Explore the land of the happiest people in the world – the secluded kingdom of Bhutan nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. Let us take you on a photographic journey of the contrast between bustling city streets and ancient monasteries, lush landscapes and the majestic Himalayas, vast rice terraces and fields of drying chili peppers laid out like an Impressionist painting – Bhutan is truly a feast for the eyes.
Sisse Brimberg is a highly experienced photographer who, during her long career with National Geographic, has photographed over fifty stories for National Geographic Magazine and National Geographic Traveler. She has covered a variety of stories, ranging from a feature on living in the Art Deco city of Casablanca, to the wilderness of Antarctica. Through the large variety of subjects, the red thread running through her career is that Sisse is a true expert in the art of visual storytelling. Sisse has a keen ability to use the camera to discover the many different layers of a place, and then pull them together in a visual narrative. She is an award-winning photographer who has received acclaim from Pictures of the year International, the National Press Photographers Association, and Communication Arts. Sisse’s work continues to be exhibited around the world, including at the prestigious Leica House in Germany, followed with a cover story at LFI Magazine.
For the past 15 years Sisse Brimberg has spent part of the year travelling to remote and exotic locations teaching photography. She has also worked closely with Better Moments on our exclusive photo workshop program to Morocco, Tibet and Nepal, one of the most desirable regions to visit today for photographers and film makers. As a Bhutan expert, Sisse is excited to share her experiences with you and show you this very unique place and introduce you to the happiest people in the world.
Our adventure begins when we meet you at Bhutan International Airport. We will start our journey towards the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. Along this scenic route, there will be opportunities for both landscape and portrait photography. Upon arrival we will check in to our hotel, and then will spend the rest of the day exploring Thimphu and its bustling, colorful street life. After dinner, we will have the opportunity to discuss today’s images, and Sisse Brimberg will give a presentation focusing on the key elements and skills you can use to make your photography practice the best it can be.
Today we are in Thimphu where tradition and modernity meet. You will have the opportunity to apply some of the techniques that you learned about in Sisse’s presentation the night before. Thimphu is a fascinating place that defies expectations of a capital city. Here, you will only find low-rise buildings, very little automobile traffic, and a beautiful vegetable market. Don’t let the lack of traffic fool you – there is a vibrant street life in Thimphu that will provide wonderful backdrops, and the Bhutanese people are very open and friendly. No wonder they are the happiest people on Earth.
We leave Thimphu and board our 4×4 bus in the morning which will take us through the lush valley to the surrounding countryside with several photo stops along the way. From here, we will have magnificent views of the Himalaya Mountains, the tallest mountain range in the world. In the city of Punakha, we will visit one of the country’s most impressive monasteries, the Punakha Dzong, which is build in the middle of two rivers and dates from the 16th century. The brightly colored Dzong is a living place, and we will see the monks milling around with the worshippers. This makes for exciting photography. Afterwards, we will cross Bhutan’s longest suspension bridge (100 m) which is only accessible by foot, and explore how to capture the shifting evening light. After dinner, Sisse Brimberg will present on her experience as a National Geographic photographer.
Today we will have the rare opportunity to spend the day with locals to learn more about the Bhutanese culture and traditions. We will not only enjoy a home-cooked meal but also have the chance to take intimate photos of the preparations and cooking in the simple but homey kitchen. This will be followed by a visit to a traditional Bhutenese bath, which is prepared by heating rocks on a fire, filling a wooden sunken tub with water, and heating the water by placing the hot rocks in the tub. As archery is the national sport of Bhutan – and a great possibility for taking dramatic photos – we will later on watch one of the local teams practicing.
During the day, there will be personal one-to-one workshops with Sisse.
Today we set out early and head towards Paro, passing through breathtaking landscapes with several photography stops along the way. In the afternoon, we have the chance to visit Rinpung Dzong in Paro, a massive construction which stands on the hillside overlooking the valley of Paro. This dzong is unique because it has both civic and religious uses.
