Kazakhstan Photo Tour

23 Aug - 2 Sep, 2017
Photo leader:
11 days, from 6795 USD
Kazahkstan is a surprise to first time visitors.  Most people don't expect to see and experience such beautiful landscapes, such impressive architecture (both modern and ancient), and such warm and friendly people. Located at a crossroads where many powerful empires clashed, Kazakhstan's history is fascinating, tragic, and inspirational all at the same time.  Many cultures comprise the population of this country, and we will interact with several of them.  Most notable are the famed eagle hunters, and we will have close encounters with these people.  When you photograph them, you will get the feeling you're looking into the faces of direct descendants of Gengis Khan . . . and you are.  The backdrop to these cultures, to the stunning mosques you'll see as well as the incredible churches are snowcapped mountains that are so beautiful it will be hard to turn away. Don't miss this amazing photo tour that offers a tremendous variety of photographic subject matter.  Our local guide, Mehmet Ozbalci, is one of the best guides I've had anywhere in the world. He is extremely knowledgeable about the history of this area, and he also enjoys photography and therefore he knows what we need in terms of lighting, models, and vantage points to help us get the best travel pictures possible.
Day 1, Aug 20.
Departure from your home country for Almaty, Kazakhstan (airport code ALA).

Day 2, Aug 21. ALMATY
You arrive in Almaty International Airport and transfer to the hotel by our local representative. Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan. Its name comes from Alma Ata which means "father of apples". Apples originate from Almaty and Kazakhstan. The city is surrounded with numerous snowcapped peaks of the Tien Shan Mountain range. Our hotel is a beautiful 4 star superior hotel located in the heart of the city. Jim will host an orientation of the tour in the lobby of the hotel at 7:30pm and discuss the photographic challenges and opportunities you will have during the tour. Overnight 4 1/2 stars.

Day 3, Aug 22. ALMATY
Today we have a 4x4 vehicle to drive to a scenic 6000 ft plateau where we will see and photograph nomadic people herding their animals, living in yurts, and carrying on traditions that have lasted thousands of years. The drive to the plateau offers breathtaking views of the dramatic Kazakh landscape. Overnight 4 1/2 stars..

Day 4, Aug 23. ALMATY
This morning we will photograph privately arranged ethnic and cultural activities. These include local people in their colorful traditional dresses, kazakh men on their horses, elderly ladies spinning wool, and children. In the afternoon, we will photograph a colorfull fruit, vegetable and meat market where you can take compelling portraits. Our next stop will be stunning Zenkov Cathedral showing typical architectural style for Russian orthodox churches. This cathedral is one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world. Overnight 4 1/2 stars.

Day 5, Aug 24. SINGING DUNES AREA
Drive to the "Singing Dunes" which are located in the middle of steppes, in Altyn Emel National Park, where it is believed that Gengis Khan and his troops set up their yurts and cooked. This stunning site is a 3 mile long, 200 ft high sand hill offering very photogenic sand dunes images. If you walk on the edge of the hill, because of the sliding sand you can even hear them sometimes as they are roaring and sometimes as whistling. Our hotel here is a guesthouse with comfortable rooms with bathrooms and showers for common use. You will feel like you are in the house of a local family. Local women prepare the meals. It is a great opportunity to be in touch with the local people and taste delicious homemade Kazakh food. Overnight Overnight 4 1/2 stars.

Day 6, Aug 25. SINGING DUNES AREA
This morning you have time to work on your pictures taken thus far for a group critique by Jim. In the early afternoon, we will depart for the other part of the national park where we will photograph a 700 year old weeping willow tree and the unusual and dramatic, and bizarre rock formations of Katutau Mountains. In the late afternoon, we photograph the Aktau Mountains which have been eroded over millennia to reveal a palette of exquisite colors. The beautiful landscape photography you'll be able to do is reminiscent of the graphic shapes and colors in the American Southwest. OvernightOvernight 4 1/2 stars.

