There are few people living who know Yellowstone better than Jeremy Schmidt. The Jackson Hole-based writer and photographer has spent 40 years working there as a ranger, “winterkeeper,” and guide. Here’s his insider’s guide to America’s very first national park.

Two years ago, National Geographic Traveler contributing editor Carl Hoffman shared with me an idea for his next book. It struck a chord because when I was ten I was drawn to the subject: the mysterious disappearance in 1961 of Michael Rockefeller in what was then Netherlands New Guinea. Did he drown? Was he shredded by a crocodile or shark? Or, most grisly, was he eaten by cannibals?

The homemade pierogi are spot-on and the borscht is rich with dill, just like in Ukraine. But the old country is thousands of miles away; I’m on a patch of Canadian prairie in Alberta, site of the biggest Ukrainian settlement outside of eastern Europe.

Steinbeck had Charley. Dorothy had Toto. Heck, even Waldo had Woof for company as he ventured into the Land of Waldos. Real and fictional, canine traveling companions have a long and celebrated history. Here’s how to road trip with fido like a pro.

Maybe it’s Lucy, the 3.2-million-year-old hominid uncovered in the Afar Triangle in 1974, or the majestic permanence of the Great Rift Valley, but a sense of returning to the root of everything pervades Ethiopia. Everywhere, what is ancient is alive and well. And though Ethiopia’s cities are modernizing fast, you never feel divorced from the essence of the land.

I first visited Burma, now Myanmar, in the spring of 1966, when I was 18. It was a few years after the coup d’état; most foreigners had been kicked out of the country, and the government was not welcoming visitors. I fell instantly in love. Even though the ruling military regime was one of the harshest in the world, the people I met were gracious and generous. I wanted to write a book–anything that could get me back there. But I haven’t had the occasion to return until this year.

Those of us who follow the way of wanderlust are wild romantics. When we encounter the pheromone of the unfamiliar, we feel, see, touch, taste, and smell more keenly. Our minds are on high alert, noticing and processing everything–from the geometry of cobbled paths and thatched roofs to the tones of stray dogs and wild birds to the smell of new flowers and old dust. We fall in love with the world.

Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve is one of the largest tracts of protected land in Peru at more than five millions acres. Thanks to a cadre of paid and volunteer rangers, only two percent of this Amazonian wonderland–hemmed in between the Marañon River and the Puinahua Channel–has been logged.

We’ve all heard the old adage “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” but rarely does anyone tell us how to appreciate the journey, especially the more unpleasant parts. I couldn’t think of a better person to address this topic than my teacher, Sharon Salzberg, one of the world’s great ambassadors of lovingkindness (no, that’s not a typo).

Last spring Puerto Rico bucked a decades-long trend by protecting 3,000 acres of pristine beaches and mangroves along the Northeast Ecological Corridor. A new law marks an unexpectedly happy ending to a 15-year battle fought by environmental activists to wrest this portion of the Caribbean island’s coast–which includes a vital nesting area for the endangered leatherback turtle–from the construction cranes of developers.

When I left home to travel around the world, I was driven by a desire to give back to the communities I encountered along the way. It’s been five years, and I’m still going. Over time, I’ve grown more and more convinced that the most positive way travelers can ethically and sustainably discover the developing world is through DIY voluntourism.

From gem cutters to weavers, artisans have long been synonymous with India’s Pink City, but Jaipur’s craft heritage continues to evolve.

In the 1930s and ’40s, Bologna was the capital of finely crafted men’s shoes. Though few of the 1,850 workshops from that time remain, Peron & Peron continues to painstakingly craft handmade shoes to order. Here’s a look at the distinctive cordwainers and other authentic artisans in this distinctive northern Italian city.

My first glimpse of the ancient temple was in the still-dark morning. To my left, I saw the shadowy outlines of the architectural feat I’d waited my entire life to see, and to my right, a veritable wall of people with cameras flashing, all waiting to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat.

With a violin, a cimbalom, and some brass, Roma musicians play songs of love and loss. Here’s an insider’s guide to the constantly evolving cultural tradition. Make sure to read the lovely feature article that accompanies this primer, Roma Rhapsody: A Musical Journey Into the Heart of Romania. > Essential Listening: Fanfare Ciocărlia’s album Live captures…

“Immersing yourself in the Great Barrier Reef is the best way to see how fragile it is,” says Ben Southall, who has served as the reef’s honorary “caretaker of islands” and retraced Captain Cook’s route of discovery there, by kayak. Approximately one million visitors dive or snorkel the the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world each year. “It’s the vastness and marine life that draws people in,” says Southall. Here are a few tips to get started if experiencing Queensland’s greatest treasure is on your travel list this year.

Rising star Danai Gurira believes in the power of hybrids—her term for people who thrive at a confluence of cultures. Born in Iowa, raised in her parents’ native Zimbabwe, trained in New York City, and now based in Los Angeles, “The Walking Dead” actress brings a layered perspective—and a rare spark—to her work.

SXSW is known for being a launchpad for American performers such as John Mayer and the Polyphonic Spree, but each year, the lineup seems to feature more and more international acts. If you’re heading to Texas tickets in hand or simply looking for some hot new leads, here’s our guide to world music at SXSW.

Pancras Dijk, a senior writer for National Geographic Traveler’s Dutch edition, goes in search of the roots of Roma music in a nation on Europe’s edge.

In Naples perhaps more than anywhere else in Italy, craftsmanship is the fruit of ancient knowledge, handed down through the centuries.

Too often, we travelers let good old fashioned guilt seep into the decision-making process when we’re building our itineraries. Rather than following our inherent interests (canoes, Rococo, hockey), we let the expectations of friends and family–or what we’ve read in some magazine–serve as some proxy “travel conscience,” guiding us toward things we should or shouldn’t see.

With its blend of Italian, Austro-Hungarian, and Slovenian influences, Trieste is a treasure borne from water–a real-life Atlantis that has something to offer the artist, historian, and nature-lover alike. Here are some of the highlights of this delightful cultural crossroads.

The circle of life is evident everywhere you go on an African safari. It can be as mundane as a beetle working a pile of elephant dung or as spectacular as a predator stalking its prey and ultimately making a kill. As each scene plays out, we spectators are treated to a never-ending improv that is, at its essence, a fight for survival.

A confession: I don’t play golf, partly because I’m unable to reconcile my conservation work with a sport also known for habitat destruction, massive water consumption, and heavy use of chemicals. Now the sport may be about to take a big step, in a surprising place.

As an American who grew up during the tail end of the Cold War, it was difficult to avoid developing a few stereotypes about Russia. Could it really be how it’s portrayed in popular culture–or how I imagined it? Now that I’ve been living in Sochi for nearly a month, let’s examine four preconceived notions I brought with me along with my luggage–and how they’ve panned out.