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National Geographic Adventures's Jonathan Irish's take on "the Wave," in Arizona (Photograph by @magnumji)

Oh, the Places Nat Geo Goes

When you work at National Geographic, one of the first questions people ask is if you get to travel. The answer is often yes, but one of the best parts of the job is being surrounded by sharp, globe-trotting people, and getting to hear their stories.

That’s why we asked folks on National Geographic’s Travel team to share a story about the best trip they’ve taken in the past year with our Intelligent Travel readers.

Dozens of our staffers show off their unique view of the world through the @NatGeoTravel Instagram account, too. (Share your favorite roving photos with us by tagging them with #NatGeoTravelPic for a chance to be featured in our feed!)

Need inspiration for your next adventure? Look no further:

  • Machu Picchu (Peru): “I was, not surprisingly, overwhelmed by its majestic, incongruous setting way up there on an Andean mountain, but Peru in general surprised me with its diversity. I also spent time in the Amazonian rain forest–where I spotted scarlet macaws, howler monkeys, caiman, and tarantula–and Cusco, a lively contemporary city with a historic Incan core.” —Amy Alipio (@amyalipio), Associate Editor, National Geographic Traveler
  • Cinque Terre (Italy): “The five villages offered five great experiences: From cliff-diving into crystal clear Mediterranean waters and delicious Italian cuisine to fun shops and jaw-dropping scenery. The cherry on top? It was easy to travel from one to the other via boat or train, or on foot.” —Penny Dackis, National Geographic Travel Books

    Amy Alipio captures a selfie in front of Machu Picchu (Photograph by @amyalipio)
    A selfie of Traveler editor Amy Alipio in front of Machu Picchu (Photograph by @amyalipio)
  • Belgrade (Serbia): “I was tired of the over-touristed “walled” cities, towns, and villages along the Mediterranean, so the pedestrian area of Belgrade was a joy to explore.” —Caroline Hickey, Project Editor, National Geographic Travel Books
  • Chichén Itzá (Yucatan, Mexico): “I visited in April of 2013 and was blown away. It’s an astounding place that everyone should visit. My favorite part was hearing the quetzal calls echoing off the pyramids. The acoustics are unbeatable.” —Hannah Lauterback, Editorial Trainee, National Geographic Travel Books
  • Botswana and South Africa: “My wife and I spent two weeks on safari. Every day in the bush provided another spectacular encounter with wildlife–whether it was lions and cheetah stalking prey or herds of elephants making their way across the delta. For a nature lover and photo enthusiast like me, it was a dream.” —Andrew Coleman (@awc007), Vice President, National Geographic Travel

    Andrew Coleman snaps a shot of a cheetah with her cub in Africa (Photograph by @awc007)
    Andrew Coleman snaps a shot of a cheetah with her cub in Africa (Photograph by @awc007)
  • Kauai (Hawaii, USA): “The locals were friendly, the views were breathtaking, and every single day was an adventure. My new husband and I hiked along the Napali Coast, went swimming under waterfalls, flew around the island in a helicopter (without doors!), and snuba-d with turtles. We loved it so much that my husband wants to move there, but since they don’t have Traveler offices there, I told him I’m not going.” —Kathryn Naumiec (@kthrnnaumiec), Design & Photo Assistant, National Geographic Traveler 
  • Dogsledding in Sweden (Swedish Lapland): “Without a doubt, dogsledding is the most fun you can have on two feet. I’ll never forget the first 10 minutes of my experience…going from a deafening cacophony of dogs barking and me terrified of what would happen when I took my foot off the the rhythmic hush of sleds gliding through the snow and blissed-out elation. I couldn’t un-plaster the smile from my face for the entire trip.” —Jonathan Irish (@magnumji), Program Director, National Geographic Adventures
  • Bermuda: “My daughter, son-in-law, and their two little sons live there, so I visit a lot. When I’m there it’s easy to feel like a local: we pick up the older boy from school and go to the beach or run down the big hill at the Botanical Gardens or help scrub sea turtles at the Bermuda Aquarium. Besides playing with my grandchildren, my favorite thing to do there is snorkeling at Jobsons Cove, where fat, iridescent parrotfish swim all around you.” —Marilyn Terrell, Chief Researcher, National Geographic Traveler 
  • Montana (USA): “While photographing in Montana this winter I was able to set aside some time to snowboard with my 15-year-old son at Big Sky. There’s a gondola there that will take you to the very top of Lone Peak, the centerpiece of the resort. The wait for the two-car tram is a little long, but when I got to the top, I knew I was someplace special. When Gabe, my son, wandered near the edge it looked to me like he was standing on the edge of a cloud looking down.” —Dan Westergren (@danwestergren), Director of Photography, National Geographic Traveler  

    Dan Westergren captures a striking image of his son "at the edge of an abyss" at Montana's Big Sky Resort (Photograph by @danwestergren)
    Dan Westergren captures a striking image of his son “at the edge of an abyss” at Montana’s Big Sky Resort (Photograph by @danwestergren)
  • Kazbegi (Georgia): “The Caucasus is, to me, the most fascinating region in the world, and Kazbegi is emblematic of Georgia’s mountainous mystique. Every part of the trip was magical—from the treacherous taxi ride up the mountain through herds of sheep to the mouth-watering khinkali and lobiani. My favorite moment was when, after a long hike to visit an ancient monastery, we caught a group of Georgian customs agents dragging a ram through the monastery with one of the clergymen. Was the ram caught trying to cross the Chechen border? Was there to be a sacrifice? The men didn’t speak English–and our Georgian was limited to Gaumarjos! (Cheers!)—so we’ll never know.” —Lucy Gubbins, Program Coordinator, National Geographic Expeditions
  • Laguna Beach (California, USA): “The fish tacos, margaritas, and surfing there can’t be beat.” —Anna Irwin, Communications Director, National Geographic Travel
  • Queensland (Australia): I swam with whales, hugged a koala and met loads of friendly Australians when I visited Queensland in June this year. The weather was perfect, the Australian wine was divine, and I enjoyed at least three delicious Australian lattes a day. It was a trip I won’t soon forget.” —Carolyn Fox (@cfoxgram), Digital Director, National Geographic Travel

