At the end of every year, National Geographic publishes a breathtaking summary of their best pictures from the last 12 months. Curated from 88 photographers, 112 stories, and over 2 million images, the following 10 editor’s picks showcase the entire range of the incredible beauty that our world has to offer.
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1. The Last Death-Defying Honey Hunter of Nepal – Renan Ozturk
Mauli Dhan climbs a hundred feet up a bamboo ladder to claim his prize: a hive filled with neurotoxic honey. Smoke from smoldering grass disorientates the bees, reducing the number of stings that Dhan will suffer.
2. Warriors Who Once Feared Elephants Now Protect Them - Ami Vitale
Samburu warriors found this baby elephant trapped in a hand-dug well. When the elephant’s herd didn’t come back for her, the team rescued her and took her to a sanctuary. Dubbed Kinya, she was given loving care by keepers such as Rimland Lemojong. Despite this, she sadly died a few weeks later.
3. Unlocking the Secrets behind the Hummingbird’s Frenzy – Anand Varma
By filling the air with a fine mist using an ultrasonic fogger, researchers can observe the tornado-like vortices that this Anna’s hummingbird sheds at the end of each half-stroke – when its wings flip more than 90 degrees and reverse course.
Two marine iguanas seem to be unfazed by the presence of one of their mummified brethren, which died from starvation, on Isla Fernandina. Endemic to the Galapagos, these raccoon-sized lizards forge for algae along the shore. The algae that they eat die in warm water, making these lizards extremely susceptible to climate change.
5. This Remote Pakistani Village is Nothing Like You’d Expect – Matthieu Paley
Above the village of Pasu, a teenager checks his Facebook. The majority of the residents here are Ismaili, followers of a moderate branch of Islam. A sign on the side of the mountain commemorates the time in 1987, when the Ismaili Imam, the Aga Khan, visited the remote region.
The DMZ Peace Train carries South Korean soldiers and tourists from Seoul to train terminals closest to the DMZ. Each cabin has a different theme – love, peace, harmony – which were designed to inspire feelings of reconciliation and hope.
7. Alaska’s Thaw Reveals – and Threatens – a Culture’s Artifacts – Erika Larsen
Emma Fullmoon can count on younger relatives to provide food, like this salmon. Guests are always welcome in the home that she shares with her extended family. Though the Yupik idea of hospitality has endured, other customs have not.
As darkness falls on Guassa, geladas break into a run down a slope toward their sleeping cliffs. They will spend the night perched on narrow rocky ledges, trying to stay safe from hyenas, leopards, and feral dogs.
With a measles outbreak in progress, a Doctors Without Borders motorcycle convoy arrives at a northern Congolese village – part of an urgent campaign to inoculate as many settlements as possible. The coolers help keep the vaccines at the right temperature to maintain its potency.
Wearing a curtain and a cardboard crown, Kristina Khudi becomes the “tundra princess” in the Nenets camp near the Kara Sea. The eight-year-old says that her happiest time is summer, when a helicopter sent by Gazprom and the regional government brings her and other kids home from school to their migrating families.