A Memorable New Year’s Photography Tour
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|DEPARTURE TIME||27 December, 2016|
|RETURN TIME||3 January, 2017|
|PRICE||2500 euro (7 nights)
500 euro deposit made at the time of booking
A final invoice will be emailed to you 8 weeks prior to the departure date of your tour.
Please view terms and condition
It wouldn’t be New Years without a celebration. This year usher in the New Year with a session of night photography and some great Bulgarian wines. The skies will be dark this New Year’s Eve with no moon and, if the night is clear, you will have bright stars and clean unpolluted air…great for night photography. Top that off with good wines, maybe a few fireworks (also fun for photography), great company and delicious food and what better way is there to usher in the year? Come join the adventure!
New Year’s Tour Instruction
The tour is led by National Geographic photographer, Evo Danchev, who lives in the Rhodope Mountains himself. Evo will ensure that you are in exactly the right place at precisely the right moment to capture Bulgaria at her wintery best. Together with Phil Sheil, he will always be on hand to help you with decisions about settings on your camera and to help you consider crucial aspects of composition and lighting to elevate your photography.
The curriculum for the tour is designed by university professor of Art and Design, Phil Sheil. He also will be on hand at all times to make sure you get the most out of each location and to guide you through the editing process after, so that you go home with the best images you have ever taken.
Food & Accommodation on the New Year Tour
You will not believe how well you will eat on this tour! The food is fresh, it is wholesome and tasty and quite simply wonderful! Sadly, a tomato will never taste as flavourful again, or a pepper as sweet when you return home. Then there are the hearty pots of sizzling meats, the cheese and more cheese in every dish—even the French fries–and the fresh baked flat breads. And of course the home-grown wines to accompany the meals and the famous, home-brewed Brandy, known as Rakia, to finish everything off.
Sunrise and sunset take on a whole new meaning on a photography tour…everything you do will be scheduled and dictated by these most sacred hours of the day. As the days slip by, your camera will pull you further and further in, fully immersing you in all the nuances of nature… And in the evenings, after a fulfilling day following nature’s clock, you will welcome your pillow and comfortable bed in a charming guesthouse.
Day 1: December 27th - Sofia
Book your flight to arrive any time today. You will be greeted at Sofia’s International Airport and will soon have your feet up at your hotel in the heart of Sofia. If you arrive in the morning, you will have time for a rest or to stroll to a few of Sofia’s most picturesque and well-known churches and cathedrals… only walking distance from your hotel.
In the late afternoon, there will be a sunset photo shoot at the Stone River on Vitosha Mountain. This is a massive tumbling river of gigantic boulders high up in Vitosha mountain right above Bulgaria’s bustling capital city. Then, a delicious and entertaining dinner at a nearby traditional Bulgarian restaurant o kick off the tour.
- Stone Rivers
Day 2: December 28th - Pamporovo
This morning will start with an early breakfast followed by a sunrise shoot at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia’s most iconic building. From here, you will depart for the Rhodope Mountains stopping first at The Little Red Church near Perushtitsa. The preserved remains of this late 5th century red brick Roman Christian Basilica stand proudly upon the contrasting snow-white fields surrounding it. Later in the afternoon you will check into your Pamporovo hotel, your Rhodope Mountain home for the next 3 nights. At 1750m above sea level and nestled deep amongst the pine forests you will find the air at the hotel fresh and pure and very much conducive to rest and relaxation. Here you will have time to rest before your first editing workshop followed by a delicious Rhodopean dinner.
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- The Little Red Church of Perushtitsa
Day 3: December 29th - Pamporovo
Today is a busy day beginning right after breakfast at the nearby Canyon of Waterfalls. Thick snow-dusted, pine forests line your trail as you traipse across charming stone bridges and rustic wooden walkways up the 46, mostly frozen waterfalls of the canyon to the final 70m cascade of Orpheus. A delicious hot lunch awaits your descent from the falls at our favourite restaurant in all of Bulgaria in the town of Smolyan. There will be time to rest in the afternoon before a tutorial and onsite workshop on Night Photography at Snejanka (Snow White) Tower, located just up the mountain from the hotel at the 1928m high summit of Snejanka Peak.
- The Canyon of 46 Waterfalls
- Night Skies
Day 4: December 30th - Pamporovo
After breakfast this morning you will be heading down the Devil’s Throat, an enormous cave filled with the roar of a 42m underground waterfall. This cave is rumoured to be the entrance through which Orpheus descended into Hades. As the cave is located in the dramatic Trigrad gorge, you will have a morning photo shoot in the gorge itself before stopping for lunch. Depending on the winter conditions you should have a choice of activities in the afternoon… either to enjoy a relaxing mineral spa or head out for an exciting dog sledding adventure. In either case, you will surely sleep well tonight.
- Spa or Dogs
Day 5: December 31st - Pamporovo
Another early start today as you head east across the Rhodopes to greet the sunrise at the magical Devil’s Bridge. This arched, stone bridge built by the Ottomans in 1515 spans a narrow gorge through which the Arda river flows. Lunch and another editing workshop will be further along the river near Karzhali dam, which allows close proximity to a fabulous sunset location at a curve in the Arda River. New Year’s dinner will be back at our favourite Smolyan restaurant and then a bit of rest before ringing in the New Year with wine tasting, night photography and some fireworks.
- Arda River
- New Year’s Eve
Day 6: January 1st - Kosovo
No sunrise shoot this morning after last night’s festivities. This morning you depart Pamporovo for the tiny village of Kosovo, stopping for a photo shoot along the way at the Wonderful Bridges. These are not actually bridges, but fascinating stone formations rather like huge caves. After lunch and some rest you will head to your sunset shoot at Asen Fortress. Actually there is not much of a fortress left here, but the beautiful little Church of the Holy Mother of God is fully intact and perches precariously on the cliffs making for some beautiful photography. This is one of very few ancient churches where photography of the interior frescoes is allowed.
- The Wonderful Bridges
- Asen’s Fortress
Day 7: January 2nd - Sofia
After breakfast this morning you begin your journey back to Sofia. You will stop along the way at Bachkovo Monastery, one of the oldest and largest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in all of Europe. Lunch will be in the Old Town area of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city. After a little time to explore the architecture and craft stores of Old Town, you will make your final transfer of the trip back to Sofia. Your afternoon in Sofia will be spent polishing up final edits of photographs for the Final Group Presentation. After a farewell dinner, instructors will present your best images with comments on your growth as a photographer and also with suggestions as to where to focus your photographic efforts in future.
- Bachkovo Monastery
- Final Presentation
Day 8: January 3rd
This morning you are on your own to wake and eat and take any photos as you like. Your hotel is again near the city center and the morning sun of the churches and cathedrals is breathtaking. If you are leaving us this morning, we will ensure you are transported to the airport in time for your flights home.
WHAT TO BRING
The following gear is essential:
- Good solid camera bag (preferably as a backpack)
- Digital SLR camera
- Extra memory cards
- Camera battery charger and international adaptor (all sockets are European 2-pin 120volts)
- Laptop with photoshop or lightroom—we will teach these programs if you haven’t used them before
- Lens cleaning kit including several lens cloths
- Small light weight absorbent towel for drying camera in wet conditions
- Wide angle lens preferably with zoom and/or additional lenses
- USB flashdrive for passing in images to instructors
The following gear is recommended:
- Variety of additional lens (35-70, 70-200, 18-24/50’s)
- Spare camera battery (they do not last as long in the cold)
- Flash, preferably off camera (Spare AA batteries if needed)
- Back-up storage device/solid state hard drive for image back-up
- Sturdy Tripod
- Cord release or remote control release
- Rain cover for camera
Temperatures are chilly lows of -4℃ (24℉) and cool highs of +4℃ (39℉). Please bring appropriate clothing.
- Good pair of comfortable walking shoes with ankle support water resistant if possible (already broken in)
- Good quality warm socks for walking shoes
- Sufficient undergarments for the length of your tour
- Warm underlayer tops and bottoms–quick dry, non-cotton, breathable
- Breathable, light-weight, quick-dry long-sleeve shirts
- Breathable, light-weight, warm long trousers (eg. fleece or lined)
- Fleece or light-weight jacket/hoodie, perhaps down vest or jacket
- Windproof /waterproof top and bottom layer for warmth and wet
- Gloves, scarf and warm hat (fingerless gloves or thin synthetic gloves are good for handling the camera)
- Sun glasses
- Swimsuit for hotel and spa
- Spare camera
- ND and NDGrad filters and Polarizing Filters
- Sensor cleaning device/kit
- Photo vest (with pockets)
- Casual clothes for around the hotel
- second pair of shoes for around the hotel
- Small basic first aid kit
- Additional snacks or treats
- Pens, pencils, notepads