Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers, and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.
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A picture, we are told, is worth a thousand words. Never does this feel more true than when we capture a unique moment during our travels, a photograph we’ll look back on for years to come and smile as we’re brought back to that very second when we clicked the shutter. Being able to share those photographs, those moments, with other people who want to have that same experience is one of the many benefits of snapping the photo in the first place.
Every year Viator travelers – people like you – sumbit thousands of photographs from their trips to share their joy as they got out to see the world. At the end of each year, we choose a few of our favorites and then let you decide which photos should be highlighted in our “best of” list. Viator’s Facebook community voted for their picks, and we can now bring you the 10 Best Travel Photos of 2012, as chosen by you, Viator travelers.
Which of these travel photos will inspire your next trip?
10. Roys Peak
Many of us are more familiar now with the stunning landscapes of New Zealand, thanks to the “Lord of the Rings” films, but it’s still pretty amazing to know that those aren’t just movie sets – you can actually walk around in them. Dusty on Roys Peak near Wanaka, taken on the Mount Cook to Wanaka Tour, looks pleased to have such a commanding view, doesn’t he?
Travel makes us jump for joy, although we don’t always do that literally. In this case, traveler Jenny S snapped a fun shot of a travel companion floating over the sand dunes outside Dubai on a Private 4×4 Desert Adventure Safari from Dubai. The caption, “I’m so happy to be here I could fly!” makes us smile almost as much as the whimsical image.
If there’s one iconic image of Venice, it’s the gondola – those elegant black boats that glide on top of the water rather than in it, and which make excellent photography subjects. Traveler Diane E captured this lovely image of a series of gondolas lined up almost perfectly in the Grand Canal during her Venice Gondola Ride and Serenade. We loved it, and (obviously) you did, too.
7. Mont St. Michel
As far as we’re concerned, there can never be enough photographs of the mystical and haunting Mont St Michel off the Normandy coast – so we’re happy to see you agree. Kevin F got this shot on a 4-Day Normandy, St. Malo, Mont St Michel, Chateaux Country tour – it’s beautifully lit, and highlights the fact that although most visitors these days are tourists rather than religious pilgrims, Mont St Michel remains a pilgrimage site for both groups.
6. Milford Sound
With this photo, we’re back in New Zealand, but this time it’s a brooding scene that Viator voters liked. Traveler Ian M took this photograph of Milford Sound on his Milford Sound Mariner Overnight Cruise during the afternoon cruise around Mitre Peak. In his caption, he describes this as the moment when the weather cleared – which just goes to show patient photographers are sometimes rewarded handsomely.
Scenery and landscapes are great, but sometimes our best travel memories come from the things we learn along the way and the knowledge we can bring home. Such is the case with this fun shot by Marianne during her Rome Walking Tour and Cooking Class. Yes, she got to explore the city, but she also learned how to make pasta by hand. Her footsteps in Rome may be a distant memory, but now she can recreate her Roman experience right in her very own kitchen.
4. South Africa
Seeing South Africa’s majestic animals on a safari is on many a traveler’s “bucket list” – and it’s clearly on the lists of many Viator travelers, because you guys voted in droves for this great photo by Alissa of two young elephants playing in the water. Alissa captured this moment during her Aquila Game Reserve Wildlife Safari from Cape Town.
3. Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is spectacular from nearly every angle, and its enormous scale usually defies capture in any one photograph. Unless, that is, you’re snapping shots from a helicopter. Traveler Eric Ouimet got this awesome photograph over the Grand Canyon on a Grand Canyon All American Helicopter Tour from Las Vegas.
For many people, trips to Hawaii are about more than just lazing on the beach. In Oahu, Apoetess got this photograph to showcase the adrenaline rush that Hawaii can also offer. The Oahu North Shore Adventure Half-Day Tour gives you a glimpse of “a different side” of the island, and – if you’re lucky like Apoetess – you may even capture cliff jumpers as they hover partway between land and sea.
1. Chiang Dao
The photograph Viator voters liked best has a title we were really fond of: “View from atop our elephant.” It’s not a thing you get to say in everyday life, “our elephant,” so we love how simply hearing that title gives us a sense of the exotic even before we’ve seen the photograph. And the photo itself? Well, we think traveler coxo01 does a perfect job of capturing a singular moment during the Chiang Dao Elephant Jungle Trek and Ping River Rafting Tour from Chiang Mai – and, obviously, you agreed.
Congratulations to our winning photographers from 2012!
We want to thank each of the Viator travelers who submitted photographs of their 2012 trips, and extend another huge thanks to everyone who voted for their favorite photos to make this year’s top 10.
We always love seeing the photos taken during your travels, because it lets us know you’re enjoying the travel experiences we offer on Viator. Keep submitting your photos throughout the year, and you just might see your images featured in our next list of the best travel photos!
- Viator Travel Team