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.
Staring in the picturesque town of Trelew in Southern Argentina, we'll head in our private mini coach two hours to Puerto Piramides, which will be our base for the next week. Puerto Piramides is a UNESCO world heritage site in Patagonia, recognised not only as the best whale-watching place on Earth, but also for its other marine life, birdlife and other wildlife. Featured in BBC and National Geographic documentary films this rich area also boasts magellanic penguins, dolphins, sea lions and southern elephant seals.
Our accommodation for the next week is at the luxurious, waterfront Las Restingas Hotel De Mar. After settling in (and perhaps spotting some whales playing through your panoramic, beachfront windows), we’ll head to dinner. (No meals included today)
Part whale watching, part shore-based, this week in Patagonia will blow you away. When the weather’s good, we'll chartered a large, private RIB (zodiac boat) with plenty of room and the best captain who knows exactly what we want in terms of lighting and backgrounds to get the best photos. This time of year, the whole bay is packed with southern right whales, including mothers and calves, and curiosity will bring these gentle giants (up to 15m long!) right alongside - so close you'll need your wide-angle lens and a lens-cloth to wipe off the whale-breath! Each encounter is captivatingly different, and with a bit of luck we'll experience everything from breeching, tail lobbing against the sunset, resting calves - even mating! We have the boat all day, but typically we'll go out early for the morning lighting for a few hours, come back for breaky, head back out again to try our luck in another area, come back for lunch, enjoy a few hours off to go through your photos or look for fossilized sharks teeth on the shore before then heading back out again in the late afternoon, staying out until the magical golden glow of sunset - long after regular tourists have to return to shore. Our permits also allow us to explore wherever we want along the dramatic coastline, head out to find dolphins, sea lion colonies, outcrops of rock covered in terns, cormorants, kelp-gulls, giant petrels and 180 other species of birds!
We’ll only be doing this marine photography for part of this week however, as whenever the weather’s not great - or if we want a chance of scene - we'll head inland on various different day tours, exploring the local Peninsula Valdez. We've organised private access with a ranger right down onto the gravely beach (below the cliff-top viewing platform) where the huge Elephant Seals hang out. We'll photograph the enormous bull 'Beach Masters' rearing up to fight for dominance and territory, the adorable big-eyed pups suckling, and try to freeze the moment when these seals flip sand over the top of themselves to keep cool. If we’re lucky, we might even see orca as they patrol the shore. Patagonia foxes also hang around, as well as mara (like a hare crossed with a tailless Kangaroo), Darwin's lesser rhea (giant flightless bird similar to an emu), guanako (A type of Llama), armadillos, skunks and of course plenty more birds like crested tinamou, turkey vultures and more!
This first week is jam-packed, but any ‘spare time’ you manage to find, there’s plenty to do in this area from fascinating information centers to lovely little cafes, and you’ll have plenty of photos to go through anyway, with us on hand to teach you some new tricks!(Breakfasts included, lunch and dinners not included this week).
Today’s a bit of a travel day, from Trelew (Argentina) we’ll cross into the Chile part of Patagonia, arriving late in the evening at Punta Arenas where we’ll stay locally, ready to head to Torres del Paine early tomorrow. (No meals included today.)
Today we’ll dive to Torres del Paine National Park, another UNESCO world heritage site in Patagonia, also home to an abundance of wildlife including guanacos and possibly even Puma (we’d have to be super lucky though). It also boasts a huge diversity of birds including eagles, hawks, lesser reheas, buzzards, flamingo and South American condors that have returned from the brink of extinction. But the real draw card to this area are it’s incredible landscapes. The Torres del Paine igneous granite rock spires are millions of years old and dominate the views of South America’s first National Park. Surrounded by photogenic azure lakes, emerald forests, raging rivers and radiant blue glaciers and you have yourself a picture-perfect postcard.
We’ll be staying at the comfortable Hosteria Pehoe, located on its own island in lake Pehoe, connected to the mainland via a drawbridge. This hotel enjoys unbeatable five-star panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, which on a still day can reflect beautifully on the mirror-like lake. (Lunch and dinner not included)
We’ve allowed two full days here to explore and photograph the Torres del Paine national park. We’ll have our own knowledgeable local driver/ guide to take us to some of the hidden gems within the national park so we can photograph the dramatic landscapes from various different angles - without having to walk too far! There’ll be waterfalls, glaciers, iceberg, forests, mountains, black sand beaches, azure lakes and more. As we travel around we’ll of course keep an eye out for and stop to photograph any wildlife or birds we see. If we’re lucky, we might be able to see condors and eagles hunting hares and small rodents and if we are really lucky - we may even spot the very elusive puma!
Part of the beauty of travelling with a small group of like-minded photographers is that we have the flexibility to spend just as long or short as we want at each location, free to stop to get out and photograph whenever we see something interesting. (Lunch and dinner not included)
That's it I'm afraid! This morning we'll drive back to Punta Arenas where we’ll drop you at your hotel or at the airport for your flight home. It’ll have been an action-packed eleven days so it might feel a bit like a blur, but don’t worry, as I’m sure you'll have thousands of amazing photos to remind yourself, forever, of one of the best holidays of your life!
When I say that after Punta Arenas we all fly home - Chris and Jess actually stay on in Punta Arenas fly ready to start their 20-day Antarctica and South Georgia photography tour - perhaps some of you'd like to join us for the double-whammy!? Alternatively, our Galapagos Amazon & Hummingbird photo tour finishes in South America just before this Patagonia trip starts, so perhaps you could start with that, or even do the trifecta?!
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).
Sea Sickness - There are many boat trips on this photo tour in both locations, and while the water is usually protected and calm, anyone who suffers from seasickness should bring appropriate medication.
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.
Most meals are not included, so unless otherwise stated, meals and beverages must be purchased at your own expense. This frees you up to spend as much or as little as you wish on dinners etc at each venue. As an approx guide, expect $10-$20 US for a good steak or seafood main, beer is about $1.50 - $3 US for a big 1 L bottle, and a bottle of wine about $15+ bottle.
Level of fitness - Moderate. You do need to be able to get in and out of boats, clamber down sand dunes onto the coastline for the elephant seals, and wander around for a morning or afternoon with your camera bag on your back.
The price does NOT include flights from your hometown to Trelew (Argentina),nor your return flight back home from Punta Arenas (Chile).
We do not loan out our own camera equipment for this trip. We will bring a spare camera or two just in case but... be prepared to be self sufficient regarding your camera gear. We do hire out some cameras and lenses, ask before we depart.