Best Travel Photographer Of The Year: 22 Inspiring Winning Photos

Best Travel Photographer Of The Year: 22 Inspiring Winning Photos

A series of moving photos showcasing the extraordinary companionship between one of the world’s last two remaining Northern White rhinos and her keeper by the Slovenian photographer Matjaz Krivic is this year’s overall winner of the Travel Photographer of the Year competition.

Selected from nearly 20,000 entries submitted by amateur and professional photographers from 154 countries, the portfolio of images of 33-year-old Najin with her friend and caretaker Zachary Mutai resting under the hot sun in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy are both “heart-warming and almost unbearably poignant,” the organizers point out.

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The northern white rhino is all but extinct. The two last males died several years ago. The two females are still with us, but too feeble to bear babies. In an Italian lab their eggs are now artificially fertilized by sperm from the late males, and kept at minus 196 celsius, in hopes that surrogate rhinos from another sub-species can carry the northern white back from the brink.

The prize includes the new Fujifilm X100V camera and £1,000 cash.

Krivic captured a ravaged mountainside with a single tree withstanding the lava flow. The Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands in Spain, is the island’s longest-running volcanic eruption.

Huge rivers of lava and enormous amounts of continuously-falling volcanic ash have transformed this Spanish holiday paradise. As many as 7,000 people were evacuated and more than 1,700 buildings destroyed by the volcano. Strong earthquakes and permanent tremors were traumatizing the local population.

Krivic’s images showing the effects of the long-running eruption of Cumbre Vieja are a powerful reminder of the force of nature.

Young Talent

The winner of the Young Travel Photographer of the Year is 18-year-old Cal Cole of Manchester, England, for distinctive images of his home city by night.

Here, a Metrolink station during a winter storm.

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The other winning images

From aerial images of the abstract curves of the Namib desert to the plight of boys as young as five boxing at Thai training camps, to an atmospheric portfolio documenting the rare and dying Flemish tradition of using large, gentle draft horses for shrimp fishing, the winning images of this 21st version of the Travel Photographer Of The Year present a diverse and glorious view of life on our planet.

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The winning shots – all of which can be viewed at the online Winners’ Gallery – will go on display in an outdoor exhibition in Bristol, England, in May. The exhibition will be an element of World Photography in Focus, which shows the winners of several prestigious photo competitions including Travel Photographer of the Year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Food Photographer of the Year.

Green Planet, Blue Planet

In the Green Planet, Blue Planet category, Greek photographer Panos Laskarakis won the Best Single Image award for his powerful picture of a lion peering through the bloody rib cage of a buffalo in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

Two snails glide in opposite direction on the same plant, creating a kissing scene under the sunlight in Yuen Long, Hong Kong.

A Mountain Bulbul bird picks wild berries in Shaoyang City, Hunan Province, China.

Adelie penguin chicks find refuge in an intricate tunnel system carved into nearby icebergs. Using these passageways to avoid predators, they group together for safety. Leopard seals patrol the surrounding waters, while skua birds survey the vulnerable chicks from above.


The Czech photographer’s black-and-white portfolio documenting horse fishermen in Oostduinkerke, Belgium, gives a fascinating depiction of a dying tradition – the use of horses while searching for shrimp at low tide.

Only a handful of true horse fishermen are left in the world, keeping the rare Flemish tradition alive. They use large and calm Belgian draft-horses, and in the low tide look for shrimp together. These days, they’re a major tourist attraction.

Two nine-year-old fighters in the 26-kilo category engage in a merciless, three-round fight.

In Isan (Thailand), children are enrolled in Muay Thai training camps — the traditional martial art that is the country’s national sport — as early as age five, and can be competing within a year or two.

Betting is fierce and the pressure on the children is palpable. Few will become champions but for poor children with limited options, Muay Thai is a way to meet the cultural expectation of helping their families and a chance at a better life.

Greek photographer Athanasios Maloukos won the Best Single Image award in this category for capturing a moment of individual religious devotion during the La Desolata procession in an Italian village.

