World Expeditions traveller Noemi De La Ville has joined several photography holidays with Richard I’Anson. In this blog article she shares some of her most stunning shots that she took during her travels in the Middle East, May 2017. Covering Iran, Armenia and Georgia and following the photographer’s pace, see here some results of her travels.
Iran was the first country we visited in the World Expeditions trip to the Middle East (Iran, Armenia & Georgia), led by Richard I’Anson in 2017. Both the trip and the leading photographer gave us an amazing experience on places normally off the beaten path for western tourists. The trip was well organised with great on-site logistic and passionate local guides.
Travelling with Richard is an amazing opportunity to capture great shots and learn/improve your photographic techniques regardless your level of expertise, either if you travel with professional photography gear or a pocket camera. He always finds the best spot and light conditions for everyone and at the same time he manages to get his own amazing pictures…all in one. Richard is a passionate photographer willing to share with you his techniques. He is a non-stop kind of person who keeps you on the move the whole trip. If he could, he would keep you shooting images 24/7 for the entire trip……and believe me, you will be grateful for that!
Iran is a welcoming country full of contrast and colour blended in a magical mix full of intricately-decorated mosques and ancient UNESCO heritage sites. Iranians give you an incredible warm hospitality and generosity. Although women have to keep legs, arms, heads covered all the time and wear loose clothes, they didn’t look gloomy or oppressive. On the contrary, women looked cheery and were behaving chatty with other women and us westerners. They love selfies and are so curious for foreign travellers. Wherever you go you will be asked to take a picture with them.
Colour contrast was intense. We saw ladies-in-black everywhere, shopping for colour in the bazaars. We visited one of these in Teheran (Reza Great Bazaar) and one in Tabriz. Both are amazing places, but the bazaar in Tabriz has the fame for being the longest in the world with more than 10 kilometres of winding corridors. There you can easily be lost if you get mesmerised by the bustling atmosphere. The bazaars of the Middle East are magical places where you travel back in time without losing the modern touch. On our photography trip I felt safe wandering around and felt that hospitality is at the core of people doing business.
Travelling up north to the border with Azerbaijan showed us an alluring mix of landscapes with volcanic plains, snowy peaks and dense forests. The Alborz Mountains were the first great landscape with snow covered peaks. We also visited Mausouleh, a historic town more than 1,000 years old. The architecture is wonderful and this town lies in the middle of an amazing forest where we enjoyed the local cuisine full of cinnamon and lemon fragrances. It was the perfect place to explore on foot, where flat roofs and open courtyards serve as connected pedestrian areas.
We visited a remarkable spot in Northern Iran (East Azerbaijan), the volcanic village of Kandovan, which consists of houses carved in cone-shape formations of about 3,000 years old that became cave dwellings made from volcanic ashes.
Armenia was the second place we visited on our travel in the Middle East. This country became the first state in the world to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the 4th Century. It has some of the most impressive old churches and monasteries I have ever seen. Some of them have been included in the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Armenia has a lot to offer, on our photography holiday we spent 8 days from the Iranian border up to the Georgian border and I hope to return again to explore more of its spectacular places.
The first place in Armenia that we visited was Tatev monastery. It is located on a cape formed by a deep river gorge, its location favoured the construction of a mighty defence complex. Tatev complex hosted about 1,000 monks and a large number of artisans during medieval times. We had an incredible opportunity to observe a chanting service which currently is part of the spiritual-cultural life in Armenia.
Zvartnost Cathedral was built when Armenia was under Byzantine influence and invasions by the Muslim Arabs in the 7th Century BC. It was uncovered during excavations at the beginning of last century. On this photography holiday we were given the opportunity to see sections of the original complex that were rebuilt. From there we enjoyed a spectacular view of Mt Ararat.
We also visited lake Sevan, which is one of the largest freshwater high-altitude lakes in Eurasia. The lake was drained during the USSR era and the monastery built during the medieval period, Sevanavank became an important military site in the 9th century due to its location on a former island that became a peninsula after the drainage.
On this photography trip we visited a bakery, at Garni village, where women make lavash bread. This traditional Armenian flat-bread is crisp and bubbled on top after lifting the flat dough and “gluing” it onto the inner walls of a hot hole that serves the purpose of an oven.
Georgia was the final part of this amazing trip to the Middle East. We spent three days walking around the capital city Tbilisi. It is a modern and bohemian city full of life and contrast by day and night. By day you can visit churches and monasteries that tell you the long history of fairy tales of kingdoms, devastating battles and power struggles. It is also full of coffee shops and restaurants that any foodie will love. But at night the city transforms into the city of light, with an amazing cityscape full of landmarks with spotlights highlighting their various colours and forms.
The city can be seen in full splendour from the top of Sololaki hill where we can see two large tubular metallic structures: The Concert Hall and the Exhibition Centre. At the back we can see the presidential palace and over the Kura River there is a pedestrian bridge made by glass and steel, the Bridge of Peace.
Noemi De La Ville
Noemi grew up in Venezuela and after living in various places around the world, now resides in her home-country again. Over the years, she has joined several amazing wildlife and travel photographers: Marina Cano, David Lloyd and Richard I’Anson. Each one has influenced her work. Visit her website and Instagram account to view her visual stories.
Do you also like to travel the Middle East? You can on World Expeditions’ Iran to Tbilisi via Armenia adventure holiday with several departures in spring and autumn.
Join Richard I’Anson’s Photography Holidays
Richard’s aim is to get the group to the right place at the right time to give you the best opportunity of capturing photographs of these amazing destinations in the best possible light. Consequently, you will often rise before sunrise, stay out until just after dark and spend more time than most groups at key places, events and vantage points. This can be challenging at times, however a truly rewarding experience awaits.
These photography tours often sell out well ahead of the travel dates, so if you like to lock in your spot, we advise you to be quick.
Keep an eye out for upcoming photography holidays with World Expeditions.