9-Day Photo Tour of Hidden Gems of Tibetan Culture

Hidden Gems of Tibetan Culture

9-Day Photo Tour of Seda

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Located in the remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of northwest Sichuan Province, Larung Gar and Yarchen Gar have unveiled their mystery in recent years, thanks to better road construction.

Built on the mountainside, Larung Gar (Sertar or Serthar Monastery) is one of the biggest Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world with over 10,000 monks living there.

Yarchen Gar, on the other hand, is built alongside a river, and there are approximately 20,000 nuns living there in red cottages. The monasteries are called "Yin” and “Yang".

This tour is not available now because Seda Tibetan area has been closed to foreigners from 13th June, 2016. China Highlights is monitoring reports about the opening time, and we will inform customers once we get a confirmed opening date. Thank you for kindly understanding.

Tour Highlights

  • Discover a more remote and less crowded part of China with a top professional photographer
  • Get close to the local people and experience the Tibetan culture
  • Explore Yarchen Gar and Larung Gar, the greatest monasteries in the world
  • Take this unique trip to explore places that would be difficult to visit on your own

Tour Details

  • First Trip: July 12th-20th, 2016(1 customer has confirmed)
  • Second Trip: September 2nd-10th, 2016(1 customer has confirmed)
  • This tour can be customized to your own dates, if you have 4+ people going with you.
  • 5–9 participants: This workshop is limited to nine participants to ensure a high level of comfort and a high student/tutor ratio. The workshop requires a minimum of five bookings to proceed.
  • Price per person: $2,599 (€2,269)
  • Single room supplement: $310 (€270)

Before registering for this workshop, please read trip notes.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Chengdu

We will arrange a comfortable transfer for you from the airport to your hotel in Chengdu, where you will celebrate the beginning of your trip with a welcoming dinner.

Seda and Yarchen tour mapSeda and Yarchen tour map
Day 2 Chengdu–Kangding–Xinduqiao

After a relaxed breakfast in your hotel, you will make your way to Xinduqiao, also known as a “photographer’s paradise”, where you will be shooting at sunset.

On the way, you will stop several times to shoot the natural scenery around you, which is particularly characteristic of this part of China. You’ll have time to acclimate and prepare for the elevated altitude over the following days.

Photo Stop at XinduqiaoPhoto Stop at Xinduqiao
Day 3 Xinduqiao–Tagong–Luhuo–Ganzi

You will have plenty of different photo opportunities. You will begin your day by shooting the majestic Gongga Snow Mountain, and will have some time to visit and photograph the beautiful Tagong Temple and Muya Golden Pagoda.

Before the sun sets, you will have a chance to interact with and photograph the local people in Daofu.

Gongga MountainGongga Mountain
Day 4 Ganzi – Yarchen Gar

After some rest and a revitalizing breakfast, you will get ready to hop on our private bus and be driven towards Yarchen Gar, an incredible monastery situated in an isolated valley that is 400 kilometers away from Chengdu.

Thousands of nuns study and live there, and you will have the opportunity to interact with them before sunset.

As the sun is about to set, you will reach the best spot and take advantage of the panoramic view over the valley.

Yarchen GarYarchen Gar
Day 5 Yarchen Gar – Larung Gar

You will have to wake up early and hike to the top of the valley in order to be sure to get another beautiful shot over Yarchen Gar.

After taking photographs of the locals, you will make your way to another great monastery: Larung Gar.

Larung Gar is the highlight of this tour. It is a place like no other, situated at approximately 4,200 meters above sea level. It is supposed to be the largest Tibetan Buddhist school in the world with about 40,000 people living there. You will explore the valley and walk through the red houses to get a feel for it.

At sunset, you will hike to a higher viewpoint that overlooks the valley.

Sunset at Larung GarSunset at Larung Gar
Day 6 Larung Gar

Sunrise is another great moment of the day to be on top of the valley and take a few shots.

During the afternoon, you will attend a sky burial,

Tibetan Buddhists’ typical funeral practice. You will then have more photo opportunities with the local people and will visit them in their houses before having one last chance to shoot the sunset.

Monks’ cottages at Larung GarMonks’ cottages at Larung Gar
Day 7 Larung Gar – Guanyinqiao

After one last sunrise shooting in Larung Gar, you will start making your way back to Chengdu and stop in Guanyinqiao where the tour group will have time to work on the pictures together and make the most out of them.

Tibetan ChildTibetan Child
Tibetan PeopleTibetan People
Day 8 Guanyinqiao–Chengdu

You will enjoy a relaxed breakfast and be driven towards Chengdu, where the tour group will have one last dinner together.

Day 9 Chengdu

A comfortable transfer will be arranged for you from your hotel in Chengdu to the airport.

