What is the main difference between workshops and tours?
Workshops focus heavily on training, from camera settings to animal behaviours. They usually last between 4 to 8 hours, or one day. They can be hide or field-based and are great learning sessions.
Tours vary from 5 to 20 days. They are photographic holidays where you are transported to carefully selected wildlife locations to photograph them in natural surroundings. This is a relaxing environment where you will receive gentle coaxing, as I will be shooting beside you.
Why tour with Captivating Nature | Des Ong?
First and foremost, I am a wildlife photographer so the passion is genuine. All my trips are designed with this in mind from the ground up.
Genuine small group sizes – I organise trips that only take up to 6 (very occasionally 8) guests maximum. Many larger companies or tour operators call 10 or 12 people ‘small’. I believe a group of this size is not conducive to good wildlife photography. A smaller group gives everyone a chance to get the best shots and for me to give them feedback and help if they need it.
Accurate descriptions – some tours include the days that you are travelling to and from your home country, which can add two extra days to the itinerary. All of my advertised durations are actual days that you get to enjoy your chosen destination.
The devil is in the detail – focusing on the headlines and price can be deceiving. For example, some operators may offer a dedicated, Gorilla watching tour that only actually includes one trek to see the Mountain Gorillas with further ‘optional’ i.e. unpaid for, visits; or a Madagascar wildlife tour that only covers limited reserves.
Experienced, local, private guides – this is probably the most often overlooked factor by many. Yet, this can be the difference between having a successful or a mediocre trip. I only work with people that have a proven track record (minimum 10 years experience in the relevant field). Often they are ex-rangers, biologists and photographers, who have a vast knowledge of their local ecology, and the behaviour patterns of the wildlife. This enables us to be in the right place at the right time more often than not and gives us a chance to see many of the lesser known species too.
Locations – I’ve pinpointed the best wildlife spots to cover most of the key species in each location, and to minimise travelling time between them. This way we can visit more sites and see more wildlife than most others can, for the same trip duration. The idea is to keep the trips intense, so that you have plenty of magical shots every day.
Cost – I believe Captivating Nature offers the most competitive rates in the UK, in addition to all the combined unique advantages already mentioned. I think you will find our trips are full with activities and photo opportunities, even including night hikes in some locations, making the most of our time.
Do you only cater for experienced photographers?
The essence of a day-workshop is that it is a learning session. It is designed to help you get a grasp of the different aspects of photography – from how to use the equipment to understanding your subjects. For the more accomplished photographers, it will be about polishing their technique and perhaps learning a new approach.
Although we cater for all abilities, to get the most out of a tour, you should ideally have a basic understanding of photography. If you are a complete beginner, then you may wish to consider taking a couple of day-workshop sessions, before travelling. This is not a requirement however, but you will benefit more if you have some prior training or experience.
Do I need expensive equipment to join a workshop or tour?
No, not necessarily. We normally use a digital SLR or interchangeable lens system because it allows us to take full control. Even the most basic of today’s models are capable of producing good results. You can also consider hiring a lens for the day if the one you own is not suitable. The same applies for a tour.
On special trips like the Winter Musk Ox Tour, you may need appropriate clothing that can withstand very low temperatures while camping atop a snowy mountain.
What is included in your tour package?
In most cases, the cost of the tour includes all accommodation, most if not all meals, transportation from the point you land until getting dropped off at the airport at the end of the tour, guidance and park or equipment fees.
International airfares, alcoholic beverages, sundries of a personal nature, visa (if applicable) and gratuities are not included.