China: Hidden China, Optional Extension to Tibet

Tour Intro

INCLUSIVE TOUR COST Includes all group tour transportation, all meals, tips to your Chinese driver and guide. International Airfare and airport transfers not included.

BEIJING We’ll start with Beijing, the legendary capital of China. Beijing is a vast city, measuring fifty miles from end to end, with a population of over thirteen million. It has long been a political center of China. Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties held court here for over 500 years. Today it is the seat of power of the Communist Party. In addition to its political status, Beijing is also of great cultural and historical significance. Our trip will include some of the most historic and photogenic sites.

Purple Bamboo Park: We will make an early morning excursion to one of Beijing’s most beautiful and popular parks. Here we will have the opportunity to photograph the local people as they exercise, sing and dance.

The Forbidden City (Imperial Palace): The home and center of the Ming and Qing dynasties; it is now the largest and best-preserved cluster of ancient buildings in China.

Tiananmen Square: Directly opposite of the Forbidden City, this was a meeting place and location for government offices in imperial times and has been the site of major rallies during communist rule.

The Temple of Heaven: Considered highly sacred ground, it was here that the emperor performed the major ceremonial rites of the year. The Temple of Heaven has become the icon of Beijing.

A Hutong Pedicab Tour: We will spend a morning aboard a rickshaw riding through a local hutong. A hutong is an ancient city alley or lane typical in Beijing. Surrounding the Forbidden City, many were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming(1368-1628) and Qing(1644-1908) dynasties. As we travel we will visit a local home and photograph the life around one of Beijing’s best preserved hutongs.

The Great Wall: Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall was begun over 2,000 years ago. It is over 3,000 miles long, crossing five provinces and two autonomous regions. We will visit this famous structure at the Mutianyu section for late afternoon light.

KASHGAR: Located in the western part of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China, Kashgar was once a major hub of the famous Silk Road. Although Kashgar is experiencing rapid modernization, it still maintains many of its exotic characteristics. The Uyghur and Islamic cultures permeate the city. To many visitors, Kashgar is a ‘photographer’s banquet’. Several scenes in the movie ‘The Kite Runner’ were filmed here. We will spend three full days photographing in and around the city.

Id Kah Mosque and the surrounding old town: The Id Kah Mosque was built about 1442 with parts of it dating back to 996. Today it covers 16,800 square meters, and is the largest mosque in China, accommodating up to 20,000 worshippers. Behind Id Kah Mosque is the arts and crafts street where artisans can be seen making musical instruments, wood crafts, and copper ware. Kashgar’s Old Town is a Uyghur residential area that has a history of over 2000 years. Today it has more than 600 homes with over 2000 inhabitants. Because the government considers the Old Town to be overcrowded and unsafe, homes are in the process of being demolished to allow for construction of newer, more modern dwellings.

Live Stock Market and Kashgar Bazaar: Every Wednesday, in a small town about 15km from Kashgar, a livestock and general market day takes place. During our visit you can experience and photograph the bustling activity as farmers transport their animals and barter over the price of their livestock. With the exception of motorized vehicles and cell phones, one can imagine themselves stepping back in time. The Kashgar Bazaar is held in a huge covered structure with vendors spilling out onto the surrounding streets. Dried fruits, spices, ethnic clothing, rugs, and handicrafts are common stalls to visit, with colorful bolts of cloth, shoes, and even hi-tech items readily available.

TASHKURGAN (also spelled Tashkorgan): Tashkorgan (Meaning Stone Fortress) is located in Xinjiang’s extreme western area and is situated between the Kunlun and Pamir Mountain Ranges. The Stone City was famous for its location at the junction of the middle and southern routes of the ancient Silk Road, and for the Chinese arriving from Kashgar and Yarkand, it was the end of the Silk Road. Today, the majority of the inhabitants are Tajik who are known for their warmth and hospitality. We will have an opportunity to photograph the ruins of the old fortress which was also filmed in the ‘Kite Runner’.

Karakul Lake: As we travel the Karakorum Highway to Tashkurgan we will visit beautiful Karakul Lake. At an elevation of 3,600meters, Karakul Lake is the highest lake in the Pamir Plateau and is situated near the junction of the Pamir, Kulun, and Tianshan mountain ranges. We will also have outstanding views of the Kongger Mountain Range and the imposing Muztagh Ata. Muztagh Ata, with an elevation of 7546 meters (24,860 ft) is the origin of 5 glaciers (thus the name Muztagh which means the Father of Ice Mountains).

Tour Itinerary

June 20: Home

You will need to depart today on an overnight flight to Beijing, losing a day en route. If you would like us to arrange additional evenings and transfer from the airport to hotel, please notify Strabo Tours.

