Xinjiang Photo Workshop 2024

Northern Xinjiang Photo Workshop 2024

Discover Northern Xinjiang on an adventurous photography trip.

Discover the hidden beauty of northern Xinjiang in this photography workshop. Escape the tourist crowds as you capture natural wonders like diverse terrains, serene lakes, lush canyons, green grasslands, and vast deserts.

Cities Covered: Urumqi - Dushanzi - Sayram - Yining - Zhaosu - Tekes - Narat - Kuche - Urumqi

$4,900 USD Per Person
  • Duration 11 days, 10 nights
  • Group size Max 4 people
  • Date June 20-30, 2024
  • Fitness level Medium
  • Drone friendly Partial

Itinerary Overview

Northern Xinjiang Photography Tour Map

A taste of what to expect…

Day 1-2: Urumqi Arrival and Dushanzi

  • Urumqi arrival
  • One hundred mile Danxia landform along S101 highway
  • Undeveloped and most colorful Danxia
  • Anjihai Grand Canyon

Upon arrival in Urumqi, be welcomed for a delightful dinner with your guide. Then, take a scenic drive on the picturesque S101 highway, featuring beautiful views, like the stunning Danxia formations and impressive canyons. Don't miss capturing the beauty of the 30-kilometer-long Anjihai Grand Canyon formed by three merging canyons.

Day 3: Dushanzi - Sayram Lake

  • Dushanzi Grand Canyon
  • Sunset over Sayram Lake
  • Milky way and star trail over lake

Begin your day with a 3.5-hour drive to Dushanzi Grand Canyon, a beautiful site with varying widths and heights.

Then, travel for 4 hours to reach Sayram Lake, the highest and largest lake in the area, surrounded by stunning mountains. It's known as "the last tear of the Atlantic Ocean" due to its role as the final stop for warm, moist air from the Atlantic.

Day 4: Sayram Lake - Yining

  • Sunrise over Sayram Lake
  • Panoramic shots of Guozigou Bridge
  • Kazanqi Folk-custom Village - people, culture and architectures

Wake up early for a lakeside sunrise capture. Post-breakfast, stroll along the lake for more photo opportunities.

Drive to Guozigou Bridge. Capture the panoramic view of the bridge.

In the afternoon, visit Kazanqi folk-custom village with its mix of European and Chinese architecture. Known as the "Residence Museum," it's admired for its well-preserved traditional style.

Day 5: Yining - Zhaosu

  • Yizhao highway scenery
  • Hundreds of horses galloping in the river
  • Sunset session in a wetland park

Start at 9 am capturing the landscape along Yizhao Highway by driving 6 hours.

At 5:30 pm, drive to Zhaosu Wetland Park to photograph hundreds of horses galloping in the river. This daily event is quite a spectacle with herdsmen, whips, and the Tekes River creating a stunning scene.

End your day with a sunset session at the Wetland Park.

Day 6: Zhaosu - Tekes

  • Kalajun Grassland
  • Crocodile Bay
  • Human body grassland and horses running
  • Sunset and nightlife photography in Tekes

Take it easy until noon, enjoying a leisurely morning.

In the afternoon, head to Kalajun Grassland to capture the vast grassland, crocodile bay, and people riding horses.

Arrive at the hotel by 8:30 pm to photograph the sunset in Tekes county and the enchanting night scenes of the town.

Day 7: Tekes - Tangbula

  • Sunrise over snow mountains in Tangbula
  • Tangbula Scenic Area photography: grassland, snow mountains, rivers and hot springs
  • Sunset session on Tangbula Grassland

Start your day with a sunrise session over snow mountains at 6 am.

Leave the hotel at 9:30 am for an 8-9 hour drive to Tangbula Baili Gallery.

Tangbula Baili Scenic Area offers a stunning mix of grasslands, hot springs, snow peaks, and rivers. The Tangbula Prairie is like a poetic fairyland.

Capture the sunset at Tangbula grassland at 10 pm.

Day 8: Tangbula - Narat

  • Sunrise over Tangbula Grassland
  • Grassland of the Sky in Narat
  • Sunset session over Narat Grassland

Begin your day with a sunrise session at Tangbula at 6 am.

By 10 am, take a 2.5-hour drive to Narat county, check in, and enjoy a short break.

At 2:30 pm, board the shutter bus to the Grassland of the Sky. Capture the breathtaking scenery with snow-capped mountains and photograph the stunning sunset over the grassland.

