The horses are pounding forward with the force of a thousand suns, kicking up a haze of snow while a lone horseman closes in on them, a makeshift whip uncoiling itself high in the air over his head.
It’s a brilliant image, and one that won photographer Anthony Lau National Geographic’s 2016 Travel Photograph of the Year contest. Lau was on a morning hike in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China (What a name, eh?) when he got lucky: the light and snow were waning fast when this solitary herder and his brood appeared.
National Geographic awarded him a trip to the Arctic Tundra for a stay at the Churchill Wild Seal River Heritage Lodge.
You can see all the runners up — they’re all just as breathtaking as Lau’s, for our money — in this jaw-dropping slideshow on the magazine’s website.
But proceed with caution: you will almost certainly buy an airplane ticket once you reach the end. Check out a few of our favorites below.