June 21: Beijing

Your adventure begins at 4:30pm when you will meet the group in the lobby of our hotel. After the group assembles we will be transported to a local restaurant where we will have a welcome dinner featuring the internationally famous Beijing Duck. During our dinner Katherine and Jack will give the group a brief introduction and orientation and you will have an opportunity to acquaint yourself with fellow travelers. Overnights Novotel Beijing Peace Hotel (4-star) (D)

June 22-24: Beijing

During our stay in Beijing we will visit and photograph places of historical and cultural significance.

In order to take advantage of the best times for photography, our mornings will be spent at the beautiful Purple Bamboo Park to watch and photograph people as they exercise, dance, and sing; Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City; and enjoy a Pedicab ride and walking photo excursion through one of Beijing’s hutongs. During the afternoons and early evenings we will visit the Temple of Heaven, the magnificent Summer Palace and the Great Wall at Mutianyu. (all meals)

June 25: Beijing – Urumqi - Kashgar

Today we travel to Urumqi for our connecting flight on to Kashgar, the famous northern hub of the ancient Silk Road. Overnights International Hotel (4-star) (all meals)

June 26-28: Kashgar

Our days will be spent wandering the streets of Old Town and side streets surrounding Id Kah Mosque, learning about the significance of the Islamic religion and the Uyghur people. We will experience and photograph the excitement of the Wednesday livestock market in a small town and the Kashgar Bazaar. We will also travel into the countryside to visit the nearby farming communities. For many previous tour participants, the most difficult decision was in which direction they should point their camera. (all meals)

June 29: Kashgar-Karakul Lake-Tashkorgan

This morning we embark on our road trip along the Karakorum Highway to Tashkurgan. We will leave the plains around Kashgar and travel through some stark but awesome and beautiful scenery before reaching Karakul Lake, where we will stop for more photo opportunities. We will then continue our journey over a mountain pass with impressive views of Muztagh Ata, the Father of Ice Mountains. Our day’s journey will end as we arrive in Tashkurgan and check into our hotel. Overnights Crown Inn (3-star) (all meals)

June 30: Tashkurgan

Early in the morning we will travel to the outskirts of town for impressive views of the Stone City with the Pamir Mountains as our back drop. Then we will wander the steps and paths of this ancient fortress during which you can work on your compositions in an attempt to photograph the story of this historic structure. During our stay you will have ample opportunity to photograph the friendly Tajik people as they go about their daily life. (all meals)

July 1: Tashkurgan - Tagama Village

We have another morning to photograph the scenery around Tashkurgan. We will then travel 33km to the small village of Tagarma. On the outskirts of Tagarma lies a massive alpine meadow surrounded by the Pamir Mountains. The Tajiks live here with their herds of yaks, sheep, and goats. We will have a picnic lunch with the Tajik people and spend the afternoon and early evening photographing the people, their culture and the beautiful scenery that surrounds their village. Upon departing Tagarma we will return to our hotel in Tashkurgan. (all meals)

July 2: Tashkurgan - Karakul Lake - Kashgar

We will depart our hotel in Tashkurgan in the wee hours of the morning so that we can photograph Muztagh Ata and Karakul Lake in the early morning light. We will then continue our journey back to Kashgar, returning in time for dinner. Overnight International Hotel (all meals)

July 3: Kashgar – Urumqi - Beijing

This morning we travel back to Beijing via a connecting flight in Urumqi. We will arrive in Beijing in time for our farewell dinner. Overnight Novotel Peace Hotel (all meals)

July 4: Beijing - Home

Today those participants not going to Tibet will transfer on their own to the Beijing International Airport for flights home. Crossing the International Date Line, we gain back the lost day, arriving the same day before noon, leaving plenty of time for connecting flights homeward. (B)

Tour Extension

Photo Leader

Katherine Feng
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Katherine Feng

TOUR ESCORT In 1982 Katherine Feng was invited by the government of the People's Republic of China to participate in a memorial ceremony in honor of her grandfather, General Feng Yuxiang (General Feng is a national hero famous for ousting the last emperor from Beijing's Forbidden City and setting up the Imperial Palace as a museum for the people of China, his battles against the Japanese during World War II, and the great love he had for his country). Katherine immediately fell in love with China, its people, landscape, and ancient heritage. She has since traveled to China numerous times to discover her roots and learn of her grandfather's legacy. Katherine's family ties have granted her unique access to locales and events that remain hidden from the majority of travelers to China – hidden secrets Katherine is excited to share.

Katherine has been leading international tours since 1993. She has led both photographic and special interest tours to China, Tibet, and East Africa. She is known for her ability to connect with the local people and to give her groups a more intimate experience in the countries they visit. Her aim is to show people the beauty of the world and to inspire others to learn about, understand and respect the different cultures in it.

