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Newsletter 45 - sent on the 25 May 2021
One Crowded Hour!
Like the totally predictable twist in just about every horror film, the monster we thought was beaten has come alive for another go at wreaking havoc! A new wave of the virus is ripping through much of the Indian sub-continent, and frightening new varients seem to be springing up around the World - putting even the most successful vaccine drive under strain.
The title of this email comes from a poem called 'The Call' by Thomas Osbert Mordaunt.
"Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife!
Throughout the sensual world proclaim,
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name."
The last year, with lockdowns, restrictions on travel and many personal liberties really has been an age without a name for so many people. It is certainly the longest that I have been inside the country since I left school, and although there are a limited number of destinations that you can travel to without restrictions from the UK, much of the World is still resolutely out of bounds.
Like many people I am longing for those crowded hours of glorious life that are represented by being on the road again. On our tours, as well as all of the photographic opportunities, we work hard to create as many fantastic memories as possible. Memories can be as simple as a sunrise or a sunset, the sound of monks chanting, a taste of traditional food in the hot sun or the welcoming smile of a local. Sometimes they are crazy moments like hand-feeding a wild hyena in Ethiopia, clambouring across a collapsed bridge in Myanmar or joining tens of thousands of revellers in a Holi paint fight in India.
Although things are looking somewhat hopeless for proper travel at the moment, I am still working towards creating new trips for the future in the hope that we will be able to create some glorious moments together in the very near future. To that end I am happy to release the itineraries for a couple of new tours for 2022 - welcome returns to both Uzbekistan and Ladakh.
At the moment we have trips to Namibia and to Rajasthan already planned for later this year, which have been rescheduled from 2020. Whether these will be able to run will depend on UK, and also on the local restrictions, but at the moment we remain hopeful of being able to hit the road again before the end of the year. There are a couple of places left on each of these two trips, so if you are interested in joining us, pease do checkout the information below.
It is worth remembering that the land arrangements for all of my trips are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have full travel industry bonding and will only run trips if they are safe. They have teamed up with an insurer, who provides cover for Covid 19 related claims, so you can rest assured that you will only travel it is is deemed same and practical, and you can have full insurance cover when you do.
Impressions of Uzbekistan
Our first planned trip for 2022 is a welcome return to Uzbekistan. This Central Asian country has been at the crossroads of history for generations. Invaded by Ghengis Khan and Alexander the Great; ruled by the Moghuls who went on to invade Northern India and then build the Taj Mahal and later was invaded by the Bolsheviks and became a part of the Soviet Union. The results of all of these influences can be witnessed in the culture and architecture of Uzbekistan, and in the faces of its people.
This tour takes us round the great ancient cities of Uzbekistan: Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva, where even the names are evocative and atmospheric. We also spend some time in the surprisingly vibrant capital, and get out into a number of more rural regions: the Kyzylkum Desert, Fergana Valley and also the remote mountain village of Darband.
Impressions of Uzbekistan departs from Tashkent on 9 May 2022 for 13 days. Under our new variable pricing policy, the cost is from £1895 for 8 people to £2150 for 12 people. You can see more information on this link.
Impressions of Ladakh
Ladakh is a truly incredible part of India - nestling up in the Himalaya, the scenery and the culture ifeels more Tibetan than Indian. This exciting trip has been timed to visit the remote Nubra Valley, over one of the highest motorable passes in the World, witness a the Leh Polo Festival and the Stongdey Gustor monastery festival as well as driving from the distant Zanskar Valley down a brand new road to Manali in Himachal Pradesh before finishing at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
We will visit many traditional Buddhist Monasteries, ancient Palaces, verdant valleys and see countles rugged mountains. This is literally a breathtaking part of the World, and this adventurous trip will see us exploring many hidden corners of this spectacular mountain realm.
Impressions of Ladakh departs from New Delhi on 5 July 2022 for 18 days. Under our new variable pricing policy, the cost is from £2695 for 8 people to £2400 for 12 people. You can see more information on this link.
Bespoke tours and courses
The so-called Green List has been released in the UK, where people can travel to a limited number of destinations without quarantine on return. This list is set to increase as more countries manage to vaccinate their populations and suppress the pandemic within their owwn borders. Whilst we aren't able to organise scheduled tours at short notice, we are able to organise bespoke tours and courses in the UK for any number of people and
If you are nervous about travelling with strangers or would just like a more premium product where you can enjoy personalised and individual photography tuition, then our new bespoke tours and courses service might be just what you are looking for. In discussion with Steve Davey, you can organise just the sort of trip that you want, visiting only the places that you are interested in and focussing on just the photography skills that you want to develop.
Essentially we can organise whatever trip that you are interested in, and one of the great things about our bespoke service is that the lead times can be a lot shorter: quite simply we don't need so much time to sell the trips, so can organise something for just a few months in advance. Trips can be to anywhere in the World, including the UK.
You might think that this sort of bespoke tour or course will be prohibitively expensive. Of course, if you want to run a trip on your own, then it will be an unashamedly premium service, but if you are a group of twelve people then you might find the trip cheaper than the equivalent organised group tour, as we won't have to include anything for marketing! You can see more about these tours, or contact me on this link.
Our new conditions
Although we sub-contract our ground arrangements to Intrepid Travel, we need to work to slightly different booking conditions the their usual tours. Intrepid are a large company and can swallow last minute cancellations and running trips part full. I cannot. I have always priced trips to be full, which means if people drop out, it directly costs me!
To get around this we are revising our booking conditions for the Covid age. This will affect when trips are confirmed and the subsequent cancellation terms. These conditions are being finalised and will apply to all future bookings, which will remain provisional until the conditions are finalised. A summary of the changes can be found on the booking pages of the new tours.
A major part of the changes is our new variable price policy. This means that we are far more likely to be able to run trips, even if people do pull out before they have paid in full for the trips. When booking a trip you should be prepared to pay the 8 person price. We will do our utmost to fill the trip, and will hopefully be in a position to refund the difference as soon as the trip is confirmed.
We also require passengers to be fully vaccinated for Covid19 before departure. Obviously if there is a certified medical reason why anyone cannot be vaccinated, then this policy will not apply, although there might be other restrictions on travel depending on the immigration rules of any country we travel to. There are a number of reasons for this policy, but it is primarily to protect the people we encounter on our trips, but also to protect your fellow travellers - especially anyone who cannot receive a jab for medical reasons. You can read about our full policy, and the reasons behind it on our website on this link.
Better Travel Photography
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