- Visits some of the grand, beautifully built fortresses called Dzongs at Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.
- Drive to magnificent Dochula Pass and Chelela Pass, which offer brilliant views of snow-peaks.
- Day-hike to Paro Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, located precariously on a cliff – one of the Bhutan’s most sought-after locations.
- Several short distance walks in open spaces and rural areas of Bhutan.
- Seeing and photographing several monastic centers and temples through the itinerary.
- Photographing monks, local people, heritage structures and landscapes along the way.
- Visit to sites specifically chosen keeping photography opportunities in mind, at an easy pace suitable for photography
- Photography sessions during the tour, which enable you to capture best images of Bhutan
- Insights to nuances of travel and landscape photography during the tour
- Constant interaction and assistance on field by photography experts, having considerable experience travelling in Bhutan
- Image reviews by photography experts.
Photographing the culture, tradition, people and landscapes in the mountains of Bhutan.
Travel with Darter Photography on an unforgettable photography tour to Bhutan! We take you to the mystic land, known for its beautiful mountains, gurgling rivers, rice fields, happy people and Buddhist monastic traditions.
Bhutan’s mountainous landscapes, river-valleys, efflorescent summer slopes and the charming traditional architecture come together to provide a photography opportunities like nowhere else. The slow pace of life in Bhutan will charm you as much as photography. With a week in Bhutan on a mentored photography tour, you will possibly come back as a happier and fulfilled person! And then, the beautiful images you make during this tour will keep you excited for a long time to come!
See and photograph the captivating landscapes and culture of Bhutan. Learn from your photography mentor on making great photos of the country’s landscapes and culture.
• Day 01 Arrive at Paro and relax, followed by introductory sessions and visit to the town. The excitement begins today, as you arrive in the small Bhutanese town of Paro. If you are arrive by flight, you will see some lovely views of the mountains as the aircraft reaches Paro. If it is a clear day, we will get a good view of Mt.Jhomolhari from the town itself. We check-in at our hotel, and take the day easy. Later in the day, your lead photographer will introduce you to the action that is lined up for the next one week. In the evening, we will visit the beautiful Paro Dzong.
• Day 02 Drive to Ha Valley and back. Overnight at Paro. On our way back at Chela La, we will have good light to photograph the prayer flag and Jhomolhari range of snow peaks, if the day is clear. We return to Paro in the evening. This morning, a winding drive up the hills through alpine vegetation and carpeted flower decked fields will take us to the Chele-la pass(3810m). Chele la is a windy pass, filled with white prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. En-route, we may encounter yak-herder huts and grazing yaks. Further, we drive down to the picturesque Ha valley, where bridges, green hills and a charming river await your camera.
Day 03 to Thimpu (2 hours). Photograph sights along the way and in the city. Stay at Thimpu for the night. We head out early after breakfast towards Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. It is perhaps the only capital city in the world that doesn’t have traffic lights! It is a picturesque drive along Paro Chu River. We drive past terraced rice fields and old houses along the way, before we reach Thimphu.
Later in the day, we go to Thimphu dzong, a large complex that houses the central monastic body of Bhutan. In the evening, we will wander the town with our cameras for interesting sights in the city. Pious people circumambulating National Memorial Chorten in the evening are a photogenic sight.
Day 04 Make the scenic drive to Punakha via Dochu La pass (3 hours). Several photography opportunities along the way and at Punakha. Overnight at Punakha. We start early this morning on a drive to Punakha valley. Today, we pass through some of the most scenic landscapes that Bhutan can offer. A one hour drive up winding hilly roads will bring us to Dochu-la pass, where we can see the snow-capped mountains at a distance on a clear day. At Dochu-la is a very photogenic monument of 108 chortens, packed together densely in a green surrounding. You will never be tired of photographing this monument from all possible angles.
After a leisurely lunch on the way, we drive downhill and come across the terraced fields and homesteads of the Punakha valley. Much of it is a beautiful drive through pleasant rural landscapes. In the evening, we walk through paddy fields in a small village to visit a small temple on a hillock dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, a much revered monk dear to the people of Bhutan. A short walk will give us insights to rural life and agricultural activities in Bhutan.
The temple itself is a charming place on a hillock, where you may get to see young monks playing football, surrounded by a thick line up of vertical prayer flags. It’s a sight that is guaranteed to make your cameras drool.
Day 05 Photographing landscapes, monasteries and village life around Punakha. We will visit Punakha dzong this morning, crossing a lovely wooden bridge lined with prayer flags. Inside the dzong are the quarters of the monks and prayer hall with peaceful courtyards. We will spend some time exploring and photographing the dzong for most of the morning hours.
• In the later half of the day, we will drive up to a mountain village, offering panoramic views of the Punakha valley below. In this small quaint village, you can interact with local villagers busy tending to their fields of corn and maize. The quiet of the pine forests enveloping the landscape are soothing to the soul, and you will be transported to an elevated state of mindfulness. This is as picturesque as rural Bhutan can get. A nunnery is perched on a hill below nearby, which we will visit in the second half. Bhutan has many nunneries, locally known as Ani Gompas, and the nuns play an important part in the religious life of Bhutan. In the evening, your photography mentor will take you through an intense drill of photographing Punakha Dzong in different kind of lighting, from different angles and perspectives. Beware, you may be amazed of what you may produce with your camera today, weather and light permitting.
• Day 06 Slow and easy drive from Punakha to Paro, as we revisit the places along the way for more photography. Stay at Paro.
• Day 07 Visit the famous Tiger’s Nest (Takstang) monastery. Overnight stay at Paro. This is our day to visit and photograph one of the iconic sight of Bhutan – Paro Taktsang, also called Tiger’s Nest Monastery. The monastery is sticking out from a steep vertical cliff. We begin the day easy, and make the picturesque drive through farms and villages in the hills. Taktsang monastery is perhaps the most famous and most photographed of Bhutan’s monasteries, perched on a cliff above the Paro valley. We exercise our legs today, as we slowly make the three-hour walk up the hill to the monastery, photographing the landscapes along the way. We take our time to climb up slow and easy as the day progresses. We will have plenty of time to see and shoot from a high ground, and near the monastery before we head back. We time our visit here in a way that we make the best of opportunities to shoot the monastery, in best possible light.
• Day 08 Checkout after breakfast.
Travel by road from Bagdogra
As air-tickets to Paro, Bhutan often get sold out, you may also opt to begin the journey by road from Bagdogra. This itinerary begins one day earlier and ends one day later than the above itinerary.
• Day -01 /Apr 12 Friday Arrive at Bagdogra and drive to Phuentsholing border.
• Day 00/Apr 13 Saturday Drive from Phuentsholing to Paro.
• Day 01 to Day 07 /Apr 14 to 20 Same itinerary as above.
• Day 08 /Apr 21 Sunday Checkout after breakfast from the hotel in Paro and drive to Bagdogra.
• Day 09 /Apr 22 Monday Checkout from the hotel in Bagdogra. Tour ends.
The cost includes
• Accommodation on twin sharing basis. You will share a room with another participant. Optional single supplement available on request.
• Transportation on all days of the tour.
• All breakfast, lunch and dinner starting from lunch on Day 01 and ending with breakfast on Day 08, excluding lunch/dinner in Thimphu. Beverages are excluded.
• Permits and all entry fees
• Photography sessions, expert advice and assistance, image reviews and critiques during the tour
The cost does not include
• Travel to Paro and return travel from Paro to your location
• Additional food or beverages ordered
• Lunch and dinner in Thimphu
INR 77,000 per Person (ex Paro)
Is This Tour For You?
This tour is intended for amateur as well as serious photography enthusiasts, who have an interest to visit and photograph the beauty of Bhutan. No prior expertise or experience in photography is necessary, as our photography mentor will be there to assist you at every level. You may carry any camera, like a simple aim-and-shoot or a DSLR. Travel enthusiasts, who are not photographers but keen to experience the multiple facets of Bhutan, can also benefit from the tour.
Can I bring my non-photographer partner with me?
