Is this for me?
YES if you are:
- A lover of beauty, travel and photography, keen to learn about new photography opportunities, tips and tricks and be guided to spectacular locations to create long-lasting images while enjoying the company of like-minded people, this is definitely the photography holiday for you.
- Excited about the opportunity to travel to remote / off the beaten track parts of China and be immersed in authentic lifestyle and culture, in the safe knowledge that you are fully supported throughout by an English speaking local guide and two professional photographers experienced in travelling in this region
- Looking for a small group (minimum of 5, maximum of 10) where everyone is given individual attention, be it photography-related (2 experienced UK photographers) or language and culture (local English-speaking guide)
Where will we go?
We are covering two fantastic and very photogenic locations in UNESCO protected areas, not on the usual travel agent’s list, and otherwise relatively unknown to Western travellers:
- ZhangJiaJie, the national park setting of the film Avatar and home to breath-taking karst mountain peaks, lakes and caves; and
- FengHuang, an ancient town frozen in time with riverside houses on stilts and authentic traditions and markets.
Rising from the subtropical forests of northwest Hunan 243 peaks and more than 3000 karst pinnacles and spires dominate the scenery in ZhangJiaJie, a UNESCO protected park. When the light is right or the early morning mist rolls in around them the effect is truly otherworldly. Tianmen mountain (meaning Heavenly Gate) is the highest peak in the park rising to 1520m (nearly 5000 feet) and is regarded as the soul of ZhangJiaJie.
Yellow Dragon Cave has underground streams, huge caverns and fantastic rock formations. Baofeng lake is filled with pure runoff water from the mountains and is like a jade mirror surrounded by temples and ancient villages.
Diverse fauna and wildlife can be found here on the trails. Many Macaques can be seen playing in the wild (remember, they are wild, so don’t feed them!), while endangered species such as the Chinese Giant Salamander and Chinese water deer lurk deep in the park, if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse.
FengHuang is Chinese for Phoenix, the mythical bird that is consumed by fire to be re-born anew from the flames. Phoenix Ancient Town is so called as legend has it that two of these fabulous birds flew over it and found the town so beautiful that they stopped there reluctant to leave…
The fortified town is on the western boundary of Hunan Province in an area of outstanding natural beauty where mountains, water and blue skies prevail. Upon arrival, visitors will be impressed by its air of mystery, elegance and primitive simplicity. This world is dominated by the colour green. The mountain slopes are covered in green foliage, the fields are green and even the river and buildings reflect the greenery. The bridges and unique houses built on stilts display a harmony that is often portrayed in traditional Chinese paintings, no more so than when the mist pervades the scene in the early morning or after the rain.
Phoenix Ancient Town is a wonderful example of what villages were like prior to the onset of modernization. Here dozens of alleys paved with flagstones run between the houses, each showing wear caused by the feet of generations of local people who have used them when going about their daily business. For the visitor, these alleys are the way to see the typical high gabled wooden houses built on stilts along the banks of the Tuo Jiang River.
Many people know about the Great Wall in Northern China, but few realize there is a Southern Great Wall too! Built during the Ming dynasty, the Southern Great Wall stretches 190km. There are over 1300 blockhouses, watch towers, sentry posts, emplacements and gates for stationing troops and defenses. During the height of the population, 7000 troops were stations along the section near FengHuang.
When are we going?
Our photography holiday starts and ends at Dayong (Hehua) airport in ZhangJiaJie Hunan China, from Thursday 24th May 2018 until Saturday 2nd June 2018.
While you’re there, you may decide to combine this with a few more days in China, as the ZhangJiaJie airport of Dayong is well connected with both Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the South of China (Guangzhou) for connections to Hong Kong. Feel free to ask us for suggestions, or speak to your travel agent for best add-on trips and international travel arrangements.
- All hotel accommodation during the 10 days/9 nights
- All transfers to and from hotels / airport / stations during the trip
- All transport as required while on the tour
- All park, sights and heritage site entrance fees
- All meals during the tour as stated
- English-speaking local guide
- Group and individual photography instruction, reviews and feedback by Matt and Andreea of Light and Imagination UK.
What’s not included?
