There’s something missing from the iconic photos you see of the Roman Colosseum, the Pyramids of Giza, Angkor Wat, and every other popular destination in the world: the tourists. When you see photos of the Parthenon, do you imagine yourself there in the scene, enjoying that extraordinary view in person? What you might not envision are the massive crowds hoarding into the same place to snap the same shots and enjoy the same experience.
It won’t be easy to get a clean shot.
The solution? Consider sacrificing some sleep and get to your destination in time for sunrise. You’ll find it’s a far better experience, and the photos you’ll snap are well worth the sleep deprivation. There’s nothing quite like sharing the entire Great Wall of China with just a handful of your friends—even if you did have to wake up at 3 a.m., take questionable taxis, and hike all the way to the top of the punishing ancient Chinese StairMaster because the gondolas don’t run that early.
The morning light enhances the shots. Known as the golden hour or magic hour, the time just after sunrise and just before sunset makes for gorgeous photography.
It’s not fun to get up before dawn when you’re on vacation in paradise, but seeing Haleakala at sunrise is the only way to go. It’s just not the same to see it in the middle of the day. If you go to the Grand Canyon every morning at sunrise, you’ll get an unforgettable show each time. If you get to Machu Picchu at 6 a.m. when the gates open, you won’t be the only one there, but you’ll have a better chance of getting to the spots with the most spectacular views first.
You can sleep in any other day, but on those special days that you get to visit those monumental sights—rise, shine, caffeinate, and get after it.
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