• Dates: October 15-29, 2016
• Cost: $3200.00 USD
• 15 days / 14 nights
• Limit: 8 participants
• Instructors: Louis Au & Ariel Estulin
• Type of trek: Lodge/Teahouse
• Max altitude: 5360m
• Trek grade: Moderate/Adventurous
Nepal, a land of pristine beauty offers unique opportunities for photographers interested in travel and landscape photography. We explore both a rich local culture with spectacular vistas of the Himalayas. The workshop traverses lands inhabited by the Sherpa people, known for their hospitality and incredible strength in high altitudes.
We begin the workshop in the ancient city of Kathmandu where we’ll spend 2 days exploring the chaos and tranquility of the city. We then take a spectacular flight to the town of Lukla where our adventure truly begins. As we make our way high into the mountainous terrain of the Solu Khumbu, Everest, we climb west to the village of Gokyo and the five sacred lakes on the moraine beside the Ngozumpa Glacier where we will witness some of the highest mountains in the world. We’ll walk to the top of Gokyo Ri and witness a sunset like no other, with views of 4 of the world highest peaks, including Mt. Everest.
And we’ll have lots of fun and laughs along the way, that’s a promise.
This is a photography workshop not a tour, so expect to learn new skills in composition and the art of seeing. Instead of formal lectures, our workshop will be focused on providing you support in the field in helping you develop your photographic technique, skill and voice. Our small group size allows for one-on-one personalized attention at every step of the way. Some of the topics we will cover are: using your camera to its full potential, capturing unique landscapes, proper exposure, panoramas, night photography and natural portraits of local life.
At the end of each day, we sit down with every participant to critique your day’s work and show you how to post-process your images – an important and often overlooked step. This will be done on an iPad.
This unforgettable experience is perfect for those who predominantly wish to go trekking but, at the same time, learn and improve their photography skills. For the new photographer, it’s a perfect fit as you learn to master your digital camera and the art of photography. For the more advanced photographer, we’ll focus on capturing the story and experience of being in Nepal rather than a snapshot record of it.
DAY 1: Arrival in Kathmandu/Sightseeing
You will be met at the Kathmandu airport and transferred to your hotel. You’ll get settled in first and we’ll go explore the street life of Kathmandu and all it’s chaos and wonder. Also a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members. The group will have dinner and then there will be a full workshop briefing.
DAY 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu
An early morning start to Boudhanath Stupa. The group will be shuttled to Boudhanath where we’ll experience one of the most important Buddhist sites in Nepal. The magic happens here before sunrise and the best opportunity for photography is during this time. In the afternoon we’ll head to Swayambhunath, known as the Monkey Temple, another important Buddhist temple high atop a hill overlooking the Kathmandu valley.
DAY 3: Fly to Lukla and trek to Phakding
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 2610m. Trekking time: 4.5 hours.
An exciting morning flight to Tenzing-Hillary airport in Lukla takes just 45 minute. You’ll see spectacular views of the eastern Himalaya during the flight. The airstrip in Lukla was build by Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest. From Lukla we begin our trek northward on the meandering, but well-marked trail into the Khumbu – land of the Sherpa people. A gentle climb brings us to our first overnight stop in the village of Phakding. If the weather is clear we’ll have great views of Kusum Kanguru (6367m).
DAY 4: Trek to Namche Bazaar
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 3440m. Trekking time: 5 hours.
Today the trail climbs through forests of rhododendrons and giant pines. We reach Monjo and pass through the gates to the Sagamartha National Park where our trekking permits are checked. After completing check post formalities, we cross the Dudh Kosi river suspension bridge to start a steep ascent to Namche Bazaar. Weather permitting, we encounter our first sight of Everest and Lhotse. Namche Bazaar, also know as the ‘Sherpa Capital’, is situated in a crescent amphitheater that towers above two great valleys – Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi, offering a stunning view of the mountains across the valley. Historically, Namche was one of the most important trading village in the region. We’ll settle in for the night in a comfortable Lodge overlooking the village.
