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Photo of the Year - Mark's story

Photo of the Year - Mark's story

We asked Mark Green, the winner of the Photo of the Year competition, to share with us the story of how he captured the prize-winning shot of the Angel Falls in Venezuela.

"As far as I remember this is how the story unfolded: Our group had made a very early pre-dawn start for the 3-4 hour motorised canoe journey up the Carao river from Canaima. The river forked after we had been going for a few hours and we continued up the narrower and faster Churun river until navigating a series of rapids and tight bends and suddenly catching our first partially obscured view over the lush forest of the magnificent Angel Falls towering above us and in full thundering flow....

We disembarked the canoe and begin to climb ever more steeply upwards, sweating profusely, through humid, muddy and primeval rainforest for around an hour or so until we finally clambered up on to some slippery rocks to a small clearing on a rocky ledge, perched a few hundred metres above the valley floor.

There right in front of us, across the river valley is an elemental scene of outstanding beauty. The Angel Falls appear to be in full thunderous flow spilling over the top of the 1000m high plateau and plunging straight down in clouds of spray to the valley below. The top of the falls was wreathed in cloud and the spray was blown in all directions ensuring that we all got a good soaking and making the small rocky ledge on which where we were perched extremely slippery and hazardous. One bad slip and we would certainly disappear over the precipitous edge falling vertically at least 200 to 300 metres to an untimely end!

I steadied myself by sprawling out on the ledge, adjusted my camera settings and exposure to 1/125 at f11 at ISO 100, prefocussed, dried my lens with a cloth, replaced the lens cap and waited for what seemed to be ages until the clouds miraculously lifted a little from the top of the falls and I had a reasonably full view of the amazing scene in its entirety. I whipped the lens cap off which had been shielding the lens from the spray and only had the briefest opportunity of a few seconds to take 3 quick photos until the lens became very wet with spray again and the clouds descended once again obscuring the full views. I knew that I had been very lucky to have had this chance of photographing this outstanding scene and hoped that the outcome was successful. I was certain that the other photographers who were all jostling for what little space there was on the ledge were not as fortunate as I had been." Mark travelled to Venezuela on our Lost World Trek.

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2021 Photo Competition Winner

2021 Photo Competition Winner

We had a superb shortlist of monthly winners from which to select our travel photo of the year, but after much deliberation and debate our winner was this stunning festival image taken in Ladakh by Chris Martin. We all just loved the colour, movement and energy of the dancers, as well as the technical achievement in capturing that moment. Chris has told us how he did it...

'I was travelling with my American photo friend and we had hired a 4x4 in Leh to drive us to spend a couple of nights in Lamayuru. We were up at first light to walk up to the Monastery. We were lucky to be the only foreigners on site amongst a small group of local villagers. Suddenly out of a doorway in the courtyard came monks dressed in amazing finery. They then started to dance in total silence. The only sound was the swooshing of their garments ! It was quite eerie ! The dance went on for around ten minutes in which time I managed to acquire some interesting pictures.'

Many congratulations to Chris, his prize is £250 towards a Mountain Kingdoms holiday. We look forward to seeing what brilliant images he captures on his future travels.

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Costa Rica and the Green Planet

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Winner of the Earthshot prize, Costa Rica plays a starring role in David Attenborough’s new, ground-breaking natural history series due to its extraordinary bio-diversity and conservation credentials. Watch Green Planet on BBC1 on Sunday evenings to see some of the country’s amazing plants and creatures including millions of fungus-feeding, leafcutter ants that form an essential role in the ecosystem of Costa Rica’s pristine rainforest.

If you’d like to discover Costa Rica for yourself there is availability on both of this year’s departures of our Gentle Walking & Wildlife Costa Rica small group holiday.

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Our final winner for 2022 is Chris Holland with this superb photo of Ama Dablam in the Everest region of Nepal. Not only has Chris captured the beauty of this magnificent mountain but the stupa in the foreground (with its slightly cheeky expression) adds real interest and character as well as a sense of symmetry and scale between the man made and natural worlds. Many congratulations to Chris who wins our last Water-to-Go bottle of the year.

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