Technical Skills - Creative Inspiration - Exciting Destinations

Sri Lanka: Elephants & Traditions

Festival (over 100 elephants), Temples Celebration, Tribes

August 20 - September 2, 2023

8 participants

The Sri Lankan elephant (Elephas maximus maximus) is one of three recognised subspecies of the Asian elephant, and native to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan elephant population is now largely restricted to the dry zone in the north, east and southeast of Sri Lanka. Elephants are present in National Parks but also live outside protected areas. It is estimated that Sri Lanka has the highest density of elephants in Asia.

The elephant conservation strategy of the Department of Wildlife Conservation aims at conserving as many viable populations as possible in as wide a range of suitable habitats as is feasible. This means protecting elephants both within the system of protected areas and as many animals outside these areas that the land can support and landholders will accept

We are going to photograph elephants in three distincts places. First we will attend the largest elephant parade in the world: The Kandy Esala Perahera also known as The Festival of the Tooth. This historical procession is held annually to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, which is housed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy. A unique symbol of Sri Lanka, the procession consists of traditional local dances such as fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances, in addition to the elephants who are usually adorned with lavish garments. The festival ends with the traditional diya-kepeema ritual, a water cutting ceremony which is held at the Mahaweli River at Getambe, Kandy.
During the festivities, we will have access to temples, to staging area, where we will be able to photograph intimately the culture of the festival.

Then we will photograph rescued elephants at a private reserve. We will have access to elephants bathing in the water, walking in the forest, and being taken care of by a large staff of mahouts and ground keepers. We will have the chance to photograph these elephants in their habitat interacting with humans. It could be a kid playing with elephants, a handler taking care of them, a mahout walking his elephant, a family worshipping them. The scenarios are unlimited. This is a unique opportunity to photograph, witness and learn about the behavior of elephants around humans.

We are going to use natural light and also enhance with artificial light. We will have candid shots, as well as setups with models. You will leave the workshop with well thought out images, newly acquired photography skills, and the experience of bonding with amazing creatures – elephants. Truly, truly life changing experience!

The workshop includes all meals, accommodation, transportation, festival, park and other related fees. The workshop is led by one instructor (Oliver), local helpers, guides, drivers, mahouts, elephant trainers, a substantial staff that will welcome us.

This is a unique opportunity to bond with elephants and humans in Sri Lanka. An experience not to be missed!

See you in Sri Lanka in August

Note: We can assist with planning for extra days (pre-post workshops) to enjoy Sri Lanka, known as “The Paradise Island”.
Untitled photo

Registration (Elephants' Culture): (SOLD OUT)

Questions: email Oliver Klink or call (408-910-6701)

Untitled photo


Sri Lanka "Elephants’ Culture"
August 20 - September 2, 2023


Note: Itinerary and activities might change based on weather conditions and activities we find on the spur of the moment. Our local experts and the contacts made over the years are incredible source of information to locate unique activities. As the group is kept small, we are able to attend special events, without overwhelming the local communities and be welcomed with open arms.

14 days on the ground to photograph and explore the Elephant’s culture

August 20 - Day 1: Arrival Negombo
• Transfer to the hotel

August 21 - Day 2: Minnera National Park
• Safari drive
• Visit UNESCO sites

August 22 - Day 3: Sigiriya
• Visit Ancient Ruins In Polonnaruwa
• Model shoot (elephants and mahouts) in front of Lion Rock Fortress

August 23 - Day 4: Sigiriya
• Visit Dambulla Cave Temple In Dambulla
• Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress
• Travelling To Mahiyanganaya

August 24 - Day 5: Veddah tribal people
• Travel to Dambana
• Visit the Veddah tribal people (Ceremonial tradition, walk in the wood, etc.)

