Bhutan Photo Workshop 4th to 15th September 2018


Bhutan Photo Workshop 

DATES: 4th to 15th September 2018

For your Bhutan Photo Workshop step back in time...and embrace the pure energy of Bhutan…as we travel over spectacular mountain passes, through valley floors and onto ancient cities where you will experience a mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Climb up to one of the most famous of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro floor.

It is said that the guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery and hence it is called “Tigers Nest”. Famous for its incredible art, treasures, spirituality and buddhism this journey will be a precious moment in time as you explore the monasteries, interact with the people and learn to listen to your inner self as you reconnect with the wisdom shared throughout this wonderful land. Having opened its borders for the first time less than 40 years ago it has gained an almost mystical status as a real life Shangri-la with emphasis on spiritual growth of its people, the preservation of nature and the stunning monasteries scattered through its lands and most importantly the happiness and welfare of its people.

We have so many magical experiences awaiting you on our very special spiritual pilgrimage through the Kingdom of the “Thunder Dragon”.

This comprehensive exploration of Bhutan from west to central east – Bumthang known as the “Sacred Valleys of Bhutan" traverses areas of incredible natural beauty, visiting isolated monasteries, villages and valleys, and high-mountain passes offering breath-taking scenery. Join us on this Bhutan Photography Workshop.

THIS BHUTAN PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Experience 12 days in Bhutan under the expert guidance of one of Bhutan's most experienced guides, Tshering, who has guided for none other than National Geographic
  • Photograph all the main Bhutanese sights with detailed cultural commentary from our guide before many of the tourists visit
  • All meals, transportation and drinks included - you hardly have to put your hand in your pocket!

 

TESTIMONIALS

"What an amazing journey it has been. The Bhutan 2017 Trip exceeded my expections by far. Loved every bit of Bhutan had to offer. The most amazing places and the people that I have come across. The place is so placid, peaceful and never ending things to do and sights to see. I can walk the streets with no fear and feel that it is home. That's why it is known for Bhutan's Kingdom of Happiness. Met very lovely people along the way. The group was a great mix, so much wisdom and experience too. Loved the cracker jokes and had so much fun along the way. In the end we bonded like family and miss them all. Tom was so patient, so knowledgeable and was very caring. He is truely a leader in his field. I have travelled to a lot of places and Bhutan is a place that is very special in my heart. Missing Bhutan so much that I feel that I am one of them already. Would go back in a heart beat! ❤" Anna Nguyen

"I loved every minute of the Bhutan Workshop. I really wanted to travel to Bhutan and to do so with Tom was very rewarding. Tom's passion for photography is inspiring. He spent much time with me making sure I was getting my exposure correct and working with me on composition. I am very satisfied with what I learnt about photography & Bhutan on this workshop. The organisation - from the guide, the driver, the accommodation and food to the company - was first class. I look forward to another workshop with Tom in the future." Anne

"The Tour was excellent. Well organised, professional and delivered with great skill, energy and enthusiasm. Bhutan is a very photogenic country. I learnt a lot more about the whole process of photography. Thanks Tom, well done." Alan Pomeroy

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1: DEPART FROM BANGKOK TO PARO with Druk Air - 2250 meters

On arrival you will be met at the airport by your guide Tshering and taken to your hotel in Paro where you will check-in and have some time to rest up before heading out in the afternoon for a visit to Ta Dzong – National Museum and the Paro Rimpung Dzong. 

Sightseeing and Highlights: 

  • You will take a short walk from Paro Dzong to the town, over a traditional Bhutanese, cantilevered, covered bridge to Ugen Pelri, a small jewell like palace that belongs to the Royal Family of Bhutan. It was completed in the late 1800s with no alterations being made to the structure or the beautiful carvings and paintings within the palace. It is designed after the celestial paradise of Padmasambhava, the revered Indian saint, also known as Guru Rinpoche, who spread Tantric Buddhism across Tibet and Bhutan in the eighth century.
  • We will then take a stroll through the town and spend some time watching the Men playing archery which is a National sport of Bhutan. It is fascinating and there will be some great photos to be had!
  • Evening – Briefing and orientation at the hotel.

 

Day 2: PARO TO BUMTHANG

This morning we will take a short flight (approx. 30 mins) to Bumthang where if it is a clear day you will be treated to some amazing views of the mountains and the valleys. Maybe even a clear glimpse of the Himalayan Range. 

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • In the morning - explore Jakar valley by foot to visit ancient temples – Jamphel Lhakhang, Kurjey lhakhang and Tamshing monastery.
  • In the afternoon explore the town of Chamkhar Bazaar and attend an evening tea and prayer ceremony with monks in Kharchu Dratsang (Monastery). Photography shoot during the prayer ceremony organised.

 

Day 3: EXPLORE TAMZHING:

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • This morning we will take a short walk and explore the tiny village of Tamzhing with photo shoots.
  • This afternoon – Classroom workshop and discussion

 

Day 4: BUMTHANG TO TANG VALLEY (2900 meters) 

Today we will travel from Bumthang to the Tang Valley, which is approximately a 20-30 km journey – approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours in time. 

