From the jubilant mud mosques of Mali to the thumping heart of India’s Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, the award-winning shots out of this year’s Travel Photographer of the Year competition are nothing if not breathtaking. They remind us of the wonders of our still-diverse planet, and offer armchair travelers a pinhole view of a seemingly inaccessible wilder world.

Thousands of hopefuls from nearly 100 countries entered the 2013 competition, which is open to amateurs and professionals. It was then the job of photographers Eamonn McCabe, Nick Meers and Chris Weston to whittle the pack down to a few dozen finalists.

With four of his portfolios shortlisted for various categories, Travel Photographer of the Year founder Chris Coe said he was impressed by the consistently high standards of Briton Timothy Allen, the ultimate grand prize winner. “His black and white imagery is particularly noteworthy, engaging and well paced. Creating a striking portfolio is an art, but he has captured different elements to great effect to tell the stories of the communities and people in his images,” Coe said.

“The portfolio of the replastering of the mud mosque in Djenne, Mali … has echoes of Salgado imagery, whilst the third portfolio enigmatically captures the lives of the Dogon. His other two portfolios, shot in Wales and Bhutan respectively, are more intimate studies of the lives of particular individuals. What is evident in all of these images is Timothy's ability to engage with and photograph people, and his ability to tell stories with his photography.”

Allen’s captivating portfolio will go on display in London next year alongside a dozen other category winners. But before the photos hit the walls of the Royal Geographical Society in July, Travel Photographer of the Year offered International Business Times a sneak peek at some of the winning shots.