Ever been stuck on a bus tour and you see something absolutely amazing from your window but don't have the freedom to stop and take a photograph? Or you only have limited time at a destination and would really like to get the perfect shot at sunset? Why not combine your passion for travel with your obsession for photography by taking a specialized photography trip. These tours offer some of the most exotic global destinations, time to stop and take in the sights and feature expert guidance and tuition from professional travel photographers. Photography trips are not your discounted budget variety, in fact most run at several hundreds of dollars per day, but if you consider that you are not only traveling but learning and expanding your skills at the same time, the price tag may seem more acceptable. Below is a round up of some of the most appealing destinations and tour options to whet your creative appetite including Guatemala, Mexico, Patagonia, Turkey, India, New Zealand, Brazil and China.
Of all the photographs I have taken while traveling around the world, the most colorful and visually spectacular shots are from Guatemala. I am an amateur photographer at best, but there is a certain something about the Central American country that just beckons the camera. Jim Cline Photography Tours (tel. 877/350-1314; www.jimcline.com) offers a "Guatemala, the Living Maya" tour from February 2 to 11, 2007 (with optional Tikal extension). The trip costs $2,175 land-only and includes all ground transportation, nine nights' hotel accommodations, breakfasts and dinners daily, entrance-fees, a boat trip on Lake Atitlan, expert photography instruction from Jim Cline and local guides. The trip will be limited to nine participants and the price is based on double occupancy with a single supplement of $295. The tour maximizes your photography experiences by being based at hotels as near as possible to city landmarks or archeological sites so participants can photograph in the best light in the early morning or late afternoon, and by visiting various towns on special market days, providing photo opportunities of the modern day Maya and their traditions. Visit Antigua, Lake Atitlan, the village of Tecpan, Panajachel, the village of Santa Catarina Palopo, Santiago Atitlan, Chichicastenango (my personal favorite), the Mayan ruins of Utatlan, Quetzaltenango (Xela), the village of San Francisco el Alto, Zunil, San Andres Xecul and Totonicapan. For an additional $645, add a three-day tour to the magnificent Mayan ruins at Tikal, including round-trip airfare from Guatemala City, all meals and two-nights hotel accommodation adjacent to the ruins in Tikal. Jim also runs a number of other photography tours including a Day of the Dead tour in Mexico in October and a Pushkar Camel Fair trip to India in October -- but both are already sold out for 2006.
In Focus Travel (tel. 714/536-6104; www.infocustravel.com) provides highly specialized and tailored photography tours that may cost a little extra but they are individually led by professional photographer Michele Burgess and each itinerary is skillfully and creatively designed to maximize photography opportunities and cultural immersion. As Michele describes them -- "Slow pace, good picture." Maximum group size is 20 people. Her next tour is to remote "Patagonia and Easter Island" and the 18-day adventure departs from Miami on November 4, 2006. The cost is $6,450 and includes round-trip airfare from the U.S. to Santiago on Lan Chile, flights to Punta Arenas and Easter Island, land and sea transportation (catamarans, boats, buses and 4x4 vehicles), 16 nights' accommodations (Hotel Finnis Terrae, Hotel Sierra Nevada, Hosteria Pehoe, Hosteria Rio Serrano, and Hotel Taha Tai on Easter Island), breakfasts daily, ten dinners and four lunches. The tour includes visits to Punta Arenas, the Seno Otway penguin colony, El Calafate, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (a UNESCO a Natural Heritage of Humanity site), Puerto Bandera, Brazo Norte (the north arm of Lago Argentino), Upsala Glacier, Estancia Cristin, the Caterina River, Mallin del Bosque Quemado, el Monte de los Loros, Perito Moreno Glacier, Brazo Rico (Rico Arm) of Lago Argentino, Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) -- one of the most beautiful, unspoiled, and remote places on the planet, Laguna Azul, Salto Grande Grand Waterfall, Laguna Amarga, Lago del Toro, Lago Grey and the spectacular Rapa Nui (Easter Island) -- Ahu Tahai, Ahu Akapu, Ranu Raraku, Ahu Hanga Hoonu, Ahu Te Pito Kura, Ahu Tongariki, Ana Te Pahu, Ahu Nau Nau, Hanga Roa and the crater of Rano Kau.
Her "Winter in Japan" tour from January 28 to February 10, 2007 is priced at $5,595 from Los Angeles and the photography tour of the exotic Kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas is from March 13 to April 1, 2007 priced at $5,550 from Los Angeles. Michele also has scheduled tours of Kenya, Peru and India in 2007 but prices have yet to be finalized.
Travel Images (tel. 800/325-8320; www.travelimages.com) offers a selection of U.S. based and international tours. Their "New Zealand Spring" tour sold out so they are adding a second one ("New Zealand 2") from November 14 to 27, 2006. The trip is land-only commencing in Christchurch with a limit of seven photo travelers. Priced at $3,510 per person with a single supplement of $335, it includes 13 nights' hotel accommodations (two-nights in Christchurch, three-nights in Twizel, one-night in Wanaka, one-night in Queenstown, three-nights in Te Anau Downs, two-nights in Portobello and one-night in Moeraki), all meals and snacks, transportation by private bus and admission to the original 'bungee jump bridge', a Milford Sound cruise, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin colony and the Moeraki Boulders. Visit the Akaroa Peninsula, stunning Milford Sound, Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Tarras, Lake Wanaka, Cardrona, the Kawarau basin, Arrowtown, Lake Hayes, Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Glenorchy, Mossburn, Te Anau, Fiordland National Park, Mitre Peak, The Chasm, Christie Falls, Lake Gunn, the Otago Peninsula, the Kaihiku mountain range, Taiaora head, Moeraki village, Dunedin, Timaru and the Canterbury plains. You will have the opportunity to photograph magnificent mountain and coastal landscapes, forests, wildlife (dolphins, penguins, sea lions etc), lighthouses, rustic boat houses and the mysterious Moeraki Boulders.
