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Newsletter 32 - sent on the 3 October 2019
Last chance to join us in languid Laos!
Whether you are trying to avoid the political woes of Brexit, shirk the depths of the Northern Hemisphere Winter or even if you fancy a touch of last minute Christmas shopping in the street markets of Laos, there are only ten days left to book up one of the last few places on our photography tour of Laos at the end of the year! After this time the trip will be on request, which means after this deadline you will only be able to book if we are able to secure the accommodation.
If Africa, and not Asia is your thing, then we still have trips to Madagascar and Namibia in 2020 - details of these are at the foot of the email. I wanted to take the opportunity on this email though to tell you more about our great itinerary in this fantastic country.
Impressions of Laos
Known as the Land of a Million Elephants, Laos is one of the most beguiling countries that you could ever hope to visit. This is a glimpse of South East Asia before the advent of mass tourism: formerly the centre of the Lanna Kingdom, Laos is much like Northern Thailand used to be decades ago. There are similarities with the food, and culture, and Laos is one of the best places in Asia to witness the haunting spectacle of long lines of orange-robed monks on their morning alms round.
Lao food is much like Northern Thai food, although one of the main staples is the ubiquitous Sticky Rice, usually served in a woven bamboo container. The local breakfast is often a steaming hot bowl of noodle soup, but the French influence on the country means that you won't struggle to get good coffee and bread. If you like a god beer, then Beer Lao, made out of rice, is hailed as one of the best beers in the World!
Our itinerary takes in the very best that Laos has to offer. We start in the incredible city of Luang Prabang in the North, which straddles the mighty Mekong River, which runs through the country. Here we will explore waterfalls, Buddhist Monasteries called Wats, hidden Buddha caves as well as having our first chance to witness monks on their morning alms round. In Luang Prabang, you will see hundreds of monks walking silently through the town, receiving donations of food from the faithful.
From Luang Prabang, we take an atmospheric drive East to the enigmatic Plain of Jars. These ancient stone jars litter the landscape, and little is known of their origins. This is a very traditional area, home to a number of hilltribes, and you will often encounter war remnants left over from the bombing during the Indochina War.
Our steady journey South sees us spend a couple of nights amidst the stunning limestone scenery of Vang Vieng, where we can photograph the landscapes as well as rural villages and explore some of the caves that carve through the rock.
Although the capital, Vientiane, has grown since I was first here some twenty years ago, it is still one of the most relaxed and capital cities you will encounter in Asia. There are a number of monuments though, including a number of ancient Wats, the golden national stupa of Pha That Luang and the bizarre Patuxai: reputedly modelled on the Arc de Triomphe, and constructed during the war with concrete that was intended for a runway.
To avoid a long journey we fly South to Pakse, which will be our base for exploring the high Bolaven Plateau, where much of the coffee in the country is grown, before moving South the the ancient Khmer ruins of Wat Phu Champassak.
Finally in the South we get to explore the sprawling collection of islands and waterfalls of Si Phan Don – or 4000 Islands. This inland archipelago blocks the River Mekong, and was what prevented French colonialists from navigating the river. Their solution was to build a railway across the islands – parts of which can still be seen. We will be able to photograph river life and waterfalls, and possibly encounter the rare Mekong River Dolphin.
Laos is about more than historic sites though. Lao people are warm and welcoming: the food is excellent, the markets photogenic. We be able to photograph traditional hilltribes, farmers, fishermen and revered monks. Our route takes us to ancient towns, tumbling waterfalls and a vibrant capital city; as well as many traditional villages and markets - all providing a wealth of varied photo-opportunities.
We have created this itinerary to take in the very best of Laos but, it is possible to spend a month or more in this entrancing country and still want to come back for more. I know – I have done this on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, most people don't have longer than two weeks, but if you do – we have organised this trip so that it starts and finishes in different places to give you more flexibility. You could get to Luang Prabang earlier and spend a couple of days exploring in the North of the country. Alternatively, you could explore more at the end of the trip, or travel on to Cambodia to see the fantastic ruins of Angkor Wat. It is even possible to travel overland across Thailand to Bangkok – visiting the little known ruins of Preah Vihar in the Thai-Cambodian border. If you do fancy extending your trip in this way, please do speak to me for advice.
Impressions of Laos departs from Luang Prabang on the 27 November 2019 for 14 days, and costs from £1995 per person based on twinshare. A single supplement option is also available. At the moment, we have only four places left on this trip. You can see all of the other fantastic places that we visit on the full itinerary here, or you can find the booking form here.
The pdf for this trip can be downloaded on this link.
Impressions of Madagascar
Our Impressions of Madagascar trip takes in much of the spectacular wildlife, landscapes and culture of this most unique of islands. The most famous of the animals are the endemic Lemurs, and we will have the chance to see a number of different species. We will also have the chance to see various species of chameleon and even the elusive Fossa!
We travel to a number of places in the country, including the rock structures of the Tsingy de Bemahara, the iconic Avenue of Baobabs, and the spiny forests and Baobabs in the South. We also visit a number of vibrant cities, including the capital Antananarivo. One hidden gem is the austere protestant village of Soantanana, where white-dressed devotees process to church.
Impressions of Madagascar departs from Antananarivo on the 5 June 2020 for 15 days, and costs from £3650 per person based on twinshare. To see all of the fantastic places we visit on this trip, check out the full itinerary here, or you can find the booking form here.
Impressions of Namibia
Although the undoubted highlights of any trip to Namibia are the soaring sand dunes of Sosussvlei which ring the harsh white pan of Dead Vlei, in the Namib Desert, and the incredible wildlife in the Etosha National Park, we also visit more stunning and lesser visited places in the country.
This includes the deserted ghost town of Kolmanskop, the atmospheric Quiver Tree Forest and the massive Cape Cross Seal Colony on the Skeleton Coast. We also get to photograph the Himba people in the North of the country, and search for the rare Desert Elephants.
We have two dates organised for Impressions of Namibia: departing Windhoek on the 23 September and 14 October, each for 15 days. The first trip is led by Steve Davey; the second trip by photographer Jamie Marshall. The cost is from £3995 per person based on twinshare. Already well over half of the places on these trips have already been booked.
To see more of the amazing places that we visit on this exciting photography tour, you can see the full itinerary here, or if you want to book up a place on the trip, you can find the booking form here.
The pdf for this trip can be downloaded on this link.
Lightroom tip 05 - Track your route
If you struggle with captioning and remembering where you took a pictures, then you can use the Maps module in Lightroom tom automatically tag your pictures with gps co-ordinates, plot them on a Google Map and reverse look-up the location.
The first step is to make sure the date and time are set correctly on your camera, and then run a gps logging app on your phone to provide a gpx format track of your route. I use GPS Logger on Android. Start the track before you start shooting and run it until you stop at the end of the day.
Simply load the track into the maps palette (Map > Tracklog > Load Tracklog...), and the set any time zone offset. This will be the time difference between where you shot the pictures and where you are loading the track. Then simply select Map > Tracklog > Auto-Tag Photos and Lightroom will apply the correct gps coordinates by shooting time, and if you are connected to the internet, will look up the location details!
Better Travel Photography
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