Few places in the world are as rewarding for the photographer as Nepal. A land of diverse cultures, immense mountains and intense spirit. Here is a place that changed my life, and may also change your photography.
This is not a trekking tour, it is purely for photographers! I love Nepal and love the variety of cultures blended into this compact nation. Hindu temples attract Sadu holy men, Tibetan stupas express Tibetan traditions and Newari villages are still graced by talented artists. This tour explores the people and culture of Nepal, while we explore advanced ideas behind photographic expression. Travel, learn, be inspired. Nepal is magnificent, and this tour seeks to share the most beautiful aspects of it. We do go into the Annapurnas to get close to snow capped mountains - but we don't do trekking!
We schedule this trip annualy for October when the air is clear and cool in the mountains - the best time for photographers.
October 1 - 15 2016 - With Ian Rolfe and Ewen Bell
Maximum group size is 8 people, priced at USD$4,750
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Day 1-2 | Kathmandu
We meet in Kathmandu on the evening of day one to orientate and meet the group. The next day we start early to see the Monkey Temple (Swayambunath) at sunrise and later in the day we visit the Hindu temple and holy men of Pashupatinath. This is a remarkable place of ancient rituals and a unique place to discuss photograph techniques.
In the afternoon we head deep into the Thamel district and Kathmandu's Durbar Square. From here we wind our way back to the hotel on foot through the residential part of Thamel where the streets are alive with vendors and buyers. By the end of the day we will have immersed in Kathmandy culture and have a plan for our photographic exploration ahead.
Day 3 | Bhaktapur
We spend a night in the city of Bhaktapur, one of the former kingdoms in the Kathmandu Valley. "The City of Devotees" still retains its medieval charm and we get a chance to explore the laneways and Newari architecture with afternoon and morning light. The past glory of the Malla rulers are reflected at the towns Durbar Square while traditional industries of pottery and weaving are on show to this day. At dusk and dawn the streets fill with local produce vendors selling their goods to residents, adding an intimate range of subjects for our photography.
Day 4| Bandipur
We head west out of the Kathmandu Valley and drive into the hills surrounding Pokhara. Bandipur is a pretty hill-top town at the end of a winding switchback road. The local people are Newari and the craftwork of the residents is evident. We have a boutique hotel for the night and some time in the evening to talk about processing digital images.
Day 5 | Pokhara
Pokhara is our base for preparing for the Annapurnas ahead, and we make arrangements to ensure all travellers have snug sleeping bags and a chance to shop for any extra warm clothing and snacks for the mountains. We also get views of the dramatic peaks that surround Pokhara, and the striking slopes of Machupuche, The Fish Tail Peak.
Days 6-7 | Marpha
The day starts earely with a spectacular flight into Jomsom, a village in the Annapurna mountains of Nepal located at 2800m. We spend two nights to the south in the charming town of Marpha to explore a few villages, moraines and scenic locations. These few days also help us to adjust to the mountain air and altitude. The pace is easy for these two days, but there are opportunities for short hikes for those who want to stretch the legs. Accommodation for these two days is clean but simple, taking advantage of some local guesthouses that offer good food and great access to photographic inspiration. Jomsom sits at 2750m of altitude, but our villages to the south are only 2600m high.
Days 8-9 | Kagbeni
We head further into the former Mustang Kingdom where the landscape presents ever changing views of the Annapurnas and their peaks. Dhaulagiri and Niligiri present themselves in various facades as we head north from Jomsom. Getting to Kagbeni is a tough day of jeeps, a short hike and some more jeeps. The trail is better suited to mountain trekkers than photographers, so hold onto your pack and enjoy the ride. Once we arrive in Kagbeni we'll have some stunning sunrise opportunities, colourful vistas and a Tibetan monastery to photograph. Kagbeni sits at an altitude of 2750m.
Day 10-11 | Muktinath
This is where things get a little tougher. Muktinath is where the jeep trail ends and you have to trek to go any further. It's also at an altitude of 3800m so we have to go easy on the thin air. The jeep ride is about on hour and it's rough and tumble all the way. We spend just one night here so we can explore the sacred temple that attracts both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrams. The most prominent shrine is a Vishnu temple where 108 spouts, fashioned in the shape of cows heads, pour forth water that is considered to be holy. There are great landscape vistas to be enjoyed at sunrise, and also sunset if the skies remain clear.
Days 12 | Jomsom
We spend the morning visiting local villages below Muktinath, then return to Jomsom after lunch for a single night with hot showers and hot food. We have a favourite guesthouse here that serves great fresh crushed apple juice, fluffy pancakes and potato & cheese momos. We rest up before flying out very early the next morning, but also plan to get one last chance to shoot the peaks of Nilgiri at dusk and dawn as Jomson provides excellent views of these ranges.
Day 13-14 | Kathmandu
We have two short flights back to Kathmandu in the morning, followed by a trip to the old town of Patan in the afternoon. The following day we visit a Newari village for the morning light and finish the day in Boudanath for the evening light.
Day 15 | Departure
On the final day we head to the airport at Kathmandu and fly home. Your transfer to the airport is included and we recommend you arrange flights to depart around lunchtime or soon after.
