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Sahara

SAHARA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY   |   NOVEMBER 2021  |   £2480

SAHARA TOURS MOROCCO

Few places in the world are as otherworldly as the Sahara Desert, wrapped in folklore and romantic exoticism; a place to get away from it all, enjoy unique adventures and gawk at the milky way.

Our ten-day Sahara photography tour takes you deep into desert, to Erg Chigaga, and our luxury tented camp. Here we’ll trek by camel photographing remote nomadic tribes in situ, dine out under the stars with the Gnawa band, shoot famous film sets and enjoy true adventure straight from the pages of literature. This stunning journey is a must for the inquisitive traveller.

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“Photographers can start by capturing the snake charmers and souks of Marrakech and then move deeper into the bosomy dunes where subject matter ranges from nomadic Bedouin camel herders and Tuareg tea ceremonies, to ancient gnawa music played out on goatskin drums and unforgettable sunsets and sunrises. Not forgetting the myriad forms of the dunes themselves.”

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Highlights.

A fount of solitude and the desert of childhood imaginings, the Sahara Desert is like nowhere else on earth. It is the world’s largest desert, at once continental in its scale and exquisite in its detail, from a sand sea the size of a small European country to an orange sand dune sculpted to perfection by the wind.

Yes, we investigate all of the excitement of the myriad souks, jaw dropping architecture and bustle of Marrakech, but the Sahara is where few tourists have ever been – and it shows. Friendly people living on the fringes of society, this is chance to shoot images of a culture few have ever witnessed.

Street reportage in the Marrakechi medina; incredible light and scenes
Shoot stunning portraits of underground hammam stokers
Capture street life in one of the only authentic Berber villages in Marrakech
Try our still life in Yves St Laurents famous garden
Snap panoramics landscapes on the set of Gladiator, Game of Thrones and Jason Bourne
Shoot nomadic tribespeople in their homes, far from tourist eyes
Try out star trails at midnight, with the band playing in the background

Morocco Photography Holidays : Itinerary.

Twenty minutes after touchdown on your Sahara Photography Holiday, you’ll be at Tigmi, our luxe boutique hideaway Harpers Bazaar called ‘a blissed out haven’. With breath-taking views over the Atlas mountains, this is the perfect place to relax, unwind and discover your creativity.

Today, we’ll start slowly – starting with the basics of photography, right from the very beginning, all in non-techy language. In no time, you’ll start to realise all these buttons, switches and dials are quite easy when you know how –and we’ll take some initial practice shots at dusk in the Berber village of Tagadert, before unwinding in the spectacular dining hall, sampling our first of many glasses of superb Moroccan vino.

Next morning, we’ll try our hand at being paparazzi, then test out all of our lenses to see which ones really shine. Then into the medina in Marrakech, trying out some composition techniques in Yves St. Laurent’s private garden, then, after a quick bite at a local’s hangout off the Djemaa El-Fna square, we’ll take out first peek at the souq – myriad bazaars lacing the core of this ancient medina.

Here, we’ll capture artisans crafting fine leathers, carpets and jewellery, plus go to a secret underground location to meet the hammam stokers. We’ll round off the day at Café Arabe – drinking chilled sundowners and watch the sun dip down over the Atlas Mountains.

Up early, we climb Morocco’s most dramatic (and highest) pass, the Tizi-n-Tichka along the former caravan route towards Ait Benhaddou, a spectacularly photogenic UNESCO World Heritage Site, location to films such as Lawrence Of Arabia, The Jewel Of The Nile and Gladiator. We’ll shoot inside its kasbah, a fortified village known for its pisé clay architecture – touring the houses of the few remaining residents who still live in its crumbled ruins.

Continuing our journey south, we’ll catch the pink tinges of sunset across the beautiful Oases in the lush Draa Valley, and a glass of something refreshing in M’Hamid, our stop for the night and the end of the road before the Sahara begins. Early next morning, we’ll board our fleet of Land Cruisers and into the desert, bathed in orange hues as far as the eye can see. After a couple of hours journey over some of Morocco’s biggest dunes – and stops to capture this incredible natural beauty – we reach Erg Chigaga Luxury Camp, our palatial home for the next few days.

Fresh from a restful sleep amid the dunes – the team at Erg Chigaga will cater to your every need – starting with a hearty breakfast. This morning, we’ll turn our attention to the next stage of your photography; people pictures. We’ll run through step-by-step professional techniques on how to shoot the best portrait and documentary images.