In Paro, you have the chance to experience street life Bhutanese style with lots of handicrafts, vibrant murals and the recently-harvested chili peppers hanging in strands from windows all over the city. You will also have the chance to photograph monks at Kyichu Lhakhang, Bhutan’s oldest temple. The intricately decorated Dzongs provide incredible backdrops for portrait photography. After dinner at the hotel, we will enjoy a relaxing evening where Sisse will be happy to look through some of your photographs and give you pointers.
After breakfast, we will drive up to Ramthangka (10 km from Paro). From here, we will (slowly) walk up to the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery, the sacred Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage site which literally hangs on a ledge overlooking the Paro Valley. Along the walk up to Tiger’s Nest, there are ample photographic opportunities, with pilgrims passing by, prayer flags billowing in the wind, and magnificent views of the valley. We will have a farewell dinner at the hotel celebrating our adventures in the beautiful, rugged Bhutan.
We leave Bhutan and fly home.
Thanks for choosing Better Moments for your workshop.
October 26 – November 2 – 2019
Number of guests: 8-12
Local transport: 4×4 bus is included
Exertion level: Moderate
Accommodation: Hotels are included
Meals: All meals are included
Travel to and from the workshop destination: Not included
Visa and taxes: Not included
Alcoholic beverages : Not included
Travel insurance: Not included
€4,495 in shared double room.
€4,795 in single room.
Groups sign-up a group of 4+ participants and receive a group discount.
All prices are per person.
Better Moments is a member of the Travel Guarantee Fund, your guarantee that traveling with Better Moments is a safe experience.
Paro Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. The airport is located 6 km from Paro in a deep valley on the bank of the river Paro Chhu at an elevation of 2,200 m. Drukair, the Royal Bhutan Airline, is the national airline of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The schedule changes by season, but normally there are three flights per week from New Delhi and a daily flight from Bangkok.
All applications for tourist visas must be initiated by a Bhutanese tour operator. After checking that the trip has been paid, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thimphu issues an approval letter to the tour operator. The tour operator then makes a final application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When the visa clearance is issued a visa confirmation number is sent to the tour operator and to Druk Air. Upon arrival in Bhutan, the visa officer will produce the approval form from the file, and the visa will be issued on the spot.
The climate varies widely depending on the elevation. In the southern border areas it is tropical; at the other extreme, in the high Himalayan regions, there is perpetual snow. In Paro the temperature ranges from -5°C in January to 30°C in July, with 800mm of rain.
The ideal time for trekking and for traveling throughout the country is autumn, from late September to late November, when skies are generally clear and the high mountain peaks rise to a vivid blue sky.
Dzongkha is the official language. English has been the language of education since 1964, but there is growing emphasis on learning Dzongkha to strengthen national identity.
The Bhutanese monetary unit is the Ngultrum (BTN)
Basis of rates:
All prices are quoted in Euro (€). The prices are based on current tariffs and are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, if it is necessary to levy a surcharge, we reserve the right to do so, and notification will be given at the time of final invoicing.
A deposit of €1000 is required at the time of booking. Final payment is due no later than 150 days prior to departure. For reservations made within 150 days of the departure date, full payment is required when the reservation is accepted. In order to participate in a Better Moments workshop the participant must have made full payment prior to the start of the workshop.
The payment terms can be stricter when the workshop includes chartered ships or planes, and any variation will be communicated clearly on the invoice.
Cancellations and refunds:
All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective on the date, which the letter is received by Better Moments. There is no cancellation charge until 150 days before departure, however we will deduct an administration fee of €300 from the repayment of the deposit. The cancellation charge between 150 and 120 days before departure is €1000 (i.e. the deposit). Cancellation charges less than 120 days before departure are expressed as a percentage of the total price, and are as follows: 119 – 90 days before departure 25%; 89 – 60 days before departure 50%; 59 – 30 days before departure 75%; 29 days or less before departure 100%. This policy also applies to pre- and post-trip extensions. Any airline tickets issued are subject to the carrier’s refund policy. Leaving a workshop in progress, for any reason whatsoever, will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portions of a workshop.
