Loved by non-photographers too, our photo tour holidays offer the ultimate, small-group travel experience to the world's most wonderful and unique places - with special access away from the crowds. I love to travel, but I hate being stuck with loads of other people (especially when we've got nothing in common), being taken to the regular, over-crowded tourist attractions or wasting hours in an amazing country just relaxing by some pool. I want to get the most out of my holidays - I want to see as many different animals as I can, I want to travel through different landscapes and be shown hidden gems off the beaten path, I want to experience the culture, taste the food, meet new friends with similar interests, enjoy some luxury and importantly, I want to have the time to take some beautiful and unique photos of it all. This is what we strive for with our photography tours and workshops.
It's not enough for me to spot a distant lion, tick it off and move on - I wan't to have the option to try and get closer, on the correct side for best lighting and even wait for him to lift his head and stare directly down the barrel of my camera lens for a great photo - or to move on when I'm done - I want flexibility. I want the inside tips for the best photo location to be ready when the sun rises over the horizon and spills across the bay onto those boulders - and if I can't quite get my photo to work, it'd be awesome to have a friendly pro-photographer right there to offer advice (not one who'll stand in front of me to get the best shot themselves!). If there's a seal colony out on an island nearby, then I'd want to charter a boat tour out there just with my friends onboard so we can spend as long or as short as we want to get the photos without being crowded on a regular sight-seeing tour. If the seal colony was a bit of a tourist attraction on a local beach then I'd want to wait for the crowds to leave, and go down onto the beach after hours - just us as a small group, and a private ranger guide to photograph them at our leisure in beautiful evening lighting.
You don't even need to be a photographer to love this style of holiday - who wouldn't like a bit of luxury and a bit of extra patience from their tour leaders, or to be given the opportunity to fly over lakes covered in pink flamingos in Africa in a doors-off plane or over a beautiful coastline in a doors-off helicopter for some epic views? Stay on a private island, learn some new skills with your photography, make some new friends and have an unforgettable, unique holiday - all at the same time! Sound good? Well, there's a reason more than half of our guests come back again, and again on our photo tours!
Absolutely not! We have many non-photographers (and partners of photographers) enjoy our tours! As one guest said "It didn’t matter that I’m not a photographer - I used my iPhone. Just experiencing all these amazing locations at a relaxed pace, in comfort and without the crowds was wonderful!". The expert photography tuition is a bonus - the incredible access to experience the best places in a tiny group is the main thing! If you're traveling to take photos, or just as a holiday - in the end, it's all about seeing as many of the amazing animals as possible, experiencing the local food and culture, admiring the landscapes, breathing the fresh air and enjoying the whole unforgettable experience with a small group of friends. Whether or not you put a camera in front of your face doesn't really change this. We've had many non-photographers come on our tour, enjoying just spotting animals, identifying them, or watching their behaviour and by the end of the trip many of them do start picking up a camera (or borrowing one of ours) and start getting excited about photography too! Some have later gone on to become full-on photographers, to the delight of their partners! Either way, they have a ball and often come away with us again and again.
Most photography guests are beginner to keen-enthusiast level - so no need to stress that your photography may not be good enough - the whole point is to improve your photography, no matter what your level! Our tours are enjoyed by everyone from non-photographers, iPhone and happy-snap photographers right up to serious professionals. We start each tour with a quick photography crash-course, and our expert photography guides are there to help you throughout the whole tour. There is no better way to improve your photography than spending a solid week or two practicing, surrounded by amazingly inspiring subjects, with a small, friendly group of like-minded people. You will be amazed how much your photography will improve. We're there to offer as much or as little assistance as you'd like, at whatever level of complexity you're ready for.
The level of physical activity varies for each of our tours, however none involve strenuous hiking or anything like that. In Kenya, for example, the hardest thing you'll have to do is walk to and from your tour vehicle mostly, other destinations involve things like optional snorkelling, or may include short walks or humid conditions. We've had 83 year old guests, guests with bad knees and even heart-conditions do even what we consider our most strenuous tours, so rest assured the tour you're looking at is very likely achievable. If you're concerned, just ask us. The tour information booklet we provide for each tour gives a clearer indication of what's involved for each destination. We're very mindful of the abilities of our guests and can always provide less demanding alternatives for those wishing a break.
