From the colours and magic of Kathmandu's markets to the serenity of Himalayan trails, this 10-day adventure offers an intriguing blend of well-paced excursions. The rugged foothills of the Annapurna Range will reward those willing to break a sweat with stunning views of mountain vistas. Experience Nepal from a different perspective as you explore Chitwan National Park on a 4x4 safari. With many included activities and options for more, like a soak in the restorative waters of a natural hot spring, you'll come away with a full and real appreciation of this fascinating land.
Matt is a photographer and archaeologist from Jackson, Wyoming. The majority of his work focuses on travel, nature, and cultural and environmental conservation. As an anthropologist, he specializes in mountain cultures and studying how people have adapted to life in high-altitude environments. He is a National Fellow for The Explorer's Club and has worked as the senior photographer and on assignment for science and conservation projects in over 25 countries. Matt's work has been published in National Geographic Adventure, Outdoor Photographer Magazine, Wild Planet Photo Magazine, Archaeology Magazine, and Photographers Without Borders Magazine. When not on assignment or digging in an excavation, Matt can be found sampling strange food or sipping artisanal beverages while planning the next grand adventure.
Day 1 - Kathmandu
Arrive at any time.
The adventure begins tonight! Feel free to explore before your welcome meeting, but make sure you’re back in time to meet the group. After introductions, your group leader will review the details of your tour. We’ll also spend a brief moment chatting about the photography aspects of this trip and how we will work together and independently to make the most of this fantastic experience!
Please note that normal check-in times apply, but you can usually store your luggage for the day if you arrive early. We’ll be sure to coordinate communications and everyone’s arrivals so that we can meet up earlier in the day for those with morning arrivals.
Day 2 - Kathmandu
As a welcome to Nepal, we will spend a fascinating day exploring the culture, food, and people of Kathmandu. We’ll start by taking a guided tour of the royal city of Bhaktapur, also known as the City of Devotees. At Bhaktapur, we’ll explore Hindu temples, pagodas, palaces, and monuments, including the beautiful wood-carved palace in Durbar Square. You can pick up clay pots and other souvenirs in the colourful open markets and taste homemade yogurt, known as khopa dhau, which Bhaktapur is famous for. This will be a great place to explore the many facets of street and travel photography!
After Bhaktapur, we will have the unique opportunity to visit the Sisterhood of Survivors Project. This grassroots organization was established to support rehabilitated survivors of human-trafficking. Known locally as SASANE, this project works with several partners to train women coming out of trafficking to be certified paralegals, so that they are the first point of contact for other women coming out of abuse. Where survivors lack a high school diploma, the minimum requirements to be a paralegal, a hospitality program has been developed for these women to be reintegrated into a dignified work environment. During our visit we will have the opportunity to hear about the project and take a cooking class from trafficking survivors who are members of SASANE. This will be a truly special visit and will offer us the chance to explore how travel and photography can be used to help promote social change around the world.
After our cooking class and lunch, we will continue on to the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world. Built in the 5th century, this UNESCO World Heritage site still attracts many pilgrims, particularly Tibetan Buddhists and local Nepalis. While here, we will take in the peaceful atmosphere and observe Buddhist monks in prayer in the monasteries surrounding the stupa.
As the day comes to a close, we may have time to visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country, located on the banks of the holy Bagmati River.
Day 3 - Kathmandu/Pokhara
Today we will leave Kathmandu for Pokhara, driving across the mountains. We’ll have some opportunities to stop and photograph views of the spectacular Annapurna Range.
Once we arrive, we’ll pay a visit to the striking temple of Brindabasim which stands proudly over Pokhara.
The evening will be time to relax in a café, shop for Nepali and Tibetan souvenirs in the endless stalls and shops, or opt for a more adventurous activity like paragliding over the lake. Before or after dinner we’ll take some time to look at some of everyone’s photographs and talk about concepts of travel, cultural, and social photography. We’ll also chat about the days to come and how best to take advantage of photographing along the famous Annapurna Trail.
Day 4 - Pokhara/Ghandruk
Today we begin our trek into the mighty Himalaya! The Annapurna Circuit is one of the most famous treks in the world and offers stunning views of the Annapurna range as well as spectacular mountain communities, tea houses, and hot springs.
In the morning we will drive to the starting point at Naya Pul. We will start our trek amid rugged mountain scenery where we will pass through several villages, yak and goat herds, and many monasteries and temples. We’ll also see several natural vistas including waterfalls, glacial rivers, broad plains, and high mountain passes.
Halfway through the day we’ll have the opportunity to visit a natural hot spring. After relaxing in the thermal waters, we’ll continue our trek uphill to reach Ghandruk, a charming village populated by mostly Thakalis, Gurungs and Magars. This will be an incredibly scenic day with once in a lifetime views. If time allows we will explore some landscape photography concepts including long exposures, light painting, and night sky photography.
Day 5 - Ghandruk/Landruk
Today we will continue our trek from Ghandruk to Jhinu Danda, and ultimately the town of Landruk (approx. 6.5 miles or 7 hours). We’ll have an opportunity to soak in another hotspring and slowly hike and photograph our way up the valley and through the forest of Annapurna. If time allows we will explore some landscape photography concepts including long exposures, light painting, and night sky photography.
Day 6 - Landruk/Pokhara
For the final day of trekking (approx. 4-5 miles or 5 hours) we will hike along a very scenic portion of the trail to Kande where we will board our vehicle and drive to Pokhara where we will spend the night.
Day 7 - Pokhara/Royal Chitwan National Park
Today we transition from giant mountain landscapes to the marshy grassland, savannah, and forests of the Himalaya foothills. We will make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Royal Chitwan National Park which is home to a wide array of species including Indian rhinos, elephants, Bengal tigers, leopards, and bears.
On the way we will have the opportunity to go on a short cycling excursion through the area.
During the evening, we will enjoy the hospitality of the Tharu, an indigenous community from the Teral belt of Nepal. We will have a unique opportunity to experience their rich culture though a homestay, traditional dance, and home cooked meal.
If we make good time, we may have time to venture into the National Park to photograph wildlife. We’ll also spend some time reviewing photos from our trek and briefly discussing wildlife photography and tips/ethics/challenges of taking engaging photos of wild animals.
Day 8 - Royal Chitwan National Park
Today’s focus is on wildlife! We will rise early, hop in a 4x4, and head into the national park to search for tigers, rhinos, monkeys, and the many other beautiful animals that live here.
The Terai-Duar region is home to the endangered Indian rhinoceros, as well as elephants, Bengal tigers, bears, leopards, and other wild animals. The Royal Chitwan National Park and Royal Bardia National Park preserve significant sections of habitat for these animals, making them home to some of the greatest concentrations of rhinoceros and tigers left in South Asia.
Explore the diverse ecosystems of Royal Chitwan National Park from the comfort of a 4x4 vehicle. Keep your eyes peeled for the many animals that live there, including birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and rhinos. If you're lucky, you might get to see an elusive tiger!
Tonight we will continue our homestay with the Tharu and enjoy a quiet evening with the local community.
Day 9 - Royal Chitwan National Park/Kathmandu
Return to Kathmandu and enjoy a free afternoon to continue exploring. Opt to visit the burning ghats at Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath or the monkey temple.
Day 10 - Kathmandu
We will be departing today (at any time depending on your flights), but the adventure is not over! If the weather permits, we will have the option to take an early morning sightseeing flight back into the Himalaya to view and photograph Mount Everest from the air.
*Registration closes July 1, 2018
You're on your way! Register before July 1, 2018 to guarantee a spot!