- International and internal travel to get to and from ZhangJiaJie (Dayong)
- Travel Visas (if required)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Shopping and personal extras
- Travel and medical insurance (required)
What can I expect in terms of photography tuition?
Each day, Matt and Andreea, experienced UK photographers and founders of Light and Imagination, will be offering individual and group advice tailored to the needs of the group (which will be assessed during pre-trip consultations and on Day 1 of the tour).
We will run short workshops or 1:1 sessions to teach you various techniques and how to use certain equipment. These will be brief and mostly on-location, so we make the most of our time in China – they will also be relevant to the shooting opportunity presented to us on that day.
We will offer as much or as little tuition and advice as you want so the tour caters for all levels of experience. All workshops, tips and tricks or feedback sessions are of course entirely optional – it’s not a boot camp!
We will always be available to help you with your shots and camera through the day on all days except any free time as stated in the itinerary. You can just ask Matt and Andreea for help on an ad-hoc basis or schedule individual sessions that provide more focussed opportunities to review your work or receive advice on anything you’re struggling with.
Further guidance and tuition will be made available at suitable points, as below, to help you with post-production and editing. Please note that we will only support Lightroom for post-production help.
What can I expect on the ground?
We will ensure that the accommodation is up to western standards, but since these are rural locations you should expect the accommodation to be comfortable yet basic. As a minimum, rest assured, all rooms will have private bathroom facilities.
The price assumes single room occupancy therefore there will be no single supplement to be paid on top of the advertised tour price. If you are traveling as a couple of two friends we have a room-sharing discount available for you (see pricing at the bottom of this document).
If you haven’t been to China before, you might be unaware that our Western understanding of Chinese food is quite different from the experience on the ground. This doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse, just different!
Since we are in rural locations in an area of China that does not have a lot of Western tourists, the meals will mainly be local Chinese food. We will work with our guide to ensure that all meals are appropriate for a more conservative Western palate as the case may be, while providing plenty of opportunity to try local delicacies should you wish to!
Equally, we will do our best to work with any food intolerances or special diets you may be restricted by, however bear in mind that it might be difficult to accommodate some strict diet requirements e.g. strict vegan. Please speak to us to ensure we can cater for your needs.
Physical activity level:
There will be a lot of walking involved on most days, as well as some stairs to climb while in ZhangJiajie National Park and the Southern Great Wall near Fenghuang. We will also be at relatively high altitudes in the first part of our tour (ZhangJiaJie) so if you have any mobility or health concerns please do speak to us to ensure you will be able to safely enjoy the trip.
For the end of May – beginning of June, we can expect temperatures between 18 °C (64 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F) and we can expect some rain as the rainy season commences.
What to bring:
Photographic equipment: Camera(s), Batteries, Chargers, Travel adaptors (suitable for China), Lenses, Tripod, Filters, Flashes (if you have them and want to use them), Memory Cards, Laptop for back up and editing, ideally with Lightroom installed if you wish to take part in the Lightroom workshop. A sturdy camera bag, preferably a rucksack and not a trolley case for the days we are out and about.
Medication and essentials: Please ensure you bring any medication you require, plus we recommend having a small personal medical kit containing essentials.
Clothing and footwear: Pack suitable clothes for a hot, possibly rainy, summer day with cooler mornings and evenings. As we will be walking a lot, comfortable walking shoes are a must, as are rainproof clothes (and covers for your equipment) but also sun protection.
Once you decide to book your trip, we will provide a consultation to facilitate planning and packing!
Light and Imagination Photography Holidays
Booking Terms and Conditions
- Our contract
All bookings are made with Light and Imagination. By booking a trip with us you are deemed to have agreed to these Booking Conditions (which constitutes the entire agreement between you and us) and your booking will be accepted by us on this basis. The services to be provided are those referred to in your booking confirmation invoice.
Dates, itineraries and prices are valid from publishing time until the end of the booking period for each individual holiday.
- Deposit requirement
You are required to pay a deposit of a percentage of your trip as indicated on the website and on your invoice per person per trip. Your booking is not confirmed until that deposit payment is made. If your booking is made within 60 days of the departure date then the full amount is payable at the time of booking.
