Picturesque villages, majestic animals and candid human moments - captured around the world by the photographers of this year's National Geographic Travel Photo Contest. Each year talented artists allow us to travel the globe through the lenses of their cameras, which capture breathtaking moments we would otherwise miss. The contest honors these explorers and photographers by accepting global entries across three categories—Nature, Cities, and People.
The 2019 grand prize of $7,500 went to Weimin Chu for his whimsical 'Winter in Greenland' photograph. Depicted in the image is a small fishing village in Upernavik, whose brightly colored homes shine brightly amidst the fog and snow. Top winners from the other categories include Huaifeng Li’s Showtime image, which won 1st Place in the People category and captures actors preparing for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. Winning 1st Place in the Nature category, Tamara Blazquez Haik’s photograph of a griffon vulture—titled Tender Eyes— perfectly timed to capture the bird soaring through the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. Scroll down below to see all the winners and don't forget to upvote your favs!
People's Choice, Nature: 'Couples Goals' By Brian Larrosa
Instead of taking the bus tour to Rainbow Mountain, I camped the night before, about an hour and a half away, to be the first up at sunrise. That morning was full of fog, and when I arrived, I could barely see the seven-color mountain. I waited an hour for the fog to clear, but it didn't. On my way down, I passed this lovely alpaca couple wearing the Aymara culture colors—which made the wait worth it.
People's Choice, Nature: 'Wildlife Under Lightning' By Kelvin Yuen
This was my very first trip visit to Africa. A group of rhinoceros drank water from a watering hole while lightning [thundered] at night. I captured over 10,000 photos to get this shot and show the relationship between nature and wildlife. Wildlife is a part of the environment and we should not treat them as a tool—we should protect them.
Grand Prize Winner: 'Greenlandic Winter' By Weimin Chu
Upernavik is a fishing village on a tiny island in west Greenland. Historically, Greenlandic buildings were painted different colors to indicate different functions, from red storefronts to blue fishermen’s homes—a useful distinction when the landscape is blanketed in snow. This photo was taken during my three-month, personal photo project to present life in Greenland.
People's Choice, Nature: 'Practice Makes Perfect' By Taylor Albright
With everything, practice makes perfect. That couldn't be more evident than when fishing for salmon atop Brooks Falls in Alaska. This brown bear was attempting to snag one mid-air, but his timing was a bit early causing the salmon to land like a slap across his face.
Second Place, Nature: 'Dream Catcher' By Danny Sepkowski
What happens before a wave breaks? That question has been my assignment this past year. On this particular day, I decided to shoot the sunset on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii. About 100 photographers were out in the morning, but I had the evening to myself. The textures from the trade winds [created] subtle colors from the west and blended well using my 100mm lens. I had to look into my viewfinder while this wave was breaking. Not an easy task when a wave is about to crush you.
People's Choice, Cities: 'Cat In The City Sky' By Jonas Chan
When are you traveling around the city, humans are not the only living species. When we look up at the sky, there are sometimes surprises.
First Place, Nature: 'Tender Eyes' By Tamara Blazquez Haik
A gorgeous griffon vulture is seen soaring the skies in Monfragüe National Park in Spain. How can anyone say vultures bring bad omens when looking at such tenderness in this griffon vulture's eyes? Vultures are important members of the environment, as they take care of recycling dead matter. Vultures are noble and majestic animals—kings of the skies. When looking at them flying, we should feel humbled and admire them.
People's Choice, Cities: 'Volcano Emerging From Cloud' By Paul Rozek
Walking around all day in Antigua, Guatemala, there was a persistent cloud layer that obscured the mountainous terrain surrounding the town. Late in the evening, while walking through Antigua just for a few moments, one of the volcanoes became clear and offered a spectacular view with the Santa Catalina Arch. The volcano complex known as La Horqueta, surrounds the town of Antigua in Guatemala with numerous volcanic peaks in the area including Fuego, Agua, Acatenango, and Pico Mayor.
People's Choice, People: 'The Laugh' By Jorge Delgado-Ureña
It was not an easy task to capture the little lamas—as the older monks call them. They spend their free-time hanging out with each other, checking their social media, or playing football.
People's Choice, People: 'How To Train Your Dragon' By Léo Kwok
Showered by molten, firework-like sparks, people in Meizhou, China performs fire dragon dance to celebrate the Lantern Festival. This celebration has been performed since the Qing Dynasty and was listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage in China in 2008. [The festival] marks the first full moon night in the Chinese lunar year.
People's Choice, Nature: 'Split Shot Taken Of Crabeater Seals' By Rita Kluge
A crabeater seal is seen trying to get a spot on the same ice floe as his buddy.
People's Choice, Cities: 'Follow The Light' By Junhui Fang
This photo was taken at Seda Larung Gar Buddhist Academy. It's around a 14-hour drive to get to Larung Gar [from the nearest city], and the journey is quite tough due to the mountainous roads. This view [shows] small red homes on the left side, while empty green roads [curve] on the other side. The monks follow the lights to [return] home. I was lucky to document [the area] and was deeply moved by [the monks] faith. I plan to [return] to Seda next summer [to make] more photos.
People's Choice, Nature: 'Colorado River' By Stas Bartnikas
The Colorado River is very shallow due to the active withdrawal of water from it for agricultural purposes. When [the river] meets the ocean in Mexico, it is almost dry. This aerial photo was taken from a Cessna [airplane].