Day 9: Narat - Duku Highway - Kuqa

  • Duku highway scenery photography
  • Big Dragon and Small Dragon Lake
  • Kuqa Grand Canyon
  • Sunset over Tianshan Grand Canyon

Start your day with a 3-4 hour drive to Big Dragon and Small Dragon Lake along Duku Highway. Enjoy the clear waters, reflections of snow-capped peaks, and beautiful trees.

Explore Kuqa Grand Canyon with its stunning natural features.

Capture the sunset at Tianshan Grand Canyon, where rocks shaped by wind and rain resemble burning flames.

Day 10-11: Kuqa - Korla - Urumqi

Today will be a long day with a 760 KM, 10-hour drive back to Urumqi.

During the journey, make a few stops to capture the beauty of the Tianshan Mountains and the scenery along the way.

Take a night walk in the Big Bazaar, indulging in the diverse food offerings and exploring the possibility of purchasing something unique. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and the array of flavors in this bustling marketplace.

Bring fantastic photos and departure for home.


What's included?
  • Workshop leader + local tour guide
  • Private transport
  • 10-night accommodation (local best hotels)
  • Entrance fees
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
What's not included?
  • Arrival and departure flight/train
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals (lunch & dinner)
How many people can be accommodated in the group?

Max. number of participants: 4 | Min. number: 3

** If there are more than 4 participants, we will organize another photo workshop. The dates for this additional workshop will be July 2-12, 2024.

What is the accommodation situation like?

Participants will be accommodated in the best local hotels, with single occupancy provided.

The price per participant – USD $4,900 for single occupancy | USD $4,450 for shared occupancy

Please be aware that despite we are arranging the best local hotels for the tour, the accommodations may not meet the standards of even 3 or 4-star hotels found in larger cities.

Also, be aware that in some destinations, you might experience conditions similar to a hostel, even with a nightly rate of $300.

What kind of gear should be brought along?

It's recommended to bring two cameras: one with a regular lens like 24-70mm and another with a zoom lens such as 70-200mm. This setup saves time on changing lenses and serves as a backup.

Based on our experience, the zoom lens is more frequently used for landscape photography in Xinjiang.

A tripod is essential for sunrise, sunset, and capturing the Milky Way on the grassland.

While polarizer filters and ND filters are beneficial, they are not mandatory.

Regarding drones, there aren't clear restrictions for foreigners; you can bring one, but be aware that you may encounter difficulties using it in certain areas.

Booking Policy
  • Deposit: To reserve your spot, a non-refundable deposit of USD 1,000 is required.
  • Full Payment: is due 60 days before the tour begins and can be made via PayPal, Alipay, or Wechat.
  • Refund Policy:
    - If you are able to find a replacement, a full refund will be issued.
    - Cancelling under 30 days before departure grants a 50% balance refund.
    - For cancellations between 30 and 15 days before departure, a 25% refund will be given.
    - Cancellations made less than 15 days before departure are subject to a 10% refund
    - Please note that the initial deposit will be retained
Top Gao
Instructor: Top Gao

Top Gao has been working as an English-speaking tour guide for almost a decade, and since 2016, he has been specializing in photography tours.

Over the past few years, Top has led over 100 photographers from various parts of the world, and has supported dozens of workshops for photo tour organizations and clubs from the United States and Europe.

With his in-depth knowledge of camera equipment and a unique perspective on composition, Top can help you capture stunning portfolio shots in Xinjiang.

Is Xinjiang right for you?

Before joining our workshop, it's essential to consider certain factors to ensure that Xinjiang is the right fit for your travel preferences.

  1. Accommodations and food are simple out of Urumqi - When venturing outside Urumqi, be prepared for simpler hotel accommodations and dining options. While Urumqi boasts a variety of hotels and restaurants catering to diverse tastes, the same may not be true in more remote areas.
  2. Long distance drive every day - Xinjiang is larger than many travelers might imagine, plan for 3-5 hours of driving between spots. The long distances contribute to its varied landscapes, from deserts to mountains.
  3. Some places get busy, both with people and traffic - Popular tourist destinations in Xinjiang can get crowded, may potentially lead to extended travel times on the road.

If you're seeking an adventure that combines cultural exploration with breathtaking landscapes, Xinjiang may indeed be the right destination for you.

Top Gao

Hi there!
We are glad to meet you in China

Come join the tour custom-designed by Mercier Zeng and bring great shots home together!