For each of our tours, we've carefully prepared (and keep updated) a detailed information booklet covering everything including our recommendations for what kind of camera & lenses we'd consider well suited for that trip, as well as also everything else like clothes, what type of power plug, what currency, what the climate is like, language tips and plenty of other information to help answer all your questions! We'll send you a copy of this information booklet when you book, or you can email us for one in advance. We also have a selection of lenses including telephoto lenses for hire, please email us in advance if you're interested.
We do have a selection of lenses (including macro, wide and telephoto lenses, for both Canon and Nikon) available for hire. Please just ask us about this if you're interested during your booking. There's no need for amazing camera gear though to enjoy our tours - some guests come as non-photographers or just with an iPhone camera and still absolutely love the experience of small-group, luxury and relaxed-pace travel to these very special places. It's up to you how serious you want your photography focus to be, and we do provide an information booklet for each tour including our recommendations for what kind of camera & lenses we'd consider best suited to maximise your photography for each trip. We'll send you a copy of this information booklet when you book, or you can email us for one in advance.
Fear not - more than half of our tour guests travel solo. To help you make friends before you even leave and to be reassured and aided by the advice of your fellow-travellers (and those who have gone before you), we've created an interactive Facebook group for our CBP Voyager Club members (that's anyone who's been on, or is going on any of our tours, which also gives them 10% OFF any future tours!). You can find out who's coming from your area, perhaps even meet up beforehand or fly together. This is a great resource and we encourage you to make the most of it if you're on Facebook! Anyone can read the CBP Voyager Club Facebook page, but you can only interact once you've paid your deposit.
We recommend that you book your flights and travel insurance with our dedicated, friendly travel agent Brenda as she can try and put you on the same flights and accommodations as your fellow travellers pre/post tour. Before you depart you'll be told exact details for who will be meeting you at the airport, holding what sign, and also give you contact phone numbers to call in the unlikely event that you are delayed or plans need to change.
And do not worry that most accommodation is twin-share - we're good at pairing you up with a roomie who you'll get along with - it has been the start of long-term friendships for many! We can't guarantee that we'll always be able to have you sharing with someone of the same sex - it depends on the gender split, but we do our best. You can request to purchase a single supplement (a room to yourself) if you really need to (subject to availability) though keep in mind that you're usually only in your rooms to sleep as we fill your waking hours with plenty to do, and the couple of occasions we have had guests request rooms to themselves, they end up regretting it when they see the amazing friendships that form between the other roomies.
Of course we can - even in places like Kenya we've successfully catered for vegan, gluten-free, lactose-intolerant and vegetarian guests, and all have had a wonderful tour.
Rest assured that we do not travel through any of the major danger hot-spots like those highly warned against in travel advisory boards etc. For example, in Kenya, we do not even pass through downtown Nairobi and we operate completely away from the coast / Mombasa region and the Somali border. The fact that we like to take you to the more tranquil, less-touristy places on our tours conveniently means we only ever spend minimal time in busy, built up areas or large tourist attractions where thieves or terrorists might target - most of the places we stay at are quite rural and private, and you'll quickly feel right at home & safe.
Our cancelation policies are in line with other leading tourism operators, and you can read all about them here in our Booking Terms and Conditions. We are proud to employ industry best-practices such as holding your payments in a trust-fund and have been awarded the T-QUAL tick (Australian Government's national symbol of tourism quality).
The Voyager Club is our photo tour loyalty program! As our photo tours apparently can be very addictive (we've had guests come to more than half a dozen of our tours!), we created the Chris Bray Photography Voyager Club, giving repeat guests 5% OFF future tours with automatic Silver Membership, and then 10% OFF as Gold Members after their fifth tour with us.
Either click the 'Book Now' button above and fill in your details, or simply contact us and let us know which tour you're keen to join us on, and we'll send you a deposit invoice to secure your spot, along with the tour information booklet and our Booking Terms and Conditions.
Our Alaska tour adventure starts in the evening when we meet at the exquisitely restored Historic Anchorage Hotel for a quick welcome, photography crash course and briefing. We'll eat out, sampling some of the fine local cuisine before setting your camera batteries on charge, formatting memory cards and trying to get some sleep ready for the adventure to begin tomorrow. Meal & drinks not included for this day.