After lunch, we’ll venture by camel to a nearby nomadic settlement, and photograph travelling desert-dwellers who live and work in this harsh climate – chance to put all the lessons learned into practice. As the sun begins to dip, we’ll have our own private tea ceremony, atop the dunes, shooting Bedouin herders chatting over a charcoal fire, and after setting up our own pop-up ‘dune bar’ – witness the ever-moving spectacle of a desert being transformed from a mass of undulating orange sand into red, then purple then finally jet black. Magical.

This morning, we’ll review yesterday’s images, giving you individual hints and tips to improve your work, before climbing aboard our Land Cruisers once more, hunting in teams for more remote Nomadic encampments close to the Algerian border. As these camps frequently move, our team, communicating by radio, will triangulate travelling communities deep in the desert – giving you a truly unique chance to capture some stunning, rarely seen images of elders, children, parents and living conditions in this unforgiving, remote place.

Lunch will be provided on the fly, as we refine our technique under the watchful eye of your tutor to produce incred- ible images. Later, we’ll dine out under the stars, and review our finest images projected under the night skies, then relax around a blazing bonfire, where Bedouin musicians with goatskin drums and electric guitars will sing you soulful Gnawa ballads to while the evening away.

And for those with energy to spare, the stars are the brightest you will ever see – late late we set off on night safari; a days shooting to remember.

Today we leave the camp, and head North West towards Foum Zguid – a longer route out of the desert, but chock full of photographic opportunities. As we depart the dunes, we’ll indulge ourselves in some black and white desert scapes, continue more portraits with the characters at the Auberge Iriki, plus spend time capturing the majestic rock formations that fringe the desert.

As the sand turns into gravel and then tarmac, we’ll head towards Taznakht, a small town central to carpet production, and shoot Berbers in situ. Returning back to our blissed out haven at Tigmi late afternoon, there’s just time to unwind in the hammam – the antioxidant massage – with argan, camellia seeds, evening primrose and fennel is perfect for ironing out any final creases from our road trip. We’ll also host our second set of 1-on-1’s, chance to discuss your progress and help prepare for your final piece of work over the last couple of days – before indulging ourselves with the chef’s famous moelleux au chocolat and a restful nights snoozing.

Chance for some ‘you time’ today –and with the weather in the mid-twenties, you can choose to catch some rays, a swim in one of two tadelakt pools, or another treatment in the hammam – we definitely recommend the steam scrub, with savon noir and and geranium oils that will leave your skin looking silky smooth. The final day before departure we spend working on a final project of your choice – basing ourselves in the heart of the medina, we’ll bring together all the skills you’ve learned to produce one concluding killer piece of work, shown on our outdoor screen over drinks later that night, before we head out to Bo&Zin, an opulent restaurant populated by the local elite, and celebrate all of our creative achievements. Next morning, we host our final 1-on-1 sessions to give you a detailed review of where your skills lie, where to concentrate your photography next, plus some sugges- tions on kit to enhance your images – before departing for the flight back home with new-found friends, a bag full of images and some once-in-a- lifetime memories.

Morocco Photo Tour Details.

5 – 14 November, 2021
Available

10 days. 9 nights. Starts and ends in Marrakech, Morocco.

£2480 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Full board and complimentary bar at Erg Chicaga Luxury Desert Camp
Entrance to Yves St Laurent garden, Jardin Majorelle
Guided tour around Ait Benhaddou film set
Private portrait session with underground Hammam stokers
4×4 Jeep and Camel transportation inside the Sahara desert
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Entrance to nomad villages, with tea
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are direct flights from the UK into Marrakech, serviced by British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, Thomson and Royal Air Maroc. Flights start from £75.

"Thank you for an amazing Moroccan adventure! I learnt so much and had such an incredible time! Creative Escapes is a fantastic company, the whole experience was excellent - from initial queries about the trip, throughout the booking process, and of course - the 10 days away. Great balance of photography, learning, and having fun!"


Sophie Bradley, Southampton


Cuba

CUBA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAYS  |  8 - 18 NOVEMBER 2021 **LAST FEW PLACES** 

CUBA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

 Wave after wave of convertible Buicks pass you by as you stroll looking for sunset views over the Malecon. Behind you, the faded, colonial architecture of Habana Vieja, slowly being restored brick-by-brick. Cigar smoke scents the air and all around, the sounds of the Buena Vista Social Club start to hum. This is our award-winning Cuba photography tour.

Come experience eleven days of turquoise Caribbean seas, lush tropical plantations, step-back-in-time museum towns and the unmissable Havana. We’ll snooze in some of the best, dine in local paladares and get to the very heart of both rural and urban.

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Selected as one of our Top 10 Photography Holidays, you “shoot Havana’s fading colonial architecture, learn techniques for close-ups of its famed murals, and take some black-and-whites at a cigar factory – before reviewing your pics over mojitos and checking out the local music scene. You’ll also head out to rural Cuba for portraits of tobacco farmers and capture the dusk light over the limestone mogote hills. The trip ends with a pop-up exhibition in Havana.”

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Highlights.

Like everything that happens in Cuba, the reported ‘US tourist invasion’ is taking it’s time. American travellers can only visit under strict visa restrictions, such as educational or professional visits – and tourism is still technically illegal. This has meant just a minor increase on numbers from last year, so this isle of intrigue, romance and politics quite unlike any other, is still muy autentica.

There are rousing rhythms, dancing in cobblestone streets (for real), wafting cigar smoke, a bounty of beaches and a Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack to accompany every style of journey. And ours takes in the highlights.

We’ve been running trips here for years – garnered awards for them even – and know all the best bars, restaurants, shooting locations and people in the know to make our photography tour to Cuba really rather special.

Meet with Roberto Salas, Castro’s personal photographer, at his house
Capture incredible street images of Habana Vieja; faded murals, crumbling buildings and of course those decrepit 50’s Buicks
Shoot professional cigar rollers, in an exclusive location frequented by celebs
Create timeless black-and-white portraits of tobacco farmers in Vinales
Craft panoramics of the stunning mogotes – limestone cliffs in lush plantations
Exclusive access to photograph the Cuban Royal Ballet in their classrooms*
Practice interior photography in one of Havana’s finest mansions
Try out sports photography in a famed outdoor boxing gym
Snap the hotel where Al Capone used to meet all the mafiosi
Try out documentary photography on a rickety old train deep into the Cuban countryside
Create images right out of the pages of travel magazines, in our dusk shoot in ancient Trinidad

Cuba Photography Tour Itinerary.

We’ll transport you right off the plane downtown to our 5 ****** hotel fronting the sea in downtown Havana, where you’ll get a first glimpse of the sights, sounds and jaw dropping architecture of this incredible city. Then after a restful sleep & leisurely breakfast, we’ll dive into the basics of camera control and operation – and head off to shoot some street scenes in the old town.

Later, we’ll get our first view of Cuban life (and catch some rays) in the back seat of a 1950’s convertible Buick and cruise along the Malecón towards Revolucion Square, to witness where Fidel used to address over a million Cubans in his famous rallies. You’ll get to shoot parts of Havana most tourists never see, stopping en route to practice your new found skills. Come evening, we’ll soak up the buzz at a local paladar – Cuban gourmet restaurants – and sample local delights in an elegant mansion setting which retains its original 1948 furniture, decor and artwork.

This morning, we’ll arise early, to shoot the vintage cars arriving in the main square, chance to get some incredible shots of these museum pieces in situ, then it’s off deep into Habana Vieja, and revere the incredible architecture, street scenes and life in this stunning part of Havana. You’ll try out some techniques in composition not found in pages of the monthly magazines, giving your images extra impact and interest.

Later, we’ll take you to a private cigar rolling house far from the tourist masses, and get your own cigar made to your exact requirements for a special souvenir. We’ll also swing by the house of Roberto Salas – Castro’s personal photographer – who will regale you with stories of Che & Fidels revolutionary adventures, and show you his incredible work.

Next day, we’re off to Vinales, popularly known as the ‘Garden of Cuba’. Here lush, hilly landscapes provide panoramic views over tobacco, coffee, sugar cane, oranges and avocados in an atmosphere of almost complete serenity. After a delicious lunch on an organic farm overlooking the Silencio valley, we’ll swing by a working tobacco farm, shoot some portraits of local farmers, and learn how to roll our own. We’ll then explore the scenic valleys further, punctuated by a series of limestone karst hill formations, or mogotes.

