Mountain View lakeside, Pokhara, Nepal

by Simon

So with my bags packed and in the car on the way to the airport, I was just starting my epic journey to Kathmandu. I was flying from Manchester via Heathrow, before catching the flight to Delhi. Then the final leg was Delhi to Kathmandu. In total this trip has eight flights- including the internal flights in Nepal. I find that flying is the most boring thing in the world next to golf, so I booked a window seat and just tried to get my head down!
On arrival in Kathmandu the weather was looking very overcast and not promising at all. That evening it started to rain and rain and yes you guessed it… more rain! In fact it rained all the next day and put my plans to photograph before the group arrived to rest.
Monkey at Monkey Temple, Nepal

The following day the group arrived and although the weather had picked up a bit, it was still threatening rain. Sometimes you just have to work with the weather that you are given and in this case we turned it to our advantage. We had fantastic moody sky that contrasted against the temples and lovely soft light to photograph the locals.

We spent two wonderful days photographing the Kathmandu Valley and even got the chance to do some night time photography.   Most evenings were spent discussing the days events and what we were going to do the following day. We also talked how to approach the various subjects to get the best results. Of course the odd drink and cheese curry interrupted the discussions from time to time!

After our time spent in Kathmandu we flew down to Pokhara along the backbone of the Himalaya. Unfortunately this time the beautiful mountains could not be seen because of the dense cloud- much to our frustration. We spent the afternoon in front of Photoshop in my private garden at the fabulous Shangra La Village resort. This was a great place to learn and created a beautiful and relaxed teaching environment. I wish I could run all my workshops from here! That evening once again the rain came and this time we watched from our restaurant balcony as the road down below turned into a river. All the tourists and locals were amazed at the very unseasonable weather.  

Mountains in Annapurna region, Nepal

The following morning we set out on our trek to Birthtanti. Oh, and yes it started to rain again! This made the easy path very slippery, which I tested out with a very impressive forward roll down a bush covered bank! The group gave me an almost perfect score of 10 for style! We spent a great evening getting warm with a whisky around the open fire in the luxury lodge and telling others of our adventure. One topic was how many times had we been bitten by leaches! Les who was in our group was up there with six, but could not beat the queen of leach bites, which was a woman that had stayed at the lodge the previous night with a grand total of 25 bites. People in Hollywood would pay good money for that many (go google it- they do pay for this so called beauty treatment)! I could not see the change in Les, even after a few whisky’s- sorry Les!

We were up early the following morning and were greeted by magnificent views of the mountains and clear blue skies. Finally, the weather had broken and we spent the day trekking up to Ghandruk in glorious sunshine. The walk is not an easy one, but we took our time and took plenty of photographs. We broke away from the tourist trail and went past some old and intensively beautiful villages. Locals come out to great us and they are more than happy to be photographed. This is such a breath taking walk (in more ways than one) and you can’t help but be touched by the kindness of the people. On arrival at Ghandruk we had a shower and a well deserved rest before settling down to some more tutorial work on the computer. 

There was another early start the following morning to catch sunrise from a temple that sits high above Ghandruk village. The walk is steep and muddy and done in total darkness, with only our head torches to cut through the dim morning light. Our efforts were well rewarded with perfectly clear skies which allowed us to shoot panoramics. The views from the temple were simply astonishing and conveys a beautiful sense of serenity.

Pokhara Nepal Lakeside

Back at the Lodge we had breakfast and were soon off to photograph the old part of the village and some of the surrounding areas. With photographic opportunities around every corner, this is the ideal place to hone your photographic skills. There were buildings, people and even dancers that got us involved in their activities. The morning was jam-packed, and it wasn’t even 10 o’clock! The weather Gods were now being kind to us, giving us beautiful displays of the mountains in the evening.

The following morning was the same and the group found it hard to take their eyes off them big majestic mountains. We were all getting some very impressive images which made us all very happy. However, all good things have to come to an end and the following day we set off on our journey out of the Himalaya and back towards Pokhara. We took a side trip to a very impressive waterfall which has lots of locals to photograph and our walk was done at a very leisurely pace. We spent the evening in Pokhara and the following day sightseeing before returning back to Kathmandu.

Photography Workshop in Ghandruk, Nepal
The Photography Group at Ghandruk, Nepal

There was still one jewel in the crown of Kathmandu to be photographed and that was Pashupatinath Temple. This is a sacred Hindu cremation site, full of Holy men and monkeys. The tour had given my group a real insight into this ancient and fascinating country and provided photo opportunity after photo opportunity. Everyone went home with a life experience and a portfolio some only dream of.