Third Place, Nature: 'Dusky Dolphins' By Scott Portelli
Dusky dolphins often travel together in great numbers in the deep canyons of the Kaikoura, New Zealand in search of food. They glide through the ocean effortlessly, coming up only to breathe. Dusky dolphins are fast and will often keep pace with a speeding boat. I waited on the bow of the boat as the Dusky dolphin almost broke [through the surface]. Their elegance and streamlined bodies are built for speed and maneuverability—accentuated by the smooth, clear water of the New Zealand coastline.
Honorable Mention, People: 'Mood' By Navin Vatsa
I captured this layered moment during sunrise along the banks of the Yamuna River in Delhi, India. This boy was thinking silently, and visitors were enjoying the loud musical chirping of thousands of seagulls. The early morning golden light from the east mixed with the western blue light, creating a [ethereal atmosphere]. I am a regular visitor [here] and have photographed this place for the past three years. Now, many national and international photographers have begun visiting [too].
Honorable Mention, Nature: 'King Of The Alps' By Jonas Schäfer
A herd of ibexes in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland cross a ridge above Lake Brienz. Their powerful and impressive horns show who the king of the Alps are. Ibexes are ideally adapted to live at dizzying heights. The continuing ridge path and the rising fog show the natural habitat of these animals. After a few hours of observing the animals, I spotted the ibex herd on one side of the ridge. Several ibexes stopped at the transition [to view the world around them].
People's Choice, Cities: 'Sunrise Glow Decorates The City In Fog' By Carlo Yuen
The morning’s sunrise glow decorated the city in fog. Hong Kong is a coastal region and it has always been covered by fog during the spring. Fortunately, landscape photographers meet this wonderful scenery. However, this scene may be disappearing forever because of the global warming, Winter will disappear, and no more cold air will meet the warm air during the springtime. So, this is a very precious capture.
First Place, People: 'Showtime' By Huaifeng Li
Actors prepare for an evening opera performance in Licheng County, China. I spent the whole day with these actors from makeup to [stage]. I’m a freelance photographer, and the series “Cave Life" is a long-term project of mine. In China's Loess Plateau, local residents dig holes in the loess layer [to create cave living spaces, known as yaodongs] and use the heat preservation properties to survive cold winters.
Second Place, Cities: 'In The Age Of Aviation' By Jassen Todorov
There are four runways at San Francisco's International Airport (SFO). This is a rare look at the approach end of runways 28 left and right. I had dreams of documenting the motion at SFO and [arranged] permission to fly directly overhead. What a windy day it was. Winds at SFO were 35-45 miles per hour, which meant a bumpy flight, and it was much harder to control the plane while photographing. The flight was challenging, but it was also so thrilling that I couldn't sleep for several days.
Second Place, People: 'Daily Routine' By Yoshiki Fujiwara
This photo was taken at a public park at Choi Hung House in Hong Kong. When I visited during the afternoon, it was very crowded with many young people taking pictures and playing basketball. But when I visited at sunrise, it was quiet and a different place. [The area] is [designated] for neighborhood residents in the early morning, and there was a sacred atmosphere. I felt divinity when I saw an old man doing tai chi in the sun.
People's Choice, People: 'On The Streets Of Bulgaria' By Kristyn Taylor
Dressed in his long-haired goat costume, a man is ready to walk the streets of Pernik, Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Surva Festival is an annual gathering of villagers masquerading as Kukeri. The ceremony is a pagan festival intended to ward-off evil spirits and welcome renewal in the New Year.
People's Choice, People: 'Cherry Blossoms In The Concrete' By Lester Lau
Having wandered around Seoul during my spring trip, I saw a cherry blossom tree blooming near the street corner. There is only a [single] light beam for the tree to grow in the concrete jungle. It seems that the human invasion has made [the trees] struggle and force them to find a way to live with us.
Third Place, Cities: 'Streets Of Dhaka' By Sandipani Chattopadhyay
People pray on the street in Dhaka, Bangladesh during Ijtema. Bishwa Ijtema is one of the major Islamic religious gatherings which is [observed] annually in Dhaka and millions of Muslims visit [during this time]. Dedicated prayer grounds are not [large] enough to handle this huge number of people, so large numbers of people come to [Tongi], the main street of Dhaka. All the ground transportation and [pedestrian crossings] are suspended during that time.
People's Choice, Cities: 'Tokyo Life' By Shan W
This room in the Tokyo Tower looks dynamic. In the busy city, the natural light entering this room gave us time to relax. My wife was reading a magazine, while enjoying the scenery and slow time.
People's Choice, People: 'Beach - Chaung Thar, Myanmar' By Maciej Dakowicz
A quiet evening on the beach in Chaung Thar, one of Myanmar’s most popular beach towns.
Third Place, People: 'Horses' By José Antonio Zamora
Every year on the feast of Saint Anthony the ceremony of the purification of animals, called Las Luminarias, is celebrated in Spain. In the province of Avila, horses and horsemen jump over bonfires in the ritual that has been maintained since the 18th century. The animals [are not hurt], and it is a ritual that is repeated every year. To make the photo, I moved from Seville to San Bartolomé de Pinares because I am very interested in photographing ancestral rites.