This year, for the first time since 2012 I am not taking a photo tour to Bhutan. It’s not that I am sick of Bhutan, quite the contrary, I enjoy Bhutan more each time I go. It was the roads… The extensive road works from one end of the country to the other were making the driving somewhat unpleasant. The good news is that the road project is well underway and is due to be completed by the end of this year.
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Dates are out for my Bhutan Photo Tour for 2018. I’m still building the web page with all the details and the full itinerary, but all the planning is done the itinerary is written and the hotels are reserved.
15 days in Bhutan.
This tour will follow my tried and tested plan of 15 days in Bhutan, a small group travelling in cars (not a bus) with only two participants, a local driver and a guide per car.
2 Cultural Festivals.
I base the itinerary of the tour around the local cultural festivals, which are a major highlight of the tours. This year the timing is finally right for me to include two festivals I have been wanting to attend for years, but I’ll tell you more about that later.
Dates for my next Bhutan Photo Tour are… 4 – 19 November 2018.
Full details and itinerary will be out soon, if you would like to be kept up to date you can email me email@example.com or you can just keep an eye on the blog.
Something a little different here, shot from a high pass in the Himalayan mountains of Bhutan during a brief pause to change a flat tyre and admire the view… I think in the opposite order though, the tyre went flat after we stopped to admire the view. Still, it gave us more time to watch the changing light and the clouds floating past below, bumping into the trees and high ridges.
I used a 200mm tele to really isolate this small scene from the mountainous background. The light was streaming down the valley and the cloud was strongly side lit giving it this magical luminous quality. The mountains behind the cloud are just visible as the slanting diagonal lines in the background.
Bhutan Photo Tour 2016 almost full.
I’ve got just 4 places left on this years 15 day Bhutan Photo Tour, leaving October 3rd from Bangkok, we have managed to coincide with three cultural festival this year, something I have never managed before.
The above image was shot with the Nikon D810 and the Nikon 70-200 f4 lens, it’s had a little cropped off the top and bottom, but very little post processing.
Contrasting with the previous entry of the Himalayan landscape without any visible sign of humans, I also love the Bhutanese traditional rice terracing found all over the mountainous countryside, like this image from the far East of Bhutan in the region of Mongar.
Bhutan is a land of small holding subsistence farming, and the vast majority of the land is still under thick native forest, in fact the forest cover is increasing yearly and it’s basically forbidden to clear new land for farming. The Bhutanese landscape is very mountainous, the valleys are steep and with only a few exceptions, narrow, so every bit of flat space is utilised carefully for cropping. When the land is not flat, they make it flat with terracing. Very clever use of space and it makes for beautiful scenery.
On my last Photo Tour to Bhutan I found myself gazing more and more at the magical Himalayan Landscape.
Last year I made two trips to Bhutan, one in the Himalayan Spring in April, and again in Autumn in November. Both times of year are beautiful and in quite different ways. In Spring the rice is just being planted and the fields are beginning to go green, the trees are starting to sprout new fresh leaves and the land is waking up from the big freeze of winter. Autumn of course is the opposite, the rice is being harvested, vegetables are being stored, the chillies are all on the roof being dried for winter use and the land is slowing down ready to go into hibernation. Both very different views and it was a new perspective for me to see both ends of the seasons in one year, to revisit places who on the last visit were planting when they were now harvesting.
The other thing I noticed last year was that I found myself shooting more landscapes of Bhutan. On previous photo tours of Bhutan (2016 will be my 7th trip there) I was almost totally captivated with the people and the culture, it’s so very different to where I am from that it was hard not to be. These last two trips it felt like I was re-seeing the amazing Bhutanese landscape, both the natural world and the place that the Bhutanese people have made within it for what really is thousands of years.
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There is a lovely small Monastery I always visit on my Bhutan Photographic tours each year, on the slopes of the Phobjikha Valley in Western Bhutan. Normally it’s very quiet and serene with just a few peaceful Monks and a stunning view down the valley. As I have been going there for quite a few years, we usually get invited in to photograph the morning prayers in the small temple, a special privilege not normally granted (see this post). Not this year.
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A few minutes after the previous image at the Ura Valley festival in Bhutan. Really it’s just the same post split into two.
I always go off to Bhutan with the best intentions to write Blog entries as I travel with new images daily. Occasionally it works out as planned and I put up the odd entry as I travel… Not this time, not even one entry. I think this was a result of pretty hopeless internet, and a tour group who were so enthusiastic to do and see everything that I was run ragged every day. By the time we were finished for the evening it was all I could do to drag myself to bed!
I also embarrassed to say that I have barely looked at my images from that trip, again as a result of too little time, or at least the desire to sleep during whatever time I had.
This image is of two of my Bhutanese guides, Tshering (on the right) and Kezang, having a laugh with some local kids at the festival in Ura Valley, it’s a candid shot facing away from the action of the dancers at the festival. Shot on a Nikon D810 and the 24-70mm f2.8 lens
I’m in a hotel in Bangkok on my way to Bhutan for this months 15 day photographic tour to Bhutan. Got to get up at 3am tomorrow morning for the flight to Paro which should take about 4.5 hours, including the stop at Guwahati airport in India. Last time we got stuck on the runway in India for about 6 hours waiting for the fog to lift from the Paro Valley so the pilot could see the runway and not actually crash into the mountains.
It’s certainly an exciting descent, going through 3 valleys with the edges of the cliffs brushing the wingtips… Not the sort of thing you would want to do if the valleys are filled with dense fog! Anyway, the 6 hours on the runway turned out to be very interesting as we were in the plane with about half the government of Bhutan (in economy class), who seemed to be a lovely humble bunch who were more than happy to chat to the wide eyed curious foreigners about the working of their little Himalayan country.
I can’t say I’m actually hoping it will happen again, 6 hours in sweltering Assam province of India in a metal tube in the baking sun with no A/C was not something I am keen to repeat, but still, sometimes the most amazing things can come out of trying circumstances.
What does all this have to do with the image I am posting? Nothing really, other than it was shot in Bhutan and I am on my way there now…
The image is actually of a young novice Monk studying his lessons in the tenuous warmth of the early morning sun at the Gangtey Goemba, a tiny Monastery in Central Bhutan in the Phobjikha Valley
I was going to put up a post this morning saying Bhutan Photo tour for November has only 3 places left (from a total of 10)… But that was before I got to work. After arriving at work my Bhutan Photo Tour for November 2015 is completely full!
Bhutan Photo Tour 2016 Dates soon
I will be headed to Bhutan in a couple of weeks and one of my objectives while I am there will be to research locations and festivals for the 2016 tours, so keep an eye on the blog. If you would like to be on the early notification list you can send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org