Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Best Travel Photos of 2010

This year we’re taking a slightly different approach. Why? Because we received so many amazing photos (more than 20,000!) from travelers on Viator.com in 2010. We simply couldn’t pick just 10 photos. It was  too hard — there were way too many great photos.
So this year we have created 6 thematic categories and selected the top photos in each one. If you have suggestions for new categories next year, let us know. In the meantime congratulations to all our photo winners. Keep sending us your photos and we’ll see you again next year!

Category: Sunset & Sunrise

Sydney Harbour sunset
Sydney Harbour at sunset, photo by Louis B
This drop-dead gorgeous photo of Sydney Harbour was taken by Viator travel Louis B on a Sydney Harbour Dining Cruise. What an absolutely stunning shot of the famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sunset & Sunrise Runners-up:

Uluru at Sunset
Uluru at Sunset, by Sharneen G
We also really enjoyed the photo of Uluru (Ayers Rock) by Sharneen G, taken on a helicopter flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
As she says, “AMAZING!!! We were very lucky as we had the most perfect light conditions for our flight and our pilot was fantastic. I messed up our booking and everyone on the ground and air accommodated us by giving us a last minute flight. Great customer service. Highly Recommended.” Aw shucks, thanks Sharneen!
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Grand Canyon Sunset, by Mario R
The photo on the right by Mario R captures the Grand Canyon at its most colorful, on a tour to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas.
The purples and and reds, the outline of the cactus on the horizon — just makes you want to head off and visit the Grand Canyon, peer down through the Skywalk’s glass walkway, and learn about the local Hualapai’s culture and history. It’s also a good reminder that – when you’re in Las Vegas for work or pleasure, the Grand Canyon is just a short hop / bus / helicopter / 4WD jaunt away.

Category: Travel with Kids

Camel? Check. Kids? Check. Photo by Andreas S.
Camel? Check. Kids? Check. Photo by Andreas H.
Andreas H‘s photo of the family on a camel is one of our favorites in 2010. You may not know that camels live in Australia – or that it’s possible to take a sunrise or sunset camel tour around Uluru from Ayers Rock. Judging by the smiles of both mom and daughter, the experience is clearly a blast.

Travel with Kids Runners-up:

Mom and son, taking off on a NYC helicopter tour. Photo by Natalie B.
Mom and son, taking off on a NYC helicopter tour. Photo by Natalie B.
If you missed it the first time, look again. The photo on the left, from user Natalie B, shows the typical start of a New York City helicopter tour, just before takeoff. Look closely and you’ll see their 1-year-old son ready for the ride of his young life!
Snorkeling in Cancun, photo by GlobalNomad
Snorkeling in Cancun, photo by GlobalNomad
As Natalie says, “Fantastic experience! The pilot was very informative and made us feel very comfortable. Felt like much longer than the amount of time we paid for too, we all enjoyed it, me, my partner and even our 1 year old little boy and we all felt very safe. Trip was a lot cheaper than if you book once your out there, so well worth booking in advance before you go. Took some amazing photos, it was the highlight of our holiday!” Thanks Natalie, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
The photo on the right by GlobalNomad captures another reason for why we travel with kids – to teach them new things, to introduce them to new experiences. Dad and son here are about to dive into the warm and wonderful waters of Xel-Ha, on a Xel-Ha day trip from Cancun. Our guess is, this will be a life-long memory for both dad and son.

Category: World Icons

A gondolier on a glorious day in Venice, photo by Charlene T
A gondolier on a glorious day in Venice, photo by Charlene T
We steered clear of some of the more obvious icons – we had dozens of great photos of the world’s top attractions, but in the end we wanted to tackle the world’s iconic sites from just a slightly off-center perspective. Which is why top honors go to Charlene T‘s photo of a gondolier in Venice, taken on a Venice walking tour & gondola ride. The blue sky, the gondolier’s confident gaze, for us this put a new twist on a familiar concept.

World Icons Runners-up:

Brian B's 'Standhenge' photo
Brian B's 'Standhenge' photo
Brian B gave us a completely new take on Stonehenge, which put a big smile on our faces. He even titled his photo “Standhenge”!
We got a lot of photos from travelers doing slightly odd things, or holding quirky poses, around. But this is the first handstand we can recall, and we certainly hope it’s not the last! Brian’s wife took this photo on a Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle day trip from London.
Tower of Pisa, with rainbow!
Tower of Pisa, with rainbow!
The photo on the right? Yes, we chose it because of the rainbow.
C’mon, a photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa with a rainbow in it? What’s next, maybe a unicorn and an elf walk into the frame, too?!?! Seems like photographer Kimberly W has captured a fairly magical moment and, for that, we honor her here.
Kimberly snapped the photo on a Tuscany sightseeing tour from Florence that included a stop at Pisa’s famous leaning tower: “We spent 12 days in Italy and this tour was my favorite even with rain. We loved the tour of Sienna, the lunch at the winery was great, Tuscany was beautiful. We also enjoyed visiting San Gimingnao and Pisa. It was a great day and value for the money. We had a great guide and very attentive to her group and our needs.” We’re very glad to hear it, Kimberly.