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • We will visit Pema Choling Nunnery and interaction with the nuns (Photo shoot will be allowed while ceremony performed for your group).
  • Then we will travel to visit, Membartsho, the “burning lake,” a sacred place associated with Pemalingpa. Membartsho is not actually a lake but rather a water-worn defile in a granite stream bed where the water moves slowly. Legend has it that Pemalingpa had a vision in which Padmasambhava instructed him to retrieve a ter, or hidden treasure, from this spot. He dove into the water holding a lamp (a lamp that miraculously stayed lit) and returned with texts and treasures of the Guru. Ters are an important aspect of Mahayana Buddhism as they provide a continual stream of teaching and revelation to future generations. Pemalingpa was one of the greatest tertons (treasure finders).  
  • This evening you will be in for a treat. The Tang Valley is very beautiful and you will be staying with locals in a Farmhouse stay. This will be one of your absolute highlights as you interact with the local villagers and watch them cook for you, sing and dance for you. The owners of the house are also great fun. A couple of young lads who speak excellent English and are very keen mountain bikers having won the “Tour of the Dragon” Mountain biking race (known as the craziest bike race on earth) more than once – the toughest in Bhutan.
  • Experience local rituals and ceremonies with the locals while staying at the Farm House. Learn how to make buckwheat noodles, butter, cream and milk and even better you get to taste it all as well! (Photo shoots allowed while interacting with the locals)

 

Day 5: EXPLORE TANG VALLEY (2900 meters) TO TRONGSA (2300 meters)

Today we will take a walking tour across the valley from the Farm House to Ugyen Choling Palace where we will walk through local villages and temples. It is easy walking and the scenery is just spectacular. Approximately three hours in duration.

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • We will visit, Ugyencholing or “the palace of Ugyen,” an old ancestral home with dramatic views. We visit the village and, the ancestral home. This area is well known for its yathra - Yathra is the name of the locally-produced woollen cloth. Unique patterns and bright colours distinguish this earthy fabric, which is used throughout Bhutan.

 

Day 6: TANG VALLEY 

Today we will travel from the Tang Valley to Trongsa. This is approximately 100kms in distance and will take 3-4 hours driving due to the speed travelled. Trongsa Town forms the central hub of the kingdom and is historically the place from where attempts at unifying the country were launched.

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • Visit the Yathra weaving center in Chumey valley.
  • Visit the Tower of Trongsa – museum dedicated to the Kings of Bhutan.
  • This afternoon classroom session and online updates.

 

Day 7: TRONGSA TO GANGTEY (2900 meters)

Today we will drive from Trongsa to Gangtey, which will take four hours and is approximately 125 kms in distance. 

Sightseeing and HIghlights:

  • Visit the Gangtey Gompa monastery. This 17th century monastery commands a beautiful location overlooking the verdant hills of Phobjikha. The complex consists of a central monastery, meditation hall, monks’ quarters and a school. The head lama of Gangteng Gompa is the ninth incarnation of the body of Pemalingpa
  • Attend a private prayer and blessing ceremony with the monks.
  • Lighting of butter lamps inside the temple.

 

Day 8: GANGTEY TO PUNAKHA 

Today we will drive from Gangtey to Wangdi, which will take approximately 3-4 hours.

We will take a hike on the Gangtey nature trail, which is mainly flat or downhill to see the black-necked cranes in the valley. We will stay in the Phobikha Valley, a classic U-shaped glacial valley.   It is one of the most beautiful spots in the country 

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • We will visit the Crane information center - the area is most famous for being the winter abode of the endangered black-necked crane. Experts estimate that fewer than 6000 cranes exist in the wild. The cranes migrate from Tibet in mid-November and stay through March.
  • This classic U-shaped glacial valley - Phobjikha Valley – is one of the most beautiful spots in the country.

 

Day 9: PUNAKHA DAY EXCURSION

Today we will visit the Punakha Dzong (minimum 2 hour visit) – a spectacular sight. To the Bhutanese it is equivalent to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City. 

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • Visit the Punakha Dzong – A photography session capturing the Bhutanese architecture will be available.
  • An hour – 2 hours hike to Khamsum Yuley Namgyel Chorten (elevation gain about 240 meters )
  • Walk and cross over the longest suspension foot bridge (230 meters in length) over Pho chu (female river in Punakha valley).

 

Day 10: PUNAKHA TO THIMPHU

Today we will drive from Punakha to Thimput which will take up to 3 hours and is approximately 90 kms.

