If there's one magazine that continuously showcases the most beautiful pictures from around the world, it's Nat Geo (previously herehere, and here). Its prestigious photo contests attract some of the best photographers, and viewing their stunning shots you can't help but feel your connection with Mother Earth strengthening. 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is no different.

The submissions of the competition were closed on the 30th of June but its winners won't be announced until August. To make the waiting easier, Nat Geo editors have released their favorite entries, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to share them. Here are some of the best Nature entries to the contest that are currently battling for the category's top spots and the grand prize - a ten-day trip for two to the Galapagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions.

More info: nationalgeographic.com

#1 Green Gours Reflection

Green Gours Reflection

Reflection of the Green Gours at the Watch Out for Dinosaurs first doline in Hang Sơn Đoòng, the largest known cave passage in the world. You need to do trekking for 2 days before you arrive to this magnificent place. Hang Sơn Đoòng cave is located in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Việt Nam. (Photo And Caption By Ronald Fritz / National Geographic Travel Photographer... Read More

Reflection of the Green Gours at the Watch Out for Dinosaurs first doline in Hang Sơn Đoòng, the largest known cave passage in the world. You need to do trekking for 2 days before you arrive to this magnificent place. Hang Sơn Đoòng cave is located in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Quang Binh province, Việt Nam. (Photo And Caption By Ronald Fritz / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Ronald Fritz Report

Nancy E 1 year ago

This image makes the trekking worth it !

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#2 Underwater View Of The Winter Lofoten

Underwater View Of The Winter Lofoten

View of the village Å. Panorama from two shots. Lofoten, Norway. (Photo And Caption By Sergey Lukankin / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Sergey Lukankin Report

The Cappy 1 year ago

I love these split view shots.

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#3 Forest Of The Fairy

Forest Of The Fairy

Shooting in the forest. (Photo And Caption By Y. TAKAFUJI / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Y. TAKAFUJI Report

1 year ago

I am breathless

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#4 Buff Tailed Coronet

Buff Tailed Coronet

I had been to Ecuador the paradise for hummingbirds in the month of January. Hummingbirds flap wings around at a rate of 50 time per second. They feed on nectar from the flowers. Ecuador is filled with rain forests and cloud forests, which make it very conducive for the hummingbirds to make a habitat. When we landed in Guango lodge which is in a high-altitude town called Papallacta. I was... Read More

I had been to Ecuador the paradise for hummingbirds in the month of January. Hummingbirds flap wings around at a rate of 50 time per second. They feed on nectar from the flowers. Ecuador is filled with rain forests and cloud forests, which make it very conducive for the hummingbirds to make a habitat. When we landed in Guango lodge which is in a high-altitude town called Papallacta. I was surrounded by lot of humming birds the moment I got out of the vehicle. I was awestruck when I saw so many. (Photo And Caption By Hymakar Valluri / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Hymakar Valluri Report

The Cappy 1 year ago

I wonder how many photos had to be taken to get this shot.

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#5 The March

The March

On safari in Zambia, the grass was so tall that it seemed there was no chance to see anything interesting. Then this pride of lions came walking toward us, taking advantage of the road to travel on. They too, seemed they were tired of the tall grass swatting at their faces! (Photo And Caption By Torie Hilley / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Torie Hilley Report

Varsha Chrislin 1 year ago

Oh My!!! Its an awesome click!

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#6 Provence, The Summer Haircut

Provence, The Summer Haircut

I went to Valensole hoping to get a new angle than the classic view. I knew this was harvest season so I looked for tractors and waited patiently until some started to harvest in a pattern that would create a pleasing composition from above. I just had to start the drone engine and capture the photo against really strong wind. (Photo And Caption By Jerome Courtial / National Geographic Travel... Read More

I went to Valensole hoping to get a new angle than the classic view. I knew this was harvest season so I looked for tractors and waited patiently until some started to harvest in a pattern that would create a pleasing composition from above. I just had to start the drone engine and capture the photo against really strong wind. (Photo And Caption By Jerome Courtial / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Jerome Courtial Report

Nancy E 1 year ago

I can smell the lavender from here !