- Acceptance of booking and final payments
If we accept your booking we will issue a confirmation invoice. A contract will exist between us from the date we receive payment into our bank account or within 7 days of departure the contract will exist when we accept your payment. Please refer to your booking confirmation invoice for details regarding final payments. Payment of the balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. If this balance is not paid on or before the due date we reserve the right to treat your booking as cancelled.
- Your details
In order for us to confirm your travel arrangements you must provide all requested details with the balance of the trip price. Necessary details include full name as per passport, date of birth, nationality, passport number, passport issue and expiry date and any pre-existing medical conditions you have which may affect your ability to complete your travel arrangements. We also require you to complete and forward a Self-Assessment form. Your booking cannot be confirmed without provision of these details.
- Cancellation by the traveller
If you cancel some or all portions of your booking cancellation fees will apply. A cancellation will only be effective when we receive written confirmation of the cancellation. If you cancel a trip:
- 14 days after booking we will return your deposit minus any bank charges we have had to pay.
- between 14 days after booking and 90 days prior to departure, we will retain 100% of the deposit paid.
- less than 90 days prior to departure, we will retain 100% of all monies paid by you in connection with the booking.
You are strongly advised to take out cancellation insurance at the time of booking which will cover cancellation fees. If you leave a trip for any reason after it has commenced we are not obliged to make any refunds for unused services.
- Cancellation by Light and Imagination
We may cancel a trip at any time up to 90 days before departure, subject to clause 13. We may cancel a trip at any time prior to departure if, due to terrorism, natural disasters, political instability or other external events it is not viable for us to operate the planned itinerary. If we cancel your trip, you can transfer amounts paid to an alternate departure date or alternatively receive a full refund. In circumstances where the cancellation is due to external events outside our reasonable control, refunds will be less any unrecoverable costs. We are not responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your booking including but not limited to visas, vaccinations, travel insurance excess or non-refundable flights.
The price of your trip includes:
– all accommodation as listed in the Itinerary for your chosen trip
– all transport listed in the Itinerary for your chosen trip
– entrance fees and meals as listed in the Itinerary for your chosen trip
For other inclusions please refer to the specific itinerary.
The price of your trip does not include:
– international or internal flights unless specified in the Itinerary for your chosen trip airport
– taxes and excess baggage charges unless specified
– meals other than those specified in the Itinerary for your chosen trip
– visa and passport fees
– travel insurance
– optional activities and all personal expenses
– tips for local staff
For other exclusions please refer to the specific itinerary.
All prices are quoted in GBP
- Age & Health requirements
Minimum General Policy: The minimum age for children is 12. All travellers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult who is responsible for the child’s day-to-day care. Please note we cannot guarantee triple or joining rooms for families;
Maximum General Policy: We have no upper age limit, though we remind you that our trips can be physically demanding and a Self-Assessment Health form is required for all passengers.
We are able to provide details on mandatory health requirements; however, we are not medical experts. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain proper and detailed medical advice at least two months prior to travel for the latest health requirements, recommendations for your destination and any costs. Where you do not seek advice and either are not allowed to enter any country, or suffer personal injury or death as a result, we have no liability to you for any cost, loss or damage that you suffer nor will we refund you the cost of any unused portion of your travel arrangements.
- Small groups
Our trips are guaranteed to depart once the minimum number of travellers has been reached (usually 5 – please refer to specific holiday for details). The maximum number of travellers per holiday is 10. When confirming your booking after payment of a deposit is received, we will confirm the cut-off date when we can inform you that the holiday is definitely going ahead (this is when the minimum number of bookings has been reached), no later than 90 days before scheduled departure date. We reserve the right to cancel the holiday if the minimum group number has not been reached – in which case clause 7 will apply. Check your specific holiday details for more information.
- Passport and visas
You must carry a valid passport and have obtained all of the appropriate visas, permits and certificates for the countries in which you will visit during your trip. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond the duration of the trip. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of the correct visas, permits and certificates for your trip. We are not responsible if you are refused entry to a country because you lack the correct passport, visa or other travel documentation.
- Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all Light and Imagination travellers and should be taken out at the time of booking. Your travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, death, medical expenses and emergency repatriation. We also strongly recommend it covers cancellation, curtailment, personal liability and loss of luggage and personal effects. You must provide proof of your travel insurance on or before the first day of your trip; you will not be able to join the trip without it.
