The Best Travel Photos of 2013

It’s been a year, that’s for sure, and I think the set of my best travel photos of 2013 will definitely reflect that.  2013 really has been the wildest ride of my life and there is absolutely no doubt about it.  This year alone I’ve been to 27 countries, most of them completely new to me.  For me, 2013 was rung in at an outdoor bar in Burkina Faso.  I had, of course, just started off on my epic scooter trip down the west side of Africa.  And well the trip was arduous it also led to loads of really interesting pictures.  The truth is however, that I really didn’t take as many photos on that trip as I should have.  I was too camera shy.

Anyways, 2013 also took me home to visit my family, let me roadtrip around Alberta, Canada, had me rail around Europe, and led me to meet Tiffany.  The year has ended with a couple weeks based here in Bali, Indonesia where I’ve been attempting to catch up on the things that this wild year has left be behind on.

The truth is, however, as I have been here seeing countless posts about the new year and Christmas, I have done almost nothing but reflect upon my travel photos from the year that has now almost past.  I love how a travel photo can just whisk you back to not only the place you once were, but the emotion you were feeling that day.  These are my best travel photos from 2013, or at least my favourite, like my images from 2012, I’ve done these all in chronological order so you can kind of follow along with the story of my year. It was difficult to narrow this list down so much. I think I could have easily posted a couple hundred images here. But I somehow managed to stop myself from doing so.

Which one is your favourite?

January 1st - " Deux Bales Sunset" My first sunset of 2013 was a good one.  This was taken in Deux Bales National Park in Burikina Faso

January 1st – ” Deux Bales Sunset”
My first sunset of 2013 was a good one. This was taken in Deux Bales National Park in Burikina Faso

Best Travel Photos 2013, Ouagadougou

January 5th – “Ouagoudougou Mosque”
In the Capital of Burkina Faso, I ran into this type of view

Best Travel Photos 2013, ghana

January 21st – “Boabeng Monkey”
This is a black and white Colobus Monkey in Boabeng-Fiema, Ghana

January 16, 2013 - "Preying Mantis" I saw this Preying mantis in Mole National Park, Ghana

January 16, 2013 – “Preying Mantis”
I saw this Preying mantis in Mole National Park, Ghana

Best Travel Photos 2013, Akwidaa

January 28th – “World’s Best Boy Band”
When this group of boys saw me in the town of Akwidaa, Ghana they immediately went about putting on a show.

February 4, 2013 - "Cape Coast Castle" This is likely the most famous "slave castle" in Africa.

February 4, 2013 – “Cape Coast Castle” This is likely the most famous “slave castle” in Africa.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Wli Falls

February 11. 2013 – “Wli Falls”
In the Volta Region of Ghana, Wli Falls is really impressive!

Best Travel Photos 2013, Abomey

February 22, 2013 – “Abomey Statues”
In the old capital of the Dahomey Empire in Benin.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Drill Monkey

March 3, 2013 – “Drill Monkey”
This Drill Monkey is one of only 3,000 left on the planet. Such a shame for such a beautiful animal.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Cameroon

March 5, 2013 – “The Hard Road to Limbe”
To get to Limbe, Cameroon I had to take a rough road. Luckily, this paved bridge gave a bit of a reprieve from the bumps.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Mount Cameroon

March 12, 2013 – “African Sherpa”
The day after a massive crash with my scooter. I climbed Mount Cameroon. A peak of over 4,000m. This was my guide.

March 30, 2013 - "Gabonese Road" Following Cameroon I made the push through the hardest part of western Africa.  This is the road to Lope National Park in Gabon.

March 30, 2013 – “Gabonese Road”
Following Cameroon I made the push through the hardest part of western Africa. This is the road to Lope National Park in Gabon.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Congo

April 9, 2013 – “Anxiety”
This might not be a great photo, but sums up my mood so well. I was nervous about this road, and for good reason. That was easily the most physically demanding day I’ve ever had in travel.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Congo

April 14, 2013 – “Congolese Welcome”
I’m fairly sure there are no kids in the world that enjoy having their photo taken as much as Congolese children.

Best Travel Photos 2013, DRC

April 13, 2013 – “Following Double Dutch”
Was really nice having some people to travel with in the DRC for a couple days. Especially since I had malaria.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Victoria Falls

May 7, 2013 – “Victoria Falls Reward”
What a reward. After hard travel through western Africa, I had nearly a month to chill in Zambia and enjoy these amazing sights.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Lion

May 4, 2013 – “Stalking Lion Cub”
This young lion was playing in the grass near Livingstone, Zambia

Best Travel Photos 2013

May 11, 2013 – “What Time is it Mr. Wolf”
Loved this shot of a village girl playing “What time is it Mr. Wolf” with some tourists.

