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 driver will pick you up from your accommodation in Tromso city or the airport during the late morning. We'll drive approximately 3 hours north, admiring the low lighting between the towering snow-capped mountains and fjords before we meet with the ferry that'll take us to our remote island ‘Uløybukt'. We'll settle you into our comfortable, quiet guest-house accommodation that you'll be calling ‘home' for the next week. It's actually two apartments in one huge house; one has 2 bedrooms, a bathroom and sauna and the other 4 bedrooms, 2 toilets and a shower. Each has their own kitchen with a mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities and a comfortable loungeroom for photo editing and presentations during the week. Seperate to this, 100m away down beside the water is our dining building (just for us). Once you've settled in we'll have a welcome hot drink, get you fitted into your insulated boat pants and jackets that you'll be wearing during the daily boat excursions and conduct a welcome slide show before a hearty dinner. Make sure all your batteries (and spare batteries) are charged and memory cards empty ready for the action to start tomorrow - or even tonight, with the aurora!
Day 2 - 7: Over the next 6 days we'll get into a good routine that'll start with a hearty breakfast followed by layering up into our insulated boat suits (or dry suits for those that are swimming) and departing on our two fast boats to where the whale and orca activity is, which could take any where between 20mins to 1hr. We'll have you there by sunrise to photograph orcas and humpbacks in the foreground with the towering snow-capped mountains bathed in a soft pink glow in the background, just as the sun skims slowly across the mountain range. The sun will only be up for a few hours in which time we hope to photograph many sorts of humpback whale behaviour including tail slapping, breaching, bubble net feeding, diving or just cruising past, as well as orca behaviour including spy-hopping, hunting and even breeching, before the sun soon starts to set again behind the mountains giving us another chance at some golden, backlit humpback whale and orca blows.
While absolutely unforgettable and amazing, the snorkeling here is not for the faint hearted. If you do plan on jumping in with the humpback whales and orca, you'll have to be wearing a dry suit (which you'll have to either bring from home or try and pre-organise to hire in Tromso) and be sitting waiting on the back of the boat for the command of our expert captain who will be trying to position the boat as best as possible so when you drop in you'll be right on top of the action, be that watching them swim past, feed on a bait ball or bubble net feeding. There's a lot of waiting, the water is icy cold (5 deg C), visability is poor (about 10m) and it's very dark for photography under there (GoPro's do surprisingly well and you can even put them on a stick and hold them in from the boat rather than swim, but for bigger cameras you'll be on about ISO 8000 and f/2.8 to even get 1/250th sec).
Soon enough (after about 5-6hrs on the boat) it'll be too dark to take any worthwhile photos from a moving boat so we'll head home. On arrival, our cooks will greet us with a hearty hot soup that'll warm us all up in no time.
You'll have the late afternoon free to sit and edit your photos, we'll be running some lightroom & iMovie tutorials as well as offering one–on-one photography sessions for anyone who would like it, and help create time-lapse videos from any aurora sequences you've managed to get.
As soon as it's dark (and clear) enough we'll all be keeping a keen watch in the sky for the Northern Lights. If we (or our staff) see anything we'll make an announcement and help you set up the perfect Northern Light shot and/or time lapse. All you really need is a wide-angle lens, a tripod, some warm clothes and not too much cloud cover! Only 100m walk from our private guesthouse is a convenient deck to set up on, looking out across the fjord with an old wharf leading into the foreground and the reflections of the Aurora turned the whole surface green. Amazing!
We have allowed 6 full days here as nature is unpredictable, it's not unlikely that we'll encounter some ‘bad weather days' where we might not be able to go out on the boats at all. If this is the case we can always run more tutorials and one-on-one sessions and depending on how bad the weather is there are some easy walks to photograph alpine lakes or along the foreshore to photograph old barns etc.
After an early breakfast we'll be offering you a transfer back to your booked Tromso city hotel or the Airport. You'll be heading back home with a hard drive full of photos and videos and hopefully several experiences of a life time. We should arrive in Tromso at around midday, so if you are flying out that afternoon please make sure that your flight is booked after 2 PM.
This tour is not like our Kenya or Galapagos tours where it's warm, the days are long and usually sunny and we can guarantee a huge diversity and abundance of wildlife and birdlife every day. Photographing in Arctic Norway has its challenges. This is a boundary-pushing photography tour going to an extreme environment in arctic Norway. We have zero control over the weather or nature. When you book this tour you need to understand that we will always do our absolute best to give you the very best photo opportunities, we are going at the very best time of year and are located in the very best spot to see the marine activity and northern lights but we can not guarantee either. We could have 7 nights of cloud cover, and we can't guarantee that the herring will show up in the same spot they did last year and without the herring, there will be no Orca or Humpback whales (the herring do randomly decide to change their wintering grounds every handful of years like they did in 2017, but scientists expect them to stay in this area for the next few seasons at least, but who knows). Also you may need to buy some extra warm clothing and shoes, find or hire your own drysuit if you want to swim, and have a camera that you're comfortable using with very high ISO's of 8000 or more... This trip is totally amazing and a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but we just need to ensure you come with the right expectation. It's an adventure.
IMPORTANT - Ensure you have read our Tour Booking Conditions prior to 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).
All meals are provided, drinks are extra.
There are very few hours of daylight at these latitudes in winter - only about 4 hours - and even then, the lighting is low. You will need to be confident in your camera's ability to shoot decent photos of whales, birds and any other wildlife using at least at ISO 1,600 or higher! Many photos will be quite and grainy/noisy, and older, entry-level cameras will really struggle.
Most of this tour is physically easy – mostly driving up to locations and photographing from boats. There may be some short walks. A reasonable level of mobility is required to board the boats as one would expect. There may be icy slippery conditions around the lodge.
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 information, mobile reception etc.
Price does not include flights from your home town to Tromso (Norway), nor your return flight back home. We have our own award-winning travel agent who is more than happy to help answer all your questions and help you find and book the best flights, travel insurance etc.
We do not loan out our own camera equipment for this tour. We will bring a spare camera or two just in case but... be prepared to be self sufficient regarding your camera gear. We do have some gear available for hire if you ask in advance.
Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa to enter Norway, however as Norway is a party to the Schengen Convention, Australians and many others may enter Norway without a visa for tourism in most circumstances. You will need a valid passport.
A non-refundable, non-transferable €1,000 booking deposit is required.