Activity Level Expectation
Being a small group, we are afforded the luxury of staying nimble. We set a maximum of 10 travelers for good reason - to give you the best leader to traveler ratio to help enrich not only your experience, but also for a higher level of photography instruction should you want to receive it.
Activity level - ability to sit on a mini-bus for ~3 hours at a time (with stops along the way to photograph and general stretching out), be able to transport your own luggage on/off mini-buses, trains and to hotel rooms. Although we have a couple of hikes scheduled, they're not 'hikes' in its truest sense. We may walk a mile here or there (if that) in getting to certain shoot locations, walk to meadows or just general walkabouts in villages. When shooting at the rice terraces, there are some locations where we'll be walk down to a vista point (and of course, back up); steps are involved as well. See below for elevation differences for each city. Depending on timing, we may also have the opportunity to walk about the rice terraces themselves.
If you can confidently move about as describe above, you'll do just fine!
Weather along the southern coast of China and inland during April is similar to west coast of the US, in general, is pretty temperate across the province. Since we will be moving from the coast inland, we'll be experiencing a wider range of temperature swings. Below are general numbers for early/mid spring to give you an idea:
April could bring light rain in Guilin/Yangshuo, so please plan around this. Keep in mind that we'll be shooting during some pre-dawn, sunset and where available night photography spots. Always know that the above is just referential information and could change without notice. See "What to pack" below for some tips in preparation for your trip.
What to Pack
My packing mantra is "less is more". As you want to stay as nimble as possible, packing smartly is essential to your overall success and enjoyment of your trip. It's not fun lugging a huge-mongous luggage (let alone your camera kit) on & off the bus and in & out of hotels. Pack just the essentials. Through my varied days of travel ranging from up to 16 days at a time on photo junkets, I've successfully gotten away with a 22" expandable roller that also happens to be the maximum limit for carry-on for most airlines around the world. Please be mindful of they overall size, not only for air travel, but for when you're on the mini-bus as well - there's no under compartment storage; meaning luggage will be stored within the cabin itself.
I try not to pack anything bulky or heavy. For example, a lightweight (and warm to 3*C/37*F) down jacket can scrunch down to a little ball along with a waterproof shell and an medium weight base layer. Here, I've got 3 layers that I can combine and take up very little room. I mostly pack moisture wicking t-shirts and button-down long sleeve shirts (long and short). The same goes for pants as well - some are long/short convertible - the best of both worlds! Let's not forget about moisture wicking underwear as well ... I prefer merino wool as they are quick dry and really good at resisting odor. Shoes: waterproof light-hiking boots and tennis/running style shoes. Socks? I swear by the merino wool kind. That about covers about 90% of my clothing!
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