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel we'll depart for the sea-side community of Whittier, Alaska. The 90-min drive will take us past spectacular scenery of snow-capped mountains, valleys and through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel - the longest highway tunnel in North America (almost 5km)! Once arriving in Whittier we'll board our private motor vessel the Island C where you can spread out and make yourselves at home for the next six days!
Prince William Sound in Alaska is home to a wonderfully diverse assortment of wildlife including orca, humpback and other whales, sea otters, sea lions, harbour seals and porpoises, black bear, over 220 species of birds including two species of puffins, bald eagles and guillemots and more, backdropped by breathtaking tidewater glaciers, towering mountain peaks and deep, calm fiords with gravelly beaches and waterfalls. As we journey towards our remote and exclusive lodge, we'll be passing through protected inside passages, keeping a look out for any wildlife to stop and photograph. Near the lodge, we'll also take you to a river literally filled with salmon jostling their way upstream, watched by eagles, seals and possibly even black bears.
Eshamy Bay lodge in Alaska is set amongst the magnificent Hemlock trees of the Chugach National Forest and with its comfortable décor, heated rooms, hot showers and home cooked Alaskan meals, this lodge offers the finest accommodation in Prince William Sound. Being beyond the reach of most tourists we'll enjoy unprecedented access to first class Alaskan wilderness experiences. The lodge consists of 4 rooms, a communal dinning area and shared bathroom facilities - while not the Hilton, it'll make for a very comfortable stay in this remote and beautiful location, and best of all, it'll just be us – no other guests. All meals and drinks (including responsible alcohol consumption) are included.
Today we'll jump back onboard our exclusively chartered vessel and head towards Chenega Glacier. We'll stop along the way to photograph otters, pass by some haul-out spots for seals and keep an eye out for humpback whales or orca that sometimes visit here. We'll make our way past steep mountains, waterfalls and bird colonies until we head into Icy Bay. It'll be easy to understand why it's called ‘Icy Bay' when we start weaving in and out of the spectacularly shaped ice sculptures that decorate the bay. Get your cameras ready because the closer we get to the glacier the more we'll start seeing adorable harbour seals hauled out sunbaking on the ice bergs! Our boat will then drift silently in front of Chenega glacier allowing you to experience the explosive power of huge hunks of ice calving from it's face and collapsing into the water with a thunderous roar. This experience will stay with you for the rest of your life. After a full day on the water, your memory cards will likely be filled and you'll be exhausted, ready to come back to the comfort of the lodge for a home cooked Alaskan dinner! All meals are included today (including responsible alcohol consumption) are included.
Today we will return to the harbour of Whittier where we'll catch our transfer to Anchorage Airport and our afternoon flight to Kodiak. This flight will take us over some beautiful Alaskan landscapes so try not to fall asleep! Arriving in Kodiak we'll then be transferred to our accommodation at the luxurious Kodiak Inn (managed by Best Western, it's the best of the two hotels in town) for the night. Breakfast is included but lunch, dinner and drinks not included today.
After a leisurely breakfast we'll board our private motor vessel ‘Island C' where you can spread out and make yourselves at home for the next five days (four nights)! Our mini cruise ship is specially designed for exploring the more remote, hidden pockets of the Alaskan wilderness where the bigger ships cannot go. It'll be twin share accommodation with shared bathroom facilities, but you'll have access to washing machines and dryers every day, and there is a spacious saloon area for relaxing with expansive windows, open viewing areas and wonderfully accessible side decks on various levels for photography. The ship can accommodate as many as 16 passengers, however to ensure the relaxed, personal attention we prefer to offer, we've chosen to restrict our numbers to just eight guests. All meals are prepared for us in their kitchen onboard at a time that suits us by our private chef, and can be enjoyed in the dining area as you to take in the incredible Alaskan scenery.
Few places on Earth enjoy the density and diversity of wildlife that exists around Kodiak Island, so get ready for photography heaven! We have allocated four days aboard, and each day we'll visiting various unique photographic locations including beaches, bays and natural harbors. Unlike the rigid, busy tourist-schedules of the passenger liners, our boat allows us ultimate flexibility, able to customise our day-to-day itinerary depending on the latest weather forecasts (making for a much more comfortable trip), poke into more remote inlets and easily launch kayaks and Zodiacs for spontaneous explorations along the coast or ashore – taking just as much time as you need. At many of the places we'll visit it'll just be us and no one else in sight, allowing for perfectly unspoilt photography without the crowds.