You appreciate and acknowledge that the nature of this type of travel requires considerable flexibility and you should allow for alternatives. The itinerary provided for each trip is representative of the types of activities contemplated but it is understood that the route, schedules, itineraries, amenities and mode of transport may be subject to alteration without prior notice due to local circumstances or events.
- Change of itinerary
While we endeavour to operate all trips as described, we reserve the right to change the trip itinerary. Please refer to our website before departure for the most recent updates to your itinerary.
Before departure: If we make a major change we will inform you as soon as reasonably possible, if there is time to do so before departure. The definition of a major change is deemed to be a change affecting at least one day in five of the itinerary.
After departure: We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or events outside of our control. In such emergency circumstances the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itinerary such as visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional GBP500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
- Authority on tour
Our group trips are run by a tour leader. The decision of the tour leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any person participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a tour leader, or interfere with the wellbeing or mobility of the group, the tour leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with responsible travel guidelines.
- Acceptance of risk
You acknowledge that the nature of the trip is adventurous and participation involves a degree of personal risk. You will be visiting places where the political, cultural and geographical attributes may present dangers and physical challenges greater than those present in your daily lives.
We use information from government foreign departments and reports from our own contacts in assessing whether the itinerary should operate. However, it is also your own responsibility to acquaint yourself with all possible relevant travel information and the nature of your itinerary. You acknowledge that your decision to travel is made in light of consideration of this information and you accept that you are aware of the personal risks attendant upon such travel.
- Limitation of liability
We contract with a network of companies, government agencies and individuals to assist in the running of our trips as agent for these third parties. We are not responsible for the acts and omissions of these third parties.
To the fullest extent permitted by law:
- liability for any loss, death, injury or damage which you may suffer (directly or indirectly) in connection with or arising out of your participation in a trip, or any breach of the Booking Conditions, is excluded.
• you release us and our officers, employees, agents and representatives from any liability and expressly waive any claims you may have against us arising out of or in connection with your participation in a trip.
• any condition or warranty which would otherwise be implied by law into these Booking Conditions (Implied Warranty), is excluded.
To the extent an Implied Warranty cannot be excluded, our liability in respect of the Implied Warranty is limited to (in our absolute discretion): (i) the provision of a similar trip to an equivalent value; or (ii) a refund of the total amount received by us from you in connection with your booking.
Any claim by you is excluded to the extent that it is for indirect or consequential loss, loss of profits or economic loss, however it arises, or for indirect, special, punitive or exemplary damages.
- Optional activities
Optional activities not included in the trip price do not form part of the trip or this contract. You accept that any assistance given by your tour leader or local representative in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The contract for the provision of that activity will be between you and the activity provider.
- Claims & complaints
If you have a complaint about your trip please inform your tour leader at the time in order that they can attempt to rectify the matter. If satisfaction is not reached through these means then any further complaint should be put in writing to us within 30 days of the end of the tour.
In the event that any term or condition contained in these Booking Conditions is unenforceable or void by operation of law or as being against public policy or for any other reason, then such term or condition shall be deemed to be severed from this contract or amended accordingly only to such extent necessary to allow all remaining terms and conditions to survive and continue as binding.
Any personal information that we collect about you may be used for any purpose associated with the operation of a trip or to send you marketing material in relation to our events and special offers. The information may be disclosed to our agents, service providers or other suppliers to enable us to operate the trip.
- Applicable law
The laws of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland govern these Booking Conditions to the fullest extent allowable. Any disputes in connection with a trip or these Booking Conditions must be initiated in the courts of UK.
- Registered address
Light and Imagination is a UK Limited Company registered with the Companies House on 7th April 2016, registration number 10111271 operating from offices at 82 High Street Whitstable, KENT, CT5 1AZ.
Here at Light and Imagination we take our obligations seriously and always consider the impact of our business. As such we have responsible travel policy. You can find a copy of it here. Please click the button below to view or download a copy of our policy.
Thanks, Matt and Andreea.
You will arrive at ZhangJiaJie (Dayong) airport where we will meet and collect you. Airport to hotel transfer is included. Once you are settled in your room and had a chance to unpack, we host an introduction meeting with meal and drinks.
