The 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, the 26th edition of the competition, closed this week on June 30th. Photographers submit their photos taken in any film medium so long as they submit a digital file to the actual contest, and awards are given based on skill and creativity by a panel of photographic experts. Looking at these photographs gives us a sense of how vast our world is, how diverse its climates, and a remarkable sense of global community. The skill of the photographers is extraordinary, especially in those who have the ability to make those settings familiar to us seem otherworldly.

Below are several of the winning photographs for this year’s contest. Where would you like to visit most?

Iceberg in Antarctica

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(Translated) “Aboard the Polar ship Brazilian Ary Rangel, on the way to Antarctica, the Iceberg is seen floating.” by Igo Bione

Rome, Italy

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“Instead of letting the menacing weather outlook cast a shadow on my short stay in Rome, I chose to embrace the moment.” by Bao-loc-yvan Tran

Masai Mara, Kenya

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“We found about 20 lions eating a buffalo. When the male [left] the group we anticipated him to take photos… The lion stops and looks down from the hill, another lion is coming up… The two meet, looking directly into their eyes, they sniff, rub against their heads, the tension drops, they start walking with the same step as when they were puppies, they are two brothers.” by Massimo Mei

New South Wales, Australia

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“I had the privilege of being asked to help out a small local Campdraft, by taking photographs to be used for post-event promotions in the local newspapers, industry magazines & for social media. I love having the opportunity to shoot something new and this two day event watching the amazing athleticism and skills of both horse and rider at the Baryulgil Campdraft, rates as one the best, especially when that late afternoon sun hit the low angles and lit up the dust magically!” by Katrina Wade

Champagne-Ardennes, France

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“…I had been on a stormchasing photo tour through France, Belgium and Germany while these countries were experiencing severe storms for several days in a row. In this nighttime image you can see nearly all optical features of a supercell under a clear starry sky thanks to very frequent intracloud lightning and moonlight.” by Maximilian Conrad

North Cascade National Park, Washington, USA

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“This picture was taken in the North Cascade National park, WA during a 4 day backcountry skiing tour. We linked multiple peaks and valleys, alone and free in the mountains, creating and cherishing our tracks up and down.” by Victor Mesny

Bretagne, France

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“2014, Saint Malo France” by Erwin van den Arend

Churchill area, Manitoba, Canada

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“A four months old polar bear cub running after his sister.” by Meril Darees

Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh

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“Rubel (10) is a son of a fisherman. While his father goes fishing he awaits his return. Children accompany their fathers and learn their skills for the future. Many fishermen live along the beach beside the road between Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf. Fishing from sunrise to sunset they can barely earn around 60 Taka a day (less than a dollar).” by Gmb Akash

Te Waihou Walkway, Putaruru, New Zealand

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“People have long been drawn to Te Waihou. The river was an important thoroughfare and provided food and flax for local people and visitors alike. The reason for the blue colour (and visual clarity) of Te Waihou is the high optical purity of the water. Pure water is intrinsically blue in hue because it absorbs red light leaving only blue and (some) green light to be transmitted to the observer’s eye.” by Abby Lovis

Cape Cod, MA, USA

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“I had never seen a humpback whale breach before. On a recent trip to Cape Cod with some friends we took a small boat out to whale watch. We saw several humpbacks doing their thing with the flippers and the tail, but none breached. Then out of the blue this one whale breached pretty close to the boat… It’s amazing how these huge animals propel themselves out of the ocean and get so much air. Watching them up close gives me a whole new appreciation for these wonderful creatures.” by Raj Das

Charles River, Massachusetts, USA

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“A rower takes a sunrise sally on the Charles River, the waterway that slices through Boston, separating it from Cambridge. The early morning is a popular time for rowing, sculling, kayaking, and other activities.” by Bimal Nepal

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, Africa‬‏

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“It was a late afternoon, we saw two leopards fighting on a tree top. After a short clashing one of the leopards gave up and jump down.” by Yoel Schlaen

Tham Lod Cave, Thailand

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“One of the most spectacular natural caves I’ve ever adventured into, Tham Lod is a piece Mother Nature’s masterpieces in the Mae Hong Son region of Northern Thailand. The Lod is a natural limestone cave system, its main feature is the freshwater stream which runs through the middle of the cave for about 200-300 meters.” by Drew Hopper

Bimini, Bahamas

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“I was waiting at the surface as pretty much all these dolphins were feeding on the bottom. I kept trying to free dive down and get a photo, when I got to the bottom, I had to go back up. This moment was magical as they all came up at once, it was overwhelmingly beautiful.” by Nadia Aly

Beijing, China

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“Picture taken in May 2014 on a NGE Photo Expedition. It was a fantastic day: clear sky, no tourists and a full moon!! We were totally blessed.” by Jose Balta

Cao Bang Province, Vietnam

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“This is the most beautiful waterfall in Northern Vietnamese province of Cao Bang. It is located in the border of Vietnam and China. Haft waterfall on the left photo is of Vietnam, the other side is of China.” by Son Tong Tran

Lake Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand

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“[The tree] put on quite a display for us one evening as the fog hung over the lake just before sunset. The rolling hills and snow covering providing a perfect backdrop for the frequent resting place of the birds from the area.” by Paul Reiffer

Sondrio, Lombardy, Italy

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“Walking on a snow day.” by Pisati Beniamino

Kasaragod, India

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“Preparation for the Theyyam performance in the surroundings of Kasaragod city. Theyyam is a popular ritual dance form of North Kerala, particularly in Kannur and Kasargod districts. The Theyyam represents a mythological, divine or heroic character. Make up of Theyyams is done by specialist. There are different types of face painting for which primarily and secondary colours are used. Therefore it is essential that the makeup man should have perfect knowledge of primary and secondary colour combinations. Sometimes, it takes several hours to paint each face.” by Rafal Ziejewski

Bagan, Maynmar

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“A novice monk reads a buddhist text in an old temple in Began. The light reflected perfectly off the pages of his book and the incense smoke was captured by the beaming light.” by Neil Herbert

Luang Prabang, Laos

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“A Khamu woman walking along a road in Nong Khiau, Laos.” by Paul Wager

Hummingbird in Aruba

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“Blue-Taled Hummingbird lands on the Hibiscus flower.” by Damilice Mansur

National Stadium in Singapore

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“A group of workers seen on the roof of the new National Stadium of Singapore.” by Tong Leng Liew

Big Sur, California, USA

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“This shot is taken by the full moon light. The moon light is coming through a key hole. Only couple of times through the year can capture this.” by Kenji Yamamaura

Venice, Italy

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“Venice by morning.” by Vlad Da Cunha

Istanbul, Turkey

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“Fisherman smokes from Galata Bridge at sunset.” by Pisati Beniamino

Featured photo credit: Sunset with a chance of lightning & thunder/Yvan Tran via travel.nationalgeographic.com

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