Ala-kul lake, Kyrgyzstan.

Ala-kul lake, Kyrgyzstan.

Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Photography Workshop, August 2019

Watch a video from the previous Jack Harding workshop here.

Hosts: Jack Harding & Kai Grossman.
Workshop Dates: 16th August - 28th August 2019.
Arrival: Almaty, Kazakhstan - 15th August.
Almaty, Kazakhstan - 28th August.
Hiking difficulty:
Registration deposit:
€1000, balance paid by 30th June.

Available places: 2/7

The brief.

Aktau Mountains, Kazakhstan.

Aktau Mountains, Kazakhstan.

In 2018 we were lucky enough to explore Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan over three weeks. We dedicated our time to study some of the most beautiful places in these countries and instantly fell in love with the, for many, unknown landscapes. This initiated the dream of pursuing a workshop here, showing its beauty to others. We started to do all of the background work to bring you the best bits into one life-changing experience.

We researched areas and locations to ensure that you would be coming home with unforgettable stories and of course, many amazing photographs. Working with local authorities and guides brought us invaluable experience and knowledge of the areas. With the help of the guides we could see many places that we wouldn't have visited without their wisdom.

During this workshop we will provide an adventure, showing you all the spots that we dream about going back to. We will travel with experienced drivers and suitable vehicles for the job, which is very important in these countries. The roads can be unpredictable, and your safety is our priority.

We will stay in a mixture of hotels, guesthouses and tents. Camping is the only option in many of the areas that we will be exploring, which is an fantastic way to get the full experience of waking up, rolling out of bed and shoot! Whatever your reason is for joining, we can ensure you than this will be a trip that you’ll always remember.

Our plan.

We will begin our journey in the booming city of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Previously the capital until the late ’90s, it remains a city known for its trading, culture and beautiful backdrop of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains.

On arrival, you’ll get the opportunity to have an explore of the city, take a rest and get yourself ready for the adventure.

We will begin with a day together at the hotel and will have use of a meeting area. This will mean going through the plan, discussing safety, best practise for Lightroom/ Photoshop and preparing for the next eleven days. Finishing the day with a big dinner together and ensuring that we’re all ready to go!

The following morning we will head out in our jeeps towards the border of Kyrgyzstan. We will take lunch en route and sleep at a guesthouse in the town of Karakol, which will be our base for the evening.

Next up we will begin our short journey to Telety pass in Djety-Oguz Valley. This area is known for its unique red sandstone rock formations. We will camp at 2800m altitude in front of the beautiful MuzToo Rocks.

We will continue our journey to Karakol valley today and start with hiking to Telety Passover. There are two steep ascents at the beginning of this trail, but you will never forget the view on the top. Descent to Telety-East valley until the first convenient place to have lunch. After lunch descent to Karakol Valley to Alp Camp, located on altitude 2500m. On the evening we will enjoy chai tea, snacks and hopefully be surrounded by the starlit sky.

Ala-kul lake (3533m) will be our next destination, Jack’s favourite location in Central Asia. You will be amazed by this extraordinary lake. Ala-Kul lake is a rock-dammed and hidden treasure between lofty Terskey Ala-Too Mountains. A remarkable view of the glacier which flows into the lake will be something you'll never forget. On the way down into Keldike valley, you’ll experience glorious views of mountains ranges all around us. We will spend the evening in tents.

Ala-kul lake, Kyrgyzstan.

Ala-kul lake, Kyrgyzstan.

Next up we will head down to the village of Altyn-Arashan (Алтын-Арашан), which translates to Golden Spa. Set in a postcard-perfect alpine valley at 3000m, with 4260m Palatka Peak within sight. Here we will take a needed relax and soothe our muscles in the hot springs. After refreshing, we will spend the evening in a local guesthouse or yurt.

The following morning we will walk down Altyn-Arashan gorge to Aksu village. We will be picked up and brought to Karakol, from where our drivers will take us on our journey towards Kazakhstan to Charyn canyon. During the middle of the drive, we will cross the border back to Kazakhstan. We aim to arrive before sunset, set up camp and then explore the canyon.

