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Plaza de Espana © Tom Walk
Plaza de Espana © Tom Walk
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National Geographic Announces the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year

Picture of Remy Millar
Updated: 12 July 2017
National Geographic have revealed the winners of their 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year Award. Anthony Lau of Hong Kong scooped the Grand Prize with his striking depiction of frigid Mongolia, with his photograph titled Winter Horseman. Lau says, “The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. Not until I saw Inner Mongolia horsemen showing off their skills in commanding the steed from a distance, I quickly grabbed my telephoto lens and captured the moment when one of the horseman charged out from morning mist.” Lau has won a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. We’ve selected the best of the competition.

Grand Prize: Winter Horseman by Anthony Lau

Winter Horseman
Anthony Lau / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

Lau says, “At a freezing temperature of -20 degrees Celsius 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.”

Nature First Place: Wherever you go, I will follow you! by Hiroki Inoue

Hiroki Inoue / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Hiroki Inoue / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Inoue on his photo: “It was the time of day immediately following sunset. I heard a voice… ‘Wherever you go, I will follow you’ it voice says.”

Ben Youssef – Takashi Nakagawa, Cities First Place

Takashi Nakagawa / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Takashi Nakagawa / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

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

Nature Second Place: Double Trapping by Massimiliano Bencivenni

Massimiliano Bencivenni / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Massimiliano Bencivenni / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Bencivenni explains, “The picture was 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.”

People Second Place: Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi – Yasmin Mund

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Yasmin Mund / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Mund says, “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. Below were families all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult.”

Cities Second Place: Silenced by Wing Ka H.

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Wing Ka H. / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Wing Ka H. explains, “This photo was taken on my last trip to GuangZhou, China. This place is a school dormitories of South China Normal University. When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break.”

Nature Third Place: Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert) by Victor Lima

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest Celestial Reverie
Victor Lima / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Lima says, “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.”

People Third Place: Remote life at -21 degrees by Mattia Passarini

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Mattia Passarini / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Passarini on his image: “Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house.”

Cities Third Place: Celestial Reverie by Jeremy Tan

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Jeremy Tan / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Tan says, “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.”

People Honorable Mention: Muscle Beach Gym by Dotan Saguy

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Dotan Saguy / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Saguy says, “A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, CA.”

Nature Honorable Mention: Divide by Kathleen Dolmatch

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Kathleen Dolmatch / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Dolmatch describes, “In the helicopter looking south on Central Park West – dividing the architecture and Central Park, on November 5th 2014, a day before my 27th birthday. The flight was my birthday gift.”

Nature Honorable Mention: Bears on a Berg by John Rollins

National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
John Rollins / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Rollins says, “This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother polar bear and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow covered iceberg that got “socked in” when the ocean froze over for the winter. To me, the relative “smallness” of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear’s reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence.”

For more photographs from the competition, head to The National Geographic website.