National Geographic Traveler has selected the winners for its 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year Contest. Chosen from more than 10,000 entries, these breathtaking images document a range of visually striking aspects of our planet, from the raw power of nature to the unique facets of human culture. This contest recognizes the most compelling travel photography taken in the past two years, with entries in three categories: Nature, People and Cities.

The winning image, “Winter Horseman,” illustrates the harsh climate that the people of Mongolia must survive. Taken by Anthony Lau of Hong Kong, the photo won both the grand prize and first place in the People category.

#1 Grand Prize Winner: Winter Horseman, Inner Mongolia

Anthony Lau
The winter in Inner Mongolia is very unforgiving. At a freezing temperature of minus twenty and lower, with a constant breeze of snow from all direction, it was pretty hard to convince myself to get out of the car and take photos. When I saw Inner Mongolia horsemen showing off their skills and commanding the steed from a distance. I quickly grabbed my telephoto lens and captured the moment when one of the horseman charged out from morning mist.

Photographer: Anthony Lau

#2 First Place Winner, Cities: Ben Youssef, Marrakesh, Morocco

Takashi Nakagawa
Even though there were a lot of people in Ben Youssef, still here was more quiet and relaxing compared to the street outside in Marrakesh. I was waiting for the perfect timing to photograph for a long time.

Photographer: Takashi Nakagawa

#3 First Place Winner, Nature: Wherever You Go, I Will Follow You, Hokkaido, Japan

Hiroki Inoue
Romance is in the air. It was the time of day immediately following sunset. I heard a voice. “Wherever you go, I will follow you” the voice says.

Photographer: Hiroki Inoue

#4 Honorable Mention, Cities: Divide, Manhattan, New York, United States

Kathleen Dolmatch
In the helicopter looking south on Central Park West – dividing the architecture and Central Park, on November 5th 2014, a day before my 27th birthday. The flight was my birthday gift.

Photographer: Kathleen Dolmatch

#5 Honorable Mention, Nature: Bears On A Berg, Nunavut, Canada

John Rollins
This photo was taken far out on the sea ice in the Davis Straight off the coast of Baffin Island. This mother polar bear 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.

Photographer: John Rollins

#6 Second Place Winner, People: Rooftop Dreams, Varanasi

Yasmin Mund
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.

Photographer: Yasmin Mund

#7 Third Place Winner, People: Remote Life At -21 Degree, Himachal Pradesh, India

Mattia Passarini
Kinnaura tribal old women in remote village in Himachal Pradesh carrying big log back home to warm up her house.

Photographer: Mattia Passarini

#8 Third Place Winner, Nature: Lagunas Baltinache (Atacama Desert), Antofagasta, Chile

Victor Lima
The Baltinache Ponds, also called Hidden Ponds are a set of seven salt ponds located in the area of the Salt Cordillera, near San Pedro de Atacama, in the second region of northern Chile, in the Atacama desert. After much research, I believe to be the first photographer to publish night photos of this place, but it is still necessary to confirm this information. Tech Details: Photography done in one shot. Foreground was illuminated by the moonlight.

Photographer: Victor Lima

#9 Second Place Winner, Cities: Silenced, Guangdong Sheng, China

Wing Ka H.
This photo was taken on my last trip to Guangzhou, China. This place is the school dormitories of South China Normal University. When I was hanging around, most of them were taking a break. After lunchtime, they needed to go back to study.

Photographer: Wing Ka H.

#10 Second Place Winner, Nature: Double Trapping, Brazilian Pantanal

Massimiliano Bencivenni
Picture taken in the Brazilian Pantanal when I downloaded the CF did not want to believe it. The nature knows we always give magnificent events but sometimes extraordinary.

Photographer: Massimiliano Bencivenni