Day 7, Aug 26. KOLSAY LAKE.
This morning we drive toward Kolsay Lake, a scenic mountain lake surrounded with snow capped mountains. On the way, we will stop at the Charyn Canyon, a unique natural complex offering wonderful views and great photo-opportunities. The "Valley of the Castles" is full of interesting looking sedimentary rock formations. We will spend the whole afternoon photographing this unique natural wonder. We overnight in the quaint mountain cottages at the Kolsay Lake. Three stars.

Day 8, Aug 27. KOLSAY LAKE.
In the morning we will photograph people and a mosque in a small village nearby, and then we will shoot the unique Kaindy Lake with tree trunks sticking out from the bottom of the lake. In the afternoon, we will explore and photograph the photogenic Kolsai Lake near our hotel, located at an altitude of over 5000 ft. We overnight in the quaint mountain cottages at the Kolsay Lake. Three stars.

Day 9, Aug 28. SHYMKENT.
Kazakhstan is a large country, and this is a travel day. In the morning a 6 hour drive will take us to the Almaty airport for our afternoon flight to Shymkent which was once one of the important trade centers along the silk road. We arrive in Shymkent and transfer to our 4 star superior hotel. If time (and every levels) permit, Jim will hold another critique session to review images taken thus far. Overnight 4 stars.

Day 10, Aug 29. SHYMKENT.
One of the major mosques of Shymkent with its striking architectural style will be our first stop this morning. Then we will photograph the colorful market of Shymkent. In the afternoon, we will visit the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, located in the western part of the Tien Shan Mountains. The reserve is a rich treasury of rare and endemic species of animals and plants. It is home for argali and ibex, roe deer, lynx, snow leopards, wolves, foxes and bears. Bearded vultures, griffons and golden eagles are flying high in the sky. We may also see the local people milking their horses. At twilight, the mosque looks completely differently than it does in the morning, and you'll want to photograph it using a tripod and HDR. Overnight 4 stars..

Day 11, Aug 30. TURKESTAN
Turkestan was founded around the 6th Century at the crossroads of caravan routes from Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and northern Kazakhstan. The city was known as the spiritual and political center of the Turkic-speaking people in the 16th century. Turkestan has gained wide international reputation due to the teachings of the famous Sufi sheikh and philosopher Khoja Ahmed Yasawi who was buried in a small mausoleum here in the 12th century. The existing mausoleum was erected later by the order of Tamerlane, and today it is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and one of the main places of worship for Muslims. The Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmet Yasawi is a great pilgrimage site where we can photograph one of the most impressive buildings of the Central Asia as well as the diverse types of local people visiting the mausoleum. Overnight with a great view over the mausoleum. 3 stars.

Day 12, Aug 31. ALMATY Rise early to photograph the Khoja Ahmet Yasawi Mauseolum in sunrise lighting. It's dramatic from any angle. After breakfast we head to the Shymkent airport with a possibilty of a visit to a camel farm where we can photograph the two-humped camels endemic to Central Asia. We take an afternoon flight to Almaty then transfer to our 4 star hotel, which is an iconic hotel from Soviet era, offering breathtaking views over the city of Almaty. At twilight you'll be able to capture a stunning cityscape. Overnight 4 stars.

Day 13, Sept 1. ALMATY
After we visit a quaint church and capture its reflection in water, we will then photograph one of the most interesting traditions of Kazakh people: Hunting with birds of prey. We will have a private show of the hunting eagle trainers and a great opportunity to photograph golden eagles, eagle owls, and other birds of prey on the arms of their trainers. This is a wonderful opportunity to make classic travel portraits as well as closeups of beautiful birds of prey. In the afternoon, we will have free time. Jim suggests you photograph the Almaty metro stations because the architecture is futuristic and absolutely wild. We enjoy our farewell dinner. Overnight 4 stars.