We recognise that the group will be at different levels and skills. On this afternoon / evening we can discuss what level you are at with your Photography. This will enable us to work out how much support you will need to make the most from this trip.
After an authentic home-cooked breakfast at the hotel and some chances to admire the spectacular sunrise we will take you into ZhangJiaJie National Park (travel and admission tickets to the park included in the price). Via park transportation facilities, which normally include a bus and a cable car, we will make our way to Tianmen mountain. Tianmen mountain is the highest peak in ZhangJiaJie and is thought to be the soul of the region. From here you will gain an appreciation of the stunning scenery and get some landscape photos to treasure. There are many peaks here to explore with a new breath taking view at every turn.
Lunch will be in the park at one of the local restaurants. Expect simple but tasty local food, and don’t hesitate to ask our guide for suggestions. They’re there for you to make the most of your real China experience.
On this day, we aim to be on location until sunset to make the most of the opportunities available, however this will be weather dependent. After sunset we will return to the hotel for dinner.
Today we travel to the Yellow dragon cave. UNESCO experts deem it to be the most beautiful cave in the world. Being the largest karst caves in China, it boasts underground streams, fantastic rocky shapes and huge caverns. It’s a must for any photography enthusiast, and we’ll be there to guide and advise you how to best immortalise this with your cameras!
After a busy, action-packed couple of days, today you have the opportunity to take some free time if you so wish. After breakfast, you can decide to chill, rest, edit or go out and shoot some more! We are happy to help arrange travel and assistance for you with the guide if needed.
Alternatively, you can decide to take advantage of the group or individual photography advice available today, as our tutors Matt and Andreea will be offering a 2-hour Lightroom workshop in the morning. You can also have individual feedback sessions with either Matt or Andreea today, to help with your photos and gain some ideas for your next pictures.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided at the hotel, whatever you decide to do during the day.
After breakfast we will travel back in to ZhangJiaJie national park and go to the Hallelujah mountains, the setting for the film Avatar. Using the knowledge gained from the last few days, you will have a chance to get wonderful photographs of this special place. We will spend the day here exploring the peaks and views.
Lunch will be on location.
We will return to the hotel in the afternoon and you will have the opportunity to start packing as we get ready to travel to the next location on the following day. Over dinner we can exchange impressions and photographic successes and challenges from this first leg of the tour.
We finish packing and say goodbye to our ZhangJiaJie hosts after breakfast, then make our way to ZhangJiaJie city. We will have lunch in town, then take a coach to FengHuang ancient city. The coach trip is about 4 hours, so once we have arrived at the hotel in FengHuang, there is the evening to relax and soak up the atmosphere in this picturesque city. During the evening we will all have dinner in town.
Breakfast is followed by exploring this wonderful city, taking in the sights and sounds with wonderful opportunities for street photography and general interest. We will visit a couple of local-interest historic spots and the local market where we can have lunch. There will be ample opportunity for street photography as we discover this amazing city on foot.
After dinner in one of the many traditional restaurants we will admire the colourful lights and cityscape along the river. This is a great opportunity for night photography. As on previous days, Matt and Andreea will be there for photography advice relevant to the opportunities presented on the day, and our local guide can advice on food and local culture.
As our last full day in FengHuang, you will have two options: take the morning off and go explore some more and do some shopping if you wish. Alternatively, we will travel out of FengHuang to visit the Southern Great Wall. Built during the Ming dynasty, it stretches 190km. There are over 1300 blockhouses, watch towers, sentry posts, emplacements and gates for stationing troops and defenses. We will take advantage of the photographic opportunities here and will walk along a stretch of the wall.
In the afternoon/evening there will be opportunities to arrange individual feedback sessions, and if the group are up for it, we can also arrange a group session where we will meet up and share and review photos, give and receive feedback. Dinner and drinks in town will mark the end of our stay in FengHuang and our photography tour.
We travel back to ZhangJiaJie city together for onward travel connections. Bear in mind the bus takes around 4 hours so unless your flight connection is in the evening it may be wise to plan international travel the following day. Although an extra night is not included in the price, we would be happy to arrange this for you overnight, as well as airport / other transfers as required, at cost.