How to Plan a Nepal Photography Tour

Last updated: March,07 2020

There are few places around the world that are as rewarding for the professional or amateur photographer as Nepal. A country whose cultures are as diverse as its landscapes, with immense mountains and an intense spiritualism, Nepal is a place that can change how you see landscape photography. In Nepal, it is never just black and white.

For the amateur photographer that have an interest in taking natural photos, there is no better place than Nepal, where nature and culture live side by side in perfect harmony and the ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions still exist. Naturally gifted with stunning scenery, luscious landscapes, and ancient historic monuments, temples, and stupas, a photography tour of Nepal is the most popular new tour to take for the budding photographers.

Top Things to Shoot in Nepal for Photography Tours

With such a wide-ranging climate and a varied landscape, there is so much to photograph in this ancient Himalayan kingdom that you will need a larger memory card, or more film, than you would in most other countries. Several places in Nepal have been listed in the UNESCO World heritage Sites list, and these are key opportunities to get some great photos of some of the world 's most stunning historic and natural sights. And with its unique Hindu/Buddhist culture, where each religion has adopted certain practices from the other, photographs of the real Nepali people living life in the ways of their ancient ancestors and the Sadhus (painted saints) that adorn the temples and stupas are some of the most spectacular shots you could hope to achieve.

Natural landscape

The Himalayas are the best natural landscape for photography, with massive vistas and panoramic views that defy you to get it wrong. The rugged geography of the country has served to isolate much of the best places for Himalayan photography, such as the Mustang region in the northwest of the country, with its bare, rugged landscape and barren hills. Noted for its erosion-created fluted limestone cliffs and the dry arid valleys, it lies on the ancient salt-caravan route that existed between India and China.

Himalayan MountainThe beaty of Himalayan Mountain

Further east, the Himalayas are greener, and less rugged, but still as beautiful, with stunning vistas of the world's highest mountains, ten of which are inside the Nepali borders. From the heady heights of Mount Everest to the peaks of Cho Oyu, Makalu, Lhotse and Nuptse, Manaslu, and Kanchenjunga, there are mountains aplenty to bring your photos into the realms of the top of the world.

Lower down in Nepal there exists some of the most beautiful hillsides, jungles, and forests in Asia. As the elevation decreases the landscape changes to one of rolling hills and lush green valleys, dotted with old traditional Nepali villages, many of which are cut off from the outside world apart from a rough track leading up to them. Alpine forests line the sides of the valleys, with patchwork fields of rice, potatoes, and buckwheat lying in the valley floors.

The lower Terai region of Nepal lies along the southern border with India, and consists of lush grassy meadows and dense sub-tropical jungles. It takes a rare type of photographer, with a good eye for light, to get good photos out of the dark dense jungle landscape, but with the right light, these stretches of Nepal 's jungle areas can make some of the best photos.

If you are planning to travel for the landscapes, then you need to come at different times of the year, depending on what you are looking for. Snow scenes are best photographed from January to March in the higher areas of the Himalayas, and require some tentative trekking to get to some of the best places. The climate in the winter months is not conducive to easy travel, so be prepared to walk to get the best site for photographing the snow-clad mountains. In the spring and autumn, from April to June and October to December, there is little snow except on the peaks, and the landscape looks very different, with an opportunity to get the best shots of the mountains in their greenest states.

The lower regions are also best shot from October to April, when the weather is not too hot and there is little rain, the monsoon season, from June to September, are not advisable for photography, as things can get very wet in the monsoon months.

Animals

Nepal has several nature parks, including Chitwan National Nature Reserve, which have a wide variety of animals for you to photograph. With some of the most gorgeous of the Asian animals residing in the country, including crocodiles, elephants, rhinos, and Bengal Tigers, there are plenty of opportunities to get some great shots of these beautiful animals in their natural habitats.

