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National Geographic Traveler photography winners

Trawling through social media updates is a miserable practice at the best of times - but it inspires even more envy than usual in the height of summer. Photos of beaches, tan lines and other 'proof of fun' images clutter walls and feeds, making you question why you're still electronically linked with these people. If they were posting photos like these though, you'd make more of an effort to stay in touch.

These are the winners of the 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest - the magazine's annual competition to find the best images from amateur and professional photographers taken on the road. As well as prizes for the top three photographs, merits were handed out by the judges to a further seven images - selected from over 18,000 entries.

Check out the winners below - there's not a Margarita in sight.

(Images: National Geographic Traveler)

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners

    Grand Prize – The Independence Day

    Photo and caption by Marko Korošec / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    While on storm chasing expeditions in the Tornado Alley in USA I have encountered many photogenic supercell storms. This photograph was taken while we were approaching the storm near Julesburg, Colorado on My 28th, 2013. The storm was tornado warned for more than one hour, but stayed an LP storm through all its cycles and never produced a tornado, just occasional brief funnels, large hail and some rain.

    Location: Julesburg, Colorado, USA

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 1

    Second Place – First Time

    Photo and caption by Agnieszka Traczewska / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    Mea Shearim, ultra Orthodox district of Jerusalem. Newly married, Aaron and Rivkeh after the wedding ceremony are to stay together for the very first time, alone. Their marriage was arranged by families. 18 years old candidates confirmed the choice in result of the one meeting only. Since then until the wedding day they were prohibited to meet or even talk.

    Location: Mea Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 2

    Third Place - Diver in Magic Kingdom

    Photo and caption by Marc Henauer / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    Green Lake (Grüner See) is located Tragöss Austria. In spring snowmelt raises the lake level about 10 meters. This phenomenon, which lasts only a few weeks covering the hiking trails, meadows, trees. The result is magical to watch diving landscapes.

    Location: Grüner See at Tragöss – Austria

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 3

    Merit – Foggy Small Town

    Photo and caption by Duowen Chen / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    This photo was captured at noon, 25.12.2013, from the castle which is located on the edge of the small town and is the perfect viewpoint for the panorama of the almost intact historical town. The fog and mist suffused and gave the town a sense of mystery.

    Location: Český Krumlov, South Bohemian, Czech Republic

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 4

    Merit – End of the World

    Photo and caption by Sean Hacker Teper / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    This photo, taken at the 'end of the world' swing in Banos, Ecuador, captures a man on the swing overlooking an erupting Mt. Tungurahua. The eruption took place on February 1st, 2014. Minutes after the photo was taken, we had to evacuate the area because of an incoming ash cloud.

    Location: Banos, Ecuador

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 5

    Merit – Ladies in Waiting

    Photo and caption by Susie Stern / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    While exploring Burough Market in London, I was delighted to come across four lovely young women dressed in vintage white dresses, eating ice cream as the local shopkeeper looked on. Are they brides? Or bridesmaids. I don't know, but they are obviously enjoying a very special day.

    Location: Burough Market, London, England

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 6

    Merit – A well earned rest in the Sahara

    Photo and caption by Evan Cole / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    This photo, of Moussa Macher, our Touareg guide, was taken at the summit of Tin-Merzouga, the largest dune (or erg) in the Tadrat region of the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. Moussa rested while waiting for us to finish our 45 minute struggle to the top. It only took 10 minutes of rolling, running and jumping to get to get back down.

    The Tadrat is part of the Tassili N'Ajjer National Park World Heritage Area, famous for its red sand, and engravings and rock paintings of cattle, elephants, giraffes and rhinos that lived there when the climate was milder.

    Location: Summit of Tin-Merzouga, Tadrat, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Algeria

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 7

    Merit – Divine Makeover

    Photo and caption by Mahesh Balasubramanian / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    Taken during "The Mayana Soora Thiruvizha" festival takes place every March in the small village of Kaveripattinam, the day after Mahashivarathiri (The great night of Shiva). The festival is devoted to Angalamman, a fierce guardian deity worshipped widely in Southern India.

    Location: Kaveripattinam, Tamilnadu, India

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 8

    Merit - Khotso Peace at Devil's Knuckles

    Photo and caption by Byron Inggs / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    On arrival at Jonathan's Lodge our horses took to celebrating liberation from their heavy burdens. With the backdrop of "The Devil's Knuckles" and the afternoons glow how could i not take advantage of these magnificent creatures rejoicing in the afternoons glow . This was the end of the first of a three day horse back ride through Bushman's Nek, up the Drakensberg escarpment and into Lesothos' Sehlabathebe National Park.

    Location: Jonathans Lodge, Qachas Nek, Sehlabathebe National Park, Lesotho

  • National Geographic Traveler photography winners 9

    Merit - LightSource

    Photo and caption by Marcelo Castro / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    Young Monk finds a perfect light source to read his book inside of his pagoda - Old Bagan, Burma

    Location: Old Bagan