Sightseeing and HIghlights:

There is a wide range of sightseeing possibilities in Thimpu so it will be dependant on the group. You have the following to choose from:

  • The textile museum
  • Zorig Chuk sum (Institute of thirteen traditional art & crafts )
  • Week end market( it’s on Friday through Sunday )
  • National Handicraft Emporium.
  • Zhulukha Nunnery
  • Tashichho Dzong
  • Memorial Chorten
  • Buddha Dordenma – one of the tallest seated Buddha in the world

 

Day 11: THIMPHU TO PARO (2250 meters)

Today we will drive from Thimpu to Paro, which will take up to two hours and is approximately 80 kms.

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • Morning to visit the vegetable market and photo session 
  • Afternoon discussion and classroom session at hotel and preparation for Tiger’s Nest hike.

 

Day 12: PARO – A DAY EXCURSION TO TAKTSANG – TIGER’S NEST (2250 meters)

Today we will climb up to the Tigers Nest Monastery, which will take approximately 5-6 hours return, depending on the hiking pace. The elevation gain is 550 meters. It is a truly magnificent hike with incredible photographic opportunities.

Sightseeing and Highlights:

  • A pilgrimage hike to to Taktsang – Tiger’s Nest
  • Visit and tour inside Tiger’s Nest.

 

Day 13: PARO – DEPARTURE PARO TO BANGKOK with Druk Air

Today after breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your flight with Druk Air from Paro to Bangkok.

 

***IMPORTANT NOTE***

Itineraries are subject to change and are meant as a guideline only. Daily hikes are subject to revision due to weather, trail conditions, Government restrictions, unforeseen incidents and other reasons beyond our control. Joining this departure means that you understand the above terms and agree to them. 

In addition, frequent reconnaissance of routes sometimes determines a better routing - we do our best to ascertain that the most beautiful and best route possible is taken. Of course, due to the nature of our small group, we also have benefit of altering our planned hikes to suit the mood and abilities of the group.

 

YOUR GUIDES

Hi I'm Tom Putt and I'll be leading you on this AMAZING Bhutan Photography Workshop. A little bit more about me - I am passionate and wildly enthusiastic about photography, having spent the last 20 years exploring all parts of Australia to photograph landscapes.

I first fell in love with photography at age 13. I photographed wildlife, following my love for ornithology, before leaving university to pursue a career in sports photography. In 1998, I was fortunate enough to take the eye of Australia's leading sports photography agency, Sport the Library. From 1998 to 2001, I covered over 300 events across Australia and the world, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But my passion has always been in landscape photography. My first shoot was walking the Overland Track in 1997. Since then, I have travelled extensively across Australia to capture the beauty of this great land.

I am a Master of Photography and have won over 100 Awards in both International and National Competitions. In 2014, I was awarded the International Landscape Photographer of the Year Runner-up.

Tshering Dorji

Tshering our tour guide has been guiding for over 23 years and is considered one of the senior guides in the kingdom. He is highly respected and extremely knowledgeable with a wonderful sense of humour. I could not fault him as a guide. I believe we are extremely lucky to have him work with us. I know he will exceed your expectations and you will become firm friends. He is AWESOME! 

He has guided many National Geographic Photography Tours so you are in the best of hands. We have negotiated opportunities for you to shoot during ceremonies and also with locals, which will be fantastic. 

  

Included in this Bhutan Photography Workshop experience:

  • Airfare from Bankgok to Paro, Paro to Bumthang and Paro to Bangkok
  • Twelve nights accommodation, standard grade in Bhutan
  • All ground transportation
  • All meals and sightseeing while in Bhutan
  • Bottled water daily (as outlined in the day-to-day itinerary)
  • Bhutanese Visa fees and all government taxes.
  • Bhutanese tourism development fee
  • The services of Tshering our guide as Expedition leader and Bhutanese senior guide
  • Includes all customary tips/gratuities for all staffs
  • (porters, hotel and restaurant/waiting staff - you are welcome to supplement this should you feel it has been merited)
  • Porterage

    Please organise for yourself:

    • International airfare to and from Bangkok.
    • Excess baggage charges
    • Tips/gratuities to the Bhutanese English speaking guide and the Bhutanese driver for the trip (recommended USD $10.00 - 15.00 per day for the main guide and USD $5.00 per day for the driver).
    • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, mail, phone calls etc.
    • Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance (Note: This optional coverage is highly recommended and should be purchased individually as Lifestyle Journeys can provide excellent travel insurance cover)
    • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of our Bhutan Tour Company.
    Please note:
    • All our workshops require a good sense of balance and a good level of fitness in order to fully enjoy all the experiences. We regularly walk to fantastic locations for up to an hour at any a time but in one day you could be walking up to 3 to 4 hours in total. This may require walking over uneven ground, rocky surfaces, soft sand, deep snow, up and down hills, rock hopping, hiking to lookouts, etc. Some walks are steep and strenuous, others are on uneven surfaces. To get the best photographs you will be carrying your own backpack with your camera gear, tripod, water and lunch. Whilst we do not look to exclude anyone, being fit is essential to participate fully in the workshop.

    TERMS & CONDITIONS

    • Full payment required upon booking to guarantee your place. 
    • Terms & Conditions - CLICK HERE.


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