photo tours with steve davey
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impressions of northeast india
photo tours with steve davey
Impressions of Northeast India Itinerary
Day 1: Kolkata
Day 2: Imphal
Day 3: Imphal
Day 4: Kohima
Day 5: Kohima
Day 6: Kazaringa
Day 7: Kazaringa
Day 8: Cherrapunji
Day 9: Cherrapunji
Day 10: Night train
Day 11: Darjeeling
Day 12: Darjeeling
Day 13: Gangtok
Day 14: Gangtok
Day 15: Kolkata
Day 16: Tour ends
Website, Images and text © Steve Davey/stevedavey.com 1990 - 2023
This tour is led by Steve Davey - a professional photographer, whose work appears in publications all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die (BBC Books). Steve recently published Footprint Travel Photography, which covers everything that you would ever want to know about travelling with a camera. Click for more.
The remote Northeast of India is outstandingly unique even in this amazingly unique country! Our adventurous trip starts in the fascinating city of Kolkata, before taking in the states of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Sikkim.
Encompassing an entrancing range of subjects, you will be able to photograph tribes in Nagaland, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, seek out the seemingly pre-historic Indian Rhinos in the Kazaringa National Park and cross the breath-taking living bridges of Cherrapungi, woven out of the limbs of ancient trees – as well as photographing an almost bewildering array of people. We also hope to take one of Indias narrow-gauge toy trains to the hillstation of Darjeeling, one of the summer refuges of the British Raj.
This is an exploratory trip: Steve has visited Kolkata many times, but hasn't been to the other regions of this trip. We have secured the services of the incomparable Chetan as our leader who has much local experience. Steve will accompany the tour supplying his unique blend of photographic tuition and encouragement.
bustling city of Kolkata, one of the few cities in this vast country where there are still hand-pulled rickshaws. Kolkata is a run-down, yet engaging place with a faded colonial splendour, and some of the busiest streets, where all life seems to go on outdoors.
We fly from here to Imphal in the state of Manipur, before embarking on an atmospheric drive to Kohima in the state of Nagaland, where we visit a number of traditional tribal villages - one of the absolute highlights of this little visited state. As well as experiencing tribal life, we will also enjoy a local meal.
From Kohima we have a full-day drive to Assam and the incredible Kazaringa National Park. In two jeep safaris we will search out the prehistoric looking Indian One-Horned rhinos. Unlike the African rhinos, the skin of the Indian rhino is so thick, that it appears to be armour plated.
After a couple of relaxing nights in the jungles of Assam, we head to Cherrapungi - reputed to be the wettest place on Earth. Certainly there are many atmospheric waterfalls here, , but this town is more famous for the living bridges, which are woven out of the living branches of ancient trees. We will enjoy a trek to visit these bridges, before exploring a couple of traditional villages.
A night train takes us back to the state of West Bengal, where we will climb to the former hill-station of Darjeeling - one of the places where the British Raj used to seek respite from the monsoons when they ruled India. Darjeeling is an atmospheric place, and we will attempt to ride the famous narrow-gauge Toy Train.
Darjeeling has a fantastic view of the Himalayan Mountains, and is also home to a number of Tibetan refugees. We will visit the historic Ghoom Monastery.
Crossing to the state of Sikkim, we will visit the sprawling Rumtek Monastery, which is the seat of the Dharma Chakra Centre, before catching a flight back to Kolkata.
Although we have set out an itinerary above, there are always a number of gaps and things that are organised on the ground. One of the things that we specialise on my trips is wringing the most photo-opportunities out of any trip. In essence, this is the basis of all of our trips: it is not just the things that are listed on the itinerary that are the things that people remember, we are always seeking out things to stop for, engage with and photograph. There are a number of times when we have built in time to be flexible.
This is officially an exploratory trip: Steve has visited Kolkata on a number of occasions, but hasn't been to the other regions of this trip. We have secured the services of the incomparable Chetan as the local leader though, and he is experienced in the area. I am confident that we will be able to work together in our usual well-practiced way to create an incredible experience – even if it might be a little less polished than usual.