Chitwan National Nature ReserveTourists are visiting Chitwan National Nature Reserve

You may need to be on a safari to get to see these amazing creatures, and the guide of the various parks can get you to some of the best locations for shooting the wildlife. Traveling around shooting wild animals is not something that should be done alone, as these are still dangerous creatures that will attack if provoked, so tours or an organized photography tour is recommended. The wildlife areas are mainly in the lower regions of Nepal, and the best time to get good photos is from October to April, when the rains of the monsoon have passed and the weather is at its best, though it can be rather hot in March and April.

Religions and Culture

Nepal is a land of multiple cultures and religions, and the people still follow traditional ways and values in their daily lives. While Hinduism is the primary religion of the nation, there are still a good number of Buddhists in Nepal, and the culture has taken to integrating parts of one religion into the other. This makes for a very colorful experience when photographing the people and the festivals, as it can seem strange to see Buddhist rituals being performed in Hindu ceremonies.

Namche BazzarIf you want to get the true picture of the Nepali cultures, you can trek to Namche Bazzar

If you want to get the true picture of the Nepali cultures, then you need to head away from the big cities and up into the hills and mountains of the north. Many of the ancient hill tribes and mountain villages still exist in Nepal, and carry on their way of life in the same ways as their ancestors have for thousands of years. One of the most spectacular of all the peoples of Nepal are the Sherpas, a hill tribe that is well known for their ability to survive in the harshest of Himalayan climates. Renowned for their guiding prowess and their ability to carry heavy loads in extreme latitudes, there are many villages in the regions around Sagarmatha, and the Sherpa capital at Namche bazaar is an ideal place to start, though you will need to trek to get there.

Join in our classic 15-day Beijing Lhasa Kathmandu Overland Tour to photography the religious and cultural sites of Nepal.

Make Your Shot List and Arrange Your Nepal Tour Itinerary

Once you have decided where you want to start, then you need to plan an itinerary and a shooting list, to make sure that you can capture the type of images that you want most. Your shot list should include your game plan for each day, with detailed descriptions of what you are looking for. Creating a shooting schedule for the trip to Nepal is the best way to ensure that you cover all of your requirements, and incorporating it into your itinerary is as important as the list itself.

There are many photography tours of Nepal these days, as it has been long discovered to be one of the most wide-ranging countries for photography. To get the best out of the country, you really need at least ten days, to allow you to get the best possible shots in each location you visit. Ideally, you need to start or finish in Kathmandu, as it is not just the capital and airport city, but also one of the most stunning places to photograph, with its valley full of temples, monuments, and stupas.

Next, you can head up to the mountains, and get the best shots possible there. It is a good idea to have several days for photographing the peaks, as you may need to trek some distance to get to the best shooting spots. If you plan on shooting Everest, you need extra time, as the closer you get along the nine-day trekking trail, the better the photos are.

Finally, head south to the lower regions for the best in wildlife photography. Again, this can take several days to get the best shots, as the animals do not pose for the photos. A good guide can take you to the best places, but you may have to wait for the ideal shots of these beautiful creatures.

Ideally, a 10-12 day tour covering the mountains and lowlands, as well as time in Kathmandu, is an ideal tour for amateur photographers in Nepal.

Prepare the Gear You Need for a Nepal Photography Tour

Nepal may be a great place to get some of the best trekking gear, but it is not up to standard when it comes to photography equipment, so you need to plan in advance and bring he equipment you need with you. For most of the tours, you will not need to lug the heavy camera equipment around with you, as you will be able to use vehicles. However, for the mountain areas, you may need to trek, so be prepared with a selection of lenses and bodies that are not too heavy but will give you good photos.

Apply for The Required Travel Documents

Nepal is very relaxing in its entry requirements, and getting a visa or the country is relatively easy. Applications do not even need to be made in advance for most of the world 's citizens, as there is a Visa on Arrival service available at Tribhuvan International Airport as well as all of the overland border checkpoints.

Processing the visa requires your valid passport with at least six month 's validity remaining, a completed application form, one passport-sized photo, and the required visa fee. There are some permits that may be required for certain nature parks, which can be paid for on entry, and if you are heading for Everest for the best photos, you will need to apply for all the same permits as the other trekkers, as you cannot drive there.

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