The winners of the 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest were announced this week.
The nice folks at the magazine have given us permission to publish the top 11 photos here -- 10 winners, plus one readers' choice shot.
National Geographic Traveler says the 11 images were chosen from more than 12,000 entries submitted by 6,615 photographers from 152 countries.
We don't envy the judges in having to choose their favorites. These shots are incredible.
All submitted photographs fit into one of four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments.
This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living, with touches of modernity. -- Cedric Houin, first-place winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
H'Mong minority children playing with their balloons on a foggy day in Moc Chau, Ha Giang province Vietnam. Shooting time January 2012. -- Vo Anh Kiet, second-place winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
During the Easter holy celebration called "Misteri" in Trapani, Sicily, devotees carry the scenes of Christ's passion on their shoulders all night long. When the day comes they take a break. -- Andrea Guarneri, third-place winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
The merit winners
Near the city of Morondava, on the west coast of Madagascar lies an ancient forest of baobab trees. Unique to Madagascar, the endemic species is sacred to the Malagasy people, and rightly so. Walking amongst these giants is like nothing else on this planet. Some of the trees here are over a thousand years old. It is a spiritual place, almost magical. -- Ken Thorne, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.My sister in the south of Chile. We were sitting at home next to the fireplace in our southern lake house when it suddenly began to pour uncontrollably. Had to rush into the lake to take this snapshot!
-- Camila Massu, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.The Last Supper Of Da Vinci? No, They are just some old men of Chefchaouen in northwest Morocco wearing djellaba [robes], sitting and talking each other. -- Sau Khiang Chau, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.The village of Gásadalur and the island of Mykines in the background. Until a tunnel was built in 2004, the 16 residents living in Gásadalur had to take a strenuous hike or horseback over the steep 400-meter mountain in order to make it to the other villages. It was a rare sunny day in the Faroe Islands and I had to wait until the clouds rolled in to provide some softer light. I decided to go with a long exposure (70 seconds) to illustrate the force of the wind and a serene sea among the isolated islands. -- Ken Bower, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.This is the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens in Oregon, showing a different perspective of this frequently photographed tree. -- Fred An, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.More than 2,000 Buddhist temples and pagodas fill the plains of Bagan in Myanmar. Once the capital of the Bagan Empire, farmers now raise their livestock within the centuries old complex. The best way to see Bagan, apart from a ride on a hot air balloon, is by bicycle. It's easy to get off the beaten path and live out your wildest Indiana Jones fantasy. -- Peter DeMarco, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.Taken at Cloud Break at an outer reef in Fiji, a surfer duck dives his board to clear the rolling waves of the raw ocean. -- Lucia Griggi, merit winner, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
A lonely cabin is illuminated under the Northern Lights in Finnmark, Norway. -- Michelle Schantz, viewers' choice, National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
Think you've got what it takes to win next year's competition? Visit the National Geographic website in the coming months for details of its 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.