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#7 First Dive

First Dive

A young hawksbill turtle ducks under its first wave just minutes after hatching. Its struggle will be long and tiresome and the odds of survival are sadly stacked against it. A slow shutter speed used with flash enabled me to capture the amazing ambient light. (Photo And Caption By Matthew Smith / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Matthew Smith Report

SuicidalSylveon 1 year ago

its so cute! its a shame about the survival odds, but i believe in the little guy

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#8 Wings Toward The Sun

Wings Toward The Sun

The only sound throughout the swamp on this late spring morning were three geese honking at one another. They gathered at the head of the lake, where a fog bank rolled in just as the sun peaked over the trees to wrap the area in an ethereal glow. As I watched, the goose in the center of the trio pivoted toward the sun and, as if in greeting, arched out... Read More

The only sound throughout the swamp on this late spring morning were three geese honking at one another. They gathered at the head of the lake, where a fog bank rolled in just as the sun peaked over the trees to wrap the area in an ethereal glow. As I watched, the goose in the center of the trio pivoted toward the sun and, as if in greeting, arched out of the water and flapped its wings. Shot Info: Canon EOS 5DS // EF 24-105mm f/4L @ 105mm // 1/125; f/16; ISO 200 Taken: 23 April, 2017 (Photo And Caption By Scott Summers / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Scott Summers Report

1 year ago

"Honking at each another" :D

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#9 Solidified Lava Vs Forest

Solidified Lava Vs Forest

I shot this picture in Sicily, with my drone. Those waves of lava are from Etna's big eruption back in 2002, this eruption was so spectacular that was recorded by Lucasfilm and integrated into the landscape of the planet Mustafar in the 2005 film Star Wars: Episode III (Photo And Caption By Placido Faranda / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Placido Faranda Report

lazy panda 1 year ago

When two words collide

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#10 Infinite Road To Transylvania #6

Infinite Road To Transylvania #6

This is Cheia (DN1A) road that takes you to Transylvania. Yes, THAT Transylvania, the birthplace of the legendary Count Dracula (Vlad Tepes). The legend says that this shot imagines what he might have seen on his nocturnal flights! Nevertheless, it's a breathtaking view with a magnificent road. (Photo And Caption By Calin Stan / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Calin Stan Report

Daria B 1 year ago

This is truly beautiful, but it makes me so curious why they choose to build curved roads like this and whether or not it was possible to just build a straight one.

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#11 The Power Of Nature

The Power Of Nature

Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on december 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, and illuminated most of the dark scene. On last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of night explosions... Read More

Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on december 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, and illuminated most of the dark scene. On last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rockfalls and lightnings not bigger than 100 meters in average. (Photo And Caption By Sergio Tapiro Velasco / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Sergio Tapiro Velasco Report

Varsha Chrislin 1 year ago

All that black is a real beauty!

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#12 Marble Caves

Marble Caves

The marble caves of Patagoina. (Photo And Caption By Clane Gessel / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Clane Gessel Report

Hope Floats 1 year ago

We are so lucky that these talented photographers venture to these beautiful places ,because without these amazing images, we would never know that they exist. .

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#13 Major Lightning Storm Canada

Major Lightning Storm Canada

Major Shelf Cloud Saskatchewan. (Photo And Caption By Mark Duffy / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Mark Duffy Report

Aunt Messy 1 year ago

How well I remember those storms! The prairies are flat so that storms can gather tremendous amounts of energy as they travel. You can see them coming from miles away. I remember standing in a field in the sun on a still day and watching one of these monsters come towards me. The wind picks up just before the storm hits. I barely made it inside before the hailstones started.

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#14 Eye Spy

Eye Spy

This photograph captures a whale behaviour called ‘spy hopping’, where whales poke their head above the water to take a look around and see what’s happening above the surface. It’s like these majestic mammals of the sea understand we are watching them and are trying to connect with us in some way. In this shot, I wanted to capture this by showing the whale between two worlds, ours above the... Read More

This photograph captures a whale behaviour called ‘spy hopping’, where whales poke their head above the water to take a look around and see what’s happening above the surface. It’s like these majestic mammals of the sea understand we are watching them and are trying to connect with us in some way. In this shot, I wanted to capture this by showing the whale between two worlds, ours above the surface and its below, at the precise moment when it is about to make that connection. (Photo And Caption By Mark Seabury / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Mark Seabury Report

Laury M. 1 year ago

Whales are so incredibly fascinating.

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#15 Wandering Curiosities

Wandering Curiosities

These 8 stags were wandering on the huge snowy field in Hokkaido Japan. When my drone was aproching them, they stopped wandering and then looked up to the unfamiliar flying object with their curiosities. I like 8 stags' arrangement, silhouettes and shadows. (Photo And Caption By Hidetoshi Kikuchi / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Hidetoshi Kikuchi Report

1 year ago

unfamiliar flying object, a UFO!

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#16 Mother And Cub

Mother And Cub

I saw a polar bear mother and her newborn cubs in Wapusk National Park, Canada in March 2016. The -35F degree windy weather became even more challenging after sleet coated my camera, lens, and other gear in a solid layer of ice. Luckily, after several days of waiting, the mother cub finally emerged from her den with two three-month old cubs. I made this photo while the mother patiently waited... Read More

I saw a polar bear mother and her newborn cubs in Wapusk National Park, Canada in March 2016. The -35F degree windy weather became even more challenging after sleet coated my camera, lens, and other gear in a solid layer of ice. Luckily, after several days of waiting, the mother cub finally emerged from her den with two three-month old cubs. I made this photo while the mother patiently waited as one cub carefully teetered towards her on icy ground covered in a layer of freshly fallen snow. (Photo And Caption By Baoting (Bob) Chen / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Baoting (Bob) Chen Report

Varsha Chrislin 1 year ago

So Sweeeeeeeeet!!!!

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#17 Surveying From A Mountain Stage

Surveying From A Mountain Stage

It was freezing when we reached the ridge. I pulled on more layers as mountain goats descended toward us. We had been warned about these goats. A hiker had been killed on this trail 5 years previously. We started off again as quickly as we could, and they came closer, surprisingly fast, their eyes never leaving us. As I scrambled down the scree on the other side, I turned for... Read More

It was freezing when we reached the ridge. I pulled on more layers as mountain goats descended toward us. We had been warned about these goats. A hiker had been killed on this trail 5 years previously. We started off again as quickly as we could, and they came closer, surprisingly fast, their eyes never leaving us. As I scrambled down the scree on the other side, I turned for one last look, and saw this large adult watching us from an outcrop of rock, surveying the Olympic Wilderness. (Photo And Caption By Jenny Oliver / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Jenny Oliver Report

Nancy E 1 year ago

Another prize winning photo to awe us !

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#18 Unleashed Fury

Unleashed Fury

Amboseli is the ultimate canvas in which to encounter Elephants in their natural environment. This Bull Elephant is charging our vehicle - coming within meters of us. Although Elephants "mock" this aggression - one can never be completely immune to the energy that they exude. It was a compelling display of a 12,000 lb giant's fury - and for me - to experience how it feels to be on the... Read More

Amboseli is the ultimate canvas in which to encounter Elephants in their natural environment. This Bull Elephant is charging our vehicle - coming within meters of us. Although Elephants "mock" this aggression - one can never be completely immune to the energy that they exude. It was a compelling display of a 12,000 lb giant's fury - and for me - to experience how it feels to be on the receiving end of that power was humbling. Heart racing and adrenaline high - I managed to get the shot. (Photo And Caption By Dana Kennedy / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Dana Kennedy Report

Caitlyn McCracken 1 year ago

Elephants are such majestic creatures.

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#19 Fire In The White Forest

Fire In The White Forest

In Premantura Park (Croatia) a combination of white dust from the ground that settled on the trees and a sunset seen between them leads to a unique view. (Photo And Caption By Aurel Manea / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Aurel Manea Report

Ayra 1 year ago

Looks straight out of a fairytale

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#20 A Drive To Remember

A Drive To Remember

Aerial view of the Scenic drive and the beautiful Fall colors of New Hampshire. I used a drone to capture the fall colors that cannot be seen from the road. (Photo And Caption By Manish Mamtani / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Manish Mamtani Report

lazy panda 1 year ago

This is on my bucket list! Our leaves look nothing like this in North Dakota!

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#21 Powerful Cloud

Powerful Cloud

Mt Fuji is a treasure trove of mysterious shaped clouds. Various forms of clouds appear when a fast air current blows over the Mt Fuji. I stayed in the car during the night at the Inokashira forest road about 0.8 miles above sea level about 25 miles west of Mt Fuji. The small clouds that appeared before dawn grew bigger and bigger. Just before sunrise they had become a huge... Read More

Mt Fuji is a treasure trove of mysterious shaped clouds. Various forms of clouds appear when a fast air current blows over the Mt Fuji. I stayed in the car during the night at the Inokashira forest road about 0.8 miles above sea level about 25 miles west of Mt Fuji. The small clouds that appeared before dawn grew bigger and bigger. Just before sunrise they had become a huge cloud covering Mt. Fuji. The shadows of them in the backlight were the most powerful masterpieces. (Photo And Caption By Takashi / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Takashi Report

Alberto Curutchet 1 year ago

The Wifi Mountain

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#22 Symmetryrtemmys

Symmetryrtemmys

Cherry blossoms reflected in perfect condition. (Photo And Caption By Hiroshi Tanita / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Hiroshi Tanita Report

Caitlyn McCracken 1 year ago

The human eye truly is drawn to symmetry

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#23 Blue Pond

Blue Pond

I saw the beautiful grove reflections in the early morning blue pond. (Photo And Caption By Masahiro Hiroike / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Masahiro Hiroike Report

Just a Purpler 1 year ago

Wow, looks painted!

