Lonely Planet Writer

See the winning image from National Geographic's Travel Photographer of the Year contest

A photographer from Hong Kong has won first prize in the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.

The Winter in Inner Mongolia.
GRAND PRIZE: The Winter in Inner Mongolia. Image by Anthony Lau / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

The photograph, which shows a horseman in Inner Mongolia, brought Anthony Lau the prestigious title of top travel photographer. The photo, titled “Winter Horseman” was taken in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China after an early morning hike. On the way back to the hotel, Lau and his travel companions saw a team of riders.

Wherever you go, I will follow you!
NATURE FIRST PLACE: “Wherever you go, I will follow you!” Image by and caption by Hiroki Inoue / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

“The snow was getting heavier, the wind was getting stronger, the morning snow was getting thinner and the light was moving away from its optimal position,” Lau said in a statement. “I knew I only had a couple of shots to get the best out of this encounter. With a bit of luck, one of my final attempts managed to capture the moment when one of the riders charged out from the morning mist along with his horses.”

Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compare to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for long time.
CITIES FIRST PLACE: “Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compare to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for long time”. Image by and caption by Takashi Nakagawa / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

The top prize is a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, where Lau will head out on guided excursions to photograph polar bears and other wildlife.

I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30am, I instinctively climbed the 7 sets of stairs to the rooftop (which happened to be the highest in the vicinity) to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As the sun was rising I looked over the right hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief. Below were families - mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sister and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult.
PEOPLE SECOND PLACE: “I arrived at my guest house in Varanasi at 5:30am, I instinctively climbed the 7 sets of stairs to the rooftop (which happened to be the highest in the vicinity) to see the sunrise over the famous Ganges River. As the sun was rising I looked over the right hand side of the balcony and my jaw dropped with disbelief. Below were families – mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sister and dogs all sleeping on the top of their houses. It was mid summer in Varanasi and sleeping sans AC was difficult”. Image by and caption by Yasmin Mund / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

The photography contest also recognises the top photographers in the categories of nature, people and cities.  Lau’s photo was the first in the people category, while Takashi Nakagawa of Tokyo won in the cities category for “Ben Youssef” and Hiroki Inoue of Hokkaido, Japan took first place in nature for a photo entitled “Wherever you go, I will follow you!!”

Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house.
PEOPLE THIRD PLACE: “Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house”.  Image by and caption by Mattia Passarini / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

“We are thrilled to name Anthony Lau as our first-ever National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year,” said George Stone, editor in chief of National Geographic Travel. “We were blown away by the entries we received from around the world, and it’s clear our passion for visual storytelling is shared by our readers.”

This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow covered iceberg that got "socked in" when the ocean froze over for the winter. To me, the relative "smallness" of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear's reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence.
NATURE HONOURABLE MENTION: “This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother and her yearling are perched atop a huge snow covered iceberg that got “socked in” when the ocean froze over for the winter. To me, the relative “smallness” of these large creatures when compared to the immensity of the iceberg in the photo represents the precariousness of the polar bear’s reliance on the sea and sea ice for its existence”. Image by and caption by John Rollins / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest