I’m happy to announce that the inspection trip to India last month was a success and I will be offering my first of many photo tours to India starting in 2012. More information is contained below. I’d love to talk to you if you have any interest at all in joining me on this tour (or Nepal or Bhutan).
I have the dates set for April 10-25, 2012 and the tour will be 16 days (15 nights) long. We will be covering a lot of ground, but the pace will not be breakneck. In most locations we will spend two nights in three star accommodations that are quite comfortable.
The tour will start in Delhi for two nights, visiting old and new Delhi sites, after which we will board a flight to Amritsar to witness and shoot the Baisakhi harvest festival celebrated in all rural areas of Punjab. While in town we will also visit the Golden Temple, a sacred shrine for the Sikh people and take witness of the Indo-Pak Wagah Border Flag Retreat Ceremony. After two nights in Punjab we’ll fly back to Delhi for an overnight before driving to Jaipur the next morning. Jaipur offers many attractions perfect for photography, including the Amber Palace, markets, gem cutting, carpet weaving and chances to wander where our instincts take us.
From Jaipur we’ll drive (always in air-conditioned vehicles) to Ranthambore National Park for three game drives in small jeeps. The vehicles are open top and we limit passengers to four per truck (they are designed for six), allowing room to set camera gear and giving everyone an equal chance for shots of wildlife, including: tigers, monkey, deer, birds a plenty and more. While tigers are never a guarantee in the park (there are only 30 of the gorgeous animals surviving) we will try our best to be in the right spot at the right time. After two nights near the park, we’ll drive to Agra, stopping at the ancient site of Fatehpur Sikri along the way.
Agra offers the world famous Taj Mahal, which we will visit in the early morning light as well as attempt to shoot from across the river in the evening to make sure you take home a classic shot of this timeless wonder. Agra also contains the aptly named Agra Fort, a mammoth structure with plenty of exploring opportunities. The road from Agra to Delhi, completing the Golden Triangle, is dotted with opportunities to stop and shoot the hives of activity in towns as the light and mood hits. A quick night in Delhi will see us flying off to Varanasi in the morning to witness life on the sacred Ganges River, including the aarti ceremony and morning on the river in a boat to experience early morning Hindu rituals. The tour winds down with a free half day in Varanasi followed by our return to Delhi, before flying home on the 25th of April.
– Accommodation in the mentioned category of hotels or similar.
– All transfers / tours and excursions by one AC chauffeur driven vehicle.
– Daily Breakfast and bottled water for the day.
– All meals during stay at Ranthambhore
– Three game drives by jeep in Ranthambore
– Elephant ride at Amber Fort, Jaipur (Subject to availability of Elephant).
– Boat ride in Varanasi (Common Boat)
– Rickshaw Ride in Old Delhi
– Service of local English speaking Accompanying Escort Guide
– All presently applicable taxes.
– Round trip airfare Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Varanasi.
– All monument entrance fees.
– Meals at hotels except those listed in above inclusions
– Expenses of personal nature such as tipping, porters, laundry etc.
– India Entry Visa
The cost of the tour is $3650 USD (with additional 8.7% tax for Washington State residence).
The photo tour is setup to take advantage of light. We try to travel during the day on driving days and be in position to take advantage of great light in mornings and evenings. Time is padded into the itinerary to allow for wandering and exploration, not all of our time is spent bustling from fort to fort, city to city. While the tour does cover a lot of ground, I want to make sure you fell like you have the chance to explore on your own if desired.
Every third or fourth night we will have a group review for those interested. If you choose to bring a laptop (not required) and want to edit a few photos, these reviews are a chance to receive feedback from me and other tour guests to help improve during the trip. I am always available to answer questions as we utilize a local guide and driver to handle most of the logistics and cultural information. I would be glad to explain why I’m shooting what I’m shooting and happy to point out items of interest or unique angles. I do not travel with another assignment in mind, so my time during this tour is devoted to guests and helping them improve to whatever degree they desire (including no help at all if that is what you wish…although I am quite handy at carrying heavy objects).
Most of all, I want this tour to be fun, experiential and a time you will look back on fondly. I love travel and photography and understand the joy in experiencing both.
Some requirements: You will need to make your own arrangements to be in Delhi when the tour is set to start. This may mean an overnight in a connecting city depending on when your flight arrives. You may arrive at any time on April 10th for the start of the tour. You will also be responsible for personal things that come up, like laundry, beer, internet/phone use and tipping. On the subject of tipping, I do not personally accept tips and ask instead that you pass on any gratuity you might be considering to our Indian hosts if you feel their work is exemplary.
Other requirements on my tours relate to conduct. This is a photographic tour and with it comes the chance to be intrusive and impolite to those we are visiting. I ask courtesy and kindness from all my travelers. When taking photos, always asking permission (a simple point to the camera and a smile works wonders to bridge language barriers, as does showing images afterward). Cultural sensitivity not only makes travel less stressful, it is just a better way to live life.
Lastly, you will need to ensure you have acquired an Indian Tourist Visa in order to enter the country. As requirements are different for different countries, I suggest you check with your local Indian Embassy (here is the site for the USA embassy http://www.indianembassy.org/visa.php. I found the process to be well run, just be sure to give yourself enough time to send off your passport to receive the appropriate stamp). I will be requiring proof of your India Visa. I also require travelers to acquire travel insurance to cover possible medical evacuation (this can normally be obtained for $75).
Payment details: An $800 deposit is required to hold your spot (only 7 spots are available and I will not increase this). The next payment due date is $1000 four months in advance of the trip (December 10th, 2011). 100% refund is available for all funds paid in advance of December 10th, 2011 if you cancel before this date. The final payment of $1850 is due three months in advance (January 10th, 2012). Cancellations between December 10th, 2011 and January 10th, 2012 are available for an 80% refund of total payment made. Between January 10th and February 10th, 2012, a 50% refund is available, dropping to 25% refund from February 10th to March 10th, 2012. No refund is available in the last month before the trip starts. I highly suggest the purchase of trip cancellation insurance to cover yourself in case circumstances arise. Full payment is, of course, welcome at anytime and is subject to the refund policy (funds are held in a separate account to ensure availability).
Please let me know if you have further questions. I would love to have you on the trip next year!