In some ways this is a positive advantage: seeing the way that Steve approaches a less familiar location gives a fantastic insight into how you can approach photographing new places that you travel to in future. If we simply usher you between pre-planned photo-opportunities, then you will learn less about how to take pictures yourself in future.
This trip has worked out more expensive than we had hoped. This is in part due to the higher costs of travel in the region, including taking two internal flights; but unfortunately due to the recent issues with Sterling following the UK's ridiculous mini-budget last year. The way that Intrepid prices up trips means that it will take some time for this shock to work its way through the system.
The single supplement has also come out rather high on this trip. Unfortunately this is a problem with any trip to India, where there is seldom such a thing as a discount for a single room. The single supplement on this trip is exactly what we are charged for a single place, and so there is nothing that we can do about it. It des mean though that we are simply unable to have any one in a single room without paying the supplement.
On this trip we will be covering some long distances. There is no way to avoid this. The reward will be the places that we are able to visit, but also the sheer fascination of being on the road in India and being able to get some inkling of just how vast and varied the country is.
To cope with the challenge of travel in the post-Covid era, we have introduced a variable pricing policy. Traditionally we have always priced our trips to be full, in order to keep prices as keen as possible. This means that dropping even a couple of places can severely affect the viability of a trip: more than that means we are running at a loss.
Rather than hike prices across the board to cover ourselves for people dropping out we have instituted this policy. The price varies per person, so if people drop out before paying the balance of the trip, but without us having the chance to replace them, then we are covered. In essence, this makes it more likely that the trip will still go ahead, and that we won't have to cancel the departure!
When you book a trip, you should assume and be prepared to pay the higher 8 person price. Obviously if the trip goes ahead with this number then you will benefit from more personal attention with your photography. Once we have the final payments in, and it is too late for people to pull out then we will notify you of the final price and action any refunds due to the actual numbers of people on the tour.
Highlights of this trip
• Thriving city of Kolkata
• Tribes of Nagaland
• Rumtek Monastery
• Cherrapunji 'living bridges'
• Toy train in Darjeeling
• Kazaringa National Park
• Extensive photographic tuition
Land arrangements for this tour
The land arrangements for this tour are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel who will use their extensive knowledge from over twenty years in the travel industry to make sure that you have the best travel experience, and to work in a way which will be the most beneficial for the countries we travel in.
Our arrangements are now handled by the Intrepid Travel UK Private Groups office, which opens up a range of payment options and also means that your trip can now be protected by the UK travel industry protection. It also means that we can draw on the experience and contacts of other companies in the Intrepid Group. Intrepid in the UK can accept payments by bank transfer, cheque, debit card as well as Visa and Mastercard credit cards.
Intrepid are also able to book flights for you, which will mean that your entire trip can be covered by their full ATOL protection (for any flight/trip combination that starts and finishes in the UK). The flight price that they quote you will include their booking fee. More details on their industry protection by clicking here and scrolling to clause 23. As you are booking with the UK office, your booking will be covered by the UK booking conditions.
Intrepid Travel were formed over twenty years ago in Australia, and have been running excellent small group adventures ever since.
Intrepid's Core Purpose - Intrepid's core purpose is to enrich peoples lives by creating unique, interactive travel experiences. They provide fun, affordable and sustainable travel adventures that are beneficial to local communities.
Home From Home - Where you stay is all part of your Intrepid experience. Whether it's a centrally-located city hotel, or a homestay in a tribal village, staying close to a region's people and culture is the guiding principle. Our choices are based on friendliness as well as facilities, character as much as convenience.
Small Groups - Travelling in a small group makes it more like travelling with friends than on an organised tour. It means you get to experience more of the local culture, and we don't dominate; we can actually get to know people and do the things they do.
Experienced leaders - Intrepid have some of the best leaders in the business: well trained locals who act as ambassadors between you and the place you are travelling in. This means that you can get the most from the country and the people you meet.
Please remember though, these tours are based on an Intrepid trip, but are a completely separate product. They don't appear on the Intrepid website, and you should address any questions through Steve on this link and bookings here.
intrepid's responsible travel policy
Intrepid Travel has a comprehensive and well developed Responsible Travel policy, which is one of the main reasons that they were selected to provide the land arrangements for this trip. This doesn't just benefit the locals in the countries they travel to: by sourcing local guides and staying in locally owned properties, our tours manage to get closer to our destination, which helps to give you a more connected and empathetic experience on your holiday.
