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Mongolia Photo Workshop
Aug 27 – Sep 6, 2023



 

Workshop Summary:

Mongolia is known as a country with the last true nomad and a great history of Chinggis Khaan! It is one of the most sparsely populated country in the world. Mongolia is unique and relatively unexplored travel destination that offers a great combination of scenic landscape, nomadic life style and rich culture!

The first part of our adventure is the private Golden Eagle Festival in West Mongolia. You will be witnessing the cultural heritage of Kazakhs, their ancient art of eagle falconry, as well as the breathtaking landscape of the Altai Mountain Range! The second part of our adventure is the Gobi Desert, where you will have the rare opportunity to photograph the local Mongolian as they are herding the Bactrian camels across the Khongor sands in South Mongolia.

Get yourself ready and be inspired by the beauty of Mongolia. Join us on 11 days 10 nights photography workshop to Mongolia for the unique cultural experience and learn about cultural, portrait, and landscape photography with some of the best photographers on earth!

When: Aug 27 – Sep 6, 2023
Where: Mongolia
Cost: US$5,899/person based on double occupancy ($799 extra for single occupancy)
Group size: 10 maximum
Category: Photography Workshop
Tour Leader & Photography Instructor: William Yu, Kah-Wai Lin
Workshop URL: www.williamyuphotoworkshops.com/mongolia
Contact: info@williamyuphotoworkshops.com

The cost of this workshop is US$5,899/person for double occupancy, it includes:

  • Hotels or Ger(Yurt) camps depend on the location

  • All domestic flights

  • Ground transportation in Toyota Land Cruisers, 3 persons per car

  • All meals and beverages (water, coffee, tea)

  • Photography guide, tour guide services

  • All parks entry fees

  • Private Eagle hunting mini festival, Eagle hunting activity – all stages and model fees

  • Private camel festival – all stages and model fees

  • Power generators for remote places with no electricity

The cost does NOT include:

  • International flight to/from Mongolia

  • Visa (we will prepare documents for your visa application)

  • Travel insurance

  • Alcoholic or Soda beverages

  • Single supplement in hotels and Ger camps

  • Extra baggage charge for Mongolian domestic flight (limit of baggage is 15kg total carry-on and check-in luggage, around US$2 to US$5 per extra kg to be paid during check-in)

  • Gratitude for guides and drivers

Activity Level: Easy

 

No long hiking. Walking in the sand dunes, and short walking uphill to capture panorama view with eagle hunters. Some Long driving (100-200km).

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Itinerary:

​Day 1: Arrival in Ulaanbaatar

Upon arrival in Chinggis Khan International Airport, Ulaanbaatar (UBN), we will transfer you to hotel in Ulaanbaatar. Because of the limited flights into Mongolia, you may have to arrive one day earlier, and have time to explore the beautiful city of Ulaanbaatar.

We will meet at 7PM in the hotel lobby and have the welcome dinner in the local restaurant. Over the dinner, we will give you an overview of our exciting journey ahead.

Overnight in hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

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Day 2 – 4: Golden Eagle Hunters

After the breakfast, we will take the 3 hours domestic flight from Ulaanbaater to Ölgii. Our drivers will pick us up and drive toward the Altantsugts Soum and Tsambagaraw Mountain, which is our base for the next two days. You will be welcomed by the Kazakh family and you will enjoy the traditional meals in one of the Kazakh Ger camps.

 

The tradition of eagle hunting is over a thousand years old and Genghis Khan is believed to have engaged in the sport. The Kazakhs inherited the sport from their Turkic and Mongol ancestors and were practicing it when they emerged as an ethnic group since 15th century. The hunting with golden eagles is primarily for fur, not for meat. The main preys are red and Corsac foxes, hares, wild cats and wolf. Usually, the female eagles are captured from their nests while they are a few months old. They are then trained by their owner, and a close relationship develops along the way. The eagle will stay with her owner for 4 to 10 years, when she is of breeding age. She is then released as far as possible in order to discourage her from returning, and the owner will continue to monitor her to ensure she is feeding and reintegrating. In 2011, UNESCO added Kazakh eagle hunting to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as an example of living human heritage. As one eagle hunter told National Geographic, “When Kazakhs came into the world, they were eagle hunters.”

