Leopard by Kirsten Tucker is one of the many gorgeous photos to be entered in the competition. Picture: Kirsten Tucker/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Leopard by Kirsten Tucker is one of the many gorgeous photos to be entered in the competition. Picture: Kirsten Tucker/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

NAT GEO: Best of 2018 photography contest

THE world's best photographers are submitting their work to the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, putting the year's best nature photography on display.

The competition consists of three categories: Nature, Cities, and People and the grand-prize winner will be awarded $13,200.

National Geographic has been kind enough to share the images - which are available for download on the competition's website - before entries close on May 31.

We have collected some of our favourites pictures from the nature category, which was packed with out-of-this-world wildlife shots. In most cases, the artist has included a brief story about the moment they took the photograph and what it meant to them.

For photographer Niklas Weber, he recounted a mixture of excitement and nervousness when he happened upon a group of crocodiles along the Rio Tarcoles in Costa Rica and whipped out his drone.

"My heart was beating like crazy because I was incredibly excited, on the one hand I was a bit scared for the drone, on the other hand I was so happy about the unique moment," he said.

Another entrant described stumbling across a lone female polar bear having a quiet moment in northern Manitoba who "looked more slumbering house cat than meat-eating predator".

A pair of fighting kangaroos snapped fighting it out in the rain at Mount Kosciuszko by French photographer Augustin Leparmentier has also featured in the competition.

Check out some of our favourites below.

The photo by Niklas Weber is called Formation and was captured with his drone in Costa Rica. Picture: Niklas Weber/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
The photo by Niklas Weber is called Formation and was captured with his drone in Costa Rica. Picture: Niklas Weber/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Nap Time by Susan Portnoy. “Each day we’d walk for miles searching for wildlife. We came across this young lady a few moments before this photo was taken,” she said. “Her head was up and she was looking around. But when she curled up in this fetal position, my heart just melted.” Picture: Susan Portnoy/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Nap Time by Susan Portnoy. “Each day we’d walk for miles searching for wildlife. We came across this young lady a few moments before this photo was taken,” she said. “Her head was up and she was looking around. But when she curled up in this fetal position, my heart just melted.” Picture: Susan Portnoy/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Safe by Mark Paul. The photographer took the photo just a few metres away from a mother gorilla and her child in Uganda. Picture: Mark Paul/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Safe by Mark Paul. The photographer took the photo just a few metres away from a mother gorilla and her child in Uganda. Picture: Mark Paul/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Shark City by Marc Henauer. “The Bahamas is home to one of the largest shark communities in the world,” the photographer said. “South of Nassau, the environment to observe them is extraordinary with large wrecks laid on a background of white sand in translucent water.” Picture: Marc Henauer/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Shark City by Marc Henauer. “The Bahamas is home to one of the largest shark communities in the world,” the photographer said. “South of Nassau, the environment to observe them is extraordinary with large wrecks laid on a background of white sand in translucent water.” Picture: Marc Henauer/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Giraffe Tango by Leinani Shak Yosaitis. Two young duelling male Masai giraffes taking a break from “necking” among a herd of about 25 frolicking on a hillside in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Picture: Leinani Shak Yosaitis/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Giraffe Tango by Leinani Shak Yosaitis. Two young duelling male Masai giraffes taking a break from “necking” among a herd of about 25 frolicking on a hillside in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Picture: Leinani Shak Yosaitis/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Chasing Lunch by Mohamed Shareef. A baby black-tip reef shark swims through a swarm of silver sprats at lunch time in the lagoon of Mirihi Island in Maldives. Picture: Mohamed Shareef/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Chasing Lunch by Mohamed Shareef. A baby black-tip reef shark swims through a swarm of silver sprats at lunch time in the lagoon of Mirihi Island in Maldives. Picture: Mohamed Shareef/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Fighting Kangaroo by Augustin Leparmentier. “To me it looks like a Tarantino movie,” the photographer said. Picture: Augustin Leparmentier/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Fighting Kangaroo by Augustin Leparmentier. “To me it looks like a Tarantino movie,” the photographer said. Picture: Augustin Leparmentier/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Marching Penguins by Yusuke Okada. Picture: Yusuke Okada/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Marching Penguins by Yusuke Okada. Picture: Yusuke Okada/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

The Highly Tolerant Society by Hidetoshi Ogata. “On a cold winter day, I captured the moment when mother monkeys formed a huddle after social grooming in Awaji Island,” Ogata said. “Japanese monkeys are generally considered to be despotic and aggressive, but they are building a social relationships with mutual benefits.” Picture: Hidetoshi Ogata/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year
The Highly Tolerant Society by Hidetoshi Ogata. “On a cold winter day, I captured the moment when mother monkeys formed a huddle after social grooming in Awaji Island,” Ogata said. “Japanese monkeys are generally considered to be despotic and aggressive, but they are building a social relationships with mutual benefits.” Picture: Hidetoshi Ogata/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

 

Leopard Hunting a Stork by Paul Rifkin. “One shot capture. I watched the leopard stalking the stork, I only had time to focus at 400mm, no time to change to high speed, I watched the stork and as soon as it flapped it’s wings I shot one shot,” the photographer said. Picture: Paul Rifkin/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Leopard Hunting a Stork by Paul Rifkin. “One shot capture. I watched the leopard stalking the stork, I only had time to focus at 400mm, no time to change to high speed, I watched the stork and as soon as it flapped it’s wings I shot one shot,” the photographer said. Picture: Paul Rifkin/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Wonder and Awe by Tracey Jennings. “The shoal is so immense that when overhead it blocks out the sun. Even the most experienced diver can be awed by the sight,” the photographer said. Picture: Tracey Jennings/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Wonder and Awe by Tracey Jennings. “The shoal is so immense that when overhead it blocks out the sun. Even the most experienced diver can be awed by the sight,” the photographer said. Picture: Tracey Jennings/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

 

Endurance by David Gibbon. During a five day winter expedition to Hornstrandir, on the edge of the Arctic Circle, my target was to photograph the rare blue morph arctic fox,” the photographer said. “I captured this arctic fox as it hunkered down while enduring the extreme conditions.” Picture: David Gibbon/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
Endurance by David Gibbon. During a five day winter expedition to Hornstrandir, on the edge of the Arctic Circle, my target was to photograph the rare blue morph arctic fox,” the photographer said. “I captured this arctic fox as it hunkered down while enduring the extreme conditions.” Picture: David Gibbon/National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest