"I'm paid to be lucky and that means making your own luck - getting yourself in the right position, in front of the right subject at the right time, and in the right light."

MIKE YAMASHITA

EXPLORE

Better Moments can make your bookings for flights to and from China as well as additional overnight stays.

Travel through the historical Kham region of Tibet from Chengdu to Yushu along the north route of the famous Tea Horse Road, where Chinese merchants have traded tea for horses with Tibetans since ancient times. From there we will continue on to Tibet’s capital Lhasa.

We shall also have the opportunity to photograph nomads with their tents, Tibetan mastiffs, yaks and sheep in the grasslands and spectacular Tibetan monasteries. We shall visit ancient printing temples, the Tibetan white pagoda forest, pilgrims, local festivals and much more.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ancient Tea Horse Road.
  • Tibetan buddhist monasteries.
  • Ancient watchtowers of Danba.
  • A sky burial stage, the ancient burial tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • The traditional printing temple of the Gengqin Monastery, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site.
  • Spectacular mountainous landscapes and heavenly lakes of Tibet.
  • Tibetan white pagoda forest.
  • The Potala Palace – the political center of Tibet and former residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN

Learn about how to approach the unique challenges of travel and landscape photography, how to capture candid moments and portraits and how to capture spaciousness, dynamic energy and the simplicity of natural landscape photography.

ON LOCATION

  • Teaching and training in the best techniques with personal hints and advices.
  • Composition and focus on lines, golden section, perspective, foreground, middleground and background.
  • Work in different lighting and with short/long exposure times and aperture.
  • How to handle equipment with care on location.
  • Private hands-on lessons that can help to take your photography skills to the next level.

IN CLASSROOM

  • Expert review and constructive criticism of the images taken during the day.
  • Workflow in Photoshop and/or Lightroom, and printing.
  • Portfolio Review.
  • A Better Moments Certified Photo Instructor is available during the entire workshop to offer assistance with camera settings, the basics of composition, guide and help in general.

 


ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN CHENGDU

Arrive at Chengdu Airport, transfer to our hotel. Meet at hotel lobby at 5 pm for orientation meeting and welcome group dinner.

The 2500 year old city of Chengdu is known for its teahouses and local cuisine. Mahjong, a domino-type game, is played everywhere. Here, the lifestyle is leisurely and the pace of life not too fast.

Day 2: CHENGDU TO DANBA

After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and drive 360 km northwest to Danba in our 4wd SUV (three clients per SUV). Today, we first drive on the highway to Yingxiu, on the edge of the 2008 earthquake area. We then drive through the Wolong Nature Reserve and the Balang Mountain Pass. In late afternoon, we arrive in the ancient watchtower city, Danba.

Danba at an elevation of 1,800 meters is the entrance to Kham Tibet and famous for its hundreds of ancient watchtowers, built from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to the Qing Dynasty (1750-1800).

Day 3: DANBA TO BAMEI TO TAGONG TO DAOFU

After exploring the watchtowers, we drive to the Garthar Monastery (at 3,550 m), which served as the temporary palace for the 7th Dalai Lama for six years.

Later, we drive to the Tagong Grassland and visit the 1000 year old Tagong Monastery (at 3,700 m), belonging to the striped hat sect. We will also photograph the Muya Golden Pagoda against the backdrop of the Yala Snow Mountain.

Day 4: DAOFU TO SEDA

Today, we drive around 230 km to Seda via Luhuo. Seda Larong Monastery (at 4,000 m) was founded in 1980 and soon became one of the largest Tibetan buddhist red hat sect monasteries in the world, drawing tens of thousands of lamas and nuns to study and live here.

Day 5: SEDA TO GANZI

Today, we drive to Ganzi, stopping at the Dongga Monastery. Here is a huge sky burial stage, the ancient burial tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

In Tibetan, Ganzi means the pure and beautiful place. Ganzi Monastery belonging to the yellow hat sect is the first and most important monastery of the 13 famous monasteries in Ganzi, Luhuo and Daofu.

Day 6: GANZI 230KM TO BAIYU

Today, we drive the off-beaten track to experience the Yaqin Monastery on an island formed by a U-turn of the Changqu River. Counting some 20,000 nuns at its highest, this is the largest nunnery in the world. Thousands of small, 1-2 m3 wooden huts stand here, where the nuns spend 100 days in winter, meditating and studying, only allowed outside to walk after sunset.

Day 7: BAIYU TO DERGE

Baiyu is an extremely remote, humid and green town on the banks of the Yalong River. Local people first saw a motor vehicle in the 1980s and few tourists have ever been here. We visit the 840 year-old Gatuo Monastery located on a 4800 m high cliff.

Day 8: DERGE

En route along the zigzag road we will enjoy magnificent views of the Trola Pass at 5,000 m. Derge is an important cultural hub, and many famous Tibetan writers and singers are from here.

Inside the Gengqin Monastery we find the largest, still active traditional printing temple, founded in 1729. It is listed as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site and one of the foremost cultural treasures of Tibet. Books are still being handprinted from hand-carved wooden blocks here.

At the foot of the Trola Mountain Range, we photograph Lhamo Latso, the largest glacier lake at an elevation of over 4,000 meters.

Day 9: DERGE TO SERXU

At 4,150 meters Serxu is the highest town in the Sichuan Province and the most remote county from Chengdu, 1,070 km away. Zhaxika is home of the most yaks in China. Local people are known for their singing and dancing.

Day 10: SERXU TO YUSHU

Bage Mani Wall is the longest Mani wall in the Tibetan area. The Bage pile of inscribed prayer stones is 1.6 km long, 2-3 meters wide and 3 meters tall. The white Tibetan Pagoda connects with the Mani wall.

We visit the Shechen Monastery, housing in the grand hall the second largest golden statue of the Tibetan Future Buddha.

Day 11: YUSHU

Jiagu Monastery, located on a hilltop of Yushu, gives us a panoramic view of new Yushu after the 2010 earthquake.

We will see the wall paintings at the Wenzheng Monastery and visit the world largest mini stones town. It is said, that there are 2.5-3 billion piles of mani stones at the Gyana Mani Monastery.

Day 12: YUSHU TO XINING

Today, we fly to Xining and start our journey by overnight train to Lhasa.

Overnight on train by soft sleeper berth.

Day 13: XINING TO LHASA

From sunrise we can photograph the landscape through the train window. We arrive in Lhasa in late afternoon, ascending to 3,600 meters. Free time to rest and acclimatise.

Lhasa, the holy capital of Tibet, still maintains its spirituality and mystique despite the growing population of Han Chinese and rapid development of the city in recent years. The early morning is the best time to appreciate the spiritual face of Lhasa.

Day 14: LHASA

In the morning, we visit the most famous landmark of Tibet, the Potala Palace, the political center of Tibet and former residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The approach to the Potala requires climbing many steep steps, so we take it slowly.

After lunch, we take a short drive to the outskirts of Lhasa, where Sera Monastery gives us  a wonderful view of the entire city. Here we will have a chance to print our own sutra texts on traditional long paper, and experience the debating courtyard, where nearly a hundred monks hone their debating skills in an elaborate clapping ceremony.

Day 15: LHASA

Our trip ends. Flights home.

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TIBET

KHAM TIBET – SPIRITUAL WORLD OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM

September 16 – September 30, 2018

15 days

MIKE YAMASHITA

Photographer Michael Yamashita has been shooting for the National Geographic magazine for over 30 years, combining his dual passions of photography and travel. After graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in Asian studies, he spent seven years in Asia, which became his photographic area of specialty. Upon returning to the US, Yamashita began shooting for the National Geographic as well as other American and international magazines and clients.

TRAVEL WITH THE BEST

 

SEE ALL EXPERTS

OVERVIEW

Better Moments can make your bookings for flights to and from China as well as additional overnight stays.

Number of guests: 8-12

Local transport: Train, private vehicle, plane
Exertion level: Easy
Accommodation: Hotels and overnight train berth 
Meals: All meals included
Type of photography: Travel & Landscape

PRICE

€8,955 per person in double room.
€9,695 per person in single room.

Groups
If you sign-up a group of 4+ participants you will receive a discount based on the size of your group.

Includes:
Domestic flights and airport taxes.
Group land transfers for whole trip, 4WD SUV with driver.
Hotel accommodation and all meals.
Coaching, teaching, workshops and seminars with Mike Yamashita.
All admissions and activity expenses.

Excludes:

Local flights and airport taxes.
Discretionary gratuities for drivers, local guides, hotel porter .
All performance, model fee and hotel porter fee.
Travel insurance, AEA/SOS evacuation coverage ($25 per head), alcoholic beverages.

QUICK GUIDE

GETTING THERE

Better Moments can make your bookings for flights to and from China as well as additional overnight stays.

Chengdu Airport serves the 2500-year-old city of Chengdu, capital of the fertile Sichuan province known as the breadbasket of China.


VISA

All visitors are required to have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended stay. It is the responsibility of each traveller to obtain all valid travel documents and visas before arrival at this destination.


WEATHER

The weather is highly unpredictable, and three to four seasons could appear within a span of 24 hours. Hail and snow over the high mountain passes is quite common.


RELIGION

Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and travellers should endeavour to respect their customs and beliefs. Always walk around Tibetan Buddhist religious sites or monasteries in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes. In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects.


LANGUAGE

Khams Tibetan is used by the majority of people in Kham, but this vast region is inhabited by over 14 culturally and linguistically distinct ethnic groups. At least one-third of Kham residents are speakers of Qiangic languages. Mandarin is also used.


HEALTH

Check with your doctor which vaccinations or medications are recommended for this destination. Remember to plan well ahead with vaccinations. Allow up to six weeks to receive the full course, as some vaccinations require more than one dose, and some should not be given together.

Because of the elevation, the sun is going to be very strong. Bring and use sunscreen. Also bring warm close for bad weather.


CURRENCY

Chinese Yuan.


QUICK GUIDE

Kham is a historical region of Tibet covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibet Autonomous Region and Sichuan, with smaller portions located within the Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. The terrain is mountainous with deep valleys and several large rivers such as the Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Salween and Mekong running through. Here you will find ancient Tibetan buddhist monasteries, nomads and yaks, pagodas and pilgrims, teahouses and prayer flags flapping in the wind.

Kham is also the core area of the famed Tea Horse Road, where Chinese merchants traded tea from the Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces to Tibetans in exchange for horses over a 3,000 km network of mountain trails. On this trip we travel along the north route of the Tea Horse Road from Chengdu to Yushu, and from there on to Tibet by the rail on the roof of world.

The highest elevation is over 5,000 meters, the highest overnight lodge is 4,200 meters above sea level. During the whole trip, three people share one 4 WD SUV with a local driver. The lodgings will be the best local hotel available, but equal to 2-3 star hotel standard. A hot shower is not available daily.