In the next few days, we will be having the private golden eagle festival with 15 to 20 eagle hunters. Our private festival will be different from the public festival, which is almost impossible to take home any good images due to the enormous number of tourists. During our private festival, you will have full access to take as many stunning images as you want while the Kazakh eagle hunters demonstrate their amazing skills in eagle falconry on horseback with the majestic landscape in the background! We will be photographing them in various locations, running and posing on the mountain ridges, grasslands and rocky landscape, reflection under the Altai Mountain range, the horses running across the river. Your day will be filled with excitement and heart-pounding moments!

In the middle of the day when the light is harsh outside, we will be photographing the Khazakh people with their traditional costume inside their Ger camp, with the ambient lights coming through the door. The results will simply blow your mind! If you are brave enough, you will be given the rare opportunity to get up closely to the golden eagles and let them stand on your arm!

Over these days, you will be having the traditional cuisines together with the Kazakh family, you will be enjoying their foods after the long days of photographing. The Kazakhs will also present you their epic instrumental music and vocal singing!

Overnights in Ger Camp in Day 2 and 3, and hotel in Ölgii in Day 4.

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Day 5: Olgii – Ulaanbaatar

After the breakfast, we will depart from Olgii Airport on a 3-hours flight back to Ulaanbaatar. Upon return to Ulaanbaatar, you will check in to the hotel in city center. You will have a chance to explore the beautiful city of Ulaanbaatar. In the evening, we will meet up for dinner in the local restaurant.

 

Overnight in hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

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Day 6–7: Khongor Sand Dunes in Gobi Desert

After breakfast in the hotel, we will take the domestic flight from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad. The flight time is 1.5 hours. In the case that no flights are available, we will travel by cars from Ulaanbaatar towards Dalanzadgad at no additional cost. Depending on the arrival time in Dalanzadgad, we will head towards the Khongor sand dunes for sunset, or make an overnight stop at the Dalanzadgad or Yoliin Am Canyon to avoid the very late arrival.

On the way to the Khongor sand dunes, we will make some stops to photograph the Mongolia nomadic life. You will witness how the Mongolian people herding hundreds or even thousands of sheep, goats, camels, yaks, and horses just as their ancestors have for more than 3,000 years!

Our main stage for the next two days – Khongor Sand Dunes, one of the largest and the most spectacular sand dunes in Mongolia, with the area over 900 square kilometers, and some dunes can reach the heights of 100 to 300 meters! The inhabitants here name the Khongor Sand Dunes as “Singing Dunes” due to the “roaring” or “blooming” noise when the sand grains move over one another in the windy condition.

Bactrian camels will be our companies in the photography sessions. Bactrian camels are double-hump camels native to the Gobi Desert. They are among the most adaptable creatures on Earth, as they can cope with drought, high altitudes, and extreme temperature between +40°C in the summer and -30°C in the winter. Domesticated Bactrian camels are a separate species from wild Bactrian camel, they have served as pack animals in inner Asia since ancient times, and as a form of transportation on the Silk Road. We will be having 5 camels and 2 local Mongolians in their traditional costume to be posed in the sand dunes for photography! You will be witnessing the amazing shadow of sand dunes casted by the low-angled sunlight and the camels walking across the sand dunes, just like the silk road era!

Overnight in Tourist Ger Camp or hotel in Day 6 and Tourist Ger Camp in Day 7. The amenities in the Tourist Ger Camp include electricity, comfortable beds, and very clean public shower and toilet.

Camel caravan in Mongolia
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Day 8: Nomadic Life – Flaming Cliff

We will continue to do the early sunrise session at Khongor sand dunes. On the way to our next location, we will make some stops to photograph the Mongolia nomadic life. You will witness how the Mongolian people herding hundreds or even thousands of sheep, goats, camels, yaks, and horses just as their ancestors have for more than 3,000 years!

We will then travel towards the Bayanzag red sand cliffs, also known as Bayanzag flaming cliffs. Bayanzag means “rich in saxaul tree”. This thorny shrub measuring approximately two meters high proliferates in the surroundings and is a good source of food for camels. Bayanzag flaming cliffs has many sedimentary sand cliffs where many dinosaurs’ fossils have been found. We will be photographing the sunset here, as well as the light painting in the panoramic viewpoints down the cliffs.

