who is this trip for?
Aspiring Photographers and Filmmakers of all levels! Whether you are just barely starting out your visual storytelling journey or Lightroom is your second language, there is something deeply authentic for you to learn from this once in a lifetime adventure. Don’t worry if you don’t have a pro-looking camera - the skills you will acquire on this trip are beyond what equipment you have.
January 6th to 21st 2020
Experience Rajasthan’s elaborate camel culture at the annual Bikaner Camel Festival that boasts a whole range of never seen before sights and sounds monumental to this part of India.
Hop on an ethical camel safari and learn about zero waste sustainable travel while camping under a blanket of shimmering stars in a secluded part of the Thar desert.
Immerse yourself deeply into a day in the life of a rural North-West Indian while staying with a local pastoral family and enjoying an organically grown, home-cooked meal.
Get a behind-the-scenes entry into the rich cultural history of Rajasthan’s fine arts sector as we interview its famed folk dancers, musicians, traditional textiles artisans and painters.
Explore layers of architectural history, centuries of conquest built on top of each other, from the intricate architecture of sandstone Havelis, to the country’s most renowned temples and monuments.
Venture through the colorful cities of Rajasthan and use them as a playground to take your visual storytelling skills to the next level by learning technical skills from aerial photography and hyperlapse to more nuanced skills like empathetic interviewing and story refining.
Day 1-2, Delhi: Worlds Collide
Delhi, the beating heart of India, will be your landing pad before embarking on two weeks of immersive exploration, and intricate storytelling. You’ll be picked up at the airport by Jigar and check into our home in one of South Delhi’s poshest neighbourhood. Today is for you to get to know your fellow storytellers and recover from jetlag, so relax and enjoy your first of many local meals.
Don’t get too cozy! The next day, we will venture into the narrow streets of Old Delhi for a thrilling cycling tour. Witness the bustle of morning deliveries in the spice market, pedal beside rickshaws & behind kids on their way to school, and enjoy a well-earned breakfast outside India’s largest Mosque. Slow down in Central Delhi and explore this place where the modern world meets old with alarming contrast.
Day 3-4, Bikaner: Train travel to the countryside
Travelling in style (and air conditioning), take in the view as we go from city to country to desert on India’s famous railway. With a cuppa chai in hand, get chatty with locals on the train or have a snooze before reaching Bikaner in the afternoon.
Hone your storyboarding and interview skills as we have a workshop on what makes a good travel story on the green rooftop of north India’s first zero-waste guesthouse. Venture to the famous Karni Mata temple, and walk among the 25,000 holy rats that reside there and talk to the priest and pilgrims to learn about the human-animal relationship in Hinduism.
Day 5, Gajner: Thar Desert sand dunes, farmers and camel safari
Head out to experience the village life of Rajasthan and explore the epic, golden sand dunes of the Thar Desert. We’ll be hitching a ride via camel to our campsite with local farmers to spend the night under the stars. Put your interviewing skills to the test as you learn about a day in the life of farmers, and Kalbelia dancers. Overdose on traditional Rajasthani food, gaze out over the vastness colored by the blazing sunset and chill out by a bonfire while enjoying traditional dance performance of the Kalbelia culture. End the night with a crash course on long exposure and night photography by Jigar.
Day 6-7, bikaner: the CAMEL festival
Back at our guesthouse in town, we’ll be immersing in Rajasthan’s renowned camel festival for the weekend. Get into the action and crank up your shutter speed, as you interact with camel farmers, traders, artists, and athletes, kabaddi wrestlers, as well as beautifully decorated and dancing camels. This festival is a monument to the camel trade, as Bikaner remains a major camel breeding region, even supplying camels to the Indian army. Indulge in the opportunity to taste camel milk tea and sweets. Ending the weekend with a bang, enjoy the closing ceremony dances and fireworks.
Day 8-13, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur: The Colourful Cities of Rajasthan
The next week takes us on a whirl-wind cinematic road trip through the ancient, colour dusted cities of the desert state. Starting with the Golden City of Jaisalmer, surrounding Sonar Quila, the largest fort in Rajasthan. Next up, the glorious Blue City of Jodhpur, and onto The White City of Udaipur. The lake town is described as “the Venice of the East”, where decadence seems to seep from the stones and into the street. This week will put your foundational knowledge to the test as you dig into the heart of your storytelling. Discover how the modern world collides with heritage and how the two have learned to co-exist.
Day 14, Jaipur: Monuments in the Pink city
Our last stop in Rajasthan is the famous Pink City of Jaipur. This city of endless historic and iconic spots will bring us up close with Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, and Galta Ji, also known as the monkey temple of Jaipur (and yes, it’s literally covered in monkeys). Learn how to work in a time crunch and flex your commercial shoot muscles in a partnered workshop with a local, ethical fashion brand. Then take extra time to hang out and snap a few shots with the Hawa Mahal as a backdrop, or get lost and find your way by exploring yummy new foods and treats to take home.
Day 15, Agra: Of love and labour
What would a tour to India be without a stop at the Taj Mahal? Refresh your sights with a gorgeous sunrise over the sparkling marble of the mausoleum before enjoying a bittersweet lunch served by empowered, female acid attack victims who run a delicious, local cafe. Spend the rest of the early afternoon exploring the organized chaos of the city, taking in the architectural masterpiece of Agra Fort, or bird watching at the holy Yamuna River. We’ll be headed off to Delhi later in the day to bring us full circle.
Day 16, Delhi: Full circle
As we bid our farewells to India, and each other, reflect on just how far we’ve come. Taking the time to uncover hidden truths, and journey down lesser known paths, gives a better understanding for the lives lived in this place. A place where some of the oldest traditions in the world, attempt to meet the modern world.
Early Bird: USD $1800 (Full payment before November 30th)
Regular: USD $2300
Comprehensive Program Itinerary
Experienced Program Mentor with you 24 hours a day
All Lodging & Accommodation throughout the program
Three local meals a day
All in-country group transportation
All excursions, tours and activities planned in itinerary
Halisia Storytelling Curriculum with study materials
A 60 seconds behind the scenes demo reel of you in action edited by Jigar Ganatra
Lifetime Membership to online Halisia Creative Community
Contribution to the Halisia Developing Storytellers Grant
Get to know your mentor
Jigar Ganatra is an award-winning travel filmmaker passionate about giving voices to the people on the ground and coupling their philosophy with impactful cinematic storytelling. Amongst other locations, he has made films in the Peruvian Amazon, Indian Himalayas, and Tanzanian Savannah. He is also the winner of the 2017 World Nomads Travel film scholarship where he worked side by side with professional filmmaker Brian Rapsey. Learn more about Jigar.