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Travel the globe through the eyes of a drone

The latest craze in travel photography is to use drones — remote control planes or helicopter-like devices — to take photos or videos of vacation spots. It’s sort of like taking a selfie from 1,000 feet above you. The advances in technology have made it possible to buy a high-quality drone with video camera for less than $1,000, and with a little practice and some editing patience, to produce amazing aerial videos that would impress a national tourism bureau.

The website TravelByDrone collects links to over 5,000 drone videos from around the world. Jan Hiersemenzel launched the site from his home in Switzerland (the world capital of drone-ing) this March as a way to catalogue and search for the best videos. You can navigate their global map to select from hundreds of different destinations. It’s a great way to get a different perspective on one of your favorite spots, or to discover some new places you’d like to explore.

Some of the videos are professional-quality productions, with fancy editing and theme music, others comically amateur efforts. It’s easy to spend hours on the website flying around the world like you’re in a high-def daydream (that is, if you can tolerate the incessant Techno/New Age soundtracks).

Photo: Shutterstock

This new high-tech hobby isn’t without its detractors. U.S. National Parks recently instituted a “temporary” ban on the devices due to noise and potential safety issues. People have been arrested for intentionally or unintentionally flying their drones into protected airspace (near aircraft, military areas, hospitals, schools).

And there are certainly privacy concerns, as not everyone will be happy to have an anonymous hovering helicopter taking pictures of them. The Federal Aviation Administration is still developing rules about what exactly qualifies as a “drone” and when and where they should be allowed to fly. So this trend may disappear as fast as it has started, particularly in the U.S., but until then, enjoy these top selections from Travel By Drone.

The Federal Aviation Administration is still developing rules about what exactly qualifies as a “drone,” and when and where they should be allowed to fly. So this trend may disappear as fast as it has started, particularly in the U.S. But until then, enjoy these top selections from Travelbydrone.com.


Just a dude on a mountaintop sitting in a Zen position with “Matrix” glasses on, guiding the astral flight of a drone over icebergs, glaciers, waterfalls, and incredible vistas. “Game of Thrones” geeks like me can’t help but think of a warg mentally linked with his eagle in the North.

Inside a volcano in Vanuatu

Here’s a video from a guy not afraid to lose his drone. He actually flies it INSIDE AN ERUPTING VOLCANO near the appropriately named Sulfur Bay on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu, in the South Pacific.

The video captures slow-motion blasts of molten rock flying right past the camera on day and night flights. And amazingly, the brave drone even survived the trip!

Serengeti, Tanzania

Great start to the video, with a giraffe giving the drone a “WTF?” glance at eye level. Later, the drone swoops over herds of zebras, gazelles, hippos, and elephants; gets up close and personal with a snarling hyena at a kill; and flies over a lion, who is the only one of the animals who seems unimpressed.


With the drone floating above and around a tropical paradise, this really just makes you want to hop on the next flight out there. Bonus points for using locally themed music rather than the usual insufferable techno-drone soundtrack.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Shows the incredible range of some of the drones, as they get a shot hovering above the world’s tallest building at 2,700 feet. And the video gives you a real feeling of the scope of Dubai’s construction boom, slowly panning around the buildings and then soaring over the huge Palm Islands development.

Sydney, Australia

This amazing, high-quality video looks like a tourism production, but it’s just a guy from Sydney using equipment you can buy off of Amazon.com for under $2,000. The video definitely makes me want to visit, but I’m worried I’ll be disappointed by being mostly earthbound once I arrive.

Interlaken, Switzerland

There are a million photos of Interlaken from famous viewpoints on bridges and trails, so it’s neat to see a video looking back at the people on these spots, sort of like a giant hovering mirror. You get to see multiple seasons, from summer forests to winter ski slopes.

Kauai, Hawaii

As scenic as Kauai is from the ground, it’s even more so from the air. The drone gives a perspective unavailable from any helicopter tour, swooping and hovering 10 feet above the ground in front of waterfalls, and then shooting along a jungle trail like a high-speed velociraptor.

Golden Gate Bridge

Ever wonder what it would look like to jump off a bridge? And then float around, instead of plummeting to your doom? Well, here you go. The multiple dizzying viewpoints of the bridge are cool, and probably illegal for anybody to duplicate these days.


This is a nice tour over Beijing and the Forbidden City, along with a cautionary tale (via the link on YouTube) about being careful where you use your drone, as the local authorities might not like it, particularly in a place like China.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

One nice thing about the video, which swoops over favelas, through upscale neighborhoods, and up to the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain, is how many people are giving friendly waves to the camera. Not to mention you get to skip traffic, the danger of the slums, and a crowded cable car ride to get there.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

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