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.
We’ll arrange your airport transfer from Cairns to Thala Beach Nature Reserve and Lodge, our base for the next 5 nights. Here you’ll have the afternoon to relax or explore the private beach and 145 acre property. Once all your fellow photographers have arrived, we’ll do a quick photography crash course before dining together at Thala’s own ‘Osprey Restaurant’, situated literally in the treetop canopy with spectacular views of the Coral Sea all the way to the horizon.
This morning we’ll head down to Thala’s own private beach to photograph the sunrise over the ocean. The scene is postcard-worthy with the beautiful white sandy beach, lush green forest, smooth rocks and azure blue water. After a well-earned buffet breakfast back at the lodge the adventure begins as our helicopter lands just behind the lodge and removes its doors to give us an unbeatable photographic outlook! We’ll climb in, 3 per trip, to embark on a 30 min photography flight along the coastal beaches and rainforests and even out to Low Isles to photograph the great barrier reef in all its stunning colour from the air. Following our gourmet lunch back at the lodge will be a quick afternoon tutorial on photo editing using the program ‘Lightroom’ before heading into Port Douglas for dinner.
We’ll be eating breakfast very early this morning as we head off for our exclusive Daintree river cruise. Slowly and quietly we’ll cruise along the shoreline spotting saltwater crocodiles and an amazing variety of birdlife such as White-bellied sea eagles, the Eastern Great Egret and even the Sacred and the Azure Kingfishers. After morning tea we’ll drive across the river to the Maardja Boardwalk for a short loop walk through the forest to spot the Boyds Forest Dragon (a colourful lizard), backlit tree ferns, butterflies and of course keep your eyes peeled for a Cassowary before boarding our exclusive Cooper Creek wilderness cruise in search of Estuarine Crocodiles and other wildlife on the river banks. There might even be just enough time to stop at Alexandra lookout on the way back to our lodge to photograph the panoramic view out over the Daintree Coast. This evening will be a beautiful sunset shoot at Yule Point (tide dependent) before dinner in Port Douglas.
We’ll have another opportunity to photograph Oak Beach at sunrise this morning before another buffet breakfast back at the lodge, after which we’ll board our private luxury sailing yacht for a full day snorkelling & reef excursion. Our yacht will sail out to Low Isles (the same group of Islands we photographed from the helicopter) so we can snorkel in the clear warm water - home to hundreds of soft corals and an abundance of fish and sea turtles. We’ll even have the opportunity to walk on the palm-fringed island and photograph the lighthouse, sandy beach and lagoon before jumping back on board for a gourmet lunch. There’s enough time for an afternoon snorkel before casting off and heading back to Port Douglas. This evening we’ll be photographing the iconic old ‘sugar wharf’ in Port Douglas at sunset and eating out at another local restaurant for dinner.
It’s another early departure this morning as we head along to Mossman Gorge where the Mossman River tumbles over huge granite boulders amidst the awe inspiring, tree-clad mountain. We’ll spend some time here capturing perfectly framed photos with long shutter speeds to show the movement of the water. This afternoon we’ll visit ‘Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure’ to photograph crocodiles, Cassowary’s and other Aussie wildlife before once again eating at the lodge’s ‘Osprey Restaurant’ - a fantastic finale to what has been an amazing Tropical Queensland photo tour. But don’t go to bed too early, we have arranged a private viewing of the stars with Thala’s resident astrologer and her amazing telescope. On the walk back to your rooms we’ll spotlight for any other nocturnal wildlife like owls and possums.
Go on, sleep in – you deserve it! We’ll have a leisurely breakfast at the lodge before we offer airport transfers back to Cairns from where you can jet back to the reality of your busy lives back home and get ready to return to work on Monday.
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 tours are subject to minimum numbers. Please ensure you have read our Tour Booking Conditions for our cancellation policy (above).
The price of the Tropical Queensland tour does not include flights from your hometown to or from Cairns.
All accommodation and meals are provided, drinks must be purchased at your own expense.
Physical Activity - There won’t be any strenuous hiking, but a reasonable level of mobility and fitness will be required to find the best photography spots, to climb into the helicopter & walk down to the beach and through the rainforest, get on and off boats etc. There is some walking involved in the Daintree and at Mossman gorge, although this is mostly level board walks considered easy grade. However, these walks are all optional and with so much to photograph all around you, feel free to walk at your own pace with no pressure to walk the entire distance. And we’re in no hurry anyway, so you can take your time, using the excuse “Oh, I think *pant* that I should *pant* stop and take a photo of this…” The most challenging walks will actually be around the lodge, as Thala is built on a hill with bungalows spread throughout the rainforest grounds. Staff in golf buggies are always on hand to transport guests around the lodge if you need to give your legs a little break. If you’re worried about your level of fitness, please feel free to email us (tours@ChrisBrayPhotography.com) and we can give you further details about the nature of the walks.
The doors-off helicopter flight has a per-passenger weight limit of 130kg, if you are over this weight, for safety reasons you will be unable to participate.
After you book, we will email you an extensive information document telling you everything you need to know from what camera gear to bring, mobile coverage, etc.
A non-refundable, non-transferable $1,000 booking deposit is required.