Best Travel Photos 2013, one-eyed lioness

May 22, 2013 – “One-Eyed Lioness”
In Bostwana, I got so close to this one-eyed lioness that I couldn’t even focus my lens eventually. Powerful feeling for sure.

Best Travel Photos 2013, impala

May 23, 2013 – “Impala Sunrise”
I shot this image directly into some soft morning light. It couldn’t have come out any better.

Best Travel Photos 2013, wet elephant

May 24, 2013 – “Wet Elephant Close-up”
I love this image for so many reasons. For one, you rarely see a perfectly clean elephant this colour. I also love it because I shot it on a wide angle lens which is really something rare.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Namibia

June 3, 2013 – “Namibian Stars”
There are few places with better skies than Namibia. I took full advantage of it with this shot.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Dune 45

June 8, 2013 – “Dune 45″
I wanted to take a classic image of what is perhaps the most famous sand dune in the world in Sossusvlei, Namibia. I think I succeeded.

Best Travel Photos 2013, oryx

June 8, 2013 – “Namib Orxy”
I think this is my favourite image of the year. It just tells such an interesting story.

Best Travel Photos 2013, cheetah

June 9 – “Hungary Cheetah”
I love cheetahs, and though this is a decent image, it could be terrible and it’d still make the list. See a wild cheetah was the #1 wildlife goal I had in Africa.

Best Travel Photos 2013, lambert's bay

June 26, 2013 – “Lambert’s Bay”
Making it to the coast of South Africa was a powerful experience. Finishing up my scooter journey was such an emotional thing. Somehow, this image conveys that emotion. Where every wave ends, a new one begins.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Cape Town

June 30, 2013 – “Cape Town View”
The view from the Cape Sun hotel in Cape Town, South Africa

Best Travel Photos 2013, kudu

July 14, 2013 – “Kudu View”
I shot this image in Addo National Park, South Africa. Such a beautiful animal, the kudu.

Best Travel Photos 2013, leopard

July 23, 2013 – “My Leopard”
After spending an entire day searching for Leopards, I found this one in a tree eating a springbox. I had this leopard all to myself for a little while before a mass of people turned up to the sighting as well.

Best Travel Photos 2013, bee eater

July 31, 2013 – “Swazi Bird”
I spotted this bee eater on a fence in Swaziland.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Manhattan Skyline

August 12. 2013 – “Manhattan Skyline”
Everyone who has ever wanted to photograph the Manhattan Skyline has dreamed of getting a sky like this. I can’t believe how lucky I was on the one night I went shooting.

Best Travel Photos 2013

August 16, 2013 – “Family Time”
After waiting far too long, I finally got to meet my nephew and niece in Toronto, Canada

Best Travel Photos 2013, canmore

September 5, 2013 – “Return to Canmore”
After a long time away from Alberta, Canada I headed home to some incredible views.

Best Travel Photos 2013, bow river

September 6, 2013 – “Bow River Dusk”
I used to come to this place in Banff, Canada weekly when I lived in the area. But this was the first time I had ever photographed it.

Best Travel Photos 2013, moraine lake

September 7, 2013 – “My Favourite Lake”
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park is easily one of my favourite places in the world.

Best Travel Photos 2013, lake louise

September 8, 2013 – “Lake Louise Dawn”
Few places look more peaceful, yet powerful, as Lake Louise at dawn.

Best Travel Photos 2013, stars

September 13, 2013 – “Skyline Stars”
In Jasper National Park, this was an insanely long exposure I shot while laying down under the stars. I think the exposure was about an hour and a half.

Best Travel Photos 2013, tangle falls

September 14, 2013 – “Tangle Falls”
Another one of those places I’ve passed by 100 times and never photographed until this shot. Loved how it came out.

Best Travel Photos 2013

September 22, 2013 – “‘Murica”
Ok, this photo wasn’t taken in ‘Murica, but how does a bald eagle like this not scream that out?