After a good nights sleep, we will rise early to search for new locations around the canyon. This stunning place runs for over 90km, making it the second largest canyon in the world. After a busy sunrise, we will begin our three-hour journey to the Aktau mountains, located at Altyn Emel National park. Some say that the mountains were formed by a volcanic eruption, which immediately cooled down and composed these unique landscapes. It’s fair to say that this place is pretty breathtaking, and unknown to the social media world!

Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan.

Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan.

Our journey will continue to the beautiful Kora Gorge, where we will set up camp at a panoramic view which we will capture in the morning. This area is known for best for its wild horses and breathtaking scenery, and it reminded us both very much so of the Alps in Slovenia or Switzerland.

The roads in this region are pretty impressive, we will drive up these dirt tracks and will hopefully have the wild horses running through the fields by our side.

Kora Gorge area, Kazakstan.

Kora Gorge area, Kazakstan.

After enjoying many highlights in Kazakhstan we will make our way to the final photography location, Chilik river through Taban Karagay gorge. The journey could take up to eight hours and we will take a breaks along the way. This place is known as one of the most picturesque places in the country, and we are certainly keeping something fantastic to end the trip. We will drive up to an epic view point and set up camp ready for sunset and sunrise. This our final shooting opportunity before we make our way back to Almaty.

Once back in the city we will take dinner and a relax. The following day we review our journey together, look at our collection of photos and both Jack & Kai will provide one on one support with editing. There will be plenty of food and comfort, which I’m sure we will all be ready for.


What’s included?

  • Live support in the field from Jack & Kai.

  • Hands-on education for both Adobe Lightroom/ Photoshop.

  • Advice on reaching out to companies and taking your photography to the next level.

  • Accommodation in a mixture of hotel, guesthouse, yurt and tent.

  • Transfers to and from airport.

  • Transport in Land Cruiser throughout the trip with professional driver.

  • All meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinners.

What’s not included?

  • Transport to and from Almaty, Kazakhstan.

  • Any private insurances, taxes, levies, immigration, duty and visa fees where applicable.

  • Alcoholic beverages or personal items.

  • Sleeping bag/ sleeping mat for camping.

Countryside drives, Kazakhstan.

Countryside drives, Kazakhstan.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What level of photography is required?

The workshop is open to all levels of experience. The only thing I ask is that you bring some passion and energy, with the drive to be out in the field every day.

What should I bring?

Temperatures during our journey can be anything from 40c down to 5c in the mountains. We would recommend a lot of thin layers and will discuss this with you over the phone in more detail.

How safe are Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan?

Both countries are currently not in any political unrest and is generally considered safe for tourists, however foreigners are recommended to stay with a local guide which will be present during the whole trip. We will take the following precautions:

- Local speaking guides will be with us at all times, with high knowledge and experience of the areas.
- Suitable vehicles will be used for our journey.
- We will not use public transport.
- All local protected parks on our itinerary will be pre informed of our presence.
- One of our drivers has medical knowledge.
- We will keep passports with us at all time, this is a local requirement.
- Any long distance traveling will be made during daylight.

What’s the itinerary going to be like?

The itinerary is going to be exactly like the typical Jack Harding photography trip, busy and filled with adventure! We will be on the road and shooting from before sunrise to after sunset. The beginning and end of the trip has been designed so that you will get the absolute best from your time in the field. We want you to learn as well as have an unforgettable journey through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Where will we be staying?

We will be staying at the Renion 4* Park hotel for three evenings, one evening in a guesthouse and the remainder will be in yurt or tent. We’d love to be in a hotel every night, but as we are deep in the mountains this isn’t always possible.

What kind of weather can I expect?

The temperatures can vary from close to 40 degrees celsius down to zero. We don’t expect snow but will definitely experience a great range of weather. Kazakhstan is generally quite hot and dry at this time of year. The mountains of Kyrgyzstan will be hot during the day and cold on an evening.

What and where will we eat?

During your trip all meals are included. These will be a mix of at the hotel, local restaurants and hiking food. Due to our locations there are no Michelin Star restaurants available. However you’ll be fed well and have a vegetarian option if preferred.

Which languages are covered?

Jack is a native English speaker, Kai is fluent in Swiss German, French and English.

Let the adventure begin!

There are only seven places available for the workshop. To apply, please make contact with the form below or email on / We’d then love to arrange a more detailed chat with you.

Name *

To view the Terms and Conditions for photography workshops under Jack Harding Photography, please click here.