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Travel Photography Competition 2018 — 2019 Prizes

Each weekly winner will receive £250 of vouchers to spend on a camera or photographic equipment of their choice. Our judges will then select the best of these images in March and the overall winner will win a trip for two to China. The two runners up won't be disappointed, they'll each be heading off on a private tour of Colombia or Oman for two.

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Main prize: a 13-day trip to China

Explore the ever-complex and ever-changing powerhouse of China through three of its main cities and its greatest river. After touring the imperial palaces and temple complexes of Beijing, fly to Xian to see one of the world’s most celebrated archaeological discoveries — the Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor — before embarking on your Yangtze cruise. Over three days, you wend your way downstream into the fjord-like grandeur of the Three Gorges Region. Finish your trip with a brief taste of the whirlwind metropolis of Shanghai.

Days 1-2: Fly overnight from London to Beijing

After landing in Beijing and settling in, your first stop is Tiananmen Square, a vast space still presided over by Chairman Mao’s portrait.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Beijing

Day 3: Beijing

Visit the complex of palaces that makes up the Forbidden City, and travel to the Haidian district of Beijing to explore the landscaped gardens and lakeside views of the Summer Palace. You also visit the Temple of Heaven, with its intriguing acoustics.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Beijing

Day 4: Beijing

Head out to visit the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall, which receives far less footfall than other stretches closer to the city. Walk along its snaking, weathered stone pathway to watchtowers for views over the surrounding farmland and forest.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Beijing

Days 5: Take the train from Beijing to Xian

Travel by high-speed train to Xian, a journey of around five hours. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in your hotel.

Your accommodation: Sofitel Legend

Days 6: Xian

This morning sees you visiting the Terracotta Army, and your private guide will help you navigate around the gigantic hangar-like vaults in which these minutely detailed excavated figures are displayed. In the afternoon, explore the city’s walls, Muslim Quarter and Grand Mosque.

Your accommodation: Sofitel Legend

Days 7: Fly from Xian to Chongqing

Travel to the airport for your 90-minute flight to the city of Chongqing. Here, you dine on the local signature dish, a piquant hot pot, before boarding your Yangtze cruise vessel and setting sail in the evening.

Your accommodation: on board the Yangtze Explorer

Days 8: Cruising the Yangtze

The scenery grows more rural as you leave the outskirts of Chongqing’s urban sprawl behind and glide past placid countryside and farmland. You might have the option to visit the temple complex of the ‘ghost city’ of Fengdu — or you can simply relax on board.

Your accommodation: on board the Yangtze Explorer

Days 9: Cruising the Yangtze

A leisurely morning on the river: we recommend attending one of the lectures offered on board. Then, the scenic drama is ratcheted up as you enter the Three Gorges Region. Disembark briefly for a boat trip into a quieter tributary.

Your accommodation: on board the Yangtze Explorer

Days 10: Fly from Yichang to Shanghai

End your cruise with a view of the Three Gorges Dam, before disembarking at Yichang and catching your afternoon flight to Shanghai. Relax in your hotel on arrival.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Shanghai

Days 11: Shanghai

Delve into Shanghai on a guided tour. You might visit the Jade Buddha Temple, the Ming-dynasty-era garden of Yuyuan, and the nearby ever-busy bazaar area. You also have the chance to admire the Bund’s skyline.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Shanghai

Days 12: Shanghai

Your final day in China is yours to spend as you wish. You might like to take a culinary tour of the city or explore the leafy French Concession area. The evening, meanwhile, could see you watching a Chinese acrobatic performance.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Shanghai

Days 13: Fly from Shanghai to London

You’re driven to the airport to catch your return flight home.

Our guide to China
Bund Shanghai
Bund Shanghai
Beijing Rickshaw
Beijing Rickshaw
Dragon Boat, Summer Palace
Dragon Boat, Summer Palace
Food Vendor, Muslim Quarter
Food Vendor, Muslim Quarter
Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
Market Shanghai
Market Shanghai
Rooftops in the Forbidden City
Rooftops in the Forbidden City
Terracotta Warriors, Xian
Terracotta Warriors, Xian
Great Wall at Jinshanling
Great Wall at Jinshanling
Qutang Gorge
Qutang Gorge

Second place prize: a 13-day trip to Colombia

Get to know the many faces of this emergent South American destination on a tour of four contrasting regions. After starting in Bogotá, the capital, you travel to the Zona Cafetera (coffee region) to explore its cloudforest hiking trails and taste one of the country’s most famous exports at its freshest. You then head north to the untamed rainforest of coastal Tayrona National Park before ending your trip in Cartagena, the city that novelist Gabriel García Márquez called, ‘the most beautiful in the world.’

Day 1: Bogotá

After arriving in Colombia’s capital, take time to rest before embarking on a guided tour of the city. While in the Candelaría district (the historic old town), keep an eye out for its street art — sometimes punky, often deeply political.

Your accommodation: Four Seasons Casa Medina

Days 2: Bogotá

Watch a cooking demonstration at Paloquemao Market while locals go about their shopping. The market’s stalls groan under the weight of tropical fruits, some of which you may never have heard of. Try guanabana, which is custardy and looks like some sort of dragon’s egg.

Your accommodation: Four Seasons Casa Medina

Days 3: The coffee region

Catch an early morning flight to Armenia, the heart of Colombia’s coffee-growing country (the Zona Cafetera). You’re staying at a heritage finca property (a traditional coffee farm), where you’ll have a guided walking tour of the grounds before tasting some local coffee and chocolate.

