HAMID SARDAR

TRAVEL & POTRAIT,
WILDLIFE

GROUP 8-12

MAY 31 - JUNE 08 - 2019

EXPLORE MONGOLIA

Following Hamid Sardar, Harvard scholar of Inner Asian Studies and professional photographer we embark on a memorable journey into the culture of Kazakh eagle hunters in Mongolia’s Altai foothills. Exploration photography is not just about capturing beautiful portraits and breath-taking landscapes; it’s about uncovering the DNA of a land and its people and letting it become the guiding principle in our art.

In Kazakh culture, art – indeed memory itself – is inconceivable without this totem-like connection to the fabulous eagle that seem to tap into early layers of human consciousness and the religious experiences of the archaic hunter. For nomads who still live in the wild, survival is based on imitation of wild beasts such as the eagle. Man hunts, heals and moves through nature by emulating the intelligence of animals. This spiritual connection between man and animal will be the guiding theme
of our workshop.

EXPAND WITH PASSION

ON LOCATION 

  • Teaching and training in the best techniques and personal hints and advises
  • Composition and focus on lines, golden section, perspective, foreground 
  • Work in different lighting and with short/long exposure times and aperture 
  • How to handle equipment with care on location 
  • Private hands-on lessons by Hamid Sardar that can help to take your photography skills to the next level 
  • How to approach local people in natural way
  • The secret behind the travel and reportage photography
SHARE

IN CLASSROOM 

  • Review and constructive criticism of the images taken during the day 
  • Digital workflow
  • How to create a narrative for a book, magazines and exhibitions 
  • Portfolio Review

EXPERT HAMID SARDAR

Renowned photographer, documentarist and scholar, Hamid Sardar, has a Ph.d. in Inner Asian Studies from Harvard University. Hamid is therefore uniquely qualified to introduce the often reclusive and enigmatic cultures of Mongolia. His work has been featured in National Geographic, Le Figaro and Paris Match, and he has produced several internationally acclaimed documentaries about the nomads of Mongolia.

ITINERARY

In the evening, there will be an orientation dinner at the hotel to meet Hamid and the other guests, followed by a slide show and discussion.

Altantsogts is a landscape devoid of trees where the rolling steppe is crisscrossed by low pale foothills of the Mongol Altai range. The eye is naturally pulled across the horizon where it hovers between the sky and the earth. Yet, this bleak environment supports one of the most cheerful and hospitable cultures of Central Asian.

We will begin our workshop by a great lunch feast inside the village elders richly decorated yurt. The Kazaks decorate their tents and houses with bright weavings and abstract patterns that imitate ram’s horns, birds and flowers. The inner life of the Kazak, it seems, flourishes in inverse proportion to the scarcity of their geographic environment.

The first afternoon will be spent developing rapport with our hosts, before setting off in small group projects focusing on portraits of both eagles and hunters.

In the evening, we will have our first peer review of the days work and discuss shooting strategies for the following day.

During our visits to the nomad camps we will observe many methods of catching an eagle. Most commonly the Kazakhs will lure the eagle into a net trap using as decoy a bait-crow tied near a dead animal. After a heavy rain eagles would sometimes become so wet that they could not fly very easily, the same thing happened after an eagle gorged itself on carrion making it possible for a man on a fast horse to capture the bird before it took to the air. Kazakh’s insist, however, that the bravest eagles, those that are trained for catching wolves, must be directly taken from the nest right before their maiden flight.

Dinner at the base camp followed by evening peer review and discussion.

Day three will focus on training young eagles called the “balapan”. Young eagles have no instinctual fear when they emerge from the nest. They learn to avoid attacking dangerous predators such as the wolf and fox, so you must capture the juvenile eagle before it learns to fly, when it is fearless. The Kazakh hunter then covers the eagle’s head with a silver studded leather hood and for about fifteen days took we take turns carrying it around wherever we went to accustom her to the human scent. The hunter will lift her hood only to feed her once a day with fresh meat of marmots and rabbits they hunt around the camp.

Dinner at base camp followed by evening peer review and discussion.

Today we will divide into small groups and observe hunters training and feeding their eagles. Owning an eagle may seem impractical – the raptor must be fed a marmot or a rabbit every other day and when it is cold in winter the nomads will sometimes feed it from their own flocks. While our western scientific taxonomy sees only one species of golden eagle the Kazakhs see a number of sub-variations. Among these they consider the Altai Aqiq or the ‘Altai White Shoulder’, to be the largest and bravest. They also distinguish their eagles according to variations of eye color which they classify as white, blue, yellow, red, and deep brown.

Dinner at base camp followed by evening peer review and discussion.

We continue our immersion into the eagle training process. The hunter accustoms the eagle to take bits of rabbit meat from his hand – gradually increasing the distance between the bird and himself while dragging a rabbit carcass and crying “ka ka ka”. Slowly an indispensable trust develops between eagle and man, so that even the family’s youngest children can caress the bird without any sign of aggression. He then repeats the same while mounted on his horse. These short training flights will allow us to set up the camera in various creative positions in order to capture the eagle in flight.

Dinner at base camp followed by evening peer review and discussion.

