Cranes in Hokkaido (Ray Hems)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 25 January

Gallery: Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year – Wildlife

From lions and tigers to owls and penguins, these are the stunning photos that made the shortlist of our Wildlife category and the amazing stories behind them

Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year

Facing certain death

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Lions hunting in Ngorongoro Crater (Julia Wainwright)

Julia Wainwright, Retired programme manager

“It was with mixed emotions that I watched  a pride of lions take down this pregnant wildebeest.  During the struggle that ensued, the wildebeest lifted her head and looked at one of the lionesses. I'm sure that, at that moment, she knew it was all over.”

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM EXT @ 560mm, 1/2000 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 5000


Snowy owl

Quebec, Canada

Snowy owl in Canada (Giovanni Frescura)

Giovanni Frescura, Lawyer

“I spent all day hiding under the snow in order to spot birds, and at last I saw one coming towards me, during a storm.”

Canon EOS-1D X, EF 500mm f/4L IS USM @ 500mm, 1/3200 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 1000, tripod


Japanese red-crowned crane courtship

Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary, Hokkaido, Japan

Red Crowned cranes dancing in Japan (Ray Hems)

Ray Hems, Retired

“In winter, rare red-crowned cranes gather in large groups on snow-covered feeding grounds near Kushiro, on the island of Hokkaido, Japan. Here, mated pairs of cranes strengthen their partnerships by engaging in intricate and beautiful courtship behaviour, involving unison calling and spirited dance displays.

At the Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary, the flat terrain makes it difficult to photograph this spectacle in isolation. Several hours of patient waiting in sub-zero temperatures were rewarded, however, when one pair conveniently relocated to the brow of a hill. For a few seconds only, they performed a graceful ballet, leaping high in the air and arching their wings in unison.”

Nikon D3, 200-400mm f/4.0 @ 400mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200


Living on the edge

Gerlache Strait, Antarctica

Gerlache Strait, Antarctica (Christian Wilkinson)

Christian Wilkinson, Mac operator

“I took this picture of a group of chinstrap penguins on top of a huge iceberg at Gerlache Strait (also known as Iceberg Alley), near to Antarctica. What amazed me was how the little penguins had managed to climb on top of the iceberg, which was over 10 metres high. I think the picture illustrates how resilient the penguins are and how they have conquered the harsh elements of the freezing Antarctic.”

Sony Alpha A100, 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, 1/1250 sec @ f/8, ISO 200


Game of chase

Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra, India

Tigers playing chase in Tadoba National Park (Greg Poole)

Greg Poole, Plumber

“In May 2016, we enjoyed a two-week visit to Tadoba National Park. It is a relatively small park but we had excellent wildlife sightings throughout our stay. This encounter was particularly special. These three tiger cubs were so engrossed in their play, they were totally oblivious to our parked vehicle as they tumbled past. The moment was fleeting but it’s something I’ll always remember.”

Canon EOS 7D Mark II, EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM @ 300mm, 1/2500 sec @ f/3.2, ISO 400


Adult emperor penguin plus eight chicks in Antarctic snowstorm

Gould Bay, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Emperor Penguin and chicks (Gunther Riehle)

Gunther Riehle, Food technology engineer

“We were camping on 3m-thick frozen sea water, just 2.4km away from a big emperor penguin colony, with lots of mega-cute chicks. I especially concentrated on taking images of the adorable chicks in the harsh conditions of their environment.”

Nikon D4, 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 165mm, 1/1600 sec @ f/11, ISO 640, B+W polarising filter


Lions in the rain

Nambiti Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Lions in the rain (Miguel De Freitas)

Miguel De Freitas, Accountant

“It was an early morning rise for us – our game ranger had been informed of mating activity within a group of lions. When we found the group, the sudden torrential downpour put a halt on the lions’ activities but created a different photographic opportunity. The lions were completely exposed to the elements with no nearby shelter on offer. Camera at the ready, it was only a matter of time before the lions did what they could in order to keep themselves dry.”

Canon EOS 6D, EF 70-300mm f/4.5-6 IS USM @ 300mm, 1/50 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200


Stripes at twilight

Meno a Kwena Tented Camp, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana

Stripes at Sunset (Rachel Lang)

Rachel Lang, Travel blogger

“Botswana’s Makgadikgadi salt pans are home to the world’s second-largest zebra migration. Every year, up to 25,000 zebras move in herds across the plains, setting out from the Okavango Delta and the edge of the Makgadikgadi salt pans in search of vibrant new grazing ground along the Boteti River.”

Canon EOS 70D, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM @ 400mm, 1/200 sec @ f/7.1, ISO 500


Icy look

Brepollen Bay, Svalbard, Norway

(Icy look (Renato Granieri)

Renato Granieri, Consumer insight consultant

“While on a Zodiac cruise around the ice cliffs of Brepollen Bay in Svalbard, I was keen to capture a black-legged kittiwake soaring through its frozen habitat. During the summer, these sea birds come to feed in the Arctic. I took a burst of images, but knew I had my shot when, for a split second, the bird turned its head and looked directly into my camera.”

Nikon D4S, 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 195mm, 1/800 sec @ f/11, ISO 800


Ruby topaz hummingbird and gossamer spider

Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago

Hummingbird in Trinidad (Tim Withall)

Tim Withall, Retired chartered engineer

“This really was a surprise encounter.”

Nikon D700, Nikkor 100m f/2.8 macro @ 105mm, 1/1000 sec @ f/9, ISO 1600, tripod with remote radio release


The winners of the 2017 Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year will be announced at Destinations travel show in London on February 3 at 4pm. The winners will receive a photographic commission to Thailand and all the short-listed photos will be on display at the Wanderlust gallery throughout the show.

The photos will also be on display at the Destinations travel show in Manchester between January 19-22.

Entry to the 2018 Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year will be opening soon.


More galleries

Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year – Landscape

Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year – Travel Icons

Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year – People

WanderlustTravel Photo of the Year – Portfolio