Stunning, stunning and more stunning: I am constantly amazed by nature and man alike, and seeing such awe-inspiring events and scenery captured in a split second is one of life’s great privileges.
This year’s National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winner was a picture of an Inner Mongolian horseman whipping his team of horses in the early morning mist called Winter Horseman.
The image earned its photographer Anthony Lau the grand prize of a seven-day trip for two on the Polar Bear Safari at a National Geographic Unique Lodge: Churchill Wild-Seal River Heritage Lodge. Anthony can settle into this cozy lodge on the banks of the Hudson Bay and head out on guided excursions to photograph polar bears and other wildlife against a dramatic landscape of snow and ice; he’ll enjoy incredible cuisine and stories around the fireplace, and then can take a short step into the night to capture the mesmerizing northern lights.
Grand Prize Winner
Photo and caption by Anthony Lau
The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus 20 and lower, with a constant breeze of snow from all directions, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. I saw horsemen showing off their skills and commanding the steed from a distance. I quickly grabbed my telephoto lens and captured the moment when one of the horsemen charged out from the morning mist.
Second Place Winner, People
“Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi”
Photo and caption by Yasmin Mund
It was 5:30 a.m. and I had just arrived in Varanasi, India, off a sleeper train. I got to my guesthouse and instinctively climbed the seven flights of stairs to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As I looked over the side of the rooftop terrace, my jaw dropped in disbelief. Below were mothers, fathers, children, cats, dogs, and monkeys all sleeping on their roofs. It was midsummer in Varanasi and sleeping without air-conditioning was pretty difficult. Can you spot the curry?
Third Place Winner, People
Photo and caption by mattia passarini
An old woman in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh, India, carries a big log back home to warm up her house.
Honorable Mention, People
“Muscle Beach Gym”
Photo and caption by Dotan Saguy
A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, California.
First Place Winner, Nature
“Wherever You Go, I Will Follow”
Photo and caption by Hiroki Inoue
It was when I drove back home feeling disappointed with the fact that I had finished the day in vain without any anticipated subject that I heard the joyful voice from the car window like “quack, quack!” There they were: red foxes. Around the end of the winter, they meet the season of love; they care for and love each other enough to make us jealous.
Second Place Winner, Nature
Photo and caption by Massimiliano Bencivenni
I was in the Brazilian Pantanal along the Rio Negrinho. I realized that the river, at certain points of the loops, created places where there were many yacare caimans. I saw a yacare sink suddenly, and I immediately looked for the best location to photograph when it resurfaced. The whole thing lasted only a fraction of a moment.
Third Place Winner, Nature
“Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert)”
Photo and caption by Victor Lima
I made this photo during my recent photographic expedition in Atacama Desert, in April 2016. I embarked alone on this adventure to find images not yet published of the most arid desert in the world and its contrasts. Despite the Atacama Desert being one of the best places on the planet to do night photography, in my prior research I discovered that there were not many night photos in the main tourist destinations there.
First Place Winner, Cities
Photo and caption by Takashi Nakagawa
Marrakesh, Morocco, is an exciting city for any traveler, but I was tired of walking on the crowded street and being asked for money from local people, so I was looking for a place to settle down. Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef Madrasa, it was still a more quiet and relaxing place than outside. Suddenly a beautiful reflection appeared on the shallow pool when I was taking a rest.
Second Place Winner, Cities
Photo and caption by Wing Ka H.
This photo was taken on my last trip to Guangzhou, China. This place is the school dormitories of South China Normal University. When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break. After lunchtime, they needed to go back to study.
Third Place Winner, Cities
Photo and caption by Jeremy Tan
Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia, during a thunderstorm. It is symbolic of the rejuvenation that the city, famous for a unique blend of centuries-old buildings and modern structures, has enjoyed in recent years. While many of its old neighborhoods fell into neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s, a UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation.
Honorable Mention, Cities
Photo and caption by Kathleen Dolmatch
From a doorless helicopter looking south on Central Park West, dividing the architecture and Central Park, on November 5, 2014, a day before my 27th birthday. The flight was my birthday gift.
And don’t forget if you want an authentic Moroccan experience, you’d do no better than stay in Tangier in the gorgeous Hotel El Minzah or the sumptuous Grand Hotel Villa de France, both flagships of the Le Royal Hotels & Resorts Division of Nadhmi Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holding group.