21 Best Travel Photos of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2017

The votes for the National Geographic 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year contest are in and it's time to announce the winners. This annual competition highlights the diversity of our planet through its natural wonders and inhabitants, and the winning shots are just as awe-inspiring as last year.

The judges reviewed more than 15,000 entries from travelers around the word for awards in three categories: nature, people and cities. The prestigious grand prize went to Sergio Tapiro Velasco of Mexico for his hauntingly captivating image of a lightning strike, shooting from a volcano's ash cloud. Velasco's picture grabbed first place in the nature category as well.

More info: nationalgeographic.com

#1 Grand Prize Winner: The Power Of Nature, Rancho De Aguirre, Colima, Mexico

The Power Of Nature, Rancho De Aguirre, Colima, Mexico
Image credits: Sergio Tapiro Velasco

A powerful eruption illuminates the slopes of Mexico’s Colima Volcano on December 13, 2015. I was in the town of Comala when I suddenly saw incandescence above the volcano's crater and started shooting. Seconds later, a powerful volcanic explosion expelled a cloud of ash particles and a massive lightning bolt illuminated most of the dark scene. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.

#2 Honorable Mention, Nature: Forest Of The Fairy, Tamba, Japan

Honorable Mention, Nature: Forest Of The Fairy, Tamba, Japan
Image credits: Y. Takafuji

In a remote village in the Tamba region of Japan, twinkling fireflies light up the Forest of the Gods on a summer evening. The fireflies carpet a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people, creating a magical atmosphere.

#3 Honorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves, Chile

Honorable Mention, Nature: Marble Caves, Chile
Image credits: Clane Gessel

My dad and I traveled to Patagonia earlier this year, and we wanted to see something off the beaten path. After a 10-hour drive and traversing a long, dirt trail, we finally came upon the marble caves. We chartered a boat to take us closer, and I waited for the perfect light to capture these intricate blue swirls. The extra effort it took to reach the caves was worth it.

#4 People's Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet, Ecuador

People's Choice Winner, Nature: Buff Tailed Coronet, Ecuador
Image credits: Hymakar Valluri

A buff-tailed coronet feeds on flower nectar in the Ecuadorian forest, a paradise for hummingbirds.

#5 Third Place Winner, People: Under The Wave, Tavarua, Fiji

People: Under The Wave, Tavarua, Fiji
Image credits: Rodney Bursiel

I recently traveled to Tavarua, Fiji, with professional surfer Donavon Frankenreiter and captured this image at Cloudbreak. The usual surf shots have all been done, so we decided to get creative and looked for new angles and perspectives.

#6 People's Choice Winner, Cities: Colorful Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Cities: Colorful Market, Bangkok, Thailand
Image credits: Kajan Madrasmail

As night falls over Bangkok, Thailand, rows of rainbow-colored market stalls come to life.

#7 Second Place Winner, People: Interesting Moment, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands

People: Interesting Moment, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
Image credits: Julius Y.

A crowd of spectators stands in front of Rembrandt’s masterpiece, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. As I observed the scene I laughed when I realized that the people in the painting also appear to be curiously watching the visitors. I managed to take two shots before the audience moved away—one is out of focus, but this one was perfect.

#8 Third Place Winner, Cities: Henningsvær Football Field, Henningsvær, Nordland, Norway

Cities: Henningsvær Football Field, Henningsvær, Nordland, Norway
Image credits: Misha De-Stroyev

In Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Henningsvær football field is considered one of the most amazing in Europe. This photo was taken during a sailing trip from Tromsø to the Lofoten Archipelago. After a week of cold and rainy weather, the sky finally cleared up enough to fly my drone. We were absolutely astonished to learn that the entire football field is heated, so after lying down and soaking in the warmth, I launched my drone and took this photo from a height of about 390 feet (120 meters).

#9 First Place Winner, People: Workship, Konya, Turkey

People: Workship, Konya, Turkey
Image credits: F. Dilek Uyar

Beams of light filter through a historic building in Konya, Turkey, where a whirling dervish performs an ecstatic dance. The ceremony represents a mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent towards truth and love, and represents the constant revolution of all living things. For example, the Earth itself is in a state of rotation as well as the atoms that make up everything on it.

#10 Honorable Mention, Nature: Mt. Bromo, East Java, Indonesia

Nature: Mt. Bromo, East Java, Indonesia
Image credits: Reynold Dewantara

Mount Bromo is a small but active volcano on East Java, Indonesia. On January 17, 2016, I was nearby when an increase in seismic activity triggered an alert. This photo was taken from the patio of a local hotel, where I was waiting with my camera. Just as the volcano erupted, the ashes seemed to glow with light. This photo is very special to me—a rare eruption of Mount Bromo with excellent lighting.


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