    "I've been fortunate to have some amazing experiences in 31 years. Diving the Great Barrier Reef tops the list," says Carolyn Fox (Photograph by @cfoxgram)
    “I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing experiences in 31 years. Diving the Great Barrier Reef tops the list,” says Carolyn Fox (Photograph by @cfoxgram)
  • Cork (Ireland): “I discovered the origins of buttered eggs at the 17th-century English Market, had the country’s best scones at Hayfield Manor Hotel, rang the Bells of Shandon, and met wonderful people—and great storytellers—at Ballymaloe House and Cookery School, where Darina Allen (the Julia Child of Ireland) took me on a tour of her garden and made a salad with fresh greens and vegetables for our lunch. Nearby surprises include a visit to Cobh to see where the Titanic docked last before it sank, and a visit to the Midleton farmers market to sample (and buy to bring home) Frank Hederman‘s smoked salmon—the most delicious in the world.” —Susan O’Keefe, Associate Editor, National Geographic Traveler
  • Quito (Ecuador): “The warm people, unique food (especially the chocolate!), and the spectacular views at such a high altitude make this city a must-visit. The highlight of my trip was the collection of pre-Colombian artwork at El Alabado, a museum housed in a 17th-century Spanish residence.” —Kim Connaghan, Vice President and Publisher, National Geographic Travel
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park: (California, USA): “Though I have been there several times before, each visit has blown me away. Because we went in the off-season (winter), my travel companion and I seemed to have the forest to ourselves. Standing among some of the oldest and tallest trees on Earth in such stillness was a powerful experience.” —Tyler Metcalfe (@tylermetcalfe), Associate Photography Producer, National Geographic Travel

    Digital Photo Producer Tyler Metcalfe captures a hiker dwarfed by a giant redwood in California's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Photograph by @tylermetcalfe)
    Tyler Metcalfe captures a hiker dwarfed by a giant redwood in California’s Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Photograph by @tylermetcalfe)
  • Zimbabwe: “My husband and I wanted to go a bit off the beaten path for our honeymoon, so we chose Zimbabwe. The wildlife there is breathtaking. In Mana Pools National Park, we canoed with hippos and crocodiles, and in Hwange National Park, we saw hundreds of elephants up close—far closer than I had ever imagined getting to them. And we rarely saw another safari vehicle, which made the safari experience all the more special.” —Jeannette Kimmel, Editorial Business Manager, National Geographic Traveler
  • Iceland: “I traveled there in the winter, despite the shorter daylight hours. From the glaciers and waterfalls to the geothermal pools and black-sand beaches, I was most awed by the variety of landscapes and natural wonders. Plus, the holiday festivities and decorations at this time of year and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights made the trip a memorable experience.” —Molly Danner, Program Manager, National Geographic Expeditions
  • South Island (New Zealand): “My brother, cousin, and a few friends met up in Dunedin with plans to travel around the South Island over the course of 10 days. We accomplished two of the country’s “Great Walks,” including the Rakiura and Kepler treks, and spent time in the bustling adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. New Zealand’s striking natural beauty was inspiring, and the laid back culture and friendly people made the trip a relaxing getaway.” —Ben Fitch (@benfitch), Associate Photo Editor, National Geographic Traveler 

    Traveler photo editor Ben Fitch snags the perfect shot of Tunnel Beach on New Zealand's South Island (Photograph by @benfitch)
    Traveler photo editor Ben Fitch snags the perfect shot of Tunnel Beach on New Zealand’s South Island (Photograph by @benfitch)
  • Trinidad: “Though best known for its extravagant Carnival, this island offers so much more (always a point of excitement for a travel journalist). Highlights of my visit: The Pointe-a-Pierre Wild Fowl Trust, a little piece of paradise perched counterintuitively in the middle of an oil refinery complex, where Molly Gaskin and her passionate staff oversee a beautiful refuge for whistling ducks, scarlet ibises, and other water fowl; and an afternoon hike along a hibiscus-fringed river in the island’s mountainous Northern Range, where families had set up picnic tables and chairs in the river for a ‘river lime.’ ‘This is how we gather for Sunday supper,’ a woman told me as she waded to her table carrying a bowl of callaloo. ‘Come join us!'” —Jayne Wise, Senior Editor, National Geographic Traveler
  • Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona, USA): “My favorite trip this year was floating the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. When you’re experiencing such a grand place from a kayak, it’s hard not to feel small and impressed by the forces of nature. And, as is true for many adventures in the wilderness, life is reduced to the essentials, like setting up camp, cooking group meals, and enjoying the sliver of starry sky visible between the canyon walls.” —Emily Cohn, Marketing Manager, National Geographic Expeditions
  • Castello di Gargonza (Tuscany, Italy): “What’s not to like about a fortified 14th-century village on its own hilltop, complete with narrow alleys lined with medieval houses, gorgeous pocket gardens, and surrounding views of the Tuscan countryside? Today it’s a holiday destination that rents out bungalows named after the original inhabitants–the seamstress Niccolina, the house of the gamekeeper Celso, and so on. There’s a fabulous restaurant featuring regional cuisine, bocce ball, and walking trails through the surrounding forest.” —Barbara A. Noe, Senior Editor, National Geographic Travel Books

Have you taken a great trip lately? Tell us about it by leaving a comment below.