colors represent.

Namibia runner up: Late afternoon drive through petrified dunes. On the road, Namibia style. Namib-Naukluft Park.

More Namibia photos: Best of Namibia, Sossusvlei, Namib Desert, Spitzkoppe, Bushman Paradise, and Namibian School


12. Berlin

Life is a convergence which takes time and iteration to unpack.  As I ran past this tree today amidst the foul of confused-season weather and whopping snowflakes, I thought to its late afternoon beauty only one week ago. #Berlin
Late afternoon beauty in late autumn at Tempelhof Park, Berlin.

Berin runner up: Wrinkles of the City, street art in Berlin from JR.

More Berlin photos:Berlin Photos, Berlin Cheap Eats, Berlin Street Art


13. Food Porn

Tacos pescado (fish tacos). Muy rico! Pura vida for my mouth in Costa Rica.
Tacos pescado (fish tacos). Muy rico! Pura vida for my mouth in Costa Rica.

Food Porn runner up: Today’s lunch in the sky, en route Tokyo to Mumbai. Japanese food as art.

More Food Porn photos: Indian Food Photos, Oaxaca Food Photos, Japanese Food Photos, Iranian Food Photos


Bonus Image

A day trip just north of Berlin, takes us 35km by bicycle to Liepnitzsee to catch some lake time outside of the city. This shot is taken south of Wandlitz, we could hear the train a comin'.
Open tracks. The possibilities seem endless.

Where will 2014 take you? Share your travel dreams and plans below!

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  1. says

    Stunning photos! I love how smart phones and Instagram makes sharing our global stories so much more accessible. It was great seeing you both in Portland I’m hoping our path cross again in 2014! Cheers!

  2. says

    @Monica: Thank you! When we first set off on this journey we traveled with a Palm Trio (you might have to look that up!) and thought that was pretty nifty. Amazing how technology has changed in the last few years with smartphone cameras and Instagram. So fun.

    Really hope our paths cross this year as well, somewhere in this big and small world of ours. Hopefully we’ll be coming through New York at some point.

  3. says

    lovely round-up of a great year, well done and well photographed! looking forward to more awesomeness from you two in 2014! though I share lots of iPhone pics of my travels as well, they didn’t make my Best of 2013 compilation…but you’ve inspired me to consider adding some iPhone shots to my Best of 2014! cheers!

  4. says

    wow, what a great images and i really surprised this images. i just want to visit this places at least once in my lifetime. i’m really enjoyed your post. thanks for your stunning post..

  5. says

    @Jim: Definitely encourage adding iPhone pics to next year’s best of pics! We find ourselves using our iPhone photos more and more, not just for quick social media updates but for articles as well. Most people are amazed when they find out that some of these photos were taken on a smartphone. A good eye and rules of photography apply, no matter what the device.

    @David: Also thought these were too good not to share. Will be hard to have a more photogenic 2014, but we’ll certainly try :) Hope you have a wonderful year ahead and that our paths cross again.

    @Rebecca: Hope you had fun getting lost in the side articles and photo essays! Was fun to put all the links together as a sort of review and reflection on the year.

  6. says

    These are fantastic! Making me nostalgic for Queenstown – might have to make another trip south in 2014. After doing RTW in 2013, I think we’ll be sticking close to home for a while yet.

  7. says

    @Jennifer: #7 is one of my favorites as well. Love the stillness of the water and clear reflection. I was still sleeping when Dan took this – he woke up at the break of dawn and went out to the front of the houseboat to write and not disturb me. So he got to see the lake come to life in the early morning. Next time, I should get up early too :)

    @Eemusings: Queenstown, and the area around. is just beautiful. So much to do and see (even outside of the adrenaline) in a short area. Safe travels and enjoy sticking close to home next year!

  8. says

    That’s a great beautiful collection of Instagrams from 2013, Audrey. Thank you both for sharing your photographs and stories. All the best to you and Dan in 2014!

