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Stunning Photos From NatGeo's Worldwide Traveller Photo Contest

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Deciding on 10 great pictures among thousands of beautiful ones is not an easy task.

Now in its 27th year, the National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest attracted over 18,000 entries from the world over.  10 pictures won the top prizes.  Photographers entered pictures in four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments.

The first prize winner is Anuar Patjane, with his photo titled, “Whale Whisperers”.  It’s a stunning and yet serene, otherworldly picture of a humpback whale and her newborn calf surrounded by divers off of Roca Partidaan island, which is part of the Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico.

The first prize includes an 8-day National Geographic Costa Rica and the Panama Canal Photo Expedition.

Below are the 10 winners. The captions were written by the winners themselves.

Whale Whisperers - 1st Place Winner
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. 

photo and caption by  Anuar Patjane via  National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Gravel Workmen - 2nd Place Winner
[This] gravel-crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place. Chittagong, Bangladesh.

photo and caption by faisal azim via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Camel Ardah - 3rd Place Winner
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 Arabian camels and the riders' skills. Ardah [is] considered one of the most risky situations, since always the camel's reactions are unpredictable [and] it may get wild and jump [toward the] audience.

photo and caption by Ahmed Al Toqi via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

Sauna In The Sky - Merit Winner
A sauna at 2,800 meters high in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps.

photo and caption by Stefano Zardini via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

Romania, Land Of Fairy Tales - Merit Winner
Romania, land of fairy tales. White frost over Pestera village.

photo and caption by Eduard Gutescu via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

A Night at Deadvlei - Merit Winner
The night before returning to Windhoek, we spent several hours at Deadvlei, in Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. The moon was bright enough to illuminate the sand dunes in the distance, but the skies were still dark enough to clearly see the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. Deadvlei means "dead marsh." The camelthorn trees are believed to be about 900 years old but have not decomposed because the environment is so dry.

photo and caption by Beth McCarley via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

The Power Of Few - Merit Winner
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. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda.

photo and caption by Stefane Berube via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

Kushti, Indian Wrestling - Merit Winner
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.

photo and caption by alain schroeder via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

Catching A Duck - Merit Winner
Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall. Nong Khai Province, Thailand. 

photo and caption by sarah wouters via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

Highlanders - Merit Winner
Tempest at sunset on Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

photo and caption by Bartlomiej Jurecki via National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 

for more stunning photos visit National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest