Two newly hatched Gentoo Penguins hold each other like old pals. A young Buddhist monk appears to fly midair. A girl swims in an emerald sea teeming with iridescent jellyfish. These are just a smattering of the images captured for the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.

“In the last few years it seems as if the quality of shots has taken a quantum leap forward,” Keith Bellows, National Geographic Traveler magazine’s editor in chief, said. “The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult.”

The judges will evaluate the creativity and photographic quality of each entry across four broad categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The grand prize winner will receive a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, while second place will win a seven-day National Geographic Photography Workshop in Santa Fe, N.M.

The contest turns 25 this year, making it the longest-running travel photo competition in the world, Bellows said. With just a few days left until the submission period closes on June 30, National Geographic Traveler offered IBTimes a sneak peek at some of the editors’ favorites. Scroll down for a look at the striking shots with captions from the talented photographers.