Our top photos from Instagram: best of Instagram 2021

by Dec 23, 2021Photography

Our Best Of Instagram 2021

These are our top photos from Instagram – voted on by our followers with their likes, shares, and comments. We hope our best of Instagram 2021 travel photos will help you dream of destinations near and far, and inspire you to start your travel bucket list for 2022.

Like 2020, 2021 was far from normal when it came to travel. Fortunately, vaccines began rolling out in a big way in the first quarter of the year, allowing us to become fully vaccinated which in turn began to afford us an opportunity to start venturing out – still masked, still socially distancing, still following COVID protocols, always respecting others.

By early summer, we were exploring more of our local state, California. Mid-summer found us in Maine, and then August we were off for our first international trip since the start of the pandemic – a photo safari in Kenya. Even as COVID variants appear and infections numbers rise and fall and then rise again, we remain grateful for the opportunities to safely explore our world, near and far, on road trips or flights.

Our best of Instagram 2021 – voted on by our followers with their likes and shares – include several from travels we enjoyed prior to the world shutting down. But so many others were from travels we enjoyed in 2021 as the world began opening borders to travelers again. Below you will find top photos from Antarctica, Kenya, California, Germany, Maine, Massachusetts, and Norway.

Use these photos as inspiration for your travel planning and dreaming. It’s never a bad time to research, plan, and explore the possibilities, since that is indeed a large part of the pleasure of travel.

Here then are our top photos, the best of Instagram 2021

Life and death during the Great Migration

Kenya Crocodile Attack Wildebeest

Crocodile Dead Wildebeast Maasai Mara

BIG crocodile attacking and then killing a wildebeest. These two photos depict the beginning and end of a long struggle between a crocodile and a wildebeest during the great migration in the Maasai Mara — one that was not easy to watch. This wildebeest was singled out by a crocodile that must have been 18 feet long. The croc grabbed the wildebeest by its hind quarters, but the wildebeest fought and got away. The croc merely circled in the river as the wildebeest struggled to swim away and the croc grabbed it again by the neck, this time to wrestle the wildebeest under water and drown it. We witnessed the cycle of life (although we did find ourselves cheering on the wildebeest). Kenya delivers so many daily life-changing experiences to visitors and photographers; it’s easy to see why so many visitors fall in love with Kenya and the adventures to be had while on safari there.

Fighting zebras

African Safari Zebras Fighting

Zebras are beautiful, but gosh darn they can be vicious! Therese caught this full-on, teeth-bared fight between two of these striped wonders in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Packing for a safari in Africa can be stressful, right? This is a dream trip and you don’t want to mess it up since long game drives and bush camps demand comfort. We learned a few things on our safari about things not to forget to put on a packing list for a safari in Africa.

Lion kill in Amboseli

Lion Zebra Kill

Lion kill! A male lion drags a zebra off into the bush to keep his meal safe from hyenas that were lurking about. One of the many scenes one can hope to see on a photo safari in Africa. Check out our photo safari tips story to ensure you get the most out of your upcoming African safari.

Rodeo shipwreck

Rodeo Shipwreck

Shipwrecked and abandoned. This tugboat sits just off the shore and an (also) abandoned dock and marina area near Rodeo, California, on the San Francisco Bay. Accessible with a short walk down a trail toward Lone Tree Point. Seems this tugboat, the Polaris, ran aground nearly a decade ago. The owner and the U.S. Coast Guard argued over it a bit — no, the owner didn’t want to spend the money to get it out of the water. In the end, the Coast Guard made sure fuel and any hazardous materials were gone — and just left it in the Bay. ⁣ ⁣There are actually a number of barges, tugboats and other ships left loitering in the San Francisco Bay waters if you look closely — they aren’t always easy to access or see. The state government has attempted to pass bills mandating their clearance but hasn’t gotten too far in the costly endeavor. So there they sit — for curious onlookers and photographers like us who find these abandoned structures so inviting and photogenic.

The iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Paddleboarder Sunset 1

An iconic sight, the Golden Gate Bridge, draped in fog or bright and sunny. Either way, seeing this San Francisco landmark, walking across it for great views, or biking across it should be on your San Francisco to-do list. Yes, biking the Golden Gate Bridge is not that hard since most of the route is pretty flat along the ocean. And you get up-close views of some of the best sights of San Francisco from BOTH sides of the bridge! After getting to Sausalito, you can enjoy the cute town and then even take the ferry back for yet another way to access great San Francisco views.

