10 Striking Images That Won Nat Geo's 2015 Traveler Photo Contest

Published On 08/04/2015 Published On 08/04/2015

The time has come again for National Geographic to remind us how lame our travel photos are (yes, even that one taken next to Erik Estrada's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame): the famed National Geographic Traveler has revealed the winning photos from its 2015 Traveler Photo Contest

Selected from over 17,000 entries in four categories, including Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, and Spontaneous Moments, the winning photos were evaluated based on creativity and quality.

The grand prize-winning image, shot on the island of Roca Partida (just off the western coast of Mexico), is titled "Whale Whisperer." It's an underwater display of divers swimming next to a humpback whale, shot by Anuar Patjane Floriuk from Tehuacán, Puebla, Mexico. Floriuk wins a National Geographic Photo Expedition for two to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal.

Check out the winning images below (note: merit winners are in no particular order).

Grand Prize: Whale Whisperers

Anuar Patjane Floriuk
"Diving with a humpback whale and her newborn calf while they cruise around Roca Partida … in the Revillagigedo [Islands], Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life, so we need to accelerate the incorporation of the islands into UNESCO as [a] natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing illegal fishing corporations and big-game fishing."

Faisal Azim / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Second Place: Gravel Workmen

Faisal Azim
"[This] gravel-crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place. Chittagong, Bangladesh."

Ahmed Al Toqi / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Third Place: Camel Ardah

Ahmed Al Toqi
"Camel Ardah, as it called in Oman, is one of the traditional styles of camel racing … between two camels controlled by expert men. The faster camel is the loser … so they must be running [at] the same speed level in the same track. The main purpose of Ardah is to show the beauty and strength of the Arabian camels and the riders' skills. Ardah [is] considered one of the most risky situations, since always the camels reactions are unpredictable [and] it may get wild and jump [toward the] audience."

Beth McCarley / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: A Night at Deadvlei

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

Sarah Wouters / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: Catching a Duck

Sarah Wouters
"Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall. Nong Khai Province, Thailand."

 Alain Schroeder / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: Kushti, Indian Wrestling

Alain Schroeder
"Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Wearing only a well-adjusted loincloth (langot), wrestlers (pelwhans) enter a pit made of clay, often mixed with salt, lemon, and ghee (clarified butter). At the end of a workout, wrestlers rest against the walls of the arena, covering their heads and bodies with earth to soak up any perspiration and avoid catching cold. This relaxation ceremony is completed with massages to soothe tired muscles and demonstrate mutual respect."

Stefane Berube / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: White Rhinos

Stefane Berube
"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 in front of me. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Uganda."

Stefano Zardini / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: Sauna in the Sky

Stefano Zardini
"A sauna at 2,800 meters high in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps."

Barttomiej Jurecki / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: Highlanders

Bartłomiej Jurecki
"Traditional haymaking in Poland. Many people continue to use the scythe and pitchfork to sort the hay."

Eduard Gutescu / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Merit: Romania, Land of Fairy Tales

Eduard Gutescu
"White frost over Pestera village."

Lucy Meilus is a staff writer for Thrillist and has taken some photos on her phone before. Follow her on Twitter at @Lucymeilus and send news tips to


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