We feature some of the brightest Instagram storytellers in the Passion Passport community through our Instagram Spotlight series. This week, Bernardo Bacalhau (@bbacalhau) discusses photographing three very different countries.

VIETNAM

Vietnam was a whirlwind. In 15 days, I traveled around 1,600 miles from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. Much of the journey was made on the infamous “sleeping buses” — 10-12 hours on a bus full of beds. Though many complained, I didn’t think it was a bad experience at all!

After a disappointing stop at Ha Long Bay, I traveled to  Sa Pa, which I hadn’t heard of before the trip. I’m glad I decided to visit because it was one of the most jaw-dropping places I’ve ever seen. The landscape is breathtaking, and people who asked me to take their pictures were so friendly. I stayed in a hospitable rice farmer’s house and sat on his rooftop during a huge rain storm. Later, as I explored the emerald green rice fields by foot, I took hundreds of photos.

While photographing, I always wait for beautiful days, sunsets, and sunrises. But  Vietnam during the month of August makes it almost impossible to have beautiful, clear skies since, 99% of the time, the weather is cloudy due to monsoons.

DOLOMITES

My trip to the Dolomites in Italy was unexpected and brief.

Anxious to get away from the big cities, I searched for an interesting, rural destination and found that I could fly to South Tyrol for 60€ from my home in Portugal. I booked my ticket instantly.

When I arrived, I rented a car in Milan and drove to the mountains (quickly stopping in Venice, just to relive some memories, or, as we say in Portuguese, “matar saudades”).  

My luck continued when I arrived in the Dolomites. The first snow of the year had fallen the day before, making the landscape a winter wonderland complete with frozen lakes, white painted mountains, and clear blue skies. It was a gift.

I shot with my wide-angle 11-16mm lens in an attempt to capture as much as I could and convey the vastness of the landscape. I was speechless at the famous “Lago di Braies,” which was a surprise since I had only seen photos of the site without snow.

It was completely frozen, and there was even an ice rink on it, giving me the opportunity to capture new angles and perspectives of this oft-photographed lake.

Seceda also impressed me, with its 2,519-meter ski resort and photogenic mountains towering in the background. My original plan was to climb to the top at night by foot and watch the sun rise. But there was too much snow and most of the roads were closed, so I waited until 8 a.m. and reached the peak via ski lift. It was frigid, but the views were unbelievable. The air was so cold I couldn’t even fly my drone!

 

MOROCCO

Morocco was my most recent trip. It took my family nearly eight days to drive the 3,700 km from our house in Portugal to the Sahara Desert and back.

I have never seen so many different landscapes in such a short period of time. The north of Morocco was mainly green (which reminded me of Sa Pa in Vietnam), and the south was a dry, arid desert.

There were so many high points on this trip. Seeing the city of Fez by drone was probably the coolest because it was unexpected: I’d arrived in the city late at night and didn’t know what Fez looked like. As I was one of first people to film Morocco from a drone, it was truly rewarding.

Chefchaouen is a must if you like to photograph cities. Everything from floor to ceiling in the town is blue, and photographing it during the morning light makes it all the more dreamy. The Sahara desert provided a colorful contrast to the blues of Chefchaouen. There are no words for the landscape there.

The color of the sand in the sunrise, the processions of camels walking across the dunes … there is no more magnificent combination! I was only there for one night, so I had a single opportunity to capture that magical desert light. I think I succeeded!

Related:  Behind Walls in North Korea
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Bernardo Bacalhau
Bernardo Bacalhau is a 21 year old from the westernmost country in Europe, Portugal. He is studying game development and artificial intelligence, but his true passion is to capture, through his camera, the beauty of our planet!

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