You'll be amazed at the abundance of wildlife and amazing landscapes that Kodiak Island has to offer. We are likely to see up to four species of whale (humpback, orca, fin & minke whales), bald eagles, rafts of otters containing over one hundred individuals, huge stellar sea lions hauled out onto jagged sea stacks, inquisitive harbour seals, literally thousands of puffins. We are also likely to find Rhinoceros Auklets, Black Oystercatchers, Kingfishers, Kittiwakes, Mew Gulls and more.
We'll also hold an Adobe Lightroom tutorial session onboard, showing you how to use this very useful program to get the most out of your photography – exploring both the organising and editing aspects. All meals and drinks (including responsible alcohol consumption) are included.
Ok guys, we hear you - it's time for a sleep in! After breaky and docking back in Kodiak we'll make our way to the floatplane base and board our transit flight from Kodiak, across the Shelikof Strait (keep an eye out for whales) and into Geographic Harbour. The flight will be a photography treat in itself, flying over bizarrely coloured mountains, stunted forests, tidal flats and eventually landing in the spectacular and uninhabited Geographic Harbour – a tidal river delta where the bears will be gathering to eat the salmon!
We've saved the best for last on this trip, and even as the plane glides up to dock against our private cruise boat 'Coastal Explorer' you'll likely already be able to see the several huge brown bears marauding around the shoreline. It's hard to describe the feeling of first stepping ashore with your camera surrounded by bears. It is the most amazing wildlife photography experience we've ever had in all our crazy travels, and to be able to bring clients to experience this is almost unbelievable.
From mid July to late August each year in Alaska, these huge brown bears leave their largely-solitary lives on the inland meadows to converge on the banks of various rivers to fish for spawning salmon. The bears are usually highly concentrated near the river mouth emptying into Geographic Harbour and incredibly, they are so focused on gorging themselves on the abundance of fish, and are habituated enough to the presence of the small number of humans that observe them, that it is possible (with a bit of bear knowledge and common-sense) to step safely ashore, quietly walk amongst them and sit right beside any of the salmon-filled streams. Sitting there on a seat, cameras rested comfortably on tripods, you'll loose all track of time as you find yourself completely immersed in photographing bears as they catch fish and interact with each other all around you, completely oblivious to your presence and the machine-gun rattle of everyone's camera shutters. If we're all well behaved enough, the bears will happily pass by so close that you could almost reach out and touch it, or pounce on fish so close that you might even get splashed. Your time here will truly be unforgettable.
Once the light starts to fail us, we'll head back onboard for some true home-style Alaskan cooking for dinner - perhaps some beautifully white-fleshed Halibut fish caught by the deck-hand during the day. Be sure to start downloading, backing-up and recharging all your camera batteries first though, ready for a full day with the bears tomorrow. Good-luck getting to sleep early though, as you might still be able to hear the bears growling and roaring at each other from your bed! All meals and drinks (including responsible alcohol consumption) are included for today and the next two days onboard. All meals and drinks (including responsible alcohol consumption) are included for today and the next two days onboard.
After yesterday afternoon's session, you'll understand why we have allowed another two full days here with the bears. During the next two days ashore with the bears, we'll start to learn their behaviour, hopefully spot some sow with cubs and photograph them not only catching salmon, but also digging for clams at low tide and interacting with one another. It's possible to see male bears standing up on their hind legs and fighting, cubs and young bears stealing fish from their mothers or hilariously attempting to catch their own fish. We'll start to recognise individuals and their fishing habits, see bears snatching fish from each other, try to snap a shot of a back-lit bear shacking like a dog as they dry their fur coat and so many other awesome moments. We'll have ample time to photograph here and we can come and go from the "Coastal Explorer" as we please – usually only when we get hungry! There are other things to photograph too - we can do Zodiac cruises to find the Bald Eagles, Otters and explore the beautiful natural harbour, and weather and bear depending, we may even relocate to other bays nearby to get you the best possible experience.
