For the past several years Jim has led a photo tour to China, and every year he changes the itinerary because there is so much to photograph there. In this new tour, the photography is primarily devoted to capturing incredible Siberian tigers in the snow, the outrageous Snow and Ice Festival in Harbin, and the intriguing, comical, and beautiful blue-faced snub-nosed monkeys. We also have a photo shoot at the Peking Opera, plus twilight and night photography in Shanghai, one of the world's most beautiful cities in the world. This is an awesome itinerary. Even if you've been to China in the past, you won't want to miss this unparalleled photographic experience.
DAY 1, Sat. Dec. 29. Depart from home so you arrive in Shanghai, China on December 29. Don't forget that if you leave from North America, you will cross the International Dateline and lose one day on the calendar (returning home you gain it back). You will be met by a local agent with a placard bearing your name on it. If you want to arrive a day or two early, let Jim know and he will make the arrangements for you through his local guide. If you do arrive a day or more early (before Dec. 29), you will have the opportunity to photograph Shanghai, a city with perhaps the world's most impressive skyline, from a very unique vantage point. We have a 'welcome lunch' today, leaving the even open for twilight and night photography. Jim will answer any questions you may have about photography or anything pertaining to the trip. Overnight Shanghai Broadway Mansions Hotel **** Welcome L, D
DAY 2, Sun. Dec. 30. This morning we transfer to the airport and fly to Xian. We then visit the largest tomb in the world consisting of approximately 8000 terra-cotta soldiers plus chariots and horses buried with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect him in the afterlife. This site was just discovered in 1974, and it dates from 210 BC.
Xi’an has over 3,000 years of recorded history and has been the capital of 12 dynasties. It was also the starting point of the Silk Road where camels were loaded for their long and perilous journey to Central Asia.
We then drive 5 hours to Foping to have 2 1/2 days photographing one of the most unique and beautiful species of monkeys in the world -- the blue-faced snub-nosed monkeys. Overnight at the beautiful Foping Panda Forest Hotel ****B, L, D
DAYS 3 - 4, Mon. - Tues., Dec. 31 - Jan. 1. The snub-nosed monkeys are wild, but they are attracted to the area in which we photograph because park rangers leave food for them twice a day. They spend most of their time in trees so we'll get completely natural images. The interaction of the mothers and babies is adorable. The ideal lens is a zoom in the 100-400mm range, but at times the monkeys are very close and full frame portraits are possible even with a 24 - 105mm lens. The monkeys share their habitat with the giant panda, the red panda, leopard, wild boar, crested ibis, and a diverse group of pheasants. The paved trail to the monkeys from the hotel is about one mile (the elevation is about 4500 feet), and we go there early in the morning for the best light as well as in the late afternoon. These are the times when the animals are the most active, and you will be overwhelmed by the amazing pictures you'll take. Overnight Foping Panda Forest Hotel. **** B, L, D
DAY 5, Wed., Jan. 2. After an early morning session with the monkeys, we have breakfast and then return to Xian by road, arriving in the afternoon. Overnight Xian Airport Regal Hotel. **** B, L, D
DAY 6, Thur., Jan. 3 This morning we fly to Harbin, China, and then drive about 4 hours to the Hendaohezi Siberian Tiger Park. After we get settled into our hotel, Jim will discuss the strategies for photographing the magnificent tigers, and he will hold a critique session where he will review and comment on some of the pictures you've taken thus far. If there is interest in the group, he will also demonstrate some Photoshop techniques. Overnight Hailin Lilai Hotel. **** B, L, D
DAYS 7 - 8, Fri. - Sat., Jan. 4 - 5. Over the course of these two days, we enter the tiger reserve in a chartered park minibus to photograph the Siberians from the safety of the vehicle, just like an African safari. The Hendaohezi Tiger Park is the largest breeding center in the world for Siberian tigers. There are an estimated 400 Siberians left in the wild in the border area of Russian, North Korea, and China. This breeding center was established in 1986, and since then more than 800 Siberian tigers have been born. In our vehicle, we can open the windows for photography, but it will be very cold. The photography, though, is very, very exciting because we will photograph these beautiful big cats in their snowy environment. The compound is very large -- possibly 30 acres or so -- and the backgrounds are entirely natural. You will be able to see the breath condensing out of the mouths of the tigers as well as fantastic interactions between mated pairs and rivals. In the eBooklet that Jim sends out prior to the trip, he will advise you how to dress for the cold and how to keep your shutter finger warm in extreme temperatures. Overnight Hailin Lilai Hotel. **** B, L, D
DAY 9, Sun., Jan. 6. After another morning session with the tigers, we drive back to Harbin to photograph the incredible Snow and Ice Festival. Approximately 10,000 workers create the most unbelievable thing you've ever seen -- an entire ice city built from blocks of ice taken from the local river. Multi-storied buildings, bridges, archways, ice slides, ice railings, and ice sculptures are all created as soon as it gets cold enough, and the result is astonishing. To add to the beauty, electricians drill cores in the ice and place colored lights. At night, the entire city is brightly lit -- in multiple colors -- from within the ice! The photography is simply over the top. About ten minutes away by car, there are snow sculptures that are built on a scale that takes your breath away. It will be very cold for sure, but you'll be captivated by the artistry, the engineering, and the sheer genius of it all. Overnight Harbin Lavande Hotel *** B, L, D
DAY 10, Mon., Jan. 7. This morning we fly to Beijing, and in the late afternoon Jim will conduct another critique of your images. In the evening we enjoy and photograph a Peking Opera Performance at the Peking Opera House with ideal seats to take the best pictures. Overnight CITIC Airport Hotel **** B, L, D.
DAY 11, Tue., Jan. 8. Today we transfer to the airport by hotel shuttle bus and return home, knowing we captured unbelievable images of China. (B, L, D)
Tour cost: $5950: includes all lodging based on double room occupancy, all meals as noted in the itinerary, all ground transportation including airport transfers, all admissions and activity expenses as noted in the itinerary, domestic airport taxes, and drinking water.
Domestic airfare: $970
Single supplement: $595
Not included: International airfare, items of a personal nature, mini-bar, laundry, alcoholic beverages, travel insurance, tips, and excursions not included in the itinerary.
PLEASE NOTE. The tiger sanctuary and the city of Harbin where the snow and ice festival is held are extremely cold. Temperatures at night and in the early morning can be minus 20 to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 is the same on both the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales). Last time I did this tour we had several nights at minus 36. You will need serious winter clothing including a warm parka, boots rated for at least minus 40, but Jim feels boots rated for minus 100 or more are better, a very warm hat, a face mask or warm scarf to cover your face, and hand warmers. Jim will give you information about how to keep your fingers and especially your shutter finger warm.