These Are the Winners of National Geographic’s 2017 Travel Photography of the Year Contest

National Geographic has revealed the winning images for its acclaimed Travel Photographer of the Year 2017 competition. Taking the throne is Mexican photographer Sergio Tapiro Velasco whose stunning photo dubbed The Power of Nature features an erupting volcano with a perfectly-timed lightning strike. A panel of judges rummaged through over 15,000 photo submissions from photographers in approximately 30 countries. Categories for the contest included: “Nature,” “People,” and “Cities.”

“When I looked on the camera display, all I could do was stare,” Velasco told Nat Geo. “What I was watching was impossible to conceive, the image showed those amazing forces of nature interacting on a volcano, while the lightning brightened the whole scene. It’s an impossible photograph and my once in a lifetime shot that shows the power of nature.”

Take a look at select images below and head over to Nat Geo’s official website to view the full list of winners.

Travel: The 5 Coolest Outdoor Concert Venues in America

Summer is about three things: road trips, blowing off work to head to the beach and outdoor concerts. There’s just nothing like the live music experience with the sun in your face, a drink in your hand and a cool breeze whistling through the trees. While there are literally dozens of A+ destinations across America to take in an outdoor show this summer, some venues clearly stand in a league of their own. Like these five eye-popping, body-shaking, life-affirming outdoor music venues in America.

The Gorge Amphitheatre 
George, Washington

Originally opened in 1985 as a small winery, the sprawling 27,500-seat Gorge Amphitheatre situated on a high bluff overlooking the Columbia River and the Cascade Range foothills has evolved into one of the world’s most magnificent outdoor venues. Most famous as the site of the annual Sasquatch! Music Festival over Memorial Day weekend, the Gorge Amphitheatre will see acts like Pretty Lights and Kings of Leon this August before Guns N’ Roses rolls into town Labor Day weekend. With on-site camping (as well as glamping) opportunities and lawn tickets in addition to upfront action in the pit, there’s not a bad seat in the house at this Live Nation-managed venue located about 2.5 hours east of Seattle. For eats, they’ve got Guy Fieri burgers and food trucks plus local craft beers from Elysian and Georgetown Brewing. And yes, they’ve still got plenty of wine.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre 
Morrison, Colorado

This venue has reached mythical status amongst its many loyal acolytes, and anyone who’s ever been there can tell you it’s easy to see why. The 9,000-seat venue located just 16 miles west of Denver overflows with a spiritual vibe that made it a favorite of the Grateful Dead back in the day. Widespread Panic more recently took the jam band mantle for hosting the most sold-out shows in Red Rocks Amphitheatre’s history. With concerts having been performed for over 100 years in these ideal acoustic surroundings created by the ancient sandstone monoliths that form the stage and seating area, the Denver-owned venue is also a beautiful nature park that you can explore between shows. It also hosts yoga, fitness and film events at 6,450 feet above sea level. This August, take in its typically diverse lineup of shows from A Tribe Called Quest to Father John Misty to Die Antwoord, with Gorillaz rolling into town late September.

Jones Beach Theater 
Wantagh, New York

Despite extensive damage by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Long Island’s Jones Beach Theater (formerly called Nikon at Jones Beach Theater and today called Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, although no one calls it either) may not host the most cutting-edge bands in the world (this August featuring Jimmy Buffett, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Alice Cooper), but the view is damn tough to beat. Proudly serving an array of NY-produced beer and spirits including Blue Point Lager, Oyster Bay IPA and Owl’s Brew Radler, this famous concert pilgrimage site about 45 miles from Manhattan originally opened in 1952 to host musicals and was twice expanded in the 1990s to build more capacity as it transitioned into the rock concert space. This 15,000-seat Live Nation-operated waterfront theater located within Jones Beach State Park has street tacos, burgers and food trucks, not to mention an interesting cast of colorful characters you’re not likely to see strolling down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, California

It doesn’t get much more romantic than an evening of music under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl, the legendary 17,500-seat venue opened in 1922 in a concave hillside with the Hollywood Hills and famous Hollywood Sign forming a picture-perfect background. The summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the largest natural amphitheater in America, the Los Angeles-county owned cultural landmark has played host to everyone from Abbott & Costello to Fred Astaire to The Doors. This August it brings to the stage acts like Belle & Sebastian, Jill Scott and Herbie Hancock, with Fleet Foxes playing late September. The venue offers stadium seats, box seats up front and bench seats (where you can rent cushions for $1) as well as a ridiculous array of eats from two on-site restaurants as well as street foods stands for pizza, hot dogs, sushi, tacos and more. Show up early and pack your own picnic to enjoy in one of the 14 picnic grounds that surround the venue or, in true Hollywood style, order dinner to be delivered straight to your box.