Crooked Forest in Poland

Crooked Forest Poland

Where were you a year ago when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020? We headed out from Germany on a planned day trip with friends to Poland to the “Crooked Forest,” seen here, the day afterward, not really thinking it would have much of an immediate effect. Little did we know how quickly that day, the pace of drastic global news would accelerate. By the evening we were trying to figure out if we should head home or hunker down. Forever more, we will connect these tall, thin, crooked trees swaying in the wind with the start of a crazy couple of years. Why are those trees curved and crooked? Nobody really knows. The trees cover just less than an acre, and these crooked trees are just a small patch in a larger forest of normal straight trees. Although reports say there are 400 of them, we had trouble counting more than perhaps 50 truly curved trees. No entrance or signage makes it a bit hard to find. But you park on the short dirt road to it near Gryfino, Poland, and just saunter in. Worth a little side trip IF you are in the area. We managed to see this the day before the Polish border was sealed due to the risk of coronavirus.

Eye to eye with a California newt

California Newt Hello

Sometimes, a really cool photo is right at your feet if you take the time to look down — and get down on your belly, in the pouring rain, as Michael did here. Yes, he got really wet!!! Though cute to look at beware of picking them up. Adults secrete tetrodoxin (a powerful neurotoxin) through its skin. The same toxin found in pufferfish and harlequin frogs.  Watch where you step in wet trails on your safe outdoor adventures. Want to take photos like this? Anyone can with the right skills and our photography tips section is a great place to begin learning.

Umbrella girls at Desert X

Desert X Wishing Well Umbrellas

Two girls with umbrellas stand in front of the Wishing Well by Serge Attukwei Clottey. One of many pieces of outdoor public art in Palm Springs that provoke and inspire, this one was a part of Desert X 2021, that ran through mid-May.⁣ ⁣ The large yellow cubes in this sculpture were draped with sheets of woven pieces of discarded yellow plastic water jugs, known as “Kufuor gallons” that are used to transport water in Ghana during a water crisis. These plastic jugs now litter the landscape in Ghana. Desert X is a biennial part of the vibrant public arts and culture scene one can experience on a daily basis in Greater Palm Springs. From its art museums, art deco “modernism” love affair, world famous art festivals, public outdoor art at every turn, and murals murals everywhere


Isabella Palm Springs

Isabelle. She’s translucent from one angle, solid from another. It is an astonishing sculpture to see and is part of the amazing public art scene in Greater Palm Springs.  One needs to walk slow circles around this polished stainless-steel sculpture to truly appreciate Isabelle and the work of quantum physicist turned artist, Julian Voss-Andreae.

Boston airport sunrise

United Airlines Sunrise Logan Airport

Delays can have their advantages. Like being able to watch a gorgeous sunrise from the United Club in Boston’s Logan Airport. Michael WAS supposed to be on the plane sitting at the gate at the time of this photo, but it was delayed due to a mechanical issue, causing him to miss his connection in San Francisco which meant all remaining connections to Sacramento were fully booked – thanks to Sky West flight issues. Choices? Spend the night in Boston or try to get rebooked. Ah, the pleasures of quick thinking and being a bit flexible — and nice — when traveling can help make it a lot less stressful. Thanks to United, he made it home that evening — “only” seven hours later than originally expected. If you are flying these days, you have to bring your patience and flexibility A-game!!! Be sure to check out our story on vacation travel tips to help ensure you know how to prevent stress on your next trip.

Berlin Die Welt balloon sunset

Die Welt Balloon Over Berlin Sunset 1

Happy German Unity Day. German Unity Day is a national holiday on October 3 and commemorates the day in 1990 the GDR (former East Germany) was officially dissolved and its members voted to unify with the Federal Republic of Germany (then West Germany), to create the first single country of Germany since 1949. We felt it most appropriate to honor this day on Instagram with a beautiful sunset photo taken from the top of the Berlin Cathedral, looking out over Berlin. The famous Die Welt balloon, which rises up and down on a cable carrying tourists high into the sky for an amazing city view, floats illuminated against the horizon. This amazing view is just one of the many things to do in Berlin.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse sunset in Mendocino County

Mendocino Point Cabrillo Sunset Light

Nothing better than a golden sunset, ocean bluffs, and an historic lighthouse. Like at Point Cabrillo in Mendocino County in Northern California! Doesn’t hurt that it’s surrounded by grasslands to hike and explore while waiting for the sun to sink below the horizon. Point Cabrillo has helped seafarers navigate since 1909. Looking for a perfect fall destination for another road trip escape? Mendocino may fit your bill, with hikes, restaurants, wine, great inns, history and breathtaking scenery.

