The Best Local Travel Pictures of the Year 2011 by TheTravelWord.Com

It’s hard to believe another year has gone by, but we at TheTravelWord are nevertheless once again proud to present our Photos of the Year – the travel pictures of the year 2011 that most captured the imagination of The Travel Word team and a group of expert external judges.

Tied for first place is the winning picture of Patan, Nepal, selected from among all of our popular Photos of the Week during the year 2011. We are now pleased to present this photo along with the other incredible images captured by conscientious local tourism experts. Each of these individuals are local leaders with a strong vision, but united they have become a forceful global presence for the right kind of tourism.

Read on for the judges’ comments about their outstanding images.

Krishna Mandir on Krishna Janmashtami, Patan, Nepal

+ WINNERS: PHOTOS OF THE YEAR 2011: Krishna Mandir on Krishna Janmashtami, Patan, Nepal AND Cheetahs Posing, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Comments about Krishna Mandir on Krishna Janmashtami, Patan, Nepal, photo and text by Navin M. Shrestha:
“This photo does an excellent job of capturing both the manic movement of the crowd and the ethereal nature of the temple.” — Mike Richards

“Here’s a unique image of the Durbar Square of Patan that not only does a good job of displaying the beauty of the temple of Lord Krisha, but bringing the square to its full cultural context by choosing to photograph it on Krishna Janmashtami (the birth anniversary of Krishna), full of devotees, prayer and a long enough exposure that bleeds the light and gives the scene a more spiritual climate.” — Arog Vila

“This picture is amazing for the fact that at first glance it could reflect a scene dating back centuries. Truly a timeless shot.” — Matt Stabile

Cheetahs Posing, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Comments about Cheetahs Posing, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, photo by Ward Graham, accompanying text by Shafina Bandali:
“Luck is the final element, together with well-studied technique, good planning and plenty of patience, that results in this gorgeous golden-hour capture of two cheetahs looking back at us. This image has a rich tonal range accentuated by a pronounced vignette, which in this case does more than spotlight the cheetahs, it completes the interplay of light within the frame.” — Arog Vila

“Great light, composition and pose, it’s almost tells the viewer that these wild cheetahs are longing for some patting.” — Rafael Pinho

“From a technical perspective, the depth of field and vignetting are just right to single out the pair of cheetahs. They appear curious, ominous and regal all at once.” — Mike Richards

+ RUNNERS UP: Church of Tisco, Arequipa, Peru AND Beautiful Waters of the Bocas Islands, Panama

Comments about the Church of Tisco, Arequipa, Peru, photo by Alberto Gonzalez, accompanying text by Mariel Gonzalez:
“Travel photography at its best evokes faraway experience in a single image, and this shot of a remote Peruvian church does just that: the totemic ochre ornamentations and roaming landscape transport the viewer to the high fields, far from home.” — Linus Gelber

“Just the right amount of grunge and color provide a contemporary artistic take on a classic stone structure.” — Mike Richards

Comments about the Beautiful Waters of the Bocas Islands, Panama, photo by ATP, accompanying text by Melissa:
“Transparent green water makes any destination appealing, even if it’s all there is to it. This image portrays the dream-like environment all urbanites long for.” — Rafael Pinho

“I’m a sucker for visions of tropical paradise, probably because I so rarely experience tropical paradise. A jetty with amenities, lifted above clear entrancing waters, with balmy skies above – does it get better than this?” — Linus Gelber


Sleepy Lions, Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda, photo by Steve Cunliffe, accompanying text by Nicola Swann

“As anyone who has gone on safari knows, finding lions is the ultimate reward, and to find them in such a natural state must have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Oddly enough, this also looks like my family’s living room after Thanksgiving dinner.” — Matt Stabile

The Children of Yakel Village, Tanna, Vanuatu, photo and accompanying text by John Nicholls

“Seven strange children range along the ladder entrance to a treehouse home on Tanna Island; they may never hold an Xbox controller or argue the merits of teen fashion, but they smile, gaze, consider and go about their business just like children anywhere else. The wild differences highlight that we are, at heart, pretty much the same.” — Linus Gelber

Smile from a Little Girl, Cusco, Peru, photo by Pieter Roos, accompanying text by Fernando Carrasco

“This heartwarming portrait of a little girl is technically sound and beautifully communicative of the colorful personality beyond the girl’s colorful costume. An image that is very easy to connect with, well done!” — Arog Vila

“This girl’s amazing smile reminds me of what is truly great about travel: the people.” — Matt Stabile

Migratory Birds, Lijiang, China, photo and accompanying text by Lily Zhang

“A skein of geese, which might have just recently taken off, before forming a V, makes this a chaotic but amusing composition where each element has a certain clumsiness to it.” — Rafael Pinho

The Judges

We sincerely thank our five judges for the time and effort taken to review our shortlist. We value their opinions and their readiness to share them with us. Please take a moment to check out their work.

Linus Gelber is a photographer from New York City, where he shoots cityscapes and live performances (notably burlesque) and sees way too many movies, if such a thing is possible. His work is represented by Getty Images. Linus would like to go to Antarctica one day, and if you knew how he felt about New York winters you’d think that was weird too.

Born in Brazil, Rafael Pinho took up photography after finishing his architecture studies. He set out as a freelancer in 2005 in Belo Horizonte and spent the following years between Berlin, New York, Reykjavík and São Paulo. His work has been shown at the Florence Biennale (2011) and the Biennale di Roma (2012) and appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, Modern Painters (US), Forum AID (Sweden), FFW Mag! (Brazil), Nýtt Líf (Iceland), Trip and Tpm (Brazil).

Mike Richard is the editor of Vagabondish. He lives in Rhode Island – a spit of land in the northeastern US - where he is a professional web designer and travel junkie with an unhealthy addiction to backpacking, camping, hiking and seeing the world. He enjoys knit hats, small, declarative sentences and speaking in the third person.

Matt Stabile founded and runs, through which you can read his writings, see his videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time.

Arog Vila is a New York-based photographer who developed his unique aesthetic and rule-breaking composition studying at the International Center of Photography, the New School and the School of Visual Arts. He delivers crisp and edgy images of photojournalistic human narrative, pointing his camera on the expected from an entirely new angle, then turning to the unusual and connecting it to something familiar and beautiful.


The Travel Word is the online mouthpiece of the WHL Group and draws on a vast pool of ideas generated by local tour operators, partners, suppliers and more. Our blog - - showcases responsible, sustainable and local travel. We are committed to inspiring mindful and independent travellers headed off the beaten path with local businesses making responsible and sustainable decisions about their destinations. Through anecdotes, articles, profiles, opinion pieces and news, our local voices aim to inform travellers about unique and ethical ways to experience a destination, travel responsibly and help sustain the distinctive qualities of a place.


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