Merriweather Post Pavilion 
Columbia, Maryland

More of an open-air nature retreat than a concert site, the iconic 19,000-seat Merriweather Post Pavilion celebrates its 50th Anniversary season this year with upcoming acts including Alt-J, Santana, Sturgill Simpson and Young the Giant. They will all perform in the picturesque 40 acres of preserved woodlands known as Symphony Woods located in the town of Columbia about 30 minutes south of Baltimore. Famous for legendary classic rock shows back in the day from acts like The Who and Led Zeppelin, the site was more recently made famous by the 2009 album named after the venue from Baltimore’s favorite experimental rock weirdoes Animal Collective. The stunning Frank Gehry-designed venue is unlike most concert spaces you’ve seen, with solar panels powering the house lights and an on-site “music pinball arcade.” Seeing a show here is, as they say, as easy as a walk in the park.

U.S. Banning Travel To North Korea Because “Why The ‘Bleep’ Would You Go There Anyway?”

If you were planning to visit North Korea sometime in the near future, you’ll probably need to cancel that hotel reservation in Pyongyang: The U.S. State Department has issued a ban on travel to the country, citing concerns that American could be in danger while there.

Safety Concerns

On Friday, the Department announced that Secretary Rex Tillerson has authorized a “Geographical Travel Restriction” regarding North Korea.

“Due to mounting concerns over the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement, the Secretary has authorized a Geographical Travel Restriction on all U.S. citizen nationals’ use of a passport to travel in, through, or to North Korea,” the department said in its full statement.

Previously, the state department had warned U.S. citizens against visiting North Korea, noting a “serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement.”

And because the U.S. doesn’t maintain any diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea, if you were to get into trouble, the government doesn’t have any way to provide help like it would through the normal consular channels available to U.S. citizens.

The department intends to publish an official notice in the Federal Register next week, with the restriction going into effect 30 days afterward.

The news follows the death of an American college student who was medically evacuated in a coma from North Korea last month. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in March 2016, after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster while he was touring the country. It’s unclear how he was injured.

Some Travel Exceptions

Once the ban is in place, most passports will be invalid for travling to North Korea. However, there are some people who will still be able to get a special validation in order to travel in the country, including for “humanitarian or other purposes.”

It’s unclear what those other purposes may be; we’ve reached out to the Department for details and will update this post if we hear back.

Travel: Stay in Pablo Escobar’s Former Mansion

Situated in Tulum on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula you’ll find Casa Malca, a thirty-five room resort that locals swear was built by notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the ’80s. As much as we’d enjoy a stay in Pablo Escobar’s former mansion, that’s not even the biggest selling point of the five-star resort. Rebuilt, redesigned and completely redecorated by art dealer Lio Malca, this once private getaway blends modern works from his collection with a focus on creating individual spaces that all have a different feel. The entire property is set on a gorgeous private beach and each room has spectacular views of the ocean or the gardens. If the location and a stay in what is basically an art gallery isn’t enough, the amenities also include three different pools, a rooftop bar, Egyptian cotton linens, rainfall showers and complimentary Internet. It’s out of the way, but this beautiful spot is anything but off-the-grid.

Travel: The Ultimate European Road Trip

Dr. Randall S. Olson is a Senior Data Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Biomedical Informatics with a passion for all things data. He’s used this love to compute optimal road trips. Already done is the best drives in the USA, and now you can check out his latest creation—the ultimate European road trip. Olson’s road trip across Europe covered more than 16,000 miles of pavement through Austria, Germany, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Croatia, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey, Poland, Denmark and a good portion of the rest of Western and Central Europe. The itinerary was built to check off as many locations as possible from the Business Insider “50 Places In Europe You Need to Visit In Your Lifetime” list, so expect to dedicate at least three months to the total trip because it includes a solid two weeks of driving. Olson also put the code up with an open source license so you can customize your trip as you see fit.

Travel: This Hotel Shapes Your Vacation Around Your Horoscope

“Your glow is bound to attract all sorts of wonderful things and delicious people. You’re lit up from within right now.” If I were to design a vacation out of today’s horoscope, I’d probably stop by the Sydney Opera House and then eat my friend Josie before I spontaneously combust—probably due to the Australian heat.

A new, boutique hotel in Sydney, Australia is shaping vacations just like that, astrologically. It’s called The Ultimo, and it’s the world’s first astrology-themed hotel. From the rooms equipped with astrological literature, artwork and even slippers to the unique city guides curated to your sign, The Ultimo aligns your vacation with the zodiac.

