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Revealing the beauty and wonder of our planet, from gorgeous wildlife and mysterious landscapes to unexpected photos of leisure, tragedy and adventure taken by travelers around the world, the winning images of Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY) have been unveiled.
For the 21st year of “Our Planet In Focus,” the competition’s prizewinning images show us the highs and lows of life on this planet, captured through the lenses of talented photographers of all ages, including “lyrically beautiful European agricultural landscapes, heartbreaking shots of elephants searching for food on rubbish dumps, inspirational athletes still competing in their 80s and 90s and photographs capturing the friendship between a rescued pangolin and her carer.”
The winners were chosen from more than 20,000 images by amateur and professional photographers of all ages from 150-plus countries.
The overall award (below) went to Slovenian photographer AndreJa Ravnak for her depiction of hops growing in Slovenia and her images of rolling fields in Italy and Czechia (Czech Republic) “that combine a fairytale beauty with the structure one might expect from her ‘regular job’ as an architect.”
“There is a subtle elegance about this year’s winners,” said TPOTY founder Chris Coe. “This comes through in both of AndreJa’s winning portfolios. One takes us into simple landscapes, with delicate colors and a textural beauty, the other into the hop fields, out of season and undressed, ready for the next planting. Neither are obvious subjects, neither photographed at an optimal time of year and yet they are both engaging and rather beautiful.”
Travel Photographer of the Year was founded in 2003 and has become one of the world’s leading travel photography awards.
“We are enthusiastically documenting this wonderful world, and perhaps this is a small contribution, a reminder to preserve its wonder for future generations,” the new Travel Photographer Of The Year said.
The 2024 awards will launch at the end of April/beginning of May with new categories and prizes.
Early in the spring, the first rains allow wheat to grow in the rolling fields near Pienza, Tuscany in Italy. Due to the cold nights, the landscape is often shrouded in beautiful mists on clear mornings. This agricultural landscape is sparsely populated, with land being used to its fullest potential. Farms are located atop individual hills.
Once all the strings are manually stretched, workers ensure that the small hop seedlings start climbing up at Slovenia’s Savinjska valley near Braslovce. When finished, they leave the Savinja Valley for a few months and return in late summer, when the hops are ripe for harvesting.
Nature and Wildlife
A dual shot of a Mobula ray fever cruising below a divers’ boat as part of their annual migration in La Ventana, Baja California, Mexico.
A yellow armadillo, in mid-air, comes galloping down a pathway at a secluded lodge in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands.
Mateo smiles as Marimba nestles into her safe place, tucked under Mateo’s chin at the Wild is Life Sanctuary in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Marimba, a ground pangolin, was around a year old when her mother was poached for her scales. Marimba was too young to fend for herself and was taken to the sanctuary, where she met her full-time carer Mateo.
Pangolins are notoriously difficult to look after in captivity, requiring particular and personal care. Mateo’s gentle nature seemed like a perfect fit and a remarkable relationship was born. Marimba and Mateo have spent 10 hours a day together for the past 13 years and are inseparable. Many attempts have been made to re-wild Marimba, but she always finds a way back to Mateo who refers to her as his last-born child.
Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada: A family of red foxes denning in a log pile. The fox kits had to either climb down and back up over the logs or jump across the gaps.
Sepilok Orangutan rehab area, Borneo, Malaysia: A mother orangutan keeps her baby in a protective embrace.
Chunhua mountain village, Hunan Province, China: A happy praying mantis among the flowers.
In Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, a young female lioness feeds on a dead female elephant. This is a huge feast for the entire pride that will provide them with nutritional intake while the surrounding environment of the national park suffers from draught. For predators, each meal represents a huge and risk-fraught battle.
A procession of Asian elephants in Sri Lanka’s eastern province weaves through a desolate landscape, designated as a dumping ground for humanity’s excesses.
The sight is both tragic and emblematic of the Anthropocene, an era where human influence shapes the geological narrative. Amid the discarded remnants of our civilization, these gentle giants unknowingly navigate a perilous course. Plastic waste, an unwelcome intruder, infiltrates their dung and stomachs, a poignant reflection of our collective failure in waste management.
