Simply the Best: Knowmad Photo Contest Winners

We’ve brought it back after a two year pandemic hiatus; a travelers all-time favorite, the Annual Knowmad Photo Contest. It’s not only the striking images from our favorite South American destinations that keep us inspired, it’s the stories that come with them. Submissions span categories from landscape to wildlife to portrait and capture moments unequaled; the quiet puma in Patagonia’s wild, the sheepish smile of a local child, a rainforest orchid blooming brilliantly. All category winners will receive Knowmad gear and the overall Knowmad Adventures Grand Prize Winner wins a 2-night/3-day stay at Hacienda Zuleta in Ecuador.  Keep scrolling for the results!


Honorable Mention

“I submitted the first photo attached for the Knowmad photo contest in 2016 (and actually won!).  We had just returned from an amazing Knowmad trip to Chile, and the photo shows our three children following our wonderful guide on a hike through terrain that looked like the moon.  The second photo shows those same three children – now older and even faster! – following our wonderful guide on a hike in Fossil Canyon at Estancia Cristina during our most recent Knowmad planned trip to Argentina this past December.  I wanted to share this photo with Knowmad more for the story than for the picture itself.  Thank you to all for planning adventures that have created special family memories.” – Mandy, Cambridge, MA | Custom Argentina Trip 


Third Place

“We loved [our trip] everything was perfect!”  – Jane, Minneapolis, MN | Custom Peru Trip



“Three years in the making, postponed twice during COVID; after cancelled flights and lost luggage, we finally made it to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.  It was well worth the wait, and more.  On board the catamaran Alya, we were blessed with the nicest crew, talented chef, knowledgeable naturalist guide, fascinating and compatible company.  And, perfect weather to appreciate the astounding biodiversity preserved in this beautiful archipelago.  Our last morning of the cruise, we woke early for a sunrise beach walk. A serene, stunning and fitting way to complete our maritime adventure.  What a way to start 2023!  We’re humbled and thankful for this immersive experience.” – Miko & Benjamin, Maplewood, NJ | Custom Galapagos Trip 



Adventure Category Winner, Travelers at the top of Cerro Paine

“Here’s a picture from Cerro Paine, which was part of the perfect Patagonian day featuring a little bit of everything. We woke up early to go puma spotting, only to get a flat tire which we changed with our awesome guide Sofie (I’m not sure there’s a prettier place in the world to change a tire). From there, we went to Cerro Paine, which we chose because the park rangers were on strike and the Base of the Towers hike was closed. We had been told Cerro Paine was amazingly scenic but steep. As we got further up the trail, the wind started whipping, with 50-60mph gusts. Towards the top, we got a bit nervous as it was very steep and very windy. We ended up surviving and made our way down to the base, where we had a perfect Awasi picnic with local beers as we looked up at what we had just conquered. On the way back to Awasi, we got incredibly lucky and saw a puma by chance that was stalking some guanaco so we followed the puma for a half hour with no other cars in sight. We capped off the day with fireside backgammon and cocktails, and an amazing Awasi dinner. All in all, it was the perfect Patagonia day that had a little bit of everything, with just enough adventure to get our heart rates up, plenty of beauty, and plenty of understated luxury.” – David & Liz, New York, NY | Custom Chile Trip | See a video of David and Liz at the top of Cerro Paine here



Third Place

Learning how to tango in Argentina! This was taken by a Knowmad traveler on the 2022 St.Olaf custom Argentina trip.


Second Place

    Sacred Valley, Peru - Peruvian woman holding a sheep in Peru on a Knowmad Trip

“This was a captivating day. We watched them dye the yarn with all natural dyes and varying degrees of salt to make different colors. Karla and I both agreed that it’s really amazing what vibrant and rich colors they can create with all natural ingredients.” – Kari & Tom, Karla & Jerry, Lake Shore, MN / Minnetonka, MN | Read about their custom Peru and Ecuador trip here


First Place

Patagonia, Chile - Horses running with gaucho on a Knowmad Adventures trip

“The afternoon we spent at the estancia was one of the most relaxing days I’ve ever had. These photos immediately take me back to that moment!”  – Ann, Middletown, DE | Custom Chile Trip 


Landscape / Scenery

Third Place

“Thanks again for organizing a terrific trip and handling it through all the ups and downs of the pandemic. We had a wonderful time.” On the road to Estancia Helingsfors in Patagonia – Tom, Plymouth, MA | Custom Argentina Trip 


Second Place

The top of the Base of the Towers Hike Torres del Paine National Park Chile, Patagonia

