Kyrgyzstan June 2-14


Tuition: $4800 single supplement $400
Deposit: $300 deposit, applied to balance
Type of Excursion: Workshop
Skill Level: All Levels
Duration: 13 days
Group Size Min: 4

  • Landscape, People, Culture, Wildlife
  • Composition
  • Exploration-Personal Style & Vision
  • Camera Operation
  • Exposure, Working with light
  • Workflow
  • Filters, Time Lapse, & Long Exposure

  • Instruction, image review & feedback, 2 workshop leaders
  • One-hour pre-workshop Zoom meet-n-greet & prep
  • Some beverages
  • Accommodation, early check-in after 6am on Day 1
  • On-site transportation, driver, and guide/interpreter
  • All meals (full board)
  • Admission to sites and programs on itinerary

  • Transportation to/from home and gateway city
    of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • Single room supplement ($400 US per person)
  • Late check-out fees
  • Alcoholic beverages and personal snacks
  • Personal items & expenses
  • Tips for guides and drivers
  • Fees for activities not included in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance with medical (highly recommended)


Gift Card

Join photographers Mike Shipman and Tim Vollmer on this photo tour of the beautiful and unspoiled ecoregion of Kyrgyzstan, along the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia. The landscape is dominated by the Tian Shan Mountains (Mountains of Heaven) along the northern China border, with park-like meadows, spruce forests, rocky slopes, and glaciers. Wildlife found here are Asiatic ibex, argali sheep, wolves, brown bears, and the elusive snow leopard.

Our gateway city is Bishkek, the capitol of Kyrgyzstan and a city of around 1 million people. From there we will venture into the mountains and grassland-steppe to visit and photograph lakes, rivers, waterfalls, Kyrgyz traditions and culture, including the sport kok-boru and the Berkutchi (eagle hunters).

All accommodations, meals, and transportation on site are included.

We will focus on landscape photography and the intriguing and varied Kyrgyzstan culture, with opportunities for photographing people and wildlife. 

Daily reviews of images in the field and assistance with camera operation, composition, and exposure as you work will be commonplace, as well as practice with long exposure, filter use (polarizer, neutral density, graduated neutral density, etc.), and more.  Image processing will not be a focus on this workshop, as time will be spent photographing. Each participant will receive a copy of Mike’s book The Ecology of Photography: Senses & Perception.

We will be “working the landscape” from our base in Bishkek and the surrounding area. Accommodations will be in hotels, guest houses, and traditional yurts. Most meals will experience local cuisine.

To get the most from this workshop you should be capable of hiking over uneven and sometimes slick ground at high elevation (2,600  – 10,000 ft +,  800 – 3,200 m) . Temperatures in June will range from the  40s F at higher elevation to high 80s F lower down (4 – 30C). Long hours of photographing will be the norm, though there will be time during the day to relax and engage in personal exploration.

A release form, gear list and other information will be emailed to you upon registration.
Registration Policy.

General Itinerary:

Day 1: arrival, Manas Airport, Bishkek. Pick up and transit to hotel. Breakfast (before 10am). Noon lunch. Visit to Ala-Too Square, downtown Bishkek. Dinner of Kyrgyz national dishes.

Day 2: Ala Archa National Park, light hike in the gorge along the river. After lunch, visit to the largest traditional bazaar in Bishkek.

Day 3: 11th Century minaret Burana Tower, Lunch, Chon Kemin valley, Tar-Suu village, yurt building. Dinner, evening fire. Optional horseriding.

Day 4: Issyk-Kul Lake, at 5,272 ft (1,607 m) elevation, the second largest saline lake in the world, and also the 7th deepest. Petroglyph museum. Sunset cruise on the lake.

Day 5: Semienov Gorge & Karakol, Kok-Boru horse game.

Day 6: Karakol Gorge, Russian Orthodox cathedral, Dungan mosque, home-cooked traditional dinner.

Day 7: Jety-Oguz gorge, Barskoon gorge, Tamga. Jety-Orguz means “seven bulls” in Kyrzyg, representing 7 red-brown rocks standing in the gorge. Barskoon gorge contains a small waterfall and a monument to Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, also  yurts and sheepherders. Tamga Russian bath in the evening.

Day 8: Skazka (fairy) canyon, Ak Say canyon (badlands), Bokonbaevo (Berkutchi, eagle hunter). 

Day 9: Kochkor, Tash Rabat. Tash Rabat is a 10th Century Buddhist monastery at 3,200 m (10,500 ft) elevation surrounded by mountainous terrain. Kochkor is an art center where national wool felt carpets are made. Yurt camp.

Day 10: Tash Rabat, Son Kul Lake. Sunrise shoot of Tash Rabat, Son Kul Lake is 2nd largest in Kyrgyzstan. Sheep, horses, nomads, mountain scenery. Astro photography – weather permitting (can occur any night during the workshop). Yurt Camp.

Day 11: Son Kul Lake, Kyzyl Oy village. Sunrise on the lake, Kyzyl Oy is on the Kokomeren River and surrounded by impressive red mountains. Culinary master class cooking traditional fried bread, barsook. 

Day 12: Suusamyr Valley and Too Ashu Pass, return to Bishkek. Overview of the valley from the pass. Option to visit market in Bishkek in the evening.

Day 13: Bishkek, transfer to airport for departures home. Breakfast.