Trip Notes

1. Trip Extension

Chengdu is the hometown of giant pandas. If you would like to add a Chengdu city tour or take a one day panda keeper program before or after the photo tour, please feel free to ask your travel advisor to add it.

2. International Flights to Chengdu

As one of big cities in China, Chengdu has international direct flights to San Francesco, Melbourne, London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Round-trip international flights are not included.

3. Food and Accommodation

We have selected the best possible accommodation in each destination; however, some of them might be basic because they are situated a long way from the cities. The hotels offer a Chinese breakfast, such as congee or noodles.

Local Sichuan cuisine restaurants are arranged for lunches and dinners, and the chefs can control the amount of spicy ingredients according to your preferences.

4. Fitness Level

It’s possible to experience general fatigue due to the long flights and changes in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile in order to climb in and out of the transport vehicle, and be able to carry and manage your own photographic gear and luggage. You will hike along trails and paths ranging from easy to moderate throughout the trip. About four-hours walking is needed on Day 4-Day 6. Some hotels may not be equipped with elevators or air-conditioning.

If you have special needs (including a special diet) or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please make us aware of this when registering for the trip. Please also be aware that medical services and facilities might not be readily available during all or part of the trip.

During the trip, the average altitude is about 3300km to 3600km from Day 2-Day 6, you will reach the highest places at an elevation of about 4,200 meters, so read the information about mountain sickness below.

5. Mountain Sickness

Mountain sickness is caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude. It commonly occurs above 2,400 meters through different symptoms, such as nausea, lack of appetite, fatigue, insomnia, and shortness of breath. The only way to defeat mountain sickness is by quickly descending.

It is possible to prevent it by acclimating correctly, which is what you are going to do during the tour. However, it varies from person to person and, while many may feel all right, some people might suffer from it. People who have high blood pressure and heart diseases are not suitable for the tour. We recommend that you check with your doctor and ask him for advice about your health status and any medication you should take with you.

6. Photography Equipment and What to Pack

Make sure you pack the right equipment. We highly recommend:

  • DSLR camera with tripod and remote shutter release
  • Telephoto zoom lens, such as 70–200 mm
  • Standard lens, such as 24–70 mm
  • Ultra-wide angle lens, such as 14–24 mm or 16–35 mm, depending on the brand of your camera
  • Two or more extra batteries and chargers
  • Laptop for editing pictures (Lightroom software is recommended)
  • Spare CF/SD cards
  • Comfortable backpack or bag for your gear
  • ND, ND grad, and polarizing filters. Please note during the tour participants will be able to use some of the photographer's filters provided by "LEE Filters"

Take warm clothes as the weather can be particularly cold. It might even snow. Remember to pack a scarf, gloves, hat, waterproof jacket, comfortable shoes, and a headlamp with spare batteries. Please contact us with any further questions; we will be happy to help you.

7. Payment

Deposit: a $260 (€226)deposit is required. If you register and then cancel more than 60 days prior to the tour date we will fully refund your deposit. If a cancellation is requested within 60 days, then we will keep your deposit.

Full payment: The remaining balance is required 30 days before the tour start. If you cancel within 20 days, we will keep half of the amount paid, unless your seat is filled. If your seat gets filled before the event, then we will fully refund your amount minus the deposit.

Cancellation policy: In the unlikely event we have to cancel the tour, we will offer a full refund.

8. Insurance

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out travel insurance that covers the full value of the trip and personal effects in case of loss or theft of baggage and an emergency evacuation.

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, an airline strike, missed connection, etc., as well as your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications, and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut the trip short for medical purposes or any other reasons.

Why Choose This Tour?

  • This one of a kind photo tour has been created with the central idea of leading you to the most remote and surreal places in China; the kind of places where you have to pinch yourself to make sure that they are real.
  • Marco Grassi, a professional landscape and travel photographer, has been scouting the best locations for weeks in order to create a life-changing adventure that you’ll never forget.
  • Larung and Yarchen Gar have retained their original aspects from an early period very well. It is the photo tour available online that covers both Seda and Yarchen, and ensures an in-depth experience of Tibetan culture in Sichuan.
  • We have developed a very good relationship with the locals to guarantee your safety and to make more photo opportunities available.

What's Included

  • Arrival and departure airport transfers
  • 8 nights lodging
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners
  • A Professional photographer and an English-speaking guide
  • All tickets and entrance fees
  • Transportation during the tour

What's Excluded

  • Visa
  • Airfares to and from Chengdu
  • Snacks and drinks in addition to the included meals
  • International medical and travel insurance coverage
  • Tour extension in Chengdu and other cities
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