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 (check the 'Please Note' dropdown for each specific tour), 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.
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 5-10% 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.
Border closures and travel restrictions make it hard to predict everyone's ability to travel during this pandemic, and the health and safety of our guests, our staff and the communities we visit on our tours is paramount. We strive to keep guests informed with the latest information and we have created special Covid-19 Booking Terms and Conditions to give our guests as much confidence and flexibility as possible to still be able to book in and look forward to some wonderful photo tours during this uncertain time.
We have created special Covid-19 Booking Terms and Conditions to give you as much confidence and flexibility as possible to still be able to aim towards some wonderful photo tours during this uncertain time.
Our tour starts in the evening when we meet at the Hotel Cabo de Hornos in Punta Arenas, Chile and head to a welcome slideshow and drinks, and a pre-flight briefing. We'll also provide you with your Antarctic boots in the size you requested, to check for snug fit (if they aren't perfect, now is the time to swap them!). We'll eat together at the hotel restaurant, enjoying some fine Chile cuisine before retiring in preparation for tomorrow’s adventure to begin. Don’t forget to set your camera batteries on charge and format your memory cards!
Weather permitting, today we'll board the special flight to King George Island (one of the northern islands along the Antarctic peninsula), taking about 1.5-2hrs. When we land, there'll be a transfer vehicle to take us down to the coast, where we'll then transfer to our ship, the Hans Hansson, ready to begin exploring the Antarctic.
Even with our luxuriously in-depth itinerary, we will still have to choose between a huge selection of equally compelling sites to visit, and which ones we decide to go to and when, will depend on weather, and where the big cruise ships aren't, so we can have the places to ourselves.
Initially we'll likely spend the first 24hrs onboard heading south (which might be a bit rolly) from the South Shetland Islands (where the airport is) down to the western flank of the Antarctic Peninsula proper, to maximise our time and ability to explore as far south as possible (it makes more sense to aim to explore the South Shetland Islands on the way back in the final few days, when we need to stay within striking distance of the airport in case the flight needs to be brought early).
Aboard our ship we get to explore the fjords and surrounding islands of Antarctica’s wildlife-rich peninsula. Slipping into some of the more secret, untouched bays where the larger ships cannot access. Surrounded by glaciers, mountains and immense, beautifully sculpted icebergs we keep the itinerary flexible in order to follow the best ice and weather conditions, but we should be able to get you onshore each day at least once, go on Zodiac cruises etc.
As always, our program is focused around photography, getting you in the right position, at the right time to capture hundreds (likely several thousands) of incredible photos. We’ll have tutorial sessions and photo reviews in the comfy lounge area onboard and relax and unwind when you need it as yet more amazing scenery and icebergs drift past your window. We'll see whales, cruise past immense tabular bergs, stand amongst huge penguin rookeries and Weddel seals lazing on the snow, hike up to snow-covered view points steeped in history, look for bergs with groups of penguins ready to jump off, etc. This time of year there should be lots of penguins with eggs, and maybe even a few adorable little chicks popping out, being fed krill by their parents.We’ll see whales and seals, visit huge Chinstrap, Gentoo and hopefully even Adelie penguin rookeries and more. We will see Skuas, Giant Petrels, Antarctic Terns, Wilson’s and Black-bellied Storm Petrels, Blue-eyed Shags, Kelp Gulls, Snowy Sheathbills and more. If we're lucky we may get Leopard seals, Orcas and other treats! Keep your eyes open! If you stay up late, in the almost 24-hr sunlight of the Antarctic Summer, the ‘golden hour’ of perfect, low-angle lighting just goes on and on. You’ll be in photography heaven. We'll try and organise a midnight cruise among the icebergs during one of these glowing 'sunsets' - which is unforgettable.
The brave among us can go for a 'Polar Plunge' and jump into the freezing waters (and jump out again, just as quickly!), and we do have some inflatable kayaks onboard too.
There's always lots to do, and when the ships moving between one site and the next, guests tend to either cull and edit photos, or stand outside and watch the view, hang out with the captain in the bridge to spot whales, or get in a few extra hours of sleep curled up in your bunk. While there may be exceptions (such as the first day when we just want to cover some distance) generally the ship won't travel at night, so we tend to travel during the day (the scenery in these huge fjords with towering mountains on both sides is hard to believe) and do shore trips/zodiac cruises in mornings and/or evenings.
Again weather permitting, but the plan will be to arrive back at King George Island likely the night before, get some sleep, and sometime today disembark the Hans Hansson and fly back to Punta Arenas. We’ll be transiting back to the Hotel Cabo de Hornos in Punta Arenas tonight where we’ll have one last celebratory dinner to relive all the remarkable things we have seen, and the photos will remind you forever of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
That’s it folks! After a final breakfast this morning, today we’ll be offering transfers to Punta Arenas airport, from where you can jet back to the reality of your busy lives back home, attend to that flood of emails building up in our inbox and get ready to return to work. Make sure to print some of your best shots for your wall so you can remember, forever, two of the most exciting weeks of your life!
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.
A non-refundable, non-transferable 2,000 USD booking deposit is required to secure your place on this photo tour.
All travellers must obtain their own travel insurance, which must include evacuation insurance cover to a minimum of $100,000 USD for this trip.
Approximately 6 months before departure, you will need to complete a medical form signed by your doctor deeming you fit for travel.
Price includes all meals and accommodation and limited drinks.
Price does not include flights from your home town to/from Punta Arenas, Chile. The tour does however include the flight from Punta Arenas to Antarctica and back again.
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 trip. We will bring a spare camera just in case but... be prepared to be self sufficient regarding your camera gear.
CBP GOLD Voyager Club members receive 10% OFF loyalty discount. CBP SILVER Voyager Club members receive 5% OFF loyalty discount.