- Kathmandu Thamel District and Durbar Square
- Patan Durbar Square and museums
- Hindu temple and seedy Sadus of Pashupatinath
- Swayambhu Temple at dawn
- Tibetan quarter of Kathmandu
- Artisans of Bakthapur
- Newari Villages of Kathmandu Valley
- Pokhara Valley
- Aerial views of Annapurna Ranges
- Glacial valley at Tukuche and dawn photography of Tukuche peak (2600m)
- Laneways of Marpha and the Thakali people
- Stunning views of Mount Nilgiri in the morning light
- Outpost town of Kagbeni on the edge of the Upper Mustang (2800m)
- Tibetan Gumpas, Chorten and culture in the Annapurnas
- Farming villages, wild horses, tamed yaks and goat herds.
- Muktinath outpost located below Thorong Pass along the Annapurna Circuit.
- Spiritual site of the temples at Muktinath (3800m) with Hindu and Bhuddist elements
- Access by jeep to Annapurnas instead of trekking. Option to walk sections instead of taking the jeep.
- All costs are included in this trip, such as meals, tipping, porters, internal travel and more.
My name is Ewen Bell and I love photography. I also love Nepal because the scenery is divine, the people are deeply generous and we have such great local guides to help us on the photo tours. They just don't stop smiling. I don't love climbing mountains though, so my photo tour is anything but a trekking tour :)
Feedback from Past Travellers
"I travelled to Nepal with Ewen earlier this year. This is my fourth photography tour with Ewen and as always I loved the trip. Ewen has a gift of showing you the 'real' aspects of a country and it's people. Every day is an adventure and learning different photography techniques and his passion for his craft is inspiring. His mantra 'go slow' means that you get to see and do things that others may never experience. I thoroughly enjoy travelling with Ewen, he is a fabulous mentor, a great travel companion and I look forward to doing another trip with him."
- Eve W, Australia
Nepal Photography Tour, March 2012
"I now fully appreciate what the words 'tour de force' mean. From the frenetic pace of crowded Kathmandu to the more gentle pace of ancient Baktapur, the wildlife of Chitwan National Park, the picturesque provincial town of Pokhara, the rugged beauty of the Anapurnas and village life in rural communities, we had an amazing time. Nearly every day, we were up before the sun to catch the first precious rays of light and at the end of the day totally ready to collapse into bed. Yes, it was hard work but the rewards were well worth the effort. The travel experience was a pleasure, occasionally punctuated with the odd surprise, such as an unexpected departure from Chitwan by elephant. Just as importantly, my photography reached a new level. I felt rather like the sorcerer's apprentice following in the footsteps of the sorcerer (Ewen Bell) who helped me along the path to improving my digital sorcery. The results speak for themselves and I can even claim to be smugly proud of more than a few remarkable shots. So many thanks to those who made it possible: Ewen, Sam the Mountain Man, Mr Mohan, our gentlemanly Nepali guide, and most of all the Nepalese people who were a delight everywhere we went."
- Martin Z, Australia
Nepal Photography Tour, April 2010
"My fourth trip with Grasshopper Adventures to Nepal was the best yet. Someone on the trip said that her friend suggested that travelling to Nepal was the journey of a lifetime, and for all of us, I think it was. We started in the warm, vibrant and colorful Kathmandu Valley, moved to the rhinos and elephants of the Chitwan National Park, then on to the gray, stoney architecture of the mountain towns with bold splashes of color here and there and the majestic Himalayas shining in the sun. Spiritual places, scenery that takes your breath away, and people that are the kindest and warmest you will ever meet - that's what we photographed. And Ewen and Sam gave us their experience and love for the country along the way. Tibetan music in the van, sunrise to catch the first light on the mountain peaks, an arm around an old man showing us his sword, a hug for a kid, a laugh and a cry. What a journey of a lifetime!"
- Elizabeth G, USA
Nepal Photography Tour, March 2010
Advance Your Photography
If you want to explore your creative potential, learn about the basics of photography or gain a little professional insight then these tours are a magnificent way to do it. If you're ready to learn new skills while you travel then this is the trip for you. If you want to spend quality time with like minded people and enjoy the sharing of knowledge and experiences, then we would love to have you along.
8 is Great
If you have to share a tour with dozens of other photographers, then it's just a tour instead of a photo tour. Smaller groups mean less drama, more fun and are infinitely more rewarding. My first responsibility is to ensure every person on my tour gets plenty of my time and advice, and with fewer photographers in one place you will come home with better photos and the best light :)
Small isn't just good, it's great!
Please check the brochure for additional details, but every tour includes themed sessions, one-on-one tuition, a copy of the "Photography for Travellers" book, internal ground and air travel, accommodation and many meals. International flights, spending money and cameras are not included.
If you have a few questions and want to chat to Ian or Ewen, just click the button below and email your questions. When you're ready to book just use the booking form below. Once you've paid the deposit of $1,500 your place on the tour is confirmed. If you wish to upgrade to a single room we can add that to your booking as well.
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Ewen Bell's other website is called "Photography for Travellers", an online guide rich in features both practical and philosophical. Field guides to wonderful locations, insights into techniques plus inspiring idea to help you think differently about the art of photography.
Photography for Travellers
Ewen's guiding principles are simple...
"Go slow. Get closer. Look for the light."
"Photography is about showing other people how to see, to share the beauty of life. It's not a job, it's a lifestyle. We only get one lifetime, one chance to add some light into the world. Photography competitions are mostly silly. Cats are excellent."