We reserve the right to cancel a workshop because of inadequate enrollment that makes the trip economically infeasible to operate, or because of good-faith concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the participants. If a workshop is cancelled prior to departure, you will have a choice between a full refund or a credit towards a future Better Moments workshop equivalent to amount paid. If we cancel the trip in progress, you will receive a pro-rata refund based on the number of days. We are not responsible for any refund for airline tickets, hotel accommodation, etc. purchased by the participant. In the event of the specified photo expert being unable to attend due to illness or other circumstances beyond our control, a photo expert of the same standard will be provided. If this is not possible, then the workshop will be cancelled and the provisions above will come into effect.
In order to participate in a workshop you are required to have comprehensive insurance coverage for personal accident and injury, medical and repatriation costs during the workshop. In addition we strongly recommend that you arrange cancellation and travel insurance covering the loss, expenses and damages arising from, including but not limited to, the cancellation of the holiday (whether in whole or in part), loss of baggage and personal money and belongings, as well as flight cancellations and delays.
The itineraries and staff presented in this catalogue are subject to modification and change by the Better Moments workshop or its designated tour operator. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but alterations may still occur after final itineraries are sent.
You must be in good physical and mental health. Any physical condition or treatment requiring special attention must be reported in writing at the time of booking. By registering for a Better Moments workshop, the participant certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical, or other condition or disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other participants. Better Moments and its designated tour operator reserve the right in their sole discretion to accept, decline to accept, or remove any participant on a Better Moments workshop and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in their judgment, conditions warrant or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of the participants.
If you have special requests, e.g. dietary, cabin number, bedding type, airline seat or other requests, you should inform us of these at the time of booking. We will advise the relevant supplier of your requirements, but we cannot guarantee that such requests will be met, and will have no liability to you if such requests are not met.
We reserve the right to take photographs or videos during the operation of any workshop or part thereof and to use the resulting photography, videos, or recordings for promotional or commercial use. If the participant prefers that his/her likeness not to be used, he/she must notify us in writing prior to departure.
Better Moments and its designated tour operator and tour administrator shall not be held liable for (a) any damage to, or loss of, property or injury to, or death of, persons occasioned directly or indirectly by an act or omission of any other provider, including but not limited to any defect in any aircraft, watercraft, or vehicle operated or provided by such other provider; and (b) any loss or damage due to delay, cancellation or disruption in any manner caused by the laws, regulations, acts or failures to act, demands, orders, or interpositions of any government or any subdivision or agent thereof, or by acts of God, strikes, fire, flood, war, rebellion, terrorism, insurrection, sickness, quarantine, epidemics, theft, or any other cause(s) beyond their control. The participant waives any claim against Better Moments and/or its designated tour operator and tour administrator for any such loss, damage, injury, or death.
Better Moments and its designated tour operator and tour administrator shall not be liable for any air carrier’s cancellation penalty incurred by the purchase of a non-refundable ticket to or from the participant’s Better Moments workshop departure city. It is the sole responsibility of the participants to organize their own transportation to and from the meeting point as described in the workshop itinerary, e.g. airport, hotel, and to ensure timely arrival. The participant should not book flights and/or hotel accommodation until Better Moments have issued final confirmation for the workshop. In the event of late arrival it is the responsibility of the participant to join the workshop, and to carry all associated expenses. Better Moments is not liable if the participant misses any portion of, or the entire workshop as a result of the delay. Baggage and personal effects are at all times the responsibility of the participant.
Other terms and conditions may apply to some workshops, and details will always be provided with pre-trip mailings. By making the deposit payment, the participant agrees to the terms and conditions and the responsibility statements herein on behalf of all the individuals included in the booking.
“It was a great experience to go on the Bhutan photo expedition with Better Moments. The entire trip was very well organized. The expert – Sisse Brimberg – were fantastic. Since it was a small group, she was able to give individual attention to all the participants.
The evening sessions conducted by Sisse were very valuable, and helped us all learn a lot about photography. Overall it was a great trip, which definitely helped me become a better photographer.”
Jishnu Changkakoti, India