DAY 5: Rest day in Namche Bazaar / optional hike to surrounding villages
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 3440m.
Today is an acclimatization day to allow us to adjust to the higher altitude. We’ll use this day to explore Namche’s local market and visit the local cultural museum. For those feeling well acclimatized, an optional excursion to the village of Thamo is possible. The trail here is on the traditional route to Tibet, so we may come across caravans of yaks led by Tibetan merchants. We return to Namche for the night.
DAY 6: Trek to Phortse Tenga
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 3680m. Trekking time: 4 hours.
Leaving Namche, the trail climbs steeply up the Gokyo valley. Along the way our first views of Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse appear. There is a steep descent taking us through a forest towards the bridge over the Dudh Kosi. Crossing the river, the trail once again climbs through a rhododendron forest where we are likely to encounter musk deer. Another climb again to the Mong La where we’ll stop for lunch and admire the stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. The trail then drops back down to the river where we reach the village of Phortse Tenga, our stop for the night.
DAY 7: Trek to Lhabarma
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 4330m. Trekking time: 3 hours.
A short day today so we’ll take our time taking photographs along the way. We are still following the Dudh Kosi towards it’s source, the Ngozumpa Glacier. A steep climb on the left side of the Dudh Kosi brings us to Dole, where we see close-up views of Cholatse (6335m) and Taboche (6367m). The landscape here really changes from the lush forest we’ve been walking through the past few days to the more desolate landscape of the upper Khumbu. The trees are now gone and what’s left are low lying shrubs and plants. From Dole, we follow along the ridge line arriving to Lhabarma. Here we’ll have lunch and settle in for the night. We’ll have the entire afternoon to photography the surrounding mountains and landscape. Our first evening above the 4000m barrier.
DAY 8: Trek to Machhermo
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 4470m. Trekking time: 3 hours.
Another short day as we move further up the Gokyo valley. The arid trail ascends gently to Luza as the magnificent Mount Cho Oyu, one of the fourteen great eight-thousanders, looms before us. High above the river we gently ascend and descend for the remaining part of the trail. On passing the sand spurs we reach Machhermo. Local legends has it that a Yeti attacked a Sherpa girl and killed three yaks here! From Machhermo the views of Cholatse (6335m) are stunning. There is an optional climb of a small peak offering incredible views. Machhermo is also known for it’s international volunteer run Porter Shelter and Rescue Post.
DAY 9: Trek to Gokyo
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 4790m. Trekking time: 4.5 hours.
The day begins with a climb to a ridge above Machhermo for tremendous views down the Gokyo valley and up towards Cho Oyu. Beyond here the valley widens and the trail varies between gradual climbing and flat paths. An ascent up a staircase, which is carved into the trail, leads to a wooden bridge at the top. We reach First Lake, the smallest of the Gokyo lakes. The Second Lake, directly behind it is a 6017m snow capped peak, Pharilapche – the snow capped peak combined with the turquoise waters of the lake composes truly breathtaking scenery; beyond here along a flat trail beside a small stream brings us to Third Lake where Gokyo village, a small settlement, lies on its shores. The Himalayan mountain scenery today is the most impressive we have witnessed so far. We settle in, have lunch, and go on a short excursion to the see the Ngozumpa Glacier.
DAY 10: Gokyo Ri and Third lake
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 4790m. Trekking time: 3 hours.
Mountains always appear most spectacular when they are graced by dawn and dusk. With this in mind, we start early this morning to ascend Gokyo Ri (5360m), a small peak above Gokyo village. The views on the way up are incredible but in no way prepares you for the 360 degree view at the summit. It’s one of the best views in the world, and some would say the best in Nepal. In front of you are Everest (8848m), Lhotse (8501m), Makalu (8475 m) and Cho Oyu (8153 m), four of the fourteen 8000 meter peaks in Nepal, dominating the myriad of ‘smaller’ peaks. Looking down we see Ngozumpa Glacier stretching down the valley below. As we pull ourselves away from this outstanding natural beauty we retrace our steps to the village. We return to the lodge for lunch and in the afternoon walk up to Third Lake and the surrounding glaciers.