“Base of the Towers Torres del Paine. The climb up to the base was challenging but well worth it. Standing in this spot was a realization of a childhood dream and definitely a bucket list destination.” – David, Raliegh, NC | Custom Chile Trip 


First Place

“Here is a picture of the full moon rising over Lincancabur volcano in Atacama.” Steven Hirsch Photography, Powell, OH | Custom Chile Trip




Third Place

Valpairaso, Chile - The view from Pablo Nerudo's bedroom
“The inspiring view of Valparaiso from Pablo Neruda’s bedroom.” – Edwin & Marie, Carlsbad, CA | Custom Argentina & Chile Trip 


Second Place

Lake Titicaca, Peru - Floating Islands in Uros on a Knowmad Adventures trip

“Not your traditional city but every inch was built by the community! Uros Floating Islands, Lake Titicaca!” – Susan, Minneapolis, MN | Custom Peru Trip 

First Place

Santiago, Chile - Street art in Santiago photo taken on a Knowmad trip

Vibrant street art in Santiago, Chile taken by Knowmad traveler, William (from Mahtomedi, MN) on a custom Chile trip.



Third Place

Quito, Ecuador

A cheery shot from a 16 person custom friend trip to Ecuador! This photo, taken in colorful Quito, was sent in by Marilyn (from Maple Plain, MN).


Second Place

Knowmad traveler sitting near a glacier

“This picture represented the most important thing I wanted to get out of of this trip, which is to disconnect from the worries of life and recharge by connecting with nature. Thank you for assisting in making that happen.”  – Ramzi, Dearborn, MI | Custom Argentina & Chile Trip 


First Place

“My favorite photo of the trip at the Tatio Geysers at sunrise. A funny back story was I had dunked my camera in the river on a previous excursion and it was out of commission for the trip to Tatio… did recover after drying out. I used my old model  iPhone for the geyser photos and liked this one more than photos taken throughout with my camera.” – Joan, Los Altos Hills, CA | Custom Chile Trip 



Third Place

A beautiful photo taken by Knowmad traveler Ellen (from Victoria, MN) on the 2022 Arboretum trip to Chile and Argentina.


Second Place

Girl posing behind a huge leaf in South America on a Knowmad trip

“We learned so much about plants, trees, insects, birds and animals endemic to this specific area of Ecuador’s forests.” – Maria, Chicago, IL | Custom Galapagos & Mainland Ecuador Trip 


First Place

Amazon, Ecuador Knowmad Adventures trip

“Napo was incredible! The perfect combination of remote, authentic, with luxurious accommodations, and once we learned the history about the development of the property, the partnership with the local people, their story, we were even more impressed + happy to support such an experience.” – Caption by Jennie, photo by Emily, Kentfield, CA / Saratoga, CA | Custom Galapagos & Mainland Ecuador Trip



Third Place

Can you spot the little creature? I love this photo taken by Deb (from Mahtomedi, MN) on her custom trip to Chile.


Second Place

A baby sloth in the Peruvian Amazon taken on a Knowmad trip

“We had a very lucky first day in the Amazon seeing this baby sloth!” – Susan, Minneapolis, MN | Custom Peru Trip 


First Place

A puma in Patagonia      Puma in South America

“I have about 20 pictures in that sequence and hard to pick the best one. I was told they are adolescents – perhaps brother and sister.” – Bruce & Joy, Marietta, GA | Custom Patagonia Trip 



“One of our excursion mates photographs the sunset in the Valley of the Moon.” – Alan, New York, NY 

The two traveled almost the entire span of Chile together from the Atacama Desert all the way down to Torres del Paine National park in southern Patagonia. Alan and Micheal sent in several stunning photos from their trip but, I kept coming back to this one. It’s breathtaking. A perfect capture of the stunning and endless expanse of the Atacama desert. Congratulations on your Grand Prize Win, Alan Barnett!

Congrats to all of our winners and a sincere thank you to everyone who gave us a glimpse into their South America adventures the past couple of years through stories and photos.


Are you interested in a South American adventure of your own? We’re regional experts here at Knowmad Adventures and pride ourselves in building custom trips that are a perfect fit for our travelers. If you’re interested in crafting an adventure combining several regions in South America, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Trip Specialists at 612-315-2894 or [email protected] to begin planning your trip today!


Nos Vemos, Lisa

South America Travel - Lisa KellenbergerLisa is the Media Manager at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2012 and is continually planning her next adventure. Read Lisa’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.