Yes, you can. We visit many beautiful places in Bhutan. Having a good time during the trip is as much on the agenda as photography is. Your partner will enjoy the journey with the group.
I am not a keen photographer. But I want to visit Bhutan with your group. Can I still join?
You can. The answer is exactly same as in the case of previous question. We visit many beautiful places in Bhutan, and having a good time during the trip is as much on the agenda as photography is.
Is there a lot of walking or trekking involved? Is this a difficult tour? What is the fitness level required?
Not really. We will be travelling in Bhutan in four-wheelers. All the places we are going to are connected by road. We will be doing a few short hikes that are of easy to moderate level of difficulty. So, while you need to be healthy, no greater level of fitness is necessary. The trip is meant to be easy on your legs.
How do Darter Photography Tours work?
Darter Photography tours are Fixed Departure tours that are conducted in Small groups and are led by a Darter Photography Expert.
1. Fixed departure – The dates of our tours are scheduled and announced in advance. The group reaches the destination as per the scheduled arrival date and time. Optional extensions to the tour, either before or after the scheduled dates, are possible in some cases. Please check the tour details or contact us for extensions.
2. Small groups – The group size in our tours is limited to ensure that everyone in the group gets the maximum photography opportunities and personalized attention from the Darter Photography Expert. Our lead photographers get to spend enough time with each of the participants and work with them depending on their photography experience. This allows us to have a wide spectrum of photographers in the tour, from those who are handling a camera for the first time to those who are well versed with photography and would like to explore a new destination.The actual size of the group may vary depending on the tour.
3. Interactive Sessions – On each of our tours, interactive sessions are planned to help you understand the destination well and take better photographs. Our photographers will be constantly with you during the outings and help you in every possible ways to get great images on the field. At the end of every day of photography, your Darter Photography Expert would review your photographs and give you constructive feedback.
4. Led by Darter Photography Expert – Darter Photography Experts are professional (or practicing) photographers who have good knowledge about the photography opportunities at our destinations. So, our wildlife photography tours will be led by a wildlife photographer who would also be an expert naturalist and is familiar with the fauna of the destination. Similarly, our travel tours to the mountains and other travel destinations will be led by a photographer specializing in photographing landscapes and culture. Darter’s photographers are well travelled and have often made several visits to a destination before planning a tour. They are on the road so often that their friends and relatives are often surprised to see them home. We spend a great lot of time working on the tours to ensure that you get excellent photography opportunities all through the tour without wasting even a single morning or evening. Know more about our team, their expertise and see their profile.
What is the typical level of expertise of the participants on a Darter Photography tour?
From serious hobbyists to amateurs to beginners, we have a wide spectrum of photographers joining us on our tours. Beginners on our tours learn about the basics of photography, through condensed sessions and on-field assistance from the Darter Photography Expert. Amateur photographers build upon their photography skills and get a chance to explore new avenues in photography. Serious hobbyists benefit from our homework of scouting the right locations, right timings and the lighting.
Our groups are small in size, enabling us to interact closely with everyone and ensure that each participant gets what (s)he is looking for – learning opportunities, good understanding of the destination and, most importantly, a memorable experience.
I am a complete beginner in photography and have just started shooting. I do not know much about camera controls and shooting techniques. Can I still join your tour?
YES! On all our tours, your Darter Photography Expert conducts sessions to get you up to speed on the basics of handling the camera and the nuances of photography. The learning continues throughout the tour through on-the-field assistance, reviews and interaction with fellow photographers.
There is another option for beginners. If you wish to sign up for a tour and want to get a hang of the basics of photography, you could also attend a Darter Workshop on Digital Photography prior to the tour. This would help you get a better grounding and practice before you set off on our tour. Please contact us for more details.
Can I bring my spouse and kids on the tour?
YES! You can get your spouse along, even if he or she is not a photography enthusiast. Since we travel to many beautiful places and experience many interesting things through our tours, we assure you they will not be bored.
On most of our tours, kids are welcome too. But some tours, such as the tour of Ladakh, may have a minimum age restriction in the interest of safety of children. Please check with our photography experts before signing up.