Because it’s Gemini season, here’s how the hotel recommends a Gemini spend their Sydney trip. “Born with the need to communicate, Gemini is the sign of the social butterfly.” Following The Ultimo “Explorology” guide, Gemini vacationers should, “Belt out some tunes at Dynasty Karaoke right next door to The Ultimo; head to Oxford Street and lose yourself at some of Sydney’s best bookstores, Berkelouw Books; and cure your curiosity and take a Captain Cook cruise around Sydney Harbour.”For food, they should consider: The Local Mbassy, a 1920’s boiler-room-inspired cafe; Golden Century for some seafood; and the underground bar Palmer & Co.

This entire analysis is curated by the hotel’s astrologer Damian Rocks, founder of the organization Stars Like You and a resident of Australia’s morning talk show circuit.

Astrology-packaged rooms start at $229 per night, which is roughly the price of an hour consultation with Damian. So if you’re feeling on edge or in the midst of an existential crisis, The Ultimo might provide some direction … now the only problem is reaching Australia.

Travel: The Spirit Of Shackleton Antarctic Voyage

Embarking from Ushuaia, Argentina, the Spirit Of Shackleton Antarctic Voyage is a 21-day excursion that lets you explore some of the most beautiful, unspoiled land (and water) in the world. On the trip, you’ll visit Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and the island of South Georgia, where Shackleton ended up after escaping the wreck of his crushed ship. In addition to all the wildlife you’ll encounter, you’ll also learn more about the area via lectures given onboard your 134-passenger expedition ship, and hopefully return home with a greater appreciation of life in the polar region.

Airlines Dropping Cuba Routes Amid Lower Than Expected Demand

When U.S. airlines were fighting it out last year to win approval for flights to Cuba, they were no doubt expecting Americans would be rushing to airports under recently-loosened rules for personal travel to the island nation. But that demand hasn’t been as robust as expected, prompting two domestic carriers to drop a few routes to Cuba.

Silver Airways has made “the difficult but necessary” decision to halt all its Cuba service on April 22, reports the Miami Herald, giving up its dream to eventually fly routes to all nine Cuban cities (not including Havana) that the U.S. has authorized for commercial flights. The airline will continue to monitor the situation, however, and “will consider resuming service in the future if the commercial environment changes.”

Frontier Airlines will be dropping its Miami to Havana flight on June 4 because costs have been higher than expected while demand has been lower.

“Market conditions have failed to materialize there, and excess capacity has been allocated to the Florida-Cuba market,” the airline said in a statement.

So where are all the travelers? One factor could be that tourist travel is still not allowed: If you’re planning on traveling to Cuba, you must qualify for one of 12 categories, including visiting family, working as a journalist, official government business, or others.

Some of the shine may also be off the idea of visiting Cuba now that it’s no longer banned by the government.

“This lack of demand coupled with overcapacity by the larger airlines has made the Cuban routes unprofitable for all carriers,” Silver said in statement.

Other airlines are adjusting as well: JetBlue has put smaller planes on its Cuba routes, notes the Herald, and in February, American Airlines dropped three of its 10 daily flights from the country.

TSA Introducing New, More Invasive Pat-Down Method

The next time you go through a pat-down at airport security, things might be a bit different: The Transportation Security Administration has a new, more invasive pat-down procedure that some travelers might find unusual. To that end, the agency is warning local police departments that they may see an uptick in reports related to these up close and personal examinations.

The TSA calls the new physical pat-down method a more “comprehensive” physical screening, reports Bloomberg, and says the change is intended to slim down the various pat-down procedures from five methods to one.

On the TSA website it currently states that screeners “use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.”

Security screeners will now use the front of their hands on a passenger in a private screening area if another screening method shows there may be explosives, reports Bloomberg, citing a security notice from the Airports Council International North America to its members last week.

The agency is now proactively warning airport officials that people might find these new patdowns odd, notifying employees of “more rigorous” searches that “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”

“Due to this change, TSA asked FSDs [field security directors] to contact airport law enforcement and brief them on the procedures in case they are notified that a passenger believes a [TSA employee] has subjected them to an abnormal screening practice,” ACI wrote.

Will the average traveler notice a difference?

“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” a TSA spokesman told Bloomberg.

Make $12,000 Traveling the US and Drinking Beer

World of Beer is back with another Drink It Internship that will give you the opportunity to make $12,000 traveling the US and drinking beer. If you’ve never visited a World of Beer location, the selection of craft beers, food, and the staff’s expansive knowledge show why the name works. It really is a world of beer. And what better company to fund three interns travel and beer experiences than the company that’s all about sharing the global story behind the beer? Hit up the Drink It Intern section of the World of Beer site below to submit your entry, and then cross your fingers you get chosen to explore, share, photograph, blog and try new things while still getting paid $12,000 for something that shouldn’t be considered work. Applications are due by March 26th, so you have around three weeks to create your magnum opus and get it to World of Beer.