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These Are the Stunning Photos That Won Nat Geo's Travel Photo Contest

Best Travel Photography
A powerful eruption at 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. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average. | Sergio Tapiro Velasco/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
A powerful eruption at 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. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average. | Sergio Tapiro Velasco/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

A dramatic photo of a lightning strike on an erupting volcano in Mexico gave Sergio Tapiro Velasco the honor of being National Geographic's Travel Photographer of the Year. His photo along with many others have been highlighted in NatGeo's annual roundup of the best travel photography. 

It's a jaw-slackening, wanderlust-inducing set photos from around the world, by photographers from around the world. A handful of photographs are re-presented here, but there are even more at National Geographic.

best travel photography
The marble caves of Patagonia | Clane Gessel / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

The winning images are culled from more than 15,000 entries stemming from 30 countries. Winners in three categories -- nature, people, and cities -- earned honors and cash prizes for taking beautiful photos shot within the last two years. 

These photographs will make you want to start carrying a camera everywhere you go, in hopes of putting together the perfect frame. Or, at least a frame without your friends holding cans of beer and high-fiving strangers. (These travel photography tips can't hurt.)

best travel photography
This photograph was taken in the evening hours of a humid early summer day in the forest of a small remote village in the Tamba area of Japan. | Yutaka Takafuji/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

For winning, Velasco earned himself a 10-day trip to the Galápagos with National Geographic Expeditions. Check out photos from all of the finalists here, and get a load of the 2016 winners and finalists here

New buildings rise from the desert floor near Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. | Andrzej Bochenski/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
best travel photography
Mount Bromo volcano is a small, but active volcanic cinder cone on Java, Indonesia. | Reynold Riksa Dewantara/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
Caribbean reef sharks are usually shy so I placed my camera on a rock where I know they frequent and used a remote trigger to click away as they came in and bumped my camera around. | Shane Gross/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
best travel photography
The photo was taken at Tongi Railway Station, Gazipur, Bangladesh. A train from Dhaka toward another district has reached and stopped at the platform for 5 min for lifting passengers. | Moin Ahmed/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
I recently traveled to Tavarua, Fiji to do some surf photography with pro surfer Donavon Frankenreiter at Cloudbreak. | Rodney Bursiel/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
best travel photography
The modern interior of the city library in Stuttgart. With its wide-open space in the central, where natural light comes from through the windows on the top, it has a very unique atmosphere. | Norbet Fritz/ National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record but has never met the fingernail lady. Follow him @dlukenelson.