2022 Vaya Photo Contest Winners

Posted by on February 27th, 2023

Nothing delights us more than receiving photos captured by our travelers throughout the year. Whether it’s up close encounters with wildlife, sunsets over remote and little visited corners of our natural world, or new friends made while traveling, your images transport us—and we look forward to seeing each and every one!

To all of you who sent us your travel photos in 2022, we thank you. It has been our pleasure to relive some of our favorite destinations through your eyes.

It was challenging to narrow it down to just three images from among all the submissions. But the votes are in (it was a tie!) and the three images with the most votes are below, presented in no particular order.

All winning photographers will receive a new Patagonia Better Sweater. An additional selection of images meriting Honorable Mention have also been showcased below for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you to all who participated. We look forward to seeing your trip photos in 2023!



Steve Neptune

Photo Location: Pantanal, Brazil (June 2022)
Human silhouette sitting in a canoe upon glassy water with trees and a sunset in the background.

One of three 2022 Vaya Photo Contest Winners: sunset enjoyed by canoe over glassy waters in Brazil’s wildlife-rich Pantanal. (photographer: Steve Neptune)

The Pantanal spreads across three countries and more than 42 million acres, and is the largest tropical wetland in the world. Visiting it can be a surreal experience.  Seasonal floodplains fed by the tributaries of the Paraguay River produce a highly productive fish nursery that in turn supports an estimated 650 bird species along with a wealth of other wildlife, from caiman to jaguars, giant anteaters, giant otters, and more. According to photographer Steve Neptune, one other profound power is also at work here: “It can be challenging to inspire awe in a 15-year-old boy, but the Pantanal delivered.”



Max Liszkowski

Photo Location: Serengeti, Tanzania (August 2022)
A frontside close-up of a cheetah surveys the Serengeti grasslands while three open-air safari vehicles with guests watch from behind.

One of three 2022 Vaya Photo Contest Winners: a close encounter with a cheetah while on safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. (photographer: Max Liszkowski)

There is a reason the name Serengeti is practically synonymous with the notion of safari. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Tanzania and covers just under 6,000 square miles of premiere game viewing terrain, including open grasslands, Acacia woodlands, and seasonal rivers. Bordered to the north by the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, the Serengeti offers ideal year-round habitat for all kinds of game (including big cats!) and is home to the world-famous Great Migration, an annual – and deadly – trek undertaken by millions of wildebeest and other herd animals between the two parks.



Ken Cohen

Photo Location: Pantanal, Brazil (August 2022)
A close-up of a large jaguar walking along a lush, green forested riverbank in the Pantanal of Brazil.

One of three 2022 Vaya Photo Contest Winners: a jaguar discovered amid the lush greenery of Brazil’s Pantanal. (photographer: Ken Cohen)

Although not quite as famous as the Amazon rainforest to the north, South America’s Pantanal is one of the planet’s most biologically rich environments and quite remarkable in its own right. Sprawled across Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay, the tropical wetlands are a veritable haven for wildlife, providing a home to more than 4,700 plant and animal species, including high concentrations of iconic regional species like jaguar and caiman. Intimate river safaris offer the chance to spot wildlife along the water’s edge while exploring the wetlands by boat. For those as lucky as Ken, it may also mean a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to photograph jaguars in the wild!




Honorable Mentions

Jen Becker
Galapagos Islands (July 2022)
A seal sits on a white sand beach with blue waters behind and a both a ship and half rainbow at the distance.

A rainbow-infused moment captured in the Galapagos Islands. (photographer: Jen Becker)

Rex Niles
Antarctica (November 2022)
Two penguins standing in the snow with icebergs in the background in Antarctica.

Icebergs and penguins, two of Antarctica’s most quintessential sights. (photographer: Rex Niles)

Atacama Desert, Chile (January 2022)
A man and a woman sit in the middle of an empty highway with dry, desert mountains and a bright blue, cloudy sky reflecting off the valley floor behind.

Enjoying quiet roads and reflective skies amid the otherworldly terrain of the Atacama Desert, Chile. (photographer: Rex Niles)

Caroline Himmelman
Peru (January 2022)
Two hikers on a green grassy trail staircase with a large mountain peak in the background.

The lush green trails of Peru, many ancient Incan paths, are only made more spectacular by the snow-capped Andean peaks that surround them. (photographer: Caroline Himmelman).

Christie Gorsline
South Africa & Zimbabwe (September 2022)
A giraffe looking straight at the camera while surrounded by three zebras.

A curious giraffe surrounded by grazing zebra in the Eastern Cape Reserves of South Africa. (photographer: Christie Gorsline)


A man stands next to a chaise lounge and an open door on his veranda with a large elephant standing just beyond, looking straight at him and the camera.

You never know who will visit you while on safari, even when you’re relaxing back in your room at Rhino Sands Safari Camp. (photographer: Christie Gorsline)

Hal Shaw
Galapagos Islands (July 2022)
A close-up of a bright red and yellow sally lightfoot crab looking at the camera.

A sally lightfoot crab – one of the many local friends you might meet in the Galapagos Islands. (photographer: Hal Shaw)

Tom McDermott
Amazon, Ecuador (August 2022)
A small bright yellow frog with a white belly sitting on a thin tree branch.

The rainforest is alive with creatures big and small. (photographer: Tom McDermott)



And So Many More

A variety of other wonderful images were submitted (and received votes). Our job is a tough one! We’ve included a few more below for your enjoyment.

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