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris (tel. 206/463-5383; www.photosafaris.com) has a plethora of photography tours, seminars and adventures from Ethiopia to Alaska, Antarctica to Cambodia and everywhere in between. The most difficult part was deciding which trips to write about. "Mexico's Colonial Heartland" is a journey into a less-visited region of our southern neighbor. Departing on March 17, 2006 from Guanajuato, Mexico this seven-day tour is led by John Shaw and Joe Van Os himself, with a maximum of 16 people and is priced at $2,295 per person, land only. It includes airport transfers, ground transportation, seven nights' accommodations in historic hotels, all meals and photographic instruction. Visit Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende and Queretaro, home to Mexico's oldest and most beautiful colonial architecture set in a mountainous landscape. Guanajuato, a World Heritage site is a 16th century photogenic maze of alleys and narrow cobblestone streets with elaborate mansions and baroque churches giving the city a decidedly European feeling. San Miguel de Allende is considered the prettiest of the colonial cities, and is well known for its artistic community. Steep, cobblestone streets are lined with bougainvillea-covered colonial mansions, brightly-colored cantinas and grand villas with wrought iron balconies and hanging lanterns. Queretaro is the third in this series of classical colonial cities featuring a sandstone aqueduct built in the early 1700s, ornate churches, historic buildings, and plazas decorated with statues and fountains. This tour is tailored towards the digital camera photographer with time dedicated to learning how to enhance your shots.
Their "Wildlife in Brazil's Pantanal" tour departs on May 4, 2007 from Sao Paulo, Brazil and is priced at $4,595 per person. The 14-day trip includes domestic flights to Cuiab&aaacute; and Iguassu, 12 nights' accommodations at hotels and a private ranch, all meals and transportation, and access to some of the most spectacular wildlife and natural landscapes on the planet. The Pantanal is the world's largest freshwater wetland and has one of the largest varieties of flora and fauna including 360 species of birds, capybaras (giant guinea pigs), marsh deer, coatimundi, giant anteaters, giant river otters and even jaguars. Explore the region by boat and vehicle and then spend two days at the famed Iguassu Falls, Hong Kong based adventure company Grasshopper (www.grasshopperadventures.com) offers a sensational photography tour of China -- the "China Travel Photography Adventure" which features 15 days of clicking from Beijing to Hong Kong, including visiting the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, Shangahi, Yangshuo, Longji Rice Terraces and finally Hong Kong. Under the guidance and tutelage of professional photographer Ewen Bell, you will receive photography and technique lessons on the road with plenty of stunning subject matter to practice with. The trip is priced at $2,400 per person and departs from Beijing on November 4, 2006, (their September 2006 trip is already booked out) or in 2007, in March, May and September. Included in the price are ten nights' hotel accommodations, one-night in a basic guesthouse, three-nights aboard sleeper trains, 12 breakfasts, seven dinners, accompanying photographer, photography workshops, tour leader and entry fees.
Photo Explorer tours (tel. 800/315-4462; www.photoexplorertours.com) brings you the "Festive India Rajasthan Explorer" tour with photographer Blaine Harrington III. The tour begins in New Delhi on January 22, 2007 and on the way to Rajasthan, the group will spend time photographing New and Old Delhin and visit Agra to photograph the Taj Mahal at dusk and dawn, the Red Fort, and Fatepuhr Sikri. The Rajasthan itinerary begins in scenic Ranthambhore National Park, then goes to Jaipur, Khimsar, Jaisalmer (and the annual Desert Festival), Jodhpur, Rohetgahr, Udaipur and the annual Desert Festival. The price for the Rajasthan India Explorer tour is $3,795 land only based on double occupancy and includes breakfast and dinner daily, 17 nights' hotel accommodations (Claridges Hotel in Delhi, Jaypee Palace Hotel in Agra, Rantahmbhore Regency Hotel in Rantahmbhore, Trident Hilton Hotel in Jaipur, Khimsar Fort hotel in Khimsar, Fort Rajwada hotel, Jaisalmer, Rohet Garh hotel in Rohetgarh, 40 km. Short drive to Rohetgarh and Trident Hilton Hotel in Udaipur) , all ground transportation, one domestic flight, admission fees and services of local English-speaking guides. The single room supplement is $1,095.
Their "Explore Turkey" tour with Dennis Cox, an award-winning travel photographer (former Society of American Travel Writers Travel Photographer of the Year) runs from Istanbul from June 9 to 23, 2007. The tour is priced at $3,395 based on double occupancy with a single room supplement of $585. The land price includes all ground transportation in Turkey in a comfortable air-conditioned van, one domestic flight to Cappadocia, lodging (four and five-star or boutique hotels selected for their location, view, charm and atmosphere), breakfast and dinner daily, all admission fees and Bosporus boat cruise, and the services of Mehmet Ozbalci, an English-speaking photo guide and Turkey expert who will facilitate the special requirements of the group. Visit Istanbul, Cappadocia - Goreme, Ortahisar, the Underground City of Derinkuyu and the Ihlara Gorge, the caravanserai of Agzikarahan, Antalya, the Uchisar Castle, Konya (home town of the whirling dervishes), the scenic Toros Mountains, the Roman cities of Perge, Pergamum and Aspendos, Kusadasi, Pamukkale, the world's best preserved Roman city of Ephesus, Selcuk, Sirince, Izmir, Bergama, Kucukkuyu, Yesilyurt village, Assos, Behramkale, Troy and Bandirma.
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