Wow… Five countries (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia and Armenia) in six weeks. Mehmet Özbalci organized this tour through his company Fantastic Photo Tours, based in Istanbul, Turkey. We used him in 2016 for a tour of Turkey, and liked his approach so much that we decided to use him again for these countries.
I thought we would end with a short blog post showing some of the people we traveled with. The upper row are all images of Mehmet, the main guide, and the only guide with us for the entire trip.
Each country also had a separate guide who knew the local language and people. Middle-left two images are Lilit from Armenia.
Lower left, seen kicking his heels up on the Singing Sands Dune is Jamil, our guide in both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and probably our favorite country guide.
The lower-right quadrant of 4 images are of Gvantsa, our Georgia country guide, and a natural-born photo model.
Here is a quick sampling of a few of the people we traveled with. Each tour had eight travelers. Two people (Eric and Marla, upper-left and lower-left) joined us for the entire six weeks. After the two of us, that left four people on the “stan” portion of the tour, and four different people on the “Georgia/Armenia” portion. Rich, Sue, Scott, Karin, Heidi, Matt and Didre are seen in the other images. We will always remember the times when Heidi, our Bahama mama (lower right), was detained at the border because no one had ever seen a Bahama passport, and all the times that locals wanted to be photographed with her.
There were several places along the way where there was “one best location for the photograph,” and lineups like seen center happened at least half a dozen times. Most of the time, we were more scattered out though, each getting our own personal images at any given stop.