Geographic Harbour and the surrounding bays are not on the mainstream tourist path, as it's exceptionally hard to get to - not only is it in the middle of nowhere with no road access or airstrip, but the only way for boats to get in is via a narrow, shallow passage preventing bigger boats. Yes some private boats may come in and out of the bay, and the odd float plane will come and go dropping the odd tourists off for at most a few hours at a time, but most of the time we'll be the only group there, and the only ones able to stay for as long as we want! Compared to say the world-famous Brooks Falls bear viewing site where over 15,000 people queue up to stand on the viewing platform for their allocated time slot, jostling to get a shot of a bear swiping a salmon from the waterfall, here in Geographic Harbour it's an entirely different, and far superior experience.
Today we head back to Kodiak by floatplane, arriving in time for our late flight back to Anchorage on mainland Alaska. Once there, we'll be transferred again to the Historic Anchorage Hotel to enjoy one final meal together to celebrate and remember two of the most amazing weeks of your life! You'll agree it's been the ultimate Alaskan tour with unprecedented access to photograph Alaska's best wildlife and landscapes without the hordes of tourists! Lunch and dinner not included today.
That's it folks! After breaky you'll be free to travel back to Anchorage Airport where your Alaska tour all started just two short weeks ago, which have somehow extended into a lifetime of amazing memories you'll re-live forever through your photos.
IMPORTANT - Ensure you have read our Tour Booking Conditions prior to booking. A copy will be sent with your deposit invoice, and must be signed and returned to us (an emailed scan/photo of your signed copy will suffice), before we accept and confirm your booking. The document covers everything from your rights, inclusions and payment schedule, to our cancellation policy and extent of liability.
All our photo tours are subject to minimum numbers. Please ensure you have read our tour Booking Conditions for our cancellation policy (above).
"Why don't we visit Denali National Park?" - I know some of you were keen on us including a visit to the Denali National Park in this program, and we gave this a LOT of thought and investigation, especially as it's certainly included in many of the 'usual Alaska tours', however we've decided against it. Despite initial glossy impressions in all other tour wordings, the park regulations can not deliver us the experience we'd be happy to offer you, nor which you'd imagine. The ONLY way inside the park (weather you're traveling alone or as part of any organised tour) is to board a huge, busy public tour bus, which spends all day arduously driving in along the main road stopping every hour for toilet breaks and not allowing any decent wildlife or landscape photo opportunities (beyond snapshots beside crowds). Once in, all tour group then either start the long drive back out again, or are deposited at hotels inside from where tourists have to do extended hikes to reach decent photo locations, with adventure tourism activities like hiking, rafting and biking being the main focus. You could always do Denali as a side-trip before or after our trip if you really wanted to.
While onboard our two ships and at our private lodge all meals and drinks (including a responsible amount of alcohol) is included. All other meals, snacks & drinks are not included. Please read the day-to-day itinerary carefully so you know which meals are included on the safari. As a general guide an average dinner might cost between $20-$40US; lunch between $10-20US; soft drink $5US; beer and wine, $7-$10US. Generally speaking food in Alaska tends to be more expensive than the rest of the USA.
We will form our own private group - we will have our own guide, and all boat trips and day-trips etc will be just us.
A moderate level of fitness is required for this alaska tour. You need to be mobile enough to clamber in and out of boats/Zodiacs (or possibly on to rocks, mud and rough terrain) and wander around for a morning or afternoon with your camera bag on your back. If you're concerned, feel free to email us.
Sea Sickness - The majority of this tour will be based on boats so if you know you get sea sick easily, then remember to pack some anti-sea-sickness tablets, ginger, pressure bands or whatever it is that you find works for you! (By the way, when I go sailing, I use '15mg Stugeron tablets' which I buy online from Canada - seems to be the only stuff that works for me. Jess uses transdermscop (scopolamine 1.5) patches - the benefit of these being that you don't lose the medication if you do become sick!). Don't stress out, though, we'll be cruising and anchoring in very protected and sheltered areas within Prince William Sound, Kodiak and Geographic Harbour.
Price does not include flights from your home town to Anchorage, Alaska, nor your return flight back home. The tour does include the domestic flights between Anchorage and Kodiak as well as a floatplane flight between Kodiak and Geographic Harbour.
After you book, we will email you an extensive information document telling you everything you need to know from what camera gear to bring, currency, power plug types, etc.
We do not loan out our own camera equipment for this alaska tour. We will bring a spare camera just in case but... be prepared to be self sufficient regarding your camera gear - however we do have some gear available for hire - book ahead.
A non-refundable, non-transferable $1,000USD booking deposit is required.