Fifth Adventure Collection Photo Contest Winner Announced
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The fifth winner of the Adventures of a Lifetime photo competition sponsored by Adventure Collection has been selected!
Adam Mallon’s compelling photo of a fog-draped forest on the slope of Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia was chosen from among more than 100 entries. The competition’s final five candidates were selected by popular vote. The winner from among these five was chosen by a distinguished panel of travel writers, editors and photographers, including Conde Nast Traveler consumer news editor Wendy Perrin, Los Angeles Times Travel Editor Catharine Hamm, WorldHum.com co-founder and editor Jim Benning, acclaimed photographer Robert Holmes, and myself.
Mallon’s grand prize is a trip for two to Tibet with Geographic Expeditions. Congratulations, Adam!
I recently talked with Mallon about his prize-winning photo and his passion for adventure travel.
Can you describe the situation – location, month, time of day; kind of camera – of your spectacular photo?
This photo was taken in September 2008, while I was hiking up Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia at 4095 meters. My group ascended via the Mesilau Trail, which we were told is the more difficult of the two possible ascents, but also the more scenic. The day was overcast when we started, and as we climbed through the jungle the fog seemed to hang off the trees. We started hiking in the early morning and I took the photo maybe two or three hours into the eight-hour hike to the overnight station. I was shooting a Pentax K10D with a 18-250 zoom lens.
What was your goal in taking this shot?
The jungle was absolutely beautiful, and with the fog, it just seemed to silhouette the trees. I actually took several shots into the back-lit trees, trying to capture the beauty of the moment.
Do you always take photos when you travel?
Yes! My first big vacation was Ireland in 2006. I bought a point-and-shoot for that trip and while it was all right for buildings and scenery, I found it didn’t do well for anything moving. Since my next trip was to Kenya and Tanzania, I decided to move to a SLR for the ability that it gave me to capture moving targets. My photography has evolved the more I have traveled, although that has made it necessary to carry a little more gear almost every time I head out (including trading in my K10D for a new Pentax K-7 this past summer).
What are some other destinations that you have found especially good for photography?
I’ve now been to Africa twice, once to East Africa and once to Southern Africa. Both trips had an amazing array of things to see and take pictures of. I love seeing and photographing animals (which was one of the big reasons I was in Borneo, where I was lucky enough to see orangutans, proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants, pythons, etc.), so I’ve often chosen to go to places specifically to see animals. Even close to home, I spend a lot of time in the national parks here in Alberta and my camera is never too far away from me on those trips.
Was this your first trip to this area?
Yes, that was my first and only trip to Borneo — so far.
How long were you there and where did you visit?
I was there for about two weeks at the start of September 2008. I started out in Kota Kinabalu, where I did a little snorkeling and met up with my tour group, then headed to the big mountain. After our hike, we went to the Kinabantangan River, where we spent a few days in the jungle seeing wildlife. After that it was on to Sepilok, a rehabilitation center for orangutans, and then Sandakan to see the World War II prison camp memorial park (very moving). I spent a night on Pulau Tiga (where they filmed the first Survivor) and another few days in Singapore on the way home.
What was it that you especially liked or found especially moving about the region?
I loved my time along the Kinabantangan River, where we saw a huge variety of wildlife taking boat safaris up and down the river, but reaching the summit of Mt. Kinabalu was a feeling of huge personal accomplishment. The hike is steep and fairly grueling and you gain altitude very quickly, so it can wreak havoc with you (a few of the people in my group were forced to turn back because of ill effects due to altitude). Reaching the top, looking out and seeing the shadow of the mountain stretching out over the ocean — it was very emotional.
What other adventurous trips have you taken?
As I mentioned before, I’ve spent some time in both East Africa and Southern Africa. Highlights include hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara in Kenya (and seeing wildebeest migrating in giant herds across the savannah), and going into the Okavango River Delta on a mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe) in Botswana. There’s something slightly nerve-wracking about watching hippos and elephants from only meters away in a small, rather flimsy canoe!
Your prize is a trip for two to Tibet with Geographic Expeditions. What
is it that especially excites and attracts you about this trip and this
I’m excited to see Tibet. It will be a very different vacation from the last few that I’ve been on. Culturally and spiritually, Tibet is a unique place, and it is exciting to get to see a place that historically very few have been allowed to visit.
What other places are on your must-visit list?
The list is an incredibly long one. I would love to see Machu Picchu in Peru, to go tiger trekking in India, to visit Rome and see the centuries of history collected there. I definitely want to return to Africa — hopefully my next trip there will include a visit to see gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda. Sumatra and New Zealand are definitely on the list too, and Iguassu Falls – well, I could go on and on.
What’s the pleasure and purpose of adventure travel for you?
In my travels, I have seen amazing sights, done some amazing things and met some amazing people from around the world. There’s something about adventure travel that just makes you feel truly alive. I think there’s a quote that travel makes food and wine taste better, makes every breath sweeter, and makes friendships that last for life. And if there isn’t such a quote – there should be!