The National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest never fails to produce stunning visuals from every part of the globe. We look forward to being amazed every year by these artists, and 2016 did not disappoint. This year, the winners were selected out of a pool of over 10,000 entries.
We here at Wimp do not envy the judges’ job of picking the best of the best. With so many amazing shots, it must be incredibly difficult to single out the Grand Prize winner. This year that honor goes to Anthony Lau of Hong Kong, for his stunning shot of Mongolian horsemen driving a herd through the freezing weather. For his efforts, he will be awarded a polar bear safari for two! It’s a good thing he’s clearly already used to cold weather.
Check out Lau’s winning image and all the other top-placing photos below.
#1 Grand Prize Winner: Winter Horseman, Inner Mongolia
"The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus twenty and lower, with a constant breeze of snow from all direction, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. When I saw Inner Mongolia 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 horseman charged out from morning mist."
#2 First Place Winner, Cities: Ben Youssef, Marrakesh, Morocco
"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."
#3 First Place Winner, Nature: Wherever You Go, I Will Follow You, Hokkaido, Japan
"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."
#4 Honorable Mention, Cities: Divide, Manhattan, New York, United States
"In the helicopter looking south on Central Park West – dividing the architecture and Central Park, on November 5th, 2014, a day before my 27th birthday. The flight was my birthday gift."
#5 Honorable Mention, Nature: Bears On A Berg, Nunavut, Canada
"This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother polar bear and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow covered iceberg that got 'locked 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."
#6 Third Place Winner, Nature: Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert), Antofagasta, Chile
"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, but it is still necessary to confirm this information. Tech Details: Photography done in one shot. [The] foreground was illuminated by the moonlight."
#7 Second Place Winner, People: Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi
"I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30 am, and 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, sisters, and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid-summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult."
#8 Third Place Winner, People: Remote Life At -21 Degrees, Himachal Pradesh, India
"Kinnaura tribal old women in [a] remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house."
#9 Second Place Winner, Cities: Silenced, Guangdong Sheng, China
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."
#10 Second Place Winner, Nature: Double Trapping, Brazilian Pantanal
"[This] picture [was] taken in the Brazilian Pantanal. When I downloaded the CF [I] did not want to believe it. Nature [always gives] magnificent events, but sometimes [they are] extraordinary."
#11 Third Place Winner, Cities: Celestial Reverie, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
"Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, [the] 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, [a] UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation, and, today, they are all part of a vibrant tourist destination."
#12 Honorable Mention, people: Muscle Beach Gym, Venice Beach, California, United States
"A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, CA."
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H/T: Bored Panda