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Instagram teems with travel blogs and photographers. The best of them tell enduring stories, draw you in with irresistible images, and make you spend an entirely unreasonable amount of time daydreaming. A man travelling the world on foot, a writer-photographer holding a mirror to our lives, a chronicler of urban change, a chronicler of rural life, a mountaineer on stunning climbs, an endless road trip with a dog for company...all these have one thing in common: great photography combined with an infectious sense of adventure and exploration.


National Geographic photographer Jimmy Chin’s feed is an adventure lover’s dream come true. Heart-stopping rock-climbing routes, the vertiginous allure of high mountains and deep snow, fly-fishing in mist-covered rivers—Chin’s accomplished shots and penchant for getting into places where most of us won’t, or can’t, result in thrilling photography, shot after shot. A lover of high places can spend endless hours browsing here.

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Millo Ankha is a 26-year-old practising dental surgeon who moonlights as a travel writer and photojournalist. Her Instagram profile, though, just says that “her days are ruled by the sun and the moon". Her stunning photographs of life in Arunachal Pradesh have earned her more than 32,000 followers. Ankha captures the state’s natural beauty, but her most interesting shots are of people. Friends sitting by a fire, a woman walking through a field, young girls laughing in the rain, traditional dancers in a mud field—Ankha’s lens seems to capture the joy of people leading simple lives in beautiful surroundings.’

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Hashim Badani is a Mumbai-based photographer with an unerring eye for urban life. His Mumbai is an old city, full of fading beauty; of mirrors and glass filtering light and altering perspectives in subtle, shimmering ways; and delightful, unexpected stories like the one accompanying this photo: “The JJ flyover snakes its way through the old neighbourhood of Mohammed Ali Road in south Bombay. Mr Haji Mohmad Yusuf Banaraswala uses this to his advantage by leaving his windows wide open so that people can peek into his home and admire his gorgeous plate collection."

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Abhinav Chandel lives in McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh and his Instagram feed is an ode to mountain life in India: a lonesome footbridge glimmers bone-white in a valley, surrounded by deep forests and a snow-capped peak; a meadow sparkling with wildflowers; hot jalebis under a makeshift tent during a mountain downpour; a trekker gazing at the beautiful, misty route ahead; and conversations, always little slices of conversations, with all the people he meets.

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A man and his dog go on a road trip…you could stop there, and it would be enough. Theron Humphrey and his coonhound spent a year in 2011-12 travelling through the US, passing through each and every state. Humphrey avoided highways, travelling on country roads, meeting people and recording the story of one person each day. That was the beginning, and though the original project has ended, Humphrey and his dog show no signs of ending their wandering ways, or of putting up always adorable, and often hilarious, photos.

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It’s perhaps the most epic journey of our generation. Journalist Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk, where he has been following the footsteps of the first human migration from Africa (largely on foot, and never by air) will cover almost 34,000km over seven years when completed. Salopek started from Ethiopia in 2013, and is now in Eastern Europe, having walked through Africa and Asia, and is headed to North America and then, following the coastline, all the way down to the tip of South America. Salopek offers a visual diary of this wondrous journey: portraits of children, old men, fellow wanderers, the startling blue of the Mediterranean through an ancient stone arch, Iron Age potsherds, roasting green coffee beans in a Bedouin tent in West Bank, an old man in Saudi Arabia with a flowing white beard, and mischievous eyes set in deep, wrinkly furrows, who says, “I walked all over this desert. Ah! All over it. You could never keep up." Keep up with Salopek here, and be a part of his journey.

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A Nigerian-American writer and photographer, Teju Cole has made inspired use of this social media space. What he started on Twitter, he does to great effect on Instagram: He brings us to ourselves. His deep interest in social photography—“which astonishes with its hypnotic stream of inexact repetitions"—reached astounding heights with the “We just saw the Mona Lisa" series: Cole reposts pixelated photograph after blurry photograph taken by other instagrammers who went on that “pilgrimage" in Paris and chose to share their experience; each individualistic choice, each original photograph, a replica of another. “Why not buy a postcard in the gift shop and have a ‘better’ image?" he muses. “Because… You want not an image of the holy relic but an image of the struggle to arrive in front of the holy relic." A few weeks ago, in an apparent culmination of the series, he posted a selfie with the painting. But Cole continues to make you pause with his selection of images, his own and those of others.

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