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#24 Southern Calamari Squid Sunset

Southern Calamari Squid Sunset

Whilst out snorkelling on Jervis Bay on sunset with my camera in an underwater housing, I noticed something moving in the distance, as my eyes adjusted to the dark water I noticed there was a Southern Calamari Squid in front of me. On the front of my housing I had a large dome port on which looks like a mirror. The inquisitive squid slowly came up to the front of... Read More

Whilst out snorkelling on Jervis Bay on sunset with my camera in an underwater housing, I noticed something moving in the distance, as my eyes adjusted to the dark water I noticed there was a Southern Calamari Squid in front of me. On the front of my housing I had a large dome port on which looks like a mirror. The inquisitive squid slowly came up to the front of my camera thinking its reflection was another squid. I captured an over and under image, where you can see above and below the water. (Photo And Caption By Jordan Robins / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Jordan Robins Report

Nancy E 1 year ago

Light vs. dark with an illuminated squid makes this a prize photo !

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#25 The Look Of Innocence!

The Look Of Innocence!

Tolerating harsh environment provided me with an opportunity to witness one of many wonders of nature in Wapusk NP. (Photo And Caption By Nadeem Sufi / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Nadeem Sufi Report

just a thought 1 year ago

Now this one deserves a big (bear) hug ....

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#26 Lunch Time

Lunch Time

Corals are a real delicacy for turtles. During the meal, they stop paying attention to what is happening around them. They are actively working flippers and bill to tear off pieces of coral. (Photo And Caption By Andrey Narchuk / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Andrey Narchuk Report

Kip 1 year ago

Forget global warming, turtles are killing the coral reefs!

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#27 Blue Pond The Stellar Sky

Blue Pond The Stellar Sky

Voice from the stars. (Photo And Caption By Nao Akimoto / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Nao Akimoto Report

1 year ago

Make a wish!

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#28 Salt Addiction

Salt Addiction

Driving on the road across the Gaspésie National Parc in the winter of 2016/17 I came across a couple of Moose. A calf and his mother were licking the salt off the road, freshly dropped from a salt truck to prevent icing on the road. As I got closer, the calf got spooked and disappeared into the forest but the mother had better things to do than to keep an... Read More

Driving on the road across the Gaspésie National Parc in the winter of 2016/17 I came across a couple of Moose. A calf and his mother were licking the salt off the road, freshly dropped from a salt truck to prevent icing on the road. As I got closer, the calf got spooked and disappeared into the forest but the mother had better things to do than to keep an eye on her offspring: keep licking that delicious salt! Hence I call this picture "salt addiction". (Photo And Caption By Juan-Miguel Hernandez / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Juan-Miguel Hernandez Report

Caitlyn McCracken 1 year ago

Aw here's hoping they don't get hit! Road looks dangerous

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#29 Emperors In The Storm

Emperors In The Storm

A colony of emperor penguins brave 25 knot winds and snow at Gould Bay, Weddell Sea, Antarctica. (Photo And Caption By Jose Rosas / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Jose Rosas Report

Caitlyn McCracken 1 year ago

The one with his wings open- come at me!

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#30 Thousand Seabirds

Thousand Seabirds

The Australasian gannet is a large seabird of the gannet family Sulidae. Their breeding habitat is on islands and the coast of New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania. These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat squid and forage fish which school near the surface. Muriwai is one of the mainland colonies for Australasian gannets. There are often more than one... Read More

The Australasian gannet is a large seabird of the gannet family Sulidae. Their breeding habitat is on islands and the coast of New Zealand, Victoria and Tasmania. These birds are plunge divers and spectacular fishers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat squid and forage fish which school near the surface. Muriwai is one of the mainland colonies for Australasian gannets. There are often more than one thousand gannets at Muriwai Beach, New Zealand. (Photo And Caption By Emilio Pang / National Geographic Travel Photographer Of The Year Contest)

Emilio Pang Report

ItsPam Duh 1 year ago

"Mine!" "MINE"

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