DAY 11: Trek to Phortse
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 3810m. Trekking time: 6-7 hours.
We spend the morning in Gokyo photographing the sunrise of the surrounding peaks as they are lit up by the first morning glow. After reaching the top of Gokyo Ri the previous morning, we are now ready to begin our descent back to Lukla. Instead of retracing our steps, we’ll cross the river at the village of Nha and continue down on the eastern banks of the Dudh Koshi valley. Here the trail is mostly unused and the only people we’ll come across are locals going on about their daily chores – a throwback to an earlier time in Nepal. We’ll have a clear expansive view of the entire Dudh Koshi valley. Our final destination is the village of Phortse – a traditional Sherpa village and farming community. It’s also know for the Khumbu Climbing Center where Westerners teach the necessary mountaineering skills to local Sherpa people.
DAY 12: Trek to Namche Bazaar
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 3440m. Trekking time: 4 hours.
On our descent today we’ll stop in the village of Kumjung to visit the Hillary School and then visit the local 500 year old monastery. A short but steep descent takes us first to Syangboche – home to the world’s highest airstrip – before we reach the village of Namche. A hot meal and cold drink awaits as we settle in once again in this ancient village.
DAY 13: Trek to Lukla
Accommodations: lodge. Altitude: 2840m. Trekking time: 6-7 hours.
Our final day on the trail as we retrace our steps to Lukla. Time to relax and reflect on a truly magnificent workshop in the awe-inspiring Himalayas. We’ll have a lunch stop in the village of Phakding before moving on to Lukla.
DAY 14: Flight Lukla to Kathmandu
Accommodations: Hotel. Altitude: 1350m.
A morning flight back to Kathmandu. Departure time is subject to weather conditions. On your return to Kathmandu your time is free to further explore the city and its shops or simply chill out. A final celebratory dinner with the group that evening.
DAY 15: Depart Kathmandu
Transfer to airport and depart Kathmandu until your next adventure.
This workshop is rated as moderate to adventurous. While you don’t need any special skills, aside from walking, you should have some level of fitness to participate. Rest assured, it’s not a race and we will be taking our time, slowly acclimatizing to the altitude. Nevertheless, being fit will help both in stamina and your enjoyment of the workshop.
A comprehensive gear list will be sent to registered participants that will outline the personal and photo gear needed for this workshop.
A short 45 minute flight from Kathmandu to Lukla takes us into the heart of the Himalayas. Although we don’t expect delays they do happen, please allow for an extra 2-3 days at the end of your trip for your international flights home in case there are delays.
All workshop participants must have personal articles policy, homeowner’s policy, or special camera equipment policy, as well as traveler’s insurance that covers Nepal, trekking, and extraction. All participants must understand and sign off that medical care if extremely limited in Nepal and they are traveling and trekking at their own risk.
The post monsoon season brings a return to stable high pressure, giving mainly clear skies, sunshine, warm days and cool nights. This season offers excellent weather and spectacular mountain views. The temperature is moderate, making it a good time. October to November, the start of the dry season, is in many ways the absolute best time. The countryside is green and lush, the air is sparkling clean and the Himalayan views are near perfect.
Please reserve early as group size is extremely limited. Payments can be made with Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Upon payment of your deposit, we will send you an information packet including suggestions for camera equipment, computer and software, clothing and travel information specific to your workshop destination.
To reserve your spot: $500 deposit
120 days before the trip 100% balance due
Cancellation fee schedule
• 90 days prior to workshop start date we retain 25%
• 60 days prior we retain 50%
• 30 days prior we retain 100%
In the unlikely event that a workshop is cancelled by Outdoor Photo Journey, all fees will be refunded in full. In the event of a workshop cancellation, Outdoor Photo Journey is not responsible for reimbursement of any travel, lodging, equipment rental, or any other related expenses. We recommend purchasing travel insurance to cover any non-refundable registration fees, travel, lodging, equipment rental, or any other related expenses.
Please see our Cancellation Policy for further details.