This year’s National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest received more than 17,000 entries from photographers all around the world. The winning photos are absolutely stunning – inspiring me to travel deeper, and look beyond the typical. There is so much that to explore in this beautiful world, and to tell stories through photographs with so much emotion is a gift that not all possess. View the winning photographs below.


Grand Prize: “Whale Whisperers” by Anuar Patjane Floriuk
whale whisperers
“Diving with a humpback whale and her newborn calf while they cruise around Roca Partida… in the Revillagigedo (Islands), Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life, so we need to accelerate the incorporation of the islands into UNESCO as a natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big-game fishing.”


Second Place: “Gravel Workmen” by Faisal Azim
gravel workmen by faisal azim
“(This) gravel-crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place.”


Third place: “Camel Ardah” by Ahmed Al Toqi
camel ardah by ahmed al toqi
“Camel Ardah, as it is called in Oman, is one of the traditional styles of camel racing … between two camels controlled by expert men. The faster camel is the loser … so they must be running (at) the same speed level in the same track. The main purpose of Ardah is to show the beauty and strength of the Arabia camels and the riders’ skills. Ardah (is) considered one of the most risky situations, since always the camels’ reactions are unpredictable (and) it may get wild and jump (toward the) audience.”


Merit: “Catching a Duck” by Sarah Wouters
catching a duck by sarah wouters
“Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall (in) Nong Khai Province, Thailand”


Merit: “Kushti, Indian Wrestling” by Alain Schroeder
kushti, indian wrestling by alain schroeder
“Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Wearing only a well-adjusted loincloth (langot), wrestlers (pelwhans) enter a pit made of clay, often mixed with salt, lemon, and ghee (clarified butter). At the end of a workout, wrestlers rest against the walls of the arena, covering their heads and bodies with earth to soak up any perspiration and avoid catching cold. This relaxation ceremony is completed with massages to soothe tired muscles and demonstrate mutual respect.”


Merit: “White Rhinos” by Stefane Berube
white rhinos by stefane berube
“THe night before this photo, we tried all day to get a good photo of the endangered white rhino. Skulking through the grass carefully, trying to stay 30 feet away to be safe, didn’t provide me the photo I was hoping for. In the morning, however, I woke up to all three rhinos grazing in front of me.” The photo was taken at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda.


Merit: “Sauna in the Sky” by Stefano Zardini
sauna in the sky by stefano zardini
“A sauna at 2,800 meters high in the heart of the Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps.”


Merit: “Romania, Land of Fairy Tales” by Eduard Gutescu
romania land of fairy tales by eduard gutescu
“White frost over Pestera village in Romania.”



Have any of you been to these places?  I am so inspired to explore off the beaten path – where are you planning to visit next? Leave a comment below!


with love,