I am not a photography enthusiast, but would love to join your group anyway. Am I allowed to come on your tours?
YES! We travel to many beautiful places and experience many interesting things through the tours. Even if you are not a photography enthusiast, you can still come with us to witness some amazing sunrises and sunsets, witness the myriad cultures of our different destinations, visit heritage sites and see colourful birds and animals.
What kind of camera do I need to bring on your tours?
Bring any camera you have with you. It is the photographer, not just the camera, that takes the great photograph. For most of our tours, any camera you have would work.
However, on a few specialized tours, specific equipment may be useful. For example, it would be useful to carry a camera/lens with long focal length (telephoto) for a bird photography tour. Consult our photography expert on equipment when you sign up for a tour. Where necessary, we can assist you in renting equipment from our partners.
What should be the fitness levels and age requirements for your tours? What is the pace of your tours?
Our tours are not very rushed and usually do not have activities that require high physical fitness. However, some tours may have an activity or two that may require some degree of fitness. The tour description specifically mentions such activities, if any exists in the tour. Participants who may not feel up to it may skip such activities and still make most of what the tour has to offer. But most tours are easy on your body and doesn’t require to exert much efforts. People of any age are welcome. We have had people from sixteen to sixty on our tours before.
The pace of the tour is moderate. Being photography intensive tours, we spend a lot of time in each place we go to instead of rushing from place to place. Our short tours (up to three days long) typically have some activity every morning and evening, an indoor session somewhere during noon hours when the light isn’t good for photography, followed by image reviews in the night. Our long tours (a week or longer) tend to have similar schedules, with occasional free time on some mornings or evenings.
Although the tour calendars are well planned from end to end, the schedules are fluid and our photography lead will take decisions to move the pace or take it easier at times, depending on the mood of the group, weather and other local conditions in the middle of the tour. So unlikely that you would feel exhausted in long stretches during any tour.
What are the benefits of joining your tours?
There are several benefits in joining our photography tours.
1. All our photography tours are designed to help you greatly in taking better pictures. The accompanying photography expert is always there with you to help solve your problems on the field and learn new things about photography. Several sessions taken at location help you understand the location better and improve your photography skills.
2. Small group size; Expert guidance with plenty of personal interaction all through the tour. Friendly and approachable photography leads, who are available throughout the tour to help you with all your necessities, related to photography or otherwise.
3. Carefully designed itineraries specifically tailored to maximize photography opportunities.
4. Typically cosmopolitan groups with a good mix of men and women of all age groups, enthusiastic about travelling and photography. Our tours have always been a platform to meet and travel with like minded people who remain friends and stay connected even after the tour. We often do post-tour gatherings over a coffee or dinner, where we put our cameras away and spend time chatting about good times during the tours and chalking out new trip plans.
5. Assured quality accommodation chosen for their cleanliness and cheerfulness, good quality vehicles and itineraries planned with the just the right pace – not too fast or not very lazy. We do all the homework to create the best itineraries covering maximum photography opportunities without tiring anyone, so all you have to do is to pack your bags and hop on board.
6. FUN! – Come and see for yourselves! Not often you will come across group tours where strangers become friends in a day and stay in touch much after the tour ends. We have had our group dancing on the bank of Pangong Lake, staying late on the lake side watching the stars, going on night walks in the rainforest, joining Kalbelia dancers around the camp fire at a desert camp in Rajasthan, riding young camel that were almost refusing to be tamed and cracking jokes and pulling each other on a bitterly cold Himalayan night. Do we need to say more? How things turnout on the next tour may depend a lot on you!
This was a fabulous trip for us and probably the most engrossing where we learnt a lot on photography. At the end of the day it was really worth it!! Hats off to you and your team for putting this together.– Prashant K
The arrangements were fantastic and you are a great resource person to teach photography – Jyotsna B
My experience was completely super, and I would most definitely be looking out for more tours in the near future. The organisation was close to flawless, and you evidently had lots of information on the place which helped us get great pictures. I cant imagine too many people who would have had your level of preparedness. – Priya