Amazing amateur photos offer close-up look at wildlife

A family of cuddling snow monkeys, a pig swimming in the Bahamas, and a pair of gentoo penguin chicks getting their first glimpse of the world are just a few of the moments captured in photos for this year’s National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.

For the 25th year in a row, National Geographic is accepting photos from readers around the world.

“The photo contest was created as a way to have a relationship with National Geographic Traveler Magazine readers. Our readers are active travelers and we recognized early on that they also were very avid photographers,” Dan Westergren, director of photography for National Geographic Traveler, told

Westergren said the amount of amazing photos they’ve received from readers has increased since the contest began. Over the last few years, submissions have numbered around 12,000.

“Now with digital photography and online entry, the number of great photographs is much higher. We are only able to include the top 10 photos in the magazine, but now it's great that hundreds of the entries can be shared online,” Westergren said.

Photos can be submitted in four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. This year’s entries includean amazing range of photos, including images of wildlife that took our breath away. Check out a few of our favorite photographs here, with captions written by the photographers.

If you'd like to submit a photo, you can do so on the National Geographic website.

Adam Lichtcsien / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
A cafe outside of Aquas Calientes in the Cuzco region of Peru has perches for wild parrots that come and feed on seed and fruit left out for them. This curious little fella was peeking out from behind a leaf to get a better look at me. Apparently he was entertained by the odd human with the camera because he let me get only a few inches away, where my ring light could better illuminate his beautiful feathers.
Mary Ellen Urbanski / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
I have seen alligators and turtles together in ponds before, but never like this! I was at Bluebill Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia when I saw what I thought was an alligator sunning itself on a stump. As I got closer I realized that it was actually perched on the back of a turtle! I wish I had been there to witness how this surprising esprit de corps had come to pass!
Paul Lee / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest
This is one of the Big Major Cay's pigs swimming in the clear, turquoise waters of the Bahamas. Pigs are great swimmers!

Your video begins in