National Geographic: Best travel photos of the year

My father has an impressive stack of bright yellow National Geographic magazines dating back a few decades in our home in Bakersfield. Normally I’d consider a pile of old magazines recycling, but these vintage issues are treasures and really fun to flip through on a lazy afternoon.

Every August, the iconic magazine releases its list of Traveler Photo Contest Winners. A panel of judges this year reviewed nearly 18,000 photos submitted by amateur photographers and chose 10 winners. Not only do these photographers earn bragging rights for life, but the top three win incredible trips to take more photos in beautiful places. Here are a few of my favorites:

First Place

Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing ilegal fishing corporations and big game fishing.

Diving with a humpback whale and her calf around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. 

Second Place

Gravel crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place.

Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place in Bangladesh.

Third Place

( Camel Ardah) As it called in Oman, its one of the traditional styles of camel racing between two camels controlled by expert men, the faster camel is the loser one, so they must be running by the same speed level in the same track

A camel race in Oman–the faster camel loses, so they try to run at the same speed until the end.

Merit Winners

The night before returning to Windhoek, we spent several hours at Deadveli. 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. Deadveli means "dead marsh." The camelthorn trees are believed to be about 900 years old, but have not decomposed because the environment is so dry.

Nighttime in Deadveli, Namibia.  The camelthorn trees are believed to be about 900 years old.

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 infront of me.

Skulking white rhinos in Africa.

A sauna  at 2.800 mt high, in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps.

A sauna at 2.800 mt high, in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps.

Whitefrost over Pestera village in Romania

Whitefrost over Pestera village in Romania.

Would you enter? I’m not sure I have the chops, but I have been traveling to some incredibly photogenic places…maybe next year. If you live in Washington, D.C. or will be traveling through this autumn, you can see the photos in person at the National Geographic Museum.

Here’s hoping you are having a photogenic week…but for now, a few links:

(All photos via National Geographic)

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