Sunset at Marshall Point Lighthouse in Maine

Marshall Point Sunset

Who can ever get enough of lighthouses? Not us! And Marshall Point in Midcoast Maine is a truly gorgeous setting. The rain cleared just in time for this amazing sunset. By the way, this is where Forrest Gump finished his cross-country run in the movie with Tom Hanks. Volunteers say they always find it entertaining to watch visitors on the webcam “recreate” the run!

Excuse me! But I think you’re on my beach

Gray Seal Staring Nauset Bay Cape Cod

This gray seal became very curious as Michael was sitting close to the water’s edge with his camera on a remote beach in Nauset Bay on Cape Cod. There were over 30 seals swimming in the marsh waters nearby which is where Michael was primarily focused for possible photos, but this one kept coming close … inspecting. Several times it snorted, expressing displeasure at Michael sitting on “its” beach perhaps? Or maybe it was inviting Michael in for a swim. But each time Michael turned to take a photo, the seal quickly slipped beneath the water. So Michael “anticip-waited,” as Therese calls it, with his camera ready, pointing where he thought the wily seal would resurface, and sure enough — there he was! This photo was shot with a Sony a9 and a Sony 70-200 f/2.8 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. Want to be able to take photos like this? Check out all of our travel photography tips.

Chinese New Year annual flower fair in San Francisco

Chinatown Flower Fair Street

Missing Chinese New Year celebrations in San Francisco. The Chinese New Year’s annual Flower Fair, the week before the official lunar new year is a sprawling event that stretches many blocks up and all around Chinatown. What a burst of colors, smells and activity! This is where the community comes to find all the traditional goodies to ring in the New Year, such as fruit (particularly oranges), flowers, red gifting envelopes, decorations, plants and candy. But it’s much more than a street fair selling things — It is a community celebration, families greeting families, traditional Chinese musicians along the street… Alas, COVID forced its cancelation in 2021 along with all the other celebrations and festivities to ring in the Year of the Ox. So sad. Hope to be back in San Francisco for this in 2022. If you are planning to head to the City by the Bay for the Chinese New Year Parade, it is never too early to start planning.

Red Sailor Lighthouse in Norway

Norway Red Sailor Lighthouse 1

The Red Sailor Lighthouse in Norway is nothing short of inspiring. It sits on an itty-bitty island at the mouth of the Bjugnifjord fjord not too far from Trondheim, Norway. This little red dot in the sea was built in 1880 and was automated about a 100 years later — but until then the lighthouse keeper and his family lived on the lower floors of this tiny drop of land!  You get to sail past this lighthouse — officially called Kjeungskjaer Lighthouse, but don’t ask us to pronounce that – when taking the Hurtigruten ship along the coast of Norway. And if you are lucky you’ll hit it at sunset as we did, it makes for a spectacular setting. The Hurtigruten ship along the coast is quite the adventure and can be personalized as you want.

Photo op near the Berliner Dom

Gifts Berlin Michael Retrospective

Lots of photo opps in Berlin, Germany! Michael aims his lens at the gorgeous Berlin Cathedral along the Spree River. His best friend for carrying gear around the city? Something that would be a great gift for the photographer in your life: The Think Tank Photo Retrospective bag. It looks cool and doesn’t scream “camera gear inside” for would-be thieves. It comes in a variety of sizes, meaning from casual to pro, there is a size perfect for that snap-happy person on your gift list. Check that out and a number other great gifts for travelers — from pants and shoes to ice coolers or mugs and more — in our Travel Gift Guide. Thank you to our friend, Sigrid Dosseler, for the photo.

Penguins are just adorable

Penquins Dancing New Years 1

HAPPY FEET! Remembering fondly our journey to Antarctica and all the “happy feet” we saw, not to mention the friends we made! Here’s to an amazing 2022 for us all filled with travel and adventure.

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  1. John Grusd

    Great Stuff! Always terrific information and good ideas! Excellent images too! Seems like it was a very good year.

    • <div class="apbct-real-user-wrapper"><span>Michael</span><div class="apbct-real-user" title="The Real Person (TRP)"><div class="apbct-real-user-popup"><span class="apbct-real-user-title">Michael acts as a real person and passed all tests against spambots. Anti-Spam by CleanTalk.</span></div></div></div>

      Thank you John! Here’s to an amazing 2022 with more photo opportunities and more chances to travel with you too!

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