The 2016 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest winners

Each year National Geographic holds its prestigious travel photography contest. 2016’s has come to an end and it’s time to announce the winners! Chosen from more than 10,000 entries, below are the best travel photos of the year.

Photographers submitted some stunning images of places they had visited, and National Geographic awarded their winner with a week-long adventure. The winning images were selected from three categories: People, Cities and Nature. The grand prize is a seven-day Polar Bear Safari for two in Churchill, Canada.

Grand Prize Winner

Nat Geo Travel Photo Grand Prize Winner
Winter in Inner Mongolia by Anthony Lau. 1st place People and Grand Prize winner.

A photograph of a horseman in Inner Mongolia taken by Anthony Lau of Hong Kong has won the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest. It also took first place for the People category.

“The Winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus twenty 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,” said Anthony. “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.”

Nature travel photo winners

1st place Nature category
Wherever you go, I will follow you! by Hiroki Inoue. 1st place Nature.

Hiroki Inoue took home first place for Nature with this travel photo of two foxes running through the snow in Biei, Hokkaido, Japan, titled “Wherever you go, I will follow you!”

2nd place Nature travel photo
Double Trapping by Massimiliano Bencivenni. 2nd place Nature.

The Brazilian Pantanal, which is the world’s largest wetland, along the Rio Negrinho was the location for this jaw-dropping moment. The photo is quite captivating and aptly named “Double Trapping.”

“The whole thing lasted only a fraction of a moment,” said photographer Massimiliano Bencivenni.

National Geographic's 3rd place winner for Nature category
Hidden Ponds by Victor Lima. 3rd place Nature.

Finally, third place travel photo in Nature went to Victor Lima for this night time shot of the Lagunas Baltinache in the Atacama Desert, Chile. The Baltinache Ponds, also called Hidden Ponds are a set of seven salt ponds located in the area of the Salt Cordillera.

City category

1st place City travel photo
Ben Youssef, Marrakesh, Morocco by Takashi Nakagawa. 1st place City.

First place in the Cities category went to Takashi Nakagawa. Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, it was still quiet and relaxing compare to the street outside in Marrakesh. Takashi was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for a long time.

2nd place City category
Silenced, Guangdong Sheng, China by Wing Ka H. 2nd place City.

This travel photo of school dormitories for South China Normal University was taken in Guangzhou, Guangdong Sheng, China. Wing Ka H was hanging around, capturing most of the students on a break.

National Geographic 3rd place winner for City category
Celestial Reverie, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia by Jeremy Tan. 3rd place City.

Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, capital of Penang state in Malaysia. Jeremy Tan won third place in the Cities category for this striking image. It’s 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, a UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation.

Travel photos: People category

2nd place People category
Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi by Yasmin Mund. 2nd place People.

Second Place in the People category went to Yasmin Mund for an image titled “Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi”. Taken at 5:30 on the rooftop of a guest house, Mund’s image shows families sleeping in the summer heat at sunrise.

“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 mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult.”

3rd place People travel photo
Remote Life At -21 Degree, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mattia Passarini. 3rd place People

And finally, a woman in a remote village in Himachal Pradesh, India, carries firewood in Mattia Passarini. The photo was awarded third place in the People category for this year’s National Geographic photography contest.