Best Travel Photos 2013, Lucerne

October 17, 2013 – “Lucerne”
Leaving North America again, I headed across the pond to Europe. This photo was taken i Lucerne, Switzerland

Best Travel Photos 2013, berlin

Oct 22, 2013 – “Berlin Bubbles”
One of my favourite photos of 2013, this was taken in front of the Berlin Cathedral

Best Travel Photos 2013, Prague

October 26, 2013 – “Karlov Most”
This is one of the photos that’s grown on me from Prague. I almost deleted it in the initial edit, but as time goes on, I think it’s my favourite from Karlov Most Bridge.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Budapest

November 7, 2013 – “The Chain Bridge”
Sometimes you have to do some climbing to get a shot. I got right up on the Chain Bridge in Budapest for this image.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Dubrovnik

November 18, 2013 – “Dubrovnik Frame”
I’m not sure if this is my favourite photo from Dubrovnik. However, I had a hard time choosing just 1 from the city and picked this one in the end.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Sarajevo

November 24, 2013 – “Sarajevo Sermon”
This entrance to the Cathedral in Sarajevo happened by chance, and is one of the favourite photos of 2013.

Best Travel Photos 2013, istanbul

November 29, 2013 – “Istanbul View”
I love this image from Istanbul. Actually, I loved all my images from the city. Such an awesome place to photograph.

Best Travel Photos 2013, Galata Bridge

December 1, 2013 – “Galata Bridge”
Again, I had a hard time narrowing down images from Istanbul. But this image from Galata Bridge stuck out for some reason.

Best Travel Photos 2013

December 10, 2013 – “Uluwoman”
I think the thing that’s missing in these photos is people. I’m making it a goal in 2014 to take more pictures of the people. This is a woman spotted in Uluwatu, Indonesia

Best Travel Photos 2013, Tanah Lot

December 17, 2013 – “Tan-a-Lot”
This is an image taken at Tanah Lot temple in Indonesia.


Author: Brendan van Son

Author: Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He has visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than he has the desire to count. Check out his profile on . for a little bit more about him.

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21 Comments

  1. wow what a beatiful images.it’s amazing and i’m really happy when i see this picture i get more confidence on my photography and want to visit these places upcoming year.thanks for sharing this one.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for checking out the images Krishti, I hope your 2014 is packed with great photo ops!

      Post a Reply
  2. Nice shots bud. Love the Leopard in the tree, and the shot of the kid with the wide eyes.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks brother! Yeah, the leopard will always be a special shot. I still remember the rush of trying to get that photo. I felt like I was a hunter trying to settle my breath to get the shot.

      Post a Reply
  3. Beautiful shots and amazing adventures you had this year!!
    My favorites are actually the portraits, particularly the World’s Best Boy Band, Congolese Welcome and the Indonesian Lady. You should definitely take more photos of people, because these ones are great!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Zara,
      Same for me. Every time I edit my portraits I think to myself “why don’t I take more pictures of the people?!”. It isn’t easy to get people to pose for you though. That said, it’s definitely a resolution for 2014.

      Post a Reply
  4. Each and every one special in its own way and I know how hard it is to pick favorites. Agree about more people pics, something I need to practice also. You’ve had a marvelous year and I’m sure the next one can only get better.
    I want to thank you for inspiring me to do more with my photography.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you Helen, it has been a fun year!

      Post a Reply
  5. What a year! Great collection here… my fave is the Sarajevo Sermon. Excellent timing!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Cam. That photo was 90% luck on the timing and 10% executing in the split second I had to react. So much luck involved in photography, but in the end it all comes down to executing doesn’t it? Hope you have a nice New Year!

      Post a Reply
  6. some really great pics there mate, well done and great year in travel!

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for checking them out Jim. All the best in 2014!

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  7. De belles photos qui nous inspirent. Manifique.Toll. Keep it up! Felicitations!

    Post a Reply
  8. Really beautiful photos here! Especially love the shots from West Africa as this is an area that we don’t often hear much about (except when something bad happens) and these images really put a personal view on this area. Thanks for sharing!!

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  9. Wow! Beautiful shots. Love the Swazi bird and the Sarajevo Sermon. Thanks for bringing us adventures from Africa–a place neglected by most travel bloggers, and indeed many travelers.

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  10. Great Pics that you have captured in your camera. I also love to capture all the unforgettable moments of My every travel trips.

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  11. Absolutely breathtaking pictures. I love the Bow River Dusk picture. It looks so peaceful. I wouldn’t mind living there until the last day of my life. Thanks for the fantastic pictures Brendan.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Nuno. Hope you have a nice New Year!

      Post a Reply
  12. Beautiful photos. The African one’s are amazing.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks Ross, glad you like them!

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