Day 14, Sept 2. DAY OF DEPARTURE
We transfer to the Almaty airport for our return flight home, knowing we've taken a remarkable variety of incredible images of this Central Asian country.
Tour cost:  $6795

Single supplement: $750 (Those who are requesting a single room might have to stay in a room with WC and shower out of the room for 2 nights (on Aug. 26 and 27).

REFUND SCHEDULE INTERNATIONAL TOURS:
If you cancel 150 days before the tour departure, you will get a full 100% refund.
If you cancel from 149 to 120 days before departure, you will get 70% of your deposit/tour cost refunded.
If you cancel from 119 to 90 days days before departure, you will receive 50% of the tour cost refunded.
If you can cancel less than 90 days before departure, you will not receive a refund.

REFUND SCHEDULE U.S. DOMESTIC TOURS:
If you cancel 90 days before the tour departure, you will get a full 100% refund.
If you cancel from 60 to 89 days before departure, you will get 70% of your deposit/tour cost refunded.
If you can cancel less than 60 days before departure, you will not receive a refund.
Includes all accommodations as mentioned in the itinerary based on double occupancy, all meals beginning with dinner on August 21 through breakfast on Day 14, comfortable private minibus when we are in the cities and 4x4 vehicles for the national parks (there would be 3 people maximum in every 4x4 vehicle plus the driver), two domestic flights -- Almaty to Shymkent to Almaty, all admission fees to the places we visit including the national parks, private photo session and shows to photograph local people in the traditional attire, Kazakh horsemen and trainers with hunting eagles, arrival and departure airport transfers, English speaking guide(s), photo instruction, and water in the tour vehicle during traveling.

Not included: International airfare, visa fee (American and Canadian citizens do not require a visa for stays of 15 days or less), gratuities to bell boys, guides, and driver, alcohol, and items of a personal nature
LOGISTICS:
Our itineraries are designed to take advantage of the best light and the best photographic opportunities. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, traffic, local governmental policy changes, cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Jim Zuckerman.

Whenever possible, our groups stay in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance to keep the cost of the tour reasonable. Many wonderful photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

RESPONSIBILITY:
Jim Zuckerman and Killer Stock, Inc., act only as an agent for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:
All tour participants are strongly encouraged to carry trip cancellation insurance as well as medical emergency evacuation insurance. No one likes paying for insurance … until you need it. For example, if you sprain your ankle two days before departure and you can’t walk without pain (or can’t walk at all), you would lose your entire investment in the photo tour if you ddn’t have insurance. Many things happen in life that we don’t expect, and it’s nice to know you have a safety net to protect you, just in case.

Likewise, if you get injured in a remote place and you have emergency evacuation insurance, help will be on the way immediately and it won’t cost an arm and a leg to transport you to a hospital.
General Enrollment Information for Photography Tours and Workshops by Jim Zuckerman Photography

1. RESERVATIONS
A deposit of USD$1000 will reserve a place for you on a tour or a workshop. Deposits and trip payments may be made by personal or business check. Full payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure date. If final payment is not received when due, we reserve the right to treat your reservation as canceled, as if in writing. Trip fees are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US dollars. No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Each trip is sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

2. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
Jim Zuckerman’s Photography Tours and Workshops are within the capabilities of average people in good health. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with us before reserving a space. By paying a trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants. We reserve the right to request a doctor’s statement of good health. The company’s or trip leader’s judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual’s ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements.

3. INSURANCE
All participants are strongly urged to purchase travel protection insurance.

4. TOUR COSTS
The costs of the tour include lodging in double room occupancy, meals as stated in the itinerary, transfer from the airport to the hotel and return, and all photo instruction. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, beverages during dinners and bar expenses, tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available.

5. LOGISTICS
Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities.

Our itinerary is intended to be followed as closely as possible, but participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by tour leader.

6. RESPONSIBILITY
Organizers act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely.
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