Travel photography: winning visions

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These are the best travel photographs of 2007, as chosen jointly by 'Wanderlust' magazine and 'The Independent'. Each category winner earns a photo assignment in South Australia

Festivals

The category winner was Zoltan Balogh's powerful image of the Sziget Festival in Budapest, one of the biggest music events in Europe. "For a week, thousands of young people come together on an island in the heart of the Hungarian capital. In late afternoon, everyone gathers around the stage to feel the power of the music."

The runner-up was Helen Pugh-Cook's picture from the Yushu Horse Festival in eastern Tibet. In this image, the owners of a winning horse are sending Buddhist prayer flags up to the heavens, giving thanks for their blessing. The pointed hat on the startled horse is a common adornment for both participating horses and riders.

Landscape

Tibet was the winning subject in this category. Don Jacklin rested overnight at the town of Shigatse en route from Lhasa to the holy Mount Kailash. "The autumn air was cold and dry, our early-morning start threatened by black clouds and an imminent snowstorm. Passing this chorten [Buddhist shrine] on the outskirts of town, a window of light opened, illuminating the foreground in contrast with the harsh conditions beyond."

Howard Angus took the runner-up spot with a monochrome study of the road that runs into the small village of Makarora in the South Island of New Zealand. "I converted the image to black and white, as there was plenty of contrast in the original."

Animals

In this closely fought category, Paul Marshall emerged the winner for his depiction of a "cliffside crèche for mountain kids" in Nepal. "Watching these small goats investigating a new outcrop, we saw intial excitement turn to doubt as they realised how exposed they were. Spotting animals is one thing, but observing them interacting with their habitat gives a greater and longer-lasting feel for the place."

Ryan Gray's entry took the runner-up place with a fascinating study of a tawny eagle facing off against a jackal as they compete for a kill in the Masai Mara of Kenya. "Even though both the tawny and the jackal had eaten more than enough, both were reluctant to let a free meal go. This see-saw battle took place over the course of 20 minutes, with the jackal finally feeling the exhaustion of the constant defence of the precious corpse and leaving the scene."

People

Light and shadows frame the farmer's motion in a ballet-like movement in Kal Khogali's winning picture, from Yangshuo in China. "He is sweeping the rice he has dried in the sun for days until it is almost golden. At temperatures of up to 40C, there is no need for artificial methods of drying in the harvest season here."

The runner-up was the work of Jeff Wilson: three wise men scanning for snow leopards in the Hindu Kush of Pakistan. "Chitrali men employed as wildlife rangers can spend hours squatting like this, noticing the minutiae of their surroundings – crucial when looking for an animal as well camouflaged as a snow leopard. They can spot the creature more than a kilometre away."

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