Kazakh falconry involves cruelty and death. Like bull fighting it encourages both the savage and the heroic instincts in man. Some say that hunting wolves and foxes with eagles is unnatural, because an eagle would never attack such predators in the natural state. It is a hunting ritual bathed blood and poetry, but unlike trophy hunting and commercial poaching, Kazakh falconry seems to be culturally relevant while retaining a sense of traditional conservation. The Kazakhs understand that eagles are still wild animals that cannot be kept forever, and so they must be returned to the wild before they lose their dreams of freedom. We will follow a hunter to the highest point on the mountain and photograph the elaborate ritual of releasing the eagle back into the wild. Participants will be encouraged to capture the complicity and emotion between eagle and hunter.

Dinner at the base camp followed by evening peer review and discussion.

XXX

Dinner at hotel followed by individual presentations and discussions.

Return flights home.

May 31 – June 08 – 2019

9 Days

Number of guests: 8-12

Local transport: 4×4 truck

Exertion level: Moderate

Accommodation: Authentic cozy yurt telt

Meals: All meals included

transport to/from country

Visa and taxes

Alcoholic beverages

Travel insurance

PRICE 

Thanks for choosing Better Moments for your workshop. 

€x,xxxin authentic cozy yurt telt. 

€x,xxxin authentic cozy yurt telt. 

All prices are per person. 

Groups sign-up a group of 4+ participants and receive a group discount.

Better Moments is a member of the Travel Guarantee Fund, your guarantee that traveling with Better Moments is a safe experience.                                                 

                                              

GETTING THERE

Chinggis Khaan International Airport is the international airport serving Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, situated 18 km southwest of the capital.

The airport is due for replacement in 2019 by the new Khöshigt Valley Airport which is located at the Khoshigt Valley, 52 km south of Ulaanbaatar city centre.

There are international flights arriving from Seoul, Hongkong, Berlin, Istanbul, Tokyo and Moscow.


VISA

A 30-day tourist visa is required for most countries and can be easily obtained at any Mongolian embassy, consulate, consulate-general or honorary consul. However, a number of countries can visit visa free, including citizens of the USA, Canada and Germany.

If you are traveling to Mongolia from a country that has no Mongolian consulate, you can pick up a 30-day tourist visa on arrival at the airport in Ulaanbaatar. You will need T108,000 (or dollar equivalent) and two passport photos – you should also have a pre-approval letter from an organization or company in Mongolia.


WEATHER

Expect warm and mostly dry weather in June and July, with some thunderstorms.

The average temperature in June is 15°C, ranging from 9°C to 22°C.


LANGUAGE

The official language of Mongolia is Mongolian, and is spoken by 95% of the population.
Russian is the most frequently spoken foreign language in Mongolia, followed by English, although English has been gradually replacing Russian as the second language. Korean has gained popularity as tens of thousands of Mongolians work in South Korea.


CURRENCY

The Mongolian monetary unit is the Tögrög (MNT)


QUICK GUIDE

  • Ulaanbaatar, where 1 million people out of Mongolia’s 2.8 million population, is the country’s economic, cultural and political center and has a number of tourist attractions and hosts the most varied types of entertainment.
  • Gandan is the largest and most significant monastery in Mongolia and one of Ulaanbaatar ‘s most interesting sights. Built in the mid 19th century, it is the only monastery where Buddhist services continued to function even during the communist past. The Migjid Janraisig Temple is an important part of Gandan Monastery, housing the majestic new gilded statue of Migjid Janraisig, decorated with jewels.
  • The Natural History Museum has departments of Geography, Geology, Flora and Fauna, and Paleontology in the museum. Displays of stuffed and embalmed animals including the rare Gobi bear and wild camel, birds and fish will give you a good idea about the rich fauna of Mongolia.
  • The Museum of National History offers the richest collection on the history of Mongolia, from Stone Age to modern times. It allows retrospect the unique culture of the horse riding steppe nomads and their lifestyle. The exhibition contains many artifacts and arts, military equipment and arms of Genghis Khan Warriors.
  • Zaisan Hill offers the best views of Ulaanbaatar and the surrounding nature.
  • There are many uniquely Mongolian artifacts can buy in Ulaanbaatar. Perhaps the most popular product with tourists is the high quality cashmere made here. You can buy from the factory shops, the department store and various museum shops.

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.

Payments:
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 on 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 canceled 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.

Travel insurance:
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.

Itinerary Changes:
The itineraries and staff presented in this catalog 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.

Health requirements:
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 participants.

Special requests:
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.

Photography:
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 de- parture.

Responsibility:
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:
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.

The list is for inspiration, since you know better than anyone
what equipment you prefer.
 
  • bring you own laptop computer
  • Storage medium
  • Camera bodie(s)
  • Lenses, 24-70mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom or similar lenses 
  • Bag for all camera gear
  • Light bag for easy hiking with camera bodies and accessories
  • Cleaning kit for cameras and lenses
  • Rain/dust covers for cameras and lenses
  • Charger for batteries
  • spare batteries
  • standard power converter
  • raw processing software
  • Memory cards and card wallets
  • Memory card reader
  • USB key to exchange images
  • Tripod
  • Lens extenders
  • Camera straps for ease of changing from one camera to another
  • graduated filter set
  • Filter holder
  • high quality polarizing filter
  • Lens belt