With the Better Travel Photography tours we wholeheartedly support all of the Intrepid Travel initiatives towards responsible travel. The main features of this policy are as follows:
• We favour grass roots travel using local public transport where possible – which minimises demand for special tourist vehicles and fuel. If we do need to use private transport we ensure that we use local operators and drivers giving employment to locals.
• We choose small-scale locally owned accommodation and homestays where available and local restaurants and markets for dining, retaining revenue in local communities.
• Our group leaders facilitate communication of our values to travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices.
• We employ local guides to aid travellers' understanding of local culture and etiquette.
• Our small groups allow travellers to experience cultures first hand, offering greater opportunity for cross- cultural understanding.
• We are committed to putting back into the communities and regions we visit by supporting development and conservation projects in these areas. We achieve this through supporting The Intrepid Foundation and our travellers are invited to contribute. We also visit a local community project on our trip and encourage our travellers to support local business when buying souvenirs and other items.
At the welcome group meeting, our passengers receive the standard Intrepid Travel introduction, which includes all aspects of the Intrepid Travel Responsible Travel policy. This includes initiatives for minimising the environmental and cultural effect of their trip. These policies are also incorporated into our trip notes, and guests are expected to conform to them when they are travelling.
In addition to conforming to, and endorsing the Intrepid Travel policies, we have our own initiatives, primarily concerning the impact of travel photography and also concerning the environmental impact of our business.
the intrepid foundation
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund that has distributed over AU$3 million to more than 70 non-government organisations since 2002, contributing to health care, education, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development and environmental and wildlife protection.
Contributing to one of the many projects supported by The Intrepid Foundation is your chance to give back to the places you've travelled to and help improve lives around the world. There are two ways you can help:
The Intrepid Community Project Fund supports around 40 grassroots non-government organisations doing great work in Intrepid Travel's operating destinations. Many of these organisations and their projects can be visited during your Intrepid trip.
The Intrepid Perpetual Fund supports a range of Intrepid's 'partner' non-government organisations, such as Amnesty International, Medicins Sans Frontieres and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. All donations made to this fund are equally divided each year, with half retained to conserve and grow capital for funding projects into the future and half distributed to our current partner non-government organisations.
And the best bit? Intrepid Travel matches all donations to the foundation dollar for dollar - up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year. We also guarantee that 100% of your donation will reach your nominated project, because Intrepid Travel covers all administration costs.
See more about the Intrepid Foundation on this link.
Who is this tour suited to?
Our photo tours cater for a wide spectrum of people at a range of different levels. Steve's skill in explaining things, patience and tireless energy mean that he is able to pitch talks and individual tuition so that they are relevant for a range of different abilities.
These tours are primarily aimed at people who have at least a basic knowledge of their cameras and are keen to develop their skills further.
The people who get the most from a trip like this are those who are aware of the areas that they want to develop. It might sound obvious, but if you know your own shortcomings then you are better able to tackle them!
If you have a greater knowledge, then Steve will be able to fill in a lot of the theories behind things that you might have already thought that you knew, which will help make decisions more instinctive and more confident. He will also be able to help you to take your photography forward to the next stage and can teach you a number of advanced techniques and theories.
If you are an absolute beginner, then these tours will still teach you a vast amount about photography. A large part of photography is artistic and not technical. Selecting viewpoints and angles, composition and especially approaching people to take their picture are as vital as apertures and shutter speeds. Allied to this Steve will explain all of the technical aspects that you need to know as they relate to you and your camera.
You will get more out of these tours if you have a basic familiarity with your camera. If it is new, and out of the box then you might spend a great deal of time thumbing through the manual, and not learning about photography. I should also point out that whilst I has a lot of experience with different cameras, he doesn't know everything about all of them! If you are not familiar with your camera, then you should definitely bring the manual with you! Between us, we should then be able to sort out most things!
