The 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer winners will blow your mind

Worth a thousand words or not, a great photograph elicits – forgive us for the millennial speak – all the feels. The annual National Geographic Travel Photographer contest winners have been announced, and the photographs are so beautiful, NatGeo is even letting you keep them as your desktop wallpapers.

Here are the top threes of each category: nature, cities and people.

Category: Nature

#1 Mermaid by Reiko Takahashi, grand prize winner

National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest
Photo: Reiko Takahashi

Imagine snorkeling and meeting a whale and her calf! Reiko bumped into a humpback whale and her calf near Kumejima Island, and the rest was photography magic.

#2 Flamingos Take Off by Hao J.

National Geographic Travel Photographer contest
Photo: Hao J.

It would have been ironic if this was a krill swarm (because humpbacks eat krill, ha ha), but those tiny spots are actually thousands of flamingos taking off from Lake Natron, Tanzania, seen from a helicopter.

#3 Mars by Marco Grassi

National Geographic Travel Photographer
Photo: Marco Grassi

These sand towers in South Tyrol, Northern Italy are beautiful evidence of what alternating torrential rain and drought does to the earth.

Read also: 5 Breathtaking Hiking Trails Around the World

Category: Cities

#1 Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki by Hiro Kurashina

National Geographic Travel photographer contest
Photo: Hiro Kurashina

The view from inside a vintage tram in a city that is relatively quiet compared to Tokyo and Osaka.

#2 Geometry of the Sun by Enrico Pescantini

National Geographic Travel Photographer
Photo: Enrico Pescantini

Thanks to drone technology, we get the same view that the god of the Sun, in whose honour this ancient pre-Columbian pyramid in Teotihuacan was built, would get from the heavens.

#3 Reflection by Gaanesh Prasad

National Geographic Travel Photographer
Photo: Gaanesh Prasad

Someone give this photographer an award for having guts of steel, too – he opened a window on a Dubai skyscraper for this vertiginous shot.

Read also: 7 Places More Mysterious Than The Bermuda Triangle (Warning!)

Category: People

#1 Tea Culture by Alessandra Meniconzi

National Geographic Travel Photographer
Photo: Alessandra Meniconzi

“Tea for Kazakh is one of the attributes of hospitality.” Enough said.

#2 Leida and Laelle – I Will Lift You Up by Tati Itat

National Geographic Travel Photographer
Photo: Tati Itat

We all have that one friend who needs direction when taking OOTDs. Laëlle and Leïda are Haitian twins living in Estrela, Brazil – they were practising poses when this shot was taken.

#3 Challenging Journey by MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan

National Geographic Travel Photographer
Photo: MD Tanveer Hassan Rohan

This is perhaps the most heartbreaking photo of all the entries this year – this man was dangling from a steadily accelerating train during the mad Eid vacation rush in Dhaka. The train was packed, and it was all he could not to miss going home.

Read also: Top 10 Underground Wonders In The World

Andrea Tim

Andrea is a serial kopi peng drinker (for fun, not for the caffeine; coffee doesn't wake her up) and believer in keyboard shortcuts. She sees The Dress as blue and black, and hears both Yanny and Laurel. Make of that what you will.

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