Even master travelers need to stop and savor the scenery. And that’s exactly why we love National Geographic’s top travel photos of the year.
The set of images, known as National Geographic Daily Travel Photo: Best of 2015, show how explorers across the globe have perfected the art of the travel photo at some of our all-time favorite destinations, from South Africa’s sparkling coastline to Iceland’s frosty tundra to America’s oldest national park. Take a look at the images below, with captions provided by National Geographic, and book a trip for 2016.
Gleb Tarro, National Geographic Your Shot
The Cuernos (Horns) del Paine grab the early morning light in Chile’s wild Torres del Paine National Park. Once the haunt of a few stalwart climbers, the park now draws more than 100,000 visitors a year. This photo was taken by Gleb Tarro
David Ramos/ Getty Images
Space is tight for onlookers during opening day of the San Fermin Festival’s Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Held since 1591, the event attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year for nine days of revelry, morning bull runs and afternoon bullfights. The festival gained worldwide fame after appearing in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises.” This photo was taken by David Ramos.
Frost paints Yellowstone’s Lower Geyser Basin white early one January morning. The world’s first national park doesn’t shut down during the long winter — cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are popular snowy activities. This photo was taken by Jeff Vanuga.
The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images
Fishermen wait for glass eels to be drawn to the bright lights they’re shining on Japan’s Yoshino River. When the eels are close, the fishermen scoop them up. This type of traditional fishing is best done on the darkest nights. This photo was taken by The Asahi Shimbaun.
An elaborate mosaic under the central dome in the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia, draws the eye up. The church contains nearly 1.9 acres of mosaics. This photo was taken by Sasse.
Spani Arnaud, Hemis/Corbis
Under a stormy sky, hikers round a small lake in La Réunion National Park, located on the French island of Réunion in the southwest Indian Ocean. Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2010, the 247,000-acre park features dramatic, rugged landscapes and valuable ecosystems — including cloud forests, subtropical rain forests, and heaths — that are home to many threatened and endangered species. This photo was taken by Spani Arnaud.
Martin Harvey, Corbis
Lesser flamingos take flight over Lake Bogoria in Kenya. The alkaline waters of Bogoria and other Rift Valley lakes support the cyanobacteria that the birds feed on. This photo was taken by Martin Harvey.
The aurora borealis sets the Iceland sky alight with an otherworldly glow. This phenomenon is triggered when the sun sends charged particles coursing to Earth. The best time to see the light show in Iceland is on a clear night in winter — visibility improves the colder it gets. This photo was taken by Daniele Boffelli.
Sergi Reboredo, VWPics/Redux
The town of Binche, Belgium, takes its Mardi Gras silliness seriously, with street performances, costumed revelers, music and dancing. UNESCO calls the centuries-old event a “masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.” This photo was taken by Sergi Reboredo.