As a photographer, Katherine's photographs have won numerous awards including first place in the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest and Best of Show in the International Wildlife Film Festival. Her photos have been published internationally in magazines, books (including National Geographic Magazine, International Wildlife, the cover of Frommer's 1999 China Travel Guidebook), and numerous calendars. Dr. Feng’s documentary photography of the Giant Pandas at Wolong Nature Reserve has earned her international recognition and acclaim.

The format of the trip, and the organization were excellent. Photography opportunities were excellent, and the visits to the small towns allowed a number of good people shots, as well as emphasizing the contrasts in living conditions and society in China. Katherine is an excellent represtative of your company

R. Davidson

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 10 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 8-9 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

Katherine works hard to make the tour run as smoothly as possible. Being a passionate photographer herself, Katherine understands the needs of participating photographers. Her ties and experiences in China has clearly added special values to this trip as well.

S & M Doo

I have taken a variety of workshops since returning to photography including two from Jack. What sets Jack apart from the other instructors I've had is his "Philosophy on Photography". Not only has Jack taught me the "How To's" to create a great photograph, but also the "Why's". While continuing to take classes and workshops from other instructors, I have already booked this years major workshop with Mr. Graham.

Ken R.

I have attended several of Jack Graham’s workshops. What a great experience. Jack made his workshops the most memorable and enjoyable workshops I have ever attended. Communication was great from the time I expressed interest in attending right to the end of the workshop. He sent me a list of items he suggested. That was great.

We would meet early in the morning for some instructions, and then set out for a day of great shooting & instruction. In the evenings, we would get together to discuss what we did that day. He would also critique our images we shot during that day. What a great learning experience that was.

Jack also encouraged us to bring, to the workshop, a variety of our own images so he could review, critique & offer advice on how our images could be improved. This was very informative and helpful.

Mary

Additional Notes

What to Expect

This tour is designed to be a photo tour, and, as such, we must be flexible in our scheduling. Much of what we do, and when we do it, will depend upon weather and light. We will, however, visit the major sites listed in each city.

While it is hoped that all tour members will join the group on scheduled activities, there will also be opportunities for optional early-morning excursions. These excursions may require additional public/ground transportation not covered in the tour cost. These costs (such as a taxi ride, for example) can be shared, but will be the responsibility of those tour members joining the excursion.

There may also be some optional activities that may present themselves during the course of our trip which are not included in the itinerary. The activities will be available at your discretion, for a small charge, and dependent upon the cooperation of the local weather.

Health and Fitness

Tour participants should be in good health and good physical condition. In order to maximize the photographic opportunities provided by this tour it will be necessary, on several occasions, to rise before sunrise. Although we will not be running marathons, we will be walking along the Great Wall for a mile or so, which involves some rather steep steps in places. While in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonmous Region, our travels will take us to Karakul Lake with an elevation of 3600 meters (11,800ft), briefly over a mountain pass with an elevation of about 4000 meters (13,000 ft), and we will spend two nights in Tashkurgan at an elevation of about 3100 meters (10,000ft). People not accustomed to these elevations may feel a shortness of breath. For those who are concerned about how these elevations might affect their health, it is recommended that they first consult their physician prior to signing up for this photo tour.

DEPOSITS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

A deposit of $500 per person is required with completed registration form. Additional deposits due as follows: $500 June 1, 2011 ~ $1000 January 1, 2012 ~ final balance February 20, 2012. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 90 days before the departure date.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

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, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

China has made great strides in tourist accommodations and services in recent years, but please remember it is still a developing country, so we may experience occasional inconveniences. All our accommodations will be clean and comfortable, with private toilet and shower/bath. The hotels have been chosen for your comfort as well as their proximity to prime photographic locations. Our motor coaches will be modern, clean, and comfortable.

Outside of our hotels, toilet facilities are often Asian squat toilets (that is, no western sit-down toilet). There may be times when a large rock, shrub, or tree will have to provide cover, in order to relieve one-self during our travels. It is hoped that participants will overlook the lack of western comforts with the knowledge that they will have unique experiences and photographic opportunities unlike that of any other photo tour offered.

Food & Drink

PLEASE NOTE In the areas we will visit within the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region the majority of the people are Muslim (Uyghurs, Tajiks, Krygiz) and they do not eat pork. Therefore, most of our meals will have mutton as our main source of meat. This is especially true once we leave Kashgar (where we will be able to have chicken and beef).

Also, the towns and cities outside of Kashgar are relatively unknown to western tourists and can therefore be lacking in modern western conveniences. Restaurants will be simple country restaurants.

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