The 18 Best Travel Photos Of 2017, According To National Geographic

Winners capture everything from people to cities to sharks.

National Geographic is known for its incredible photos from around the world. And as it turns out, its readers take some pretty stunning pictures of their own.

Results are in for the second annual NatGeo Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, for which judges considered more than 15,000 entries from travelers in 30 countries for awards in three categories: nature, people and cities.

The grand prize winner is Sergio Tapiro Velasco, whose photo of Colima volcano in Mexico won him a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions.

If these stunning shots don’t inspire you to book a trip, we don’t know what will. Check out the contest winners below.

Colima Volcano, Mexico
Photo and caption by Sergio Tapiro Velasco/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Powerful eruption of 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. On [the] last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2 to 3 kilometers above the crater. Most of night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning." ― Sergio Tapiro Velasco (Grand prize winner)
General Carrera Lake, Patagonia
Photo and caption by Clane Gessel/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"My dad and I traveled to Patagonia this year, and we wanted to see something off the beaten path. After a 10-hour drive and traversing a long, dirt trail, we finally came upon the marble caves in General Carrera Lake. We chartered a boat to take us closer, and I waited for the perfect light to capture these intricate blue swirls. The extra effort it took to reach the caves was worth it." ― Clane Gessel (Honorable mention, Nature)
Lofoten Islands, Norway
Photo and caption by Misha De-Stroyev/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"This football field in Henningsvær in the Lofoten Islands is considered one of the most amazing fields in Europe, and maybe even in the world. The photo was taken during a 10-day sailing trip in Norway in June 2017. We arrived to Henningsvær after a week of sailing through the cold and rainy weather. Upon our arrival, the weather cleared up. I was really lucky that the conditions were suitable for flying my drone, and I managed to capture this shot from a height of 120 meters." ― Misha De-Stroyev (Third place winner, Cities)
Tavarua, Fiji
Photo and caption by Rodney Bursiel/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. I'm always looking for new angles and perspectives. The usual surf shots have all been done, so we decided to get a little creative. Makes you look twice." ― Rodney Bursiel (Third place winner, People)
Mount Bromo, East Java, Indonesia
Photo and caption by Reynold Riksa Dewantara/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Mount Bromo volcano is a small but active volcanic cinder cone on Java, Indonesia. Early [in] 2016, I happened to be in Mount Bromo during the increase of seismic activity [which] triggered the alert status to the second highest." ― Reynold Riksa Dewantara (Honorable mention, Nature)
New Delhi, India
Photo and caption by Jobit George/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"A beautiful photo of a father and son sitting in white traditional attire with beautiful blue sky on the day of Eid al-Fitr in a mosque in New Delhi, India. The photo shows the beautiful bond which these two generations have been building up in a very simple and lovable manner." ― Jobit George (Honorable mention, People)
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
Photo and caption by Andrzej Bochenski/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"New buildings rise from the desert floor near Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates." ― Andrzej Bochenski (Honorable mention, Cities)
Kabukurinuma, Osaki, Japan
Photo and caption by Hiromi Kano/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Swans glide over the water in Kabukurinuma, Osaki, Japan, a protected wetland. Since many of Japan’s wetlands have been lost, this area has become a rare wintering place for birds and may be a last paradise for them. I was particularly impressed by the swans, and careful not to disturb them when taking pictures. I took into account wind direction and shutter speed to capture the strength and elegance of their flapping wings." ― Hiromi Kano (Second place winner, Nature)
Tongi Railway Station, Gazipur, Bangladesh
Photo and caption by Moin Ahmed/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"The photo was taken on 23rd of July 2016 at Tongi Railway Station, Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district had reached and stopped at the platform for 5 minutes for lifting passengers. It was raining. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the window, and on his left an umbrella had been put to protect from the rain. I got the moment." ― Moin Ahmed (Honorable mention, People)
Rio Tarcoles, Costa Rica
Photo and caption by Tarun Sinha/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"This image was captured in Costa Rica when I was traveling from Monteverde to Playa Hermosa. As you cross over this river, you can stop and peer over the edge of the bridge. Below reside over 35 gigantic crocodiles, relaxing on the muddy banks of the river. I wanted to capture the stark difference between the crocodiles on land and in the water. In the murky waters, the body contours of these beasts remain hidden, and one can only truly see their girth as they emerge from the river." ―Tarun Sinha(Third place winner, Nature)
Whampoa Garden, Hong Kong
Photo and caption by Andy Yeung/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"The Kowloon Walled City was the densest place on Earth. Hundreds of houses stacked on top of each other enclosed in the center of the structure. Many didn’t have access to open space.This notorious city was finally demolished in 1990's. However, if you look hard enough, you will notice that the city is not dead. Part of it still exists in many of the current high-density housing apartments. I hope this series can get people to think about claustrophobic living in Hong Kong from a new perspective." ― Andy Yeung (Second place winner, Cities)
Tamba, Japan
Photo and caption by Yutaka Takafuji/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"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. It beautifully captures the magical atmosphere of princess fireflies carpeting a stairway leading to a small shrine revered by the local people." ― Yutaka Takafuji (Honorable mention, Nature)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Photo and caption by Julius Y./National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Museum visitors curiously watch Rembrandt's painting 'Syndics of the Drapers' Guild' [which gives] the illusion that the people on the paintings too are curiously watching the visitors." ― Julius Y. (Second place winner, People)
Stuttgart, Germany
Photo and caption by Norbet Fritz/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"The modern interior of the city library in Stuttgart. With its wide-open space in the center, where natural light comes from through the windows on the top, it has a very unique atmosphere where you can broaden your knowledge." ― Norbet Fritz (First place winner, Cities)
Gardens of the Queen
Photo and caption by Shane Gross/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Gardens of the Queen is a remote marine area south of Cuba. 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 (Honorable mention, Nature)
Konya, Turkey
Photo and caption by F Dilek Uyar/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Willing Dervish in an historical place of Sille Konya, Turkey. The 'dance' of the whirling dervishes is called sema and is a symbol of the Mevlevi culture. According to Mevlana's teachings, human beings are born twice: once of their mothers and the second time of their own bodies." ― F. Dilek Uyar (First place winner, People)
Gifu Prefecture, Japan
Photo and caption by Tetsuya Hashimoto/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"This building is a 20-minute drive from my office -- it's a functioning apartment complex in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, where people live. The modern style of the building is a strange contrast to my sleepy country town, and for a long time I couldn’t quite capture its character. The woman dressed in red was perfectly consonant with the mood of this image. Without her, I couldn’t have made this image." ― Tetsuya Hashimoto (Honorable mention, Cities)
Besakih Temple, Bali
Photo and caption by Michael Dean Morgan/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
"Besakih Temple has been known as Bali's 'mother temple' for over 1,000 years and is perched 1000 meters high on the southwestern slopes of Mount Agung. Here, Balinese often come to offer up prayer and take blessing from the temple priests, or 'pemangku,' who reside there." ― Michael Dean Morgan (Honorable mention, People)

CORRECTION: A caption provided by National Geographic initially misidentified the location of the marble caves shot by Clane Gessel. The image is from Patagonia’s General Carrera Lake.

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Before You Go

Grand Prize/First Place: Action

National Geographic Nature Photographer Of The Year 2016


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