From “The Most Alien Landscapes on Earth” / Photo: Luca Galuzzi

It’s time to reflect on a very successful year here at Matador Trips. Today, we look back at some of our favorite photo essays of 2009.
1. The Most Alien Landscapes on Earth

The most popular piece in Trips history, with over half a million views and 140 comments, pulls together the eeriest and most eye-catching landscape shots from around the world. Many thanks to the Flickr photographers who permitted us to feature their copyrighted work.

2. Papua New Guinea

Contributor Taro Taylor profiles the firedancers of a Papua New Guinean tribe known as the Baining, including shots of landscapes that could certainly be considered “alien” in their own right.

3. 13 Places to Get Close to the EDGE

This essay seemed to stimulate vertigo in many commenters. One lucky reader nabbed a Laken water bottle for correctly naming the location of photo #3.

4. The Matador Photographers’ Animal Kingdom

As 2009 progressed, Matador became more active in the world of travel photography. One big development was the creation of the Matador Photography group at Flickr. The essay above is made up of member shots of animals from around the world.

Photo: Inti

5. One Day in Zanzibar

If you were to spend a day on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, this might be what you’d see. Of course, it’d be difficult to capture the images as masterfully as Gregor Rohrig does.

6. Exploring Morocco’s Pink City and Beyond

Matador editor-at-large Paul Sullivan uses his experience in writing and photographing two editions of the Hedonist’s Guide to Marrakech to take us on a tour of the fabled Pink City and surrounding mountains and coast.

7. Spectacular Waterfalls of the World

Waterfalls make for good photos, but it can be difficult to get a good shot — except when you’re shooting these cascades. Check out this collection of the best waterfall pics on the Web.

8. The Spirit Of Burma

Contributor Felice Willat captures some great images of the people and religious architecture of Myanmar (Burma) in this memorable essay.

9. 12 Lesser-Known Ruins of the World

We all know what Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat look like. But Khara-Khoto, Wat Phu, El Djem? This essay is for them.

10. Images from Istanbul

A collection of images from a city at the crossroads. If you can’t make it there in person, let Allison Grossman show you around.

Community Connection

Looking for a rundown of recent photography news at Matador? Check out Trips’ From the Eds: 1,000 Words.