On our return, we’ll hold the first of our 1-on-1 sessions, spending time with you individually to assess you progress and give you tailored advice on ways to help take your images to that next level.

This morning, we’ll take a drive south east to Trinidad, a UNESCO-listed town and perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where the clocks stopped in 1850 and have yet to restart. In the early 19th century, huge fortunes were amassed from the sugar trade, creating illustrious colonial-style mansions bedecked with Italian frescoes, Wedgwood china and French chandeliers. The shooting possibilities here are endless. You’ll get to see the rural Cuba en route, trying out your landscape skills,  then we’ll celebrate our arrival with a ‘Canchanchara’ a chilled cocktail made with rum, honey and lime which is the speciality of Trinidad; later, we’ll swing by an open air acoustic concert in the heart of the old town, right under the stars.

Next day, up early the next day to catch the morning rays, we’ll take our seats on board our 1919 wooden-carriage train and journey to the once formidable Valle de Los Ingenios, the sugar-caned landscapes. In between shooting some glorious landscapes, here we’ll hold more 1-on-1’s – individual reviews of your images to date, observations on your photography style, plus ongoing support to take your work to that next level. That night, we’ll review the work on the big screen, giving you plenty of professional tips on how to improve your photographs.

Today, you’ll learn the art of black and white photography in the cobbled streets of ancient Trinidad – and understand how to tell stories using your photography. We’ll review images of past masters, then take to the streets, along with your tutor watching closeby, and craft some timeless images of a town steeped in history.

Next day is you time; perhaps you’d like to head off on ‘seafari’ to Cayo Blanco island, a tropical island famed for its powder white beaches, stunning coral – and lobster BBQ’s! Or  you could head for Playa Ancon, a precious ribbon of bleached white sand and crystal azure sea 12km from Trinidad; for the more energetic, head somewhere cooler and do some mountain trekking in the Topes de Collantes, 20 minutes north. This former Che hangout has breathtaking pine trails and culminates in a refreshing dip in the stunning El Cubano waterfall.

This morning, we’ll make our way back via the famous Bay of Pigs, and the incredible architecture of Cienfuegos. Here, and later at sunset in the dusky streets of old Havana, we’ll further develop our documentary photography skills, pictures that tell a story, and learn pro skills in narrative, positioning & engagement.

Next day, chance to go behind the scenes today of the real Cuba, on our guided photo walk to some of the most incredible locations in Havana – including a mix of shooting dancers at the Cuban National Ballet (*permission granted on the day), interiors at the finest and most beautiful private houses in Havana, portraits of artists in an artisan community west of the city, documentary B&Ws at a 50’s government owned ice cream parlour, still life in a hotel where Al Capone used to meet all the mafia bosses, plus sunset shots of boxers training in a stunning outdoor gym, and street documentary of life before the night starts in the backdrop of fading architecture, fifties automobiles and the faint whisper of music.

This is a smorgasbord of photographic delights, and chance to test all your new found talents behind the camera, before our final presentation and show of all our best images of the week, at our very own ‘pop-up’ photo exhibition over some refreshing mojitos.

lazy morning – with some free time to take in the last few glimpses of this incredible city – and chance to get some 1-on-1 feedback from our professionals on your progress, your emerging style and tips on where next to take your photography. We’ll share a final lunch together, before departing back to the airport for the flight home.

Cuba Photography Tour Details.

8 – 18 November, 2021
Last Few Places

11 days. 10 nights. Starts and ends in Havana, Cuba.

£2670 / £395 single supplement

Price includes 
10 nights accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
11 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Private audience with Roberto Salas at his house
Private entry to exclusive cigar rolling house, with cigar
Entry to the Royal Cuban Ballet (permission granted on the day)
Private photoshoot at a famous boxing gym in old Havana
Guided walk, with lunch, through the tobacco fields in Vinales
Private photoshoot inside one of Havana’s best interiors
Group transfers to and from the airport
All transportation to shooting locations
Train ride through rural Cuba
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

Virgin Atlantic fly direct from the UK into Havana, starting from £650. There are a multitude of other flights with minimal connections using KLM, Air France, Iberia and more, from £450.

"I had a fantastic time in Cuba last month with CE, my first group holiday of any kind & I was nervous but need not have worried! Hotels, guide, tutor & locations all excellent plus the company of a lovely bunch of fellow travellers made it a very enjoyable memorable trip! Thank you!"


Jo Wimbush, London