The winners of the 4th Patagonia Photo Contest

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Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place, Nature Category: "Beauty and Elegance of the Huemul" by Matias Mondaca (Location: Cerro Castillo National Park, Chile)
A photo of the quiet elegance of a huemul standing in the snow is what most captured the attention of the judges – and won the grand prize – in the 4th Patagonia Photo Contest. Taken by Chilean photographer Matias Mondaca, his photograph “Beauty and Elegance of the Huemul,” captured during a trip to Cerro Castillo in the Aysen region, also came first in the Nature category.
This year’s contest received the highest number of submissions yet: nearly 3,000 entries from professional photographers, wildlife and nature enthusiasts, and Patagonia lovers from all over the world. Our environment category this year focused on parks, in honor of the spectacular progress made over the last year in creating a Route of Parks in Chilean Patagonia. We also had a tremendous panel of judges this year: Chris Burkard, Pablo Valenzuela Vaillant, Bridget Besaw, Jorge Cazenave and Jean Paul de la Harpe.
The story of how Mondaca captured his winning photograph is a true example of the amazing moments one can encounter when out in nature. After hearing that a huemul had been sighted in the area of Cerro Castillo by another photographer, Mondaca and his companion started driving around to look for it. After spotting two stopped vehicles on the side of the road, Mondaca saw a female huemul up on the slope and got out of the car to photograph her.
“I began to follow her at a prudent distance and I found to my surprise that she was with her family, an adult male huemul and two other female huemules. At that moment, I stopped taking pictures and started to just look and admire, thinking about how wonderful this species is and how important its protection is,” says Mondaca.
As the snowfall began to increase in intensity, suddenly a noise behind him made him turn around.
“I heard this much louder noise behind me, so I looked and saw the biggest female huemul (the protagonist of the winning photograph). I could not believe it; slowly I raised the camera and started to photograph it. Very curious, she looked at me and it seemed that she was posing.”
Born in Linares in Chile’s Maule region, Mondaca says his connection with nature started at a young age when his family would frequently go to explore the nearby nature sanctuary Cajón del Achibueno and to fish on the Achibueno River.
He got interested photography as a hobby about four years ago but it’s grown into a passion. “I enjoy photography because it is a unique way of capturing situations that take place and that can endure over time,” he says.
When not taking photographs and going fishing, Mondaca is a college student at Duoc UC in Concepcion, studying adventure tourism, and collaborates with outdoor wear brands Gnomowear and AtakamaOutdoor.
As the grand prize winner, Mondaca will receive a 5 nights/6 days trip for two persons with Cruce Andino, sailing across three beautiful lakes through the Andean mountain range, in a route that extends from Puerto Varas, Chile, to Bariloche, Argentina, and returning the same way. The trip includes stays at Petrohue Lodge, Puerto Blest, Hotel Llao Llao, and Hotel Natura.
As first prize winner in the Nature category, just like the winners of the other three categories (Environment, Outdoor Sports, Travel & Culture), Mondaca has won a gift certificate of 200,000 Chilean pesos (approx. $US 300) for use in the Patagonia stores of Chile. He has also won a set of large-format photo books from Tompkins Conservation (25 years Tompkins Conservation, Yendegaia National Park, Corcovado National Park).
The winners of second place in the four categories will receive F-stop camera bags, courtesy of the Cuarto Digital store, and participate for free in a one-day photography workshop with Atao.
All first and second place winners, the three honorable mentions, the Instagram prize winner, and the Reader’s Choice award winner, will be printed for expositions in Chile and Argentina. Additionally, they will receive a copy of the official photo contest book and a subscription (print + digital) to the magazine.
Patagon Journal would like to offer our congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated! We encourage you to join our email list or follow us on social media to receive updates on the upcoming photography exhibitions and for future information about the 5th Patagonia Photo Contest. And let us know (email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) if you would like to order a copy of the commemorative book showcasing the 100 best photos from this year’s contest.
Here are the other winning photographs:
1st Place, Environment Category: "Leader of the Pack" by Jeremie Goulevitch (Location: Cerro Castilllo National Park, Chile)
1st Place, Travel & Culture Category: "Gaucho" by Francisca Delaporte (Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)
1st Place, Outdoor Sports category: "Going down Aguja Mermoz" by Ralf Gantzhorn (Location: Chalten, Argentina)
2nd Place, Nature Category: "Two Geoffrey cats explore their environment" by Eduardo Minte (Location: Reserva Hotel Awasi Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)
2nd Place, Environment Category: "Granite and Wool" by Eduardo Minte (Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)
2nd Place, Travel & Culture Category: "Arriving to the destination" by Juan Yarcho (Location: Lake Nahuel Huapi, Villa la Angostura, Argentina)
2nd Place, Outdoor Sports Category: "From Corcovado to Patagonia" by Camilo Tapia Carrasco (Location: Corcovado Volcano, Palena Province, Chile)
Honorable Mention, Environment: "Surrounded by Water" by Melania Carrasco (Location: Ice cave in Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)
Honorable Mention, Environment Category: "Four Elements" by Fernando Vera (Location: Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina)
Honorable Mention, Travel & Culture Category: "Fishermen in the cold" by Camilo Miranda (Location: Punta Arenas, Chile)
Reader's Choice Award: "Inner Peace" by Ivan Berrios (Location: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile)
Instagram Prize: "The Sensation of the Sublime" by Gaby Chavez (Location: Bariloche, Argentina)