La Desolata, is one of the most poignant processions in the Christian world during Holy Week, in the village of Canosa di Puglia, Italy. The Desolata women cover their heads and hide their faces under large black veils.

Completely dressed in mourning black, they intone the ‘Stabat Mater’, a 13th-century hymn honoring the pain of Desolate Mary for the loss of her child, Jesus.

The women hold each other tightly along the path of the procession, evoking grief and sorrow.

Mongolian wedding customs are rich in content, grand and warm atmosphere, highlighting the Mongolian rugged and swarthy, brisk and passionate, culture-oriented etiquette and other national characteristics, which are part of the intangible cultural heritage of China.

The sun rises on Pacha Mama, Peru, and reveals in its light those who live there in peace.

A diminutive, graceful figure appears from the jungle, a faint accent of color in a vanishing world.

For thousands of years, Baka pygmies have lived in harmony with magnificent jungles in southeast Cameroon. But within a generation, much of their unique lifestyle will be gone forever due to deforestation and industrial interests, the policies of settling nomadic communities and preservation of protected areas that have forced them to abandon their traditional life.

In Karni Mata Temple, the black rat is worshipped. And the temple has around 25,000 of them.

It’s believed that when a person from the Charan-kaste dies, he or she will be reborn as a rat — hence, the rats were actually humans in their previous lives. Therefore, people treat them with love.

It’s also believed that rat saliva has healing properties. So people share their food with them.

The Art of monochrome

The Art of Monochrome portfolio category was won by Israeli photographer Roie Galitz for his series in Svalbard, Norway that includes strongly contrasting images of polar bears. This one shows an emaciated, starving polar bear mother and her two cubs.

They haven’t eaten anything in a long time because the ice melted sooner than previously. Due to her extreme starvation, the mother’s milk has dried out long ago and two days after this photo was taken, the cubs died.

This image bears witness to the ravages of climate change.

A female Mundari herder awaiting her cattle in order to tether them in a cattle camp close to the White Nile in South Sudan. They are seen leading their cows to their stakes, where they spend the night. These people have a very sustainable existence and their connection with nature should be a message to us all.

Deserts to Rainforests

British Photographer John Seager won Best Single Image in this category, with this image of ‘El Cono Arita’, a spectacular geological formation in Argentina’s Salar de Arizaro desert, where erosion has shaped an almost perfect cone that seems to be lost in a vast sandy expanse. Using a drone, Seager was able to capture the magnificent shadow of Arita on this beautiful, cloudless evening.

Czech photographer Jaroslav Hora took top honors in the Deserts to Rainforests category — which required entrants to showcase the beauty of our planet’s natural landscapes — with beautiful images of the unusual, abstract curves of Namibia’s Namib desert, taken from helicopter.

Glacial rivers become visible only from the sky. They’re known as braided river systems, as they often resemble an intricate jumble of patterns, intertwining in almost inexplicable fashion and colors.

Creative Travel

In the single image categories, Italian Lorenz Berna’s slow exposure image of a Buddhist monk in Thailand apparently accompanied by shadow companions won the Creative Travel category.

“I took this image with the intention of conveying the theory of reincarnation in Buddhist philosophy, the shadows of the other monks who were walking out of shot representing past lifetimes of refinement towards final enlightenment,” said Lorenz Berna.

“One of my favorite places in the world is Provence, France, because of its unique beauty and because it is the cradle of Impressionism,” Veronika K. Ko explained. “I like to watch how the mistral wind shakes the ripe barley and smell the scent of the lavender while my eyes sink into these enchanting colors, the colors of Vincent van Gogh, impressionism, Provence.”

Peoples’s Choice

The People’s Choice award was decided by members of the public voting on the TPOTY website. This winning image by French photographer Romain Miot shows a herd of camels at a well in the Sahara desert.

“I met this salt caravan after a four-day expedition into the middle of the Sahara desert,” recalled Romain Miot. “No roads lead to this place, so we navigated by compass.”

Hundreds of dromedaries and their masters were present on this desert plain where nothing lives. Two wells had been dug to water the camels before they left for Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso to sell the salt.

This image of a camel owner ordering the dromedaries resembles a conductor leading an orchestra.