Your accommodation: Hacienda Bambusa

Days 4: The coffee region

Go for a walk among the green hillsides of the Cocora Valley to see its towering wax palms; you might also see hummingbirds flitting around. Then, explore the local towns of Salento and Filandia, known for their rainbow façades.

Your accommodation: Hacienda Bambusa

Day 5: Tayrona National Park

Travel north today. Catch your flight to Santa Marta via Bogotá and then travel by road to your lodge, which is just outside the wild national park of Tayrona on the Caribbean coast. Spend the rest of the day relaxing at your lodge.

Your accommodation: Cayena Beach Resort

Day 6: Tayrona National Park

Go for a morning hike through the coconut palms and unspoiled rainforest of Tayrona National Park, stopping off at some of its surf-whipped beaches and learning about the park’s custodians, the indigenous Kogi. In the afternoon, relax at your lodge.

Your accommodation: Cayena Beach Resort

Days 7: Minca

Today, drive west from the park to reach the town of Minca, a quiet, unassuming settlement in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Visit its waterfalls and river pools, and perhaps sample the wares of a local coffee farm.

Your accommodation: Cayena Beach Resort

Days 8: Cartagena

Drive from Santa Marta to Cartagena. In the afternoon, amble around the city’s old town at your own pace. You might want to follow the example of the locals and take an afternoon paseo (stroll) on the city’s immaculately preserved, conquistador-era ramparts.

Your accommodation: Hotel Alfiz

Days 9: Cartagena

Get to know the city in depth on a guided tour, getting up close to some of its Spanish colonial architecture. Explore the elegant cloisters of the Convento de la Popa and the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a New-World precursor to Fort Knox.

Your accommodation: Hotel Alfiz

Days 10: Rosario Islands from Cartagena

Take a boat trip from Cartagena to the nearby Rosario Islands. Relax on a stretch of quiet sandy beach, picnic on a platter of fried fish and patacones (fried plantain), or while away a few hours swimming and snorkeling.

Your accommodation: Hotel Alfiz

Days 11: Cartagena

Enjoy a final day in Cartagena, perhaps sampling locally made rum and chocolate on a tour, or exploring the city’s art scene.

Your accommodation: Hotel Alfiz

Days 12-13: Fly from Cartagena to Bogotá to London

Spend a final morning soaking up Cartagena before travelling to the airport for your flight to Bogotá, from where you catch your onward return flight to London.

Islas Rosario
Islas Rosario
Cartagena Art Tour
Cartagena Art Tour
Hotel Casa Medina Bogota
Hotel Casa Medina Bogota
Paloquemao
Paloquemao
Tayrona national park, Colombia
Tayrona national park, Colombia
Zona Cafetera
Zona Cafetera
Corcora valley coffee region
Corcora valley coffee region

Third place prize: an 11-day trip to Oman

Explore authentic Middle Eastern culture in Oman, the best-kept secret on the Arabian Peninsula. The trip begins in Muscat, the country’s historic capital city, and ends with a night in a traditional Bedouin-style tent enjoying the vast solitude of the Wahiba Sands. Highlights include visits to the traditional Friday livestock market in Nizwa and the small, rustic villages scattered among the Jebel Akhdar Mountains, as well as a dolphin-watching cruise on the turquoise waters of the Persian Gulf.

Days 1 to 4: Muscat

Fly from London to Muscat. After arriving in Muscat, rest for a bit before a private car takes you on an overview drive around Oman’s elegant, whitewashed capital. The city combines a modern outlook with a traditional feel. Explore narrow streets and authentic souqs, as well as the massive Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.

Your accommodation: Shangri-La Al Bandar

Days 5 to 6: Jebel Akhdar

The Jebel Akhdar region includes Saiq Plateau, a dry upland plain ringed by craggy peaks. A private driver can help you navigate the stark scenery to discover the area’s apricot and pomegranate orchards, as well as the small villages that cling to the sides of the mountains. You’ll also have the chance to go for walks to take in the sweeping scenery.

Your accommodation: Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

Day 7 to 8: Jebel Shams

Though it’s the tallest mountain in Oman, Jebel Shams is best known for the Wadi Ghul, a massive plunging gorge known as the ‘Omani Grand Canyon’. This region is also home to many small villages, where life has remained largely unchanged for centuries. You can also visit Nizwa, a traditional inland city with a livestock auction that’s held on Fridays.

Your accommodation: The View

Day 9: Wahiba Sands

Golden dunes stretch out to a heat-hazed horizon in the Wahiba Sands. Explore the ecology of this desert and watch the sun set from on top of a dune before retiring to your Bedouin-style tent for a customary dinner by firelight.

Your accommodation: Traditional Bedouin-style tent

Days 10 to 11: Muscat

Return to the capital for your flight home.

Your accommodation: The Chedi

Learn more about Oman
Al Bandar Sablah
Al Bandar Sablah
Birkat Al Mauz
Birkat Al Mauz
Man and beehive tombs
Man and beehive tombs
Old Muttrah Souk
Old Muttrah Souk
The Grand Mosque Muscat
The Grand Mosque Muscat
Hanging Pottery at the Nizwa market
Hanging Pottery at the Nizwa market
Wahibas Sands
Wahibas Sands