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Faisal Azim via National Geographic Traveller Photo Contest
point and shoot

PICTURES: The stunning winners of National Geographic's travel photo competition

Not your ordinary holiday snaps.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HAS announced the winners of the 2015 Traveller Photo Contest.

Selected from nearly 18,000 entries, the 10 pictures encapsulate landscapes, animal life, and human beings in extraordinary conditions.

The overall winner, Anuar Patjane Floriuk, told National Geographic his astonishing photo of humpback whales off the coast of Mexico wasn’t planned.

I was taking photos near the head of the whale, and all of a sudden she began to swim toward the rest of the diving team.
The divers gave the whale and her calf space, and I just clicked at the moment when the flow and composition seemed right.

He wins an eight-day National Geographic Photo Expedition to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal for two.

The 10 photos were taken in 10 different countries, across five continents.

Here they are, with descriptions written by the photographers themselves.

1. Whale Whisperers - Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico

a5GH7MLDyZVtZulFNcxT5Y--B9C15-o1pdeyGYouqvU Anuar Patjane Floriuk 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.”

2. Gravel Workmen – Chittagong, Bangladesh

jiEqsqVWjhNgLugo-cV8NTio6AKK4SjkmnntzN0bea0 Faisal Azim 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.”

3. Camel Ardah – Oman

VenmiAwgtekg6OHPoJjHT6jxJATm1R6wVIyrwCBRhEQ Ahmed Al Toqi Ahmed Al Toqi

“Camel Ardah, as it is called in Oman, is one of the traditional styles of camel racing, between two camels controlled by experts.

“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 the camels’ reactions are always unpredictable…”

Merit winners, in no particular order:

A Night at Deadvlei – Namibia

eaTx1qZDq1Q_4pJ4sRCXco8EakTZhFEpkBsW0lLcfrA Beth McCarley Beth McCarley

“The night before returning to Windhoek [the capital of Namibia], 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.”

Catching a Duck – Nong Khai Province, Thailand

yUgL8IqPJrGG3XMLY3hKBE8uuD9bgyjOS24CFtvcYRk Sarah Wouters Sarah Wouters

“Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of a waterfall.”

Kushti – India

AZ1SK27cr1q5B86iM0Y5Ajeian_Y25QfEcF0Tcz2TA4 Alain Schroeder 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.”

White Rhinos – Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Nakasongola, Uganda

QDsGsz_dfBiDeI1AdbF84pKLj1EdI5gqcTV28UqVa0I Stefane Berube 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.”

Sauna in the Sky – Eastern Italian Alps

xM6sTqefyFAIkzdFrDGvB-i5nk6Rvys_BZkHyoZ649U Stefano Zardini Stefano Zardini

“A sauna at 2,800 metres high (9,186 feet) in the heart of the Dolomites, at Monte Lagazuoi in Cortina.”

Highlanders – Poland

k-CO5Gpom8jPTVI_23aBwa5lICyXTGF5NDJ20Lf2R8k Bartłomiej Jurecki Bartłomiej Jurecki

“Traditional haymaking in Poland. Many people continue to use the scythe and pitchfork to sort the hay.”

Land of Fairy Tales - Constanța County, Romania

qU7quXJkdX59qmS-jHga0KazV-HUGRflYd9Vbj805i8 Eduard Gutescu Eduard Gutescu

“White frost over Pestera village.”

Read: 10 stunning photos that show you parts of nature like you’ve never seen them>

Read: Meet the three finalists in our up-and-coming Irish photographer competition>

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