 

Overnight in Tourist Ger Camp. This camp has private shower and toilet.

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Day 9: Tsagaan Suvarga

On the way back to Ulaanbaatar, we will stop at the rocky formations of Tsagaan Suvarga, or “white stupa”, that are located in the Southeast of the sum Ölziit. These rocky formations eroded by the wind and they resemble the ruined city if you observe them from a certain distance. They are about 60 meters (197 feet) high and 400 meters (1312 feet) long. They are extremely spectacular photogenic, we will be photographing sunset and night sky here.

Overnight in Tourist Ger Camp or Hotel in Ulaanbaatar if the domestic flight is available.

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Day 10: Mongolia Wrestling & Archery

After a long week exploring the Mongolia, you will have a good rest in the morning. After the lunch, we will be going to photograph the Mongolia wrestling and archery.

The Mongols are descendants of the greatest warriors the world has ever seen with good reasons, but first and foremost it is their training. As soon as they were old enough to sit on a horse and hold a bow they started hunting and also from a young age they were taught a fighting style called Bökh, but is generally referred to as Mongolian wrestling today. Mongols are expert horsemen as well, both men and horse had great endurance and could travel anywhere from 80-120 kilometers a day, which was an unheard of speed in those times. Their skills with the bow and arrow were so good they could shoot accurately from a horse even from behind. The Mongols are extremely proud of this heritage, so even if today they are amongst the friendliest people you can find, they are still great with horses, bow and arrow and considered amongst the toughest wrestlers in the world. We will have the opportunity to meet some of those warriors, both archers and wrestlers, where they will demonstrate their skills, and if you are up for it… maybe step into “the ring” with one of them!

Overnight in hotel in Ulaanbaatar.

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Day 11: Departure

You will be transferred to the Ulaanbaatar Airport by our drivers, and leaving Mongolia with full of memories and great images!

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Itinerary Disclaimer:

Our workshop’s itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of our Photo Guides depending on factors including but not limited to weather, road conditions, transportation delays, and other factors beyond our control. We will check the weather forecasts and road conditions and plan our day to optimize shooting conditions. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to visit all the locations on the itinerary.

Meet the guides:                       

Recommended Photography Equipment:

 

A recommended list of gear will be sent out as soon as you book to give you ample time to prepare for your adventure.

FAQ:

How do I sign up and pay for this workshop?

 

A deposit of $1,000 is required for this workshop. If you wish to pay with credit card or PayPal, there will be 3% extra fee ( $1,030 deposit). If you elect to pay with bank transfer, Zellepay, or check, no extra fee charged, please email us at info@williamyuphotoworkshops.com for info. The balance is due on May 20, 2023. All participants must sign William Yu Photography Workshops/Tours Liability Waiver Form and show the proof of travel insurance before the tour starts.

 

How many participants do you allow?

 

Photo tour size is limited to 10 attendees, which ensures that every attendee will get full attention. 

 

What photographic skill level is required to benefit from this workshop?

Any people who has a basic understanding of exposure all the way to the advanced amateur and professional who is in search of a fresh perspective!

 

What is your refund or cancellation policy? 

The are no refunds for cancellations or changes made less than 100 days before the workshop start date. However, if we/you are able to fill your spot, we will refund your payment minus a $200 processing fee.

William Yu Photo Workshops (William Yu LLC) reserves the right to cancel or reschedule tours and workshops due to Force Majeure or impossible weather conditions where safety of the buyer cannot be guaranteed.   We will strive to make every attempt to reschedule the workshop or tour within 2 years of the original scheduled date.  No refunds will be given but participants will be reserved a spot on the rescheduled tour or will receive credit for use towards another workshop or tour.

In the very unlikely event that a tour or workshop is canceled, we will refund the workshop fee to participants.  Expenses related to travel and accommodations not provided by us will not be refunded. We require that you obtain Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance after booking your trip with us.  Proof of coverage is required 90 days before the workshop starts.  Please contact us for any additional questions with regards to our cancellation and refund policy.

Please note that some of our workshops with partner companies may have non-refundable deposits.  We will be happy to apply your deposit to another one of our future workshops instead.

No Refunds for USD1,000 deposit if cancelled.

I have some questions, how do I learn more? 

Please send email to info@williamyuphotoworkshops.com