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12 Unique Pictures From The National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest

To remind yourself the world is an extraordinary place.

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A winner has been chosen from thousands of entries in the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. A photo of a horseman careering across the landscape in Inner Mongolia won the top prize for Anthony Lau of Hong Kong.

Take a look at first-, second-, and third-place winners and honourable mentions below.


Grand Prize and First Place in People – "Winter Horseman", by Anthony Lau

Anthony Lau / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus 20 and lower with constant breeze of snow from all direction, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. Not until I saw Inner Mongolia horsemen showing off their skills in commanding the steed from a distance, I quickly grab my telephoto lens and capture the moment when one of the horseman charged out from morning mist." – Anthony Lau

Second Place, People – "Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi", by Yasmin Mund

Yasmin Mund / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30 a.m. I instinctively climbed the seven sets of stairs to the rooftop (which happened to be the highest in the vicinity) to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As the sun was rising I looked over the right-hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief. Below were families – mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sister, and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was midsummer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult."

Third Place, People – "Remote life at -21 degree", by Mattia Passarini

Mattia Passarini / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"A Kinnaura tribal old woman in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh, carrying a big log back home to warm up her house." – Mattia Passarini

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First Place, Nature – "Wherever you go, I will follow you!", by Hiroki Inoue

Hiroki Inoue / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"Romance is in the air. It was the time of day immediately following sunset. I heard a voice. 'Wherever you go, I will follow you,' the voice says." – Hiroki Inoue

Second Place, Nature – "Double trapping", by Massimiliano Bencivenni

Massimiliano Bencivenni / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Taken in the Brazilian Pantanal

Third Place, Nature – "Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert)", by Victor Lima

Victor Lima / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"The Baltinache Ponds, also called Hidden Ponds, are a set of seven salt ponds located in the area of the Salt Cordillera, near San Pedro de Atacama, in the second region of northern Chile, in the Atacama desert. After much research, I believe I am the first photographer to publish night photos of this place." – Victor Lima

Honourable Mention, Nature – "Bears on a Berg", by John Rollins

John Rollins / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Strait off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow-covered iceberg that got 'socked in' when the ocean froze over for the winter. To me, the relative 'smallness' of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear's reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence." – John Rollins

First Place, Cities – "Ben Youssef", by Takashi Nakagawa

Takashi Nakagawa / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compared to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for a long time." – Takashi Nakagawa

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Second Place, Cities – "Prisoner", by Wing Ka H.

Wing Ka H. / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"At Mainland China University, students work like slaves or more like prisoners." – Wing Ka H.

Third Place, Cities – "Celestial Reverie", by Jeremy Tan

Jeremy Tan / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia. 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 neighbourhoods fell into neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s, Unesco World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation, and today, they are all part of a vibrant tourist destination." – Jeremy Tan

Honourable Mention, People – "Muscle Beach Gym", by Dotan Saguy

Dotan Saguy / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"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."

Honorable Mention, Cities – "Divide", by Kathleen Dolmatch

Kathleen Dolmatch / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

"In the 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." – Kathleen Dolmatch


Matt Tucker is the UK Picture Editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Tucker at matthew.tucker@buzzfeed.com.

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