August 25 - Day 6: Haputale
• Model shoot with Tea Pluckers On Tea Field In Haputale
• Model shoot with Tea Workers' Village In Haputale

August 26 Day 7: Kandy
• Traveling To Kandy By Train (6 Hours Train Ride From Haputale To Kandy)
• Cultural dance show Kandy

August 27 - Day 8: Kandy Perahara
• Visit temple where elephants are staying
• Elephant prep for the parade
• First Parade

August 28 - Day 9: Kandy Perahara
• Visit 2nd temple (elephants, mahouts, priest)
• Visit Sacred tooth temple
• 2nd Parade

August 29 - Day 10: Kandy Perahara
• Visit tea plantation
• Photograph staging area of the parade

August 30 - Day 11: Pinnawala
• Visit elephant orphanage
• Model shoot with kids, villagers and elephants

August 31 - Day 12: Elephant Orphanage
• Two photoshoots daily with elephants (early morning, late afternoon)
• Photoshoots with natural and/or artificial light
• Learn to choregraph scenarios. Daily themes
• Photograph large group of elephants bathing in the river

September 1 - Day 13: Elephant Orphanage - Transfer to Airport
• Morning shoot
• Transfer to Airport

September 2 - Day 14: Departure Day
• Recommend flying out on September 2 (12:50AM flight)


Upon signing up for the workshop, you’ll receive a detailed coursebook and recommended reading material.

- Plan on arriving in Colombo, Sri Lanka on August 20 (anytime) – Airport (CMB)
- Departure on September 2 (recommend the 12:50AM flight) from Colombo
- All ground transportation and accommodation provided
- All meals included
- All entry fees included

Recommended equipment
Clothing: (temperature ranges from 70 – 90F)
- Comfortable and warm layered clothes (neutral color recommended)
- Shorts and t-shirts to photograph elephants in the water
- Sandals, walking shoes
- Hat, sunglasses, and sun screen
- Rain gear/windbreaker

Camera Equipment:
- Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
- If available... two camera bodies
- Recommended lenses
• Elephant parade: 16 - 200mm. Fast lens recommended (F2.8)
• Telephoto lens for elephant in the wild: 200-400mm
• Portraits: 24 – 200mm

Accessories (Optional):
- Tripod for evening/night photography/elephant photoshoot
- Flash (off-camera) + diffusers
- ND Filters (3, 6, 10, 15 stops)

Photography Review Equipment (Recommended):
- Laptop (with power cord), memory card downloader
- Post processing software (Lightroom, Photoshop, plug-ins)
- External hard drives (backup)

Equipment Rental and Purchase (if you need to rent lenses we recommend the following places):

Workshop Structure
- The itinerary is built with flexibility so we can leverage the atmospheric conditions
- Early morning rise to catch the sunrise. Late evening for sunset
- Night shoot during the elephant parade
- We will drive to photoshoot locations and then walk (parade)
- During the day, we will explore venues at the festival, photograph elephants bathing in a river, and brainstorm on creative idea for set up photoshoots
- When we return to the lodge in the evening, you will have a chance to relax and get ready for dinner
- At the end of the workshop, you will have experienced the “elephant’s culture in Sri Lanka and understand their importance among the villagers

Participants' Responsibility
- Book transportation to Colombo, Sri Lanka – Airport (CMB)
- Have a valid passport to travel to Sri Lanka (expiration at least 6 months)
- Apply for Visa (Sri Lanka)
- Bring your certificate of full COVID vaccination

Not included:
- Personal expenses, meals, alcoholic beverages
- Extra night(s) in Colombo (for early arrival or late departure)
- Travel Insurance
- Tips to local staff

Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance Suggestions:
Here are a few recommendations but please browse around as services and prices vary.
• Travelex Travel Select (800) 228-9792
• Travel Guard or Travel Insurance Services
• Travel Insurance Services (Walnut Creek, CA) (800) 937-1387
• Atlas International Insurance (HCC Medical Insurance Services)
• TEN (Travelers Emergency Network) Emergency Evacuation Coverage
• Medjet Assist 1-800-527-7478

Difficulties (Medium)

- We are going to walk about 2 miles (certain days) on easy surface to follow elephants during the parade
- We are eating freshly cooked local cuisine with local meat, vegetables, and soup (not spicy)
- We are photographing around elephants, which requires careful attention
- Temperature: Average mid 80F
- Possibility of rain showers
- Sunrise at 6:15 AM, Sunset at 5:30PM

Is it for me?

