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Here Are the Best Travel Photos of 2016

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Winter Horseman

National Geographic has selected the winning photos of 2016 for its prestigious Travel Photographer of the Year photo contest. The grand prize photo, captured by Anthony Lau and shown above, is titled “Winter Horseman” and shows a horseman at work in Inner Mongolia.

Here’s Lau’s caption for the epic shot, which was in 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. 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 .

Lau wins the contest’s grand prize of a 7 day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World.

Here are the winning photos in the other major categories:

People (2nd Place)

“Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi” by Yasmin Mund

Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi

I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30am, I instinctively climbed the 7 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, sister and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult.

People (3rd Place)

“Remote life at -21 degree” by Mattia Passarini

Remote life at -21 degree

Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house.

Nature (1st Place)

“Wherever you go, I will follow you!” by Hiroki Inoue

Wherever you go, I will follow you!!

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.

Nature (2nd Place)

“Double trapping” by Massimiliano Bencivenni

Double trapping

Picture taken in the Brazilian Pantanal… when I downloaded the CF did not want to believe it …. The nature knows we always give magnificent events but sometimes extraordinary

Nature (3rd Place)

“Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert)” by Victor Lima

Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert)

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 to be 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. Foreground was illuminated by the moonlight. Reduced exposure in Lightroom in +/- 1EV.

Cities (1st Place)

“Ben Youssef” by Takashi Nakagawa

Ben Youssef

Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compare to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for long time.

Cities (2nd Place)

“Silenced” by Wing Ka H.

Prisoner

At Mainland China university, students work like slaves or more like prisoners. Serious academic corruption, dry and irrelevant to society curriculum, and rote memorisation teaching methodsÓ were leading to students developing Òrigid ways of thinkingÓ, progressively losing interest in learning and ultimately emerging from university as Òsoulless zombiesÓ.

Cities (3rd Place)

“Celestial Reverie” by Jeremy Tan

Celestial Reverie

Lightning seemingly strikes Komtar Tower, the most iconic landmark of George Town, 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, UNESCO World Heritage listing in 2008 sparked a transformation, and today, they are all part of a vibrant tourist destination.

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