Finally, it is important to remember that whilst photography does need patience and sometimes you need to wait for a picture; this is a group tour. There will be a lot of time for you to go off on your own, but there will also be times where we have to meet at a certain time, or during a journey need to maintain our pace. If the group dynamic is not really for you and you have the opinion that everyone else can just wait for you if you are taking a picture, wandering off or shopping then these (or any group tours) probably aren't for you!
Similarly, if you are the sort of person who gets offended or irritated by other people easily, and just "have to speak your mind" about it, no matter who you offend, then maybe any group trip is not for you. These trips work better if everyone is prepared to work together as a team, and help each other. We will all have a better time, and come away with better pictures and better memories.
Travel in Northeast India
This trip will require a good level of fitness. We have included a number of walks to help us explore more, and sometimes the ground could be a little rough, and the conditions could be hot. There are some very long drives on this itinerary. This is a part of getting to remote places and travelling in this region. You should bear this in mind when booking this trip though. The estimated journey times are included on the itinerary.
If you have any concerns about the level of fitness needed for this trip, then please do get in touch with us to discuss it.
Steve is often asked about non-photographing partners coming on our trips, and he always say that they are more than welcome - as long as they are not photographer-phobic! Steve believes that travel photography is a great way to engage with a place and the people who live there. Because we are photographers we will see more sunrises, talk to more locals, try more foods and visit more markets than ordinary trips. This means that non-photographers can engage with us - and some even go away with a new interest in photography. We are also about having a good time too - Steve is mindful that this is a holiday as well as a photography tour - so we aim to have lively meals, a lot of laughs and the odd drink or two. As someone recently stated abut our tours:
"Your love of photography and travel is infectious and I can honestly say I have never laughed or learnt so much on a holiday before!"
If Steve had to have a mission statement for these tours, then this is it!
Start: 13 Nov. 2023
End: 28 Nov. 2023
Variable price structure.
8 pax £3095 pp
9 pax £3050 pp
10 pax £2995 pp
11 pax £2945 pp
12 pax £2895 pp
excl. flights, based on roomshare
Info about variable pricing
Min 8, max 12 people
Places left: 0
Trip is full
Trip is to be confirmed.
Single supplement: £750
flight cost £750
Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.
Bookings are made through the Intrepid Tailor Made Dept. in London. Contact Steve Davey for information
What is covered on this trip?
As well as enjoying the stunning, landscapes and culture of Northeast India, you will learn a massive amount about photography and many of the techniques used by a professional travel photographer.
Our tours generally cover a wide range of technical and practical techniques for improving your travel photography. This is done with a combination of practical group and individual demonstrations, illustrated talks on aspects of travel photography and group reviews and discussions.
I have recently completely revitalised our teaching schedules on our trips: we will be setting a lot more projects for people to work towards, and also holding more image reviews.
I tailor the subjects covered on the tours depending on the level of knowledge of people on the tour, individual requirements and the nature of the itinerary. Always very approachable, I am always willing to give individual help, look at pictures or enter into a spirited discussion about just about everything.
I will also give a short daily briefing as to the sort of things that you might expect to see each day, and the sort of equipment and techniques that you might need the following day.
There are a number of specific skills that we will be covering on this trip, including:
• I will show you simple ways to improve the focus and sharpness of your pictures.
• I will teach a number of techniques to achieve great portraits of the people we meet on our travels
• I will show you how to see pictures and prepare your camera ready to take them
• I will help you to learn to see pictures
• I will show you a number of ways to improve your exposures!
• I will show you how to use composition to tell a story in your pictures.
• I will show you how to use a polarising filter to get more vibrant shots.
• I will explain the importance of understanding ISO, shutter speed and depth of field.
• I will show you how to shoot stunning star trails photographs
• I will show you how to use panning for exciting action shots
• I will show you how to shoot and process panoramic pictures
• I will teach you the rules of composition (and when to break them)
• I will teach you some simple post-production techniques to give your pictures more punch and impact.
• I will teach you how to back up pictures and clean your camera.
Our schedule is flexible, and will be responsive to the needs and interests of the group. If there is anything else that you would like covered on the trip, then please ask at any time. I am always happy to include anything in the trip tuition.