YES, if …
- You want to mingle with and photograph hundreds of elephants.
- You need a gateway, find inspiration for your photography, and come back home with images that wow you
- You want to expand your photography comfort zone, create images with natural light and also enhanced with artificial light
- All levels welcome. You need to be familiar with operating your camera as the instruction focuses on creativity

Rules for attending IncredibleTravelPhotos workshops during the Covid 19 pandemic and Legal Disclaimer

As we live in a pandemic world, we want everybody to have a safe, productive and creative experience during the workshop. We are following the recommended guidelines set by the CDC and Santa Clara County Health Department. By signing this document, you understand and will adhere to the rules to protect yourself and others.

1. You need to vaccinated against Covid 19.
2. You need to bring your own mask. Bandannas are not a mask.
3. Wearing a mask is recommended upon arrival at the workshop. Mask will cover mouth and nose at all time.
4. You will sanitize your hands upon arrival. Hand sanitizer will be provided.
5. Not adhering to the above rules is a reason for immediate dismissal from the workshop. No refund will be provided.
6. We want everybody to feel comfortable. Thank you for the understanding!

I have read and will adhere to the rules. _______ (initial)

LEGAL Disclaimer:

I acknowledge the contagious nature of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and that the CDC and many other public health authorities still recommend practicing social distancing.
I further acknowledge that IncredibleTravelPhotos as put in place preventative measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.
I further acknowledge that IncredibleTravelPhotos can not guarantee that I will not become infected with the Coronavirus/Covid-19. I understand that the risk of becoming exposed to and/or infected by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 may result from the actions, omissions, or negligence of myself and others.
I attest that:
* I am not experiencing any symptom of illness such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
* I do not believe I have been exposed to someone with a suspected and/or confirmed case of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.
* I have not been diagnosed with Coronavirus/Covid-19 and not yet cleared as non-contagious by state or local public health authorities.
* I am following all CDC recommended guidelines as much as possible and limiting my exposure to the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

I hereby release and agree to hold IncredibleTravelPhotos harmless from, and waive on behalf of myself, my heirs, and any personal representatives any and all causes of action, claims, demands, damages, costs, expenses and compensation for damage or loss to myself and/or property that may be caused by any act, or that may otherwise arise in any way in connection with any services received from IncredibleTravelPhotos.
I understand that this release discharges IncredibleTravelPhotos from any liability or claim that I, my heirs, or any personal representatives may have against IncredibleTravelPhotos with respect to any bodily injury, illness, death, medical treatment, or property damage that may arise from, or in connection to, any services received from IncredibleTravelPhotos.

Date: _______________________

Signature: ____________________________


Oliver Klink has been photographing in Asia for the past 15 years. He has visited many minority cultures and wildlife in Mongolia, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka and more. He received the coveted 2018 Best B&W photographer of the year by Dodho Magazine and has published an award-winning book, Cultures in Transition. “Sri Lanka is a really unique place. It offers multitude of photo opportunities, cultural enrichment and wildlife sighting. Truly truly one of kind places.”
Oliver Klink is a fine art photographer based in Los Gatos, CA. His book Cultures in Transition won nine awards for best photography book of 2019. He was selected as B&W photographer of the year (2018) by Dodho magazine, the Best” Emerging artist in 2016 by BWGallerist. Cultures in Transition body of work was selected as Top 50 Critical Mass Award (2016 & 2018). His image, “Herding Instinct” won the grand prize at the Rayko International Photocontest in 2014, others have received “mentioned” in the Black and White Spidar Awards and Color Awards in the past 5 years. “Processing images with a personal style is a passion. You can relive what you saw at the point of capture with your artistic mind”, says Oliver.
Oliver’s images have been exhibited om four continents. He is a master print maker using various technology.

Local staff members (Guide, drivers, helpers) who enrich our stay with the most current information, special activities, and “ways in” to places you only dream about!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call Oliver Klink (408-910-6701) or email


- Private post processing sessions. email for info

Fans' of IncredibleTravelPhotos have also viewed:

  • 2023 Turkey
  • 2023-11 Cypress Swamps
Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In