The echoes of burning refuse reverberate as millions of tons of waste enter the bellies of both wild creatures and their human counterparts, a heartbreaking testament to our shared vulnerability in this modern age.
A discarded glass bottle in the ocean off Anilao, Philippines, has become a ‘crystal palace’ for a small, iridescent yellow Gobby.
Fourteen-year-old Caden Shepard Choi won the title of Young Travel Photographer of the Year 2023 for her highly accomplished and well-observed black-and-white story of how the Navajo people of Chinle, Arizona, produce wool and use it in weaving.
In this image, a Diné woman works on a rug started by her daughter. The master weaver sits perfectly still, but her hands are in constant motion. She weaves inside a Hogan, a hexagonal structure with a single door that always opens to the east, a sacred place for the Diné people. The woman positions herself in front of the open door to receive the blessings transmitted by the rays of the morning sun.
Another young female photographer – 17-year-old Lilly Zhang – took top honors in the Young TPOTY 15-18 years category with a series of delicate landscapes shot in Marsh Creek State Park in Pennsylvania.
It was a crisp autumn morning, the mist suspended on the water with the fall colors reflecting on the surface and a great heron perched on a rock by the shore.
The wild monkeys of Ifrane National Park in Morocco climb freely on the majestic Atlas cedars in the Moroccan Middle Atlas. The photographer captures the special peaceful, familiar atmosphere of the forest and the life of the monkeys.
Landscapes and Environment
This aerial image of the Icelandic highlands is one of a series of the lush glacial landscapes, illustrating a system of rivers crossing the scenery.
Flowing lava in Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano creates surprising cutouts. This photo is part of the series ‘Creatures of Lava’.
A delicate image of the ‘submerged forest’ created by reflections in Lake Shirakawa, Japan.
At the end of winter, when the lake fills from melting snow, the water changes color between light blue and light green as the mist hangs around the trees and the reflections look like a fantastic landscape. In the soft light before sunrise, the submerged forest quietly welcomes the morning.
People and Cultures
The image is one of a portfolio of shamans performing rituals on Siberia’s frozen Lake Baikal in Russia.
The Buryatian shaman Vitalli performs a ritual to connect with the spirit of the sacred Ogoi (Dragon) cape in the background. Siberia is considered the heartland of Shamanism, with Lake Baikal its most sacred place.
Members of Nigeria’s national amputee football team, the Special Eagles, train on the beach in Lagos.
The image is part of a series capturing an alternative view of aging in the 21st century, focusing on athletes in their 80s and 90s participating in the U.S. USAFT Masters Indoor Athletics Championships.
Dixon Hemphill rom the PotomacValley Track Club crosses the finish line in the M95 (Men 95-99) 200 meters, accompanied by a young woman for safety.
Hemphill is running out of competitions. At 97, it’s hard for him to find anyone to race against in the M95 category. Hemphill rediscovered athletics in his seventies. “I got a medal and thought, well, this is fun. That was 50 years ago, and I’ve been running ever since.”
He has run hundreds of races including marathons, triathlons, and has held world records, “but now my body can’t handle long races anymore. So these days, my racing distance peaks at a mile.”
Leisure & Adventure
This serene image of a lone walker on a white sand dune at La Puna, Argentina, won the MPB One Shot category challenging photographers to capture the theme, ‘A Quieter Life,’ in just a single image.
This shot offers an unusual perspective of the Highline 197 suspension bridge in Reutte, Austria. Such a viewpoint plays tricks on the mind at first glance.
The photo won the ‘Above, Eye Level, Below’ theme of One Shot category.
This image of the adventurous moment when a Bedouin jumps over a small gorge between rocks in ancient Petra, Jordan, won first prize in MPB One Shot: Leisure & Adventure.
As the last rays of the sun illuminate the iconic Treasury of Petra, a Bedouin enjoys jumping between the overhanging rocks. At sunset, it’s as if the once-lost city has two profoundly different souls divided between day and night. When tourists leave this iconic destination, the Bedouins reawaken the ancient soul of Petra by repopulating the site to eat around bonfires and stay connected to the traditions handed down by their ancestors.
The People’s Choice award went to a 15-year-old photographer for this image showing a bewildered lone wildebeest in the middle of the frenzy that is the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara.
All the winning portfolios and single images here.