Category: Adventure

Jump! Photo by Annie B.
Jump! Photo by Annie B.
Annie B took this photo in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a San Juan snorkel cruise. We love the photo because of its pure energy – jump! You can almost hear the screams and the ensuing splash into the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean. Annie says, “We (group of eleven 20-somethings) had an amazing time on this trip. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. The crew was sooo fun and helpful. Especially Levi, we had a blast with him. The food and drinks were amazing and plentiful. The views, the ride and the water was absolutely beautiful, it was exactly what we expected from the description..and more. A definite must for anyone visiting Puerto Rico.”

Adventure Runners-up:

Shaundrea M on a zipline in Costa Rica
Shaundrea M in Costa Rica
Shaundrea M had this photo taken whule she was ziplining in Costa Rica, on a Sarapiqui canopy and rainforest tour (which includes a canopy tour via zipline!) from San Jose. We love Shaundrea’s expression – it’s clear she’s having an awesome adventure exploring the rainforest canopy of Costa Rica. As Shaundrea says, “The tour was very fun… You have to climb a ladder for every platform. The guides take safety precautions and made the experience fun!!!! The food was great!”
NZ's Shotove River Rapids
NZ's Shotover River Rapids
Our other runner-up is Robin B, for her adrenaline-pumping photo of the Class 5 rapids on Shotover River rapids near Queenstown, New Zealand.
As Robin says, “Awesome!!! Beautiful and fun… It’s okay if you have never gone rafting before… Great way to spend half a day… They take you on beautiful backgrounds to see lots of scenery on the way there.”
It just goes to show you, having an ‘;adventure’ doesn’t have to mean risking your life or doing some death-defying stunt. We selected our winners more because they’re showing us there are lots of ways to have an adventure when traveling: trying something new, something never done before, all the while getting a deeper and more memorable experience of the places you’re visiting. And that’s why we travel.

Category: Food & Drink

Florence cooking school
Tuscan Cooking Class & Dinner in Florence, photo by Amy T
What we love about Amy T‘s photo is the smile – it says, “I made this! Wow!” Amy was doing a Tuscan cooking class and dinner in Florence, and you can click here to see some of the other delicious dishes she made in the class (chicken and mushroom rolls, tiramisu and vegetarian Millefoglie anybody? Mmmm). Amy says it’s a “wonderful experience from start to finish,” and we’re thrilled to hear it.

Food & Drink Runners-up:

Paris Chocolate Madness! By Cathy W.
Paris Chocolate Madness, by Cathy W.
You may be asking yourself, just what is happening in that photo to the left, which looks like an outtake from a Tim Burton movie, complete with bumble bees and Dr. Seuss-inspired chocolate creatures.
The small size of the image doesn’t do it justice – what you’re seeing is a sculpture made completely of chocolate, part of the amazing collection of chocolate and pastries covered (and partly consumed) on a Paris Chocolate and Party Tour. Thanks to Cathy W for the great photo.
My Goodness, My Guinness! Photo by SaraG
Sláinte! Photo by SaraG
The photo on the right, from SaraG, won our hearts for two reasons. First, another great smile. Second, who doesn’t enjoy contemplating a pint of Guinness!
The photo was taken at the legendary St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin, at the breweries popular Gravity Bar, symbolically the “head of the pint’ (it’ll make sense when you see it in person) with 360-degree views across Dublin. As they say in Dublin, a pint of plain is your only man.

Category: Self Portraits

We love this category most of all. It gives us the chance to see our travelers (you!) doing things, having fun, and exploring the world. These self-portraits — of people having fun, smiling from ear to ear — are why we do what we do. At Viator our goal is to help you to have an unforgettable experience every time you travel. When we see so many happy faces, we know we’re doing our job. Congratulations to our self-portrait winners, we couldn’t chose just one so we’ll include our top 10 favorites, in no particular order.
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Wicklow Mountains Day Trip: “A little piece of heaven!”
"Excited the sun came out!"
"Excited the sun came out!"
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Mt Fuji & Lake Ashi: “Planning to make a snowball!” photo
"We had a great experience."
"We had a great experience."
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Vespa Day Trip in Chianti,
"Holy Moly what a great experience!"
"Holy Moly what a great experience!"
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Grand Canyon Helicopter & Ranch Adventure,
"This was certainly one of the high-lights of our trip to Vegas."
"This was certainly one of the high-lights of our trip to Vegas."
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Sopranos Tour in NYC: “Me and Vito!”
"Before the tour you may run into Vito!"
"Before the tour you may run into Vito!"
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Black Canyon River Rafting: “Joe and I”
"Us on the Black Canyon Rafting Tour"
"Us on the Black Canyon Rafting Tour"
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Cliffs of Moher, the Burren and Galway: “Outside O’Connor’s pub”
"Wow. Just wow... I could go on and on about how pleasant of an experience I had..."
"Wow. Just wow... I could go on and on about how pleasant of an experience I had..."
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"If you only have one day on St Lucia, this is THE trip to take."
"If you only have one day on St Lucia, this is THE trip to take."
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South Africa Winelands Tour by Chauffered Sidecar,
"This tour was the highlight of our Cape Town trip"
"This tour was the highlight of our Cape Town trip"
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Quad Biking in Sharm el Sheik
"Absolutely brilliant! Worth every penny."
"Absolutely brilliant! Worth every penny."
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Thanks again to everybody who submitted a photo from their travels in 2010. Keep the photos coming! We hope your future travels include more of Viator’s tours and things to do, if only because we hope you send us more of your great trip photos!