  9. says

    You guys were really all over the place this year! Really strong Instagram work that’s making me jealous! I think my favorites are the guy in Mumbai and the other one from India with the boat reflection. But, they’re all stunning! Happy New Year to you guys!

  10. says

    @Henry: Thank you, the credit for these images goes entirely to Dan. He’s just too modest to share so I’m just the one who put them together. And a very happy 2014 to you!

    @Laura: It’s funny because when we started the year we thought we would be slowing down. But speaking engagements, projects and our own personal travels took us to more places than we could have imagined on January 1, 2013.

    Some of my favorite photos from the whole year are from India – the colors, intensity and beauty come out so well in the images.

    @Paula: It’s funny that you mention the betel photo – that was Dan’s favorite from Mumbai, but as editor I preferred the palm leaf vendor. Thank you for your kind words about our writing. We put a lot of work into it. In reflecting on this past year, we also realize we have many more stories to share. Happy 2014 to you as well!

  11. says

    @Jeanette: We’d lived in Prague for 5 years, and during all that time had never taken a photo of it from that angle. Took another visit. Always another chance to look at things with a fresh pair of eyes.

  12. says

    @Charli: Thanks for your kind words about this collection of photos! The drive to Queenstown that goes past Lake Hawea is just stunning. We kept asking to pull over to take photos – think it took twice as long to get there :)

  13. says

    Have been browsing through various travel blogs checking out all the photos from the past year. Love them all. So inspiring to visit these places. Must get more photos up on my travel blog.

  14. says

    @Christy: Credit for these photos really goes to Dan, not me. But I agree that they are great photographs :)

    @Jonathan: Thanks, glad you enjoyed these and the other photos from the year. Photos are important to help convey the experience – enjoy getting more up on your blog!

  15. says

    Great images guys! 2013 looked like a fantastic year!
    You have given me a few ideas for a 3 week trip we have in October

  16. says

    @Ross: Thanks for the kudos on our keynote speech! All the photos from County Kerry were pretty fabulous – was difficult to choose just one.

    @Nad: India is such an incredible place, and SO photogenic! We’re with you on your love of the place.

  17. says

    These are probably the most amazing Instagram photos I’ve seen – were these all taken on a phone or taken with your camera? If you’ve done these on your phones, I’d love to know what camera app you’re using and what phone you have. They’re really stunning! Oh and Happy New Year!

  18. says

    @Tasha: Thanks for asking and for the very kind compliment. Happy new year!

    All our instagram photos are taken with the iPhone. I used to carry a iPhone 3GS, now I carry an iPhone 4s. I never post DSLR photos to Instagram. As far as the apps, nothing special. I typically used to shoot photos in Instagram, but now that iOS camera app offers the square format, I’ll shoot with the on-board camera app. Outside of that, it’s composition, focus and making sure the exposure is the way I’d like it.

  19. says

    Awesome images! I love the Indian ones. 2013 was the year I became a little obsessed with Instagram… will have to make sure I’m following you two after seeing these photos. Can’t wait to see what you post in 2014.

  20. says

    Just beautiful! A wonderful collection of photos. I have been in two places from your pictures and it brings back all those nice memories.. thank you :)

  21. says

    @Carmen: It’s easy to become obsessed with Instagram, we understand :) India is an incredible place for photography!

    @Sylvia: Thanks for your kind words. Credit goes to Dan as the talent behind the photos.

  22. says

    @Lance: Thank you. At the moment, working on a book. Stay tuned for what we have planned on the road!

    @Christine: Thanks. Kashmir was indeed special. Not going to be losing that memory anytime soon.

  23. says

    @Jennifer: We don’t always have wifi on our trips so we’ll often wait until we get to a wifi spot (e.g., hotel or cafe) to upload photos to Instagram. Not quite immediate, but close enough :)

  24. carrywinselt says

    Wow amazing collection of travel instagram photos, from your list second one scotland photo looks very great and very natural to me.

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