Visionary Wild, LLC • 2200 19th St. NW, Ste 806, Washington, DC 20009

E-mail: info@visionarywild.com    •    Tel: 1-202-558-9596 (9am to 5pm, EST).

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email: justin@visionarywild.com

Sara Robb – Operations Assistant: sara@visionarywild.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Limit 6 spaces | $18,500* Closed
Expedition February 8 - 25, 2016 | View other workshops

Serengeti with Justin Black and Lou Coetzer

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Ultimate Photographer's Safari

Join award-winning wildlife photographers Lou Coetzer and Justin Black for this superlative African safari experience in the Serengeti, for a small group of six passionate photographers, coinciding with the Wildebeest calving season and excellent big cat activity.

"This was the experience of a lifetime. Visionary Wild provided a terrific photo safari. The educational value of this workshop was unparalleled, and I have participated in many workshops. Justin Black and Lou Coetzer were both terrific in facilitating the photography learning experience and in finding the best locations to maximize the opportunities." –2013 African Vision Safari Participant

In our experience, Lou Coetzer has proven to be the best there is at teaching the anticipation of animal behavior, timing, and camera handling skills that empower you to successfully capture "decisive moment" wildlife images. He and Justin Black of Visionary Wild have carefully chosen two distinct regions of Tanzania’s incredible Serengeti National Park – the Grumeti Western Corridor and Southern Serengeti near Ndutu – to offer a world-class, all-inclusive safari experience that features superb opportunities to capture stunning wildlife behavior, generous and effective photographic instruction, luxurious amenities, excellent photographer support, and a ton of fun! Lou and Justin are both renowned for the lengths they go to to ensure safari participants have an exceptional experience that exceeds expectations, all within a good-humored, collaborative atmosphere of camaraderie and mutually supportive exploration and learning.

• Unquestionably, the best photo-safari vehicles in the business: Our vehicles feature photographer's chairs with fully adjustable 360-degree revolving, gas-assist-lifted Wimberley camera mounts. This makes it a breeze to work with big lenses and photograph dynamic wildlife behavior, repositioning and panning with ease.

• Loan of big telephoto lenses: We provide Nikon 600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4 AF-S super telephotos at no additional cost, so you don't have to travel with them. Full-frame Nikon DSLR bodies are available for loan as well at no additional cost.

• Upscale &Beyond camps: Selected for their proximity to superb wildlife opportunities as well as excellence of accommodation, service, and catering, Grumeti Serengeti and Serengeti Under Canvas serve as first-rate safari base camps.

This package is designed to deliver a superb overall experience, and includes first-rate lodging, all meals, all beverages (including fine wines with dinner), expert guides, photographic instruction, loaner telephotos and cameras, use of custom photo vehicles, park entry fees, ground transfers, and charter flights during the itinerary.

Conceived as a unique wildlife photography experience optimized for opportunities to photograph peak action and behavior of Serengeti wildlife, this safari focuses on the heightened level of predator activity of early green season in the Western Corridor (when the grass is green but still short, and The Great Migration is not present so predators have to spend more time actively in search of prey), as well as the prey-rich Wildebeest calving in the south, when lion, cheetah, leopard, African wild dogs, hyenas, and jackals converge on the massive migratory herds to prey on newborn calves.

Rather than seeking to photograph a "tick list" of African fauna, we will give preference to excellent photographic scenarios: compelling subjects, dynamic behaviors and action, great light, and photogenic backgrounds. That said, other resident species we will encounter include elegant Thompson's gazelles, Burchell's zebras, elephants, giraffes, imposing African buffalo, impalas, topis, hippos, and crocodiles. If we are as fortunate as we have been in the past, we may even locate a few of Tanzania's few remaining black rhinos. Diversity of birdlife is at its peak at this time of year as well, with over 550 species present in the Serengeti. From the brilliantly colorful Lilac-Breasted Roller, to the endangered dinosaur-like Southern Ground Hornbill, to the stately Crowned Crane, we will have ample opportunities for bird photography, which our photo vehicles and long lenses will facilitate tremendously.

Two new 4WD photo safari vehicles with innovative custom features deliver an ideal photographic experience. They seat three photographers along the centerline of the vehicle, with excellent lines of sight through pop-up hatches on either side. Each photographer has his or her own rotating photographer's chair with fully adjustable revolving Wimberley-equipped telephoto lens mount.  Included at no additional cost is the loan of Nikon super-telephoto lenses (600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4) and pro camera bodies, so there is no need to carry big glass to Africa.

Click "read more" below right for the itinerary and more information...

Our itinerary makes the most of the incredible photographic opportunities, and offers attentive hands-on photographic instruction and expert guiding throughout:

Day 1: Feb 8

Arrive at Tanzania's Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to Onsea House Country Inn, on a hillside overlooking Arusha and Mt. Meru (14,977 ft.), to meet the group for dinner and settle into your lovely guest room for a restful night's sleep.

Dinner and Overnight at Onsea House. (D)

Day 2: Feb 9

Early morning breakfast at Onsea House before transferring to Arusha Airport to board our charter flight directly to Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp. After settling into your luxury tent and a satisfying lunch, we will set out in our uniquely customized photo safari vehicles for our first game drive, returning just after sunset.

Overnight at &Beyond's Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp (B,L,D)

Days 3–9: Feb 10-16

Based at Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp, we will make the most of the Serengeti's Western Corridor and the Grumeti River – an area that hosts impressive resident wildlife populations, including the largest pride of lions in Africa – with early morning and afternoon game drives taking advantage of the dynamic low-angled light around sunrise and sunset. During the harsher light of mid-day, we will return to camp for image reviews, instruction, and some personal down time to enjoy the amenities of the camp. Most meals will be in camp, though we may on occasion arrange to have sundowners or lunch served in the field, as appropriate to our photographic activities.

Overnight at &Beyond's Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp (B,L,D)

Day 11: Feb 17

Game drive and transfer to Serengeti Under Canvas Tented Camp, in the southern Serdengeti near Ndutu.

Overnight at &Beyond's Serengeti Under Canvas Tented Camp (B,L,D)

Days 12-18: Feb 18-24

The highlight of this portion of the trip is the Wildebeest calving season, though the wildlife opportunities are diverse and plentiful. Our accommodation, Serengeti Under Canvas, is a mobile camp that moves several times over the course of the year to follow the Great Migration, and in February it is located in the southern Serengeti. Once again, we will be out in early morning and in afternoon until sunset for game drives, with image reviews, instruction, and some downtime mid-day.

Overnight at &Beyond's Serengeti Under Canvas Tented Camp (B,L,D)

Day 19: Feb 25

Morning game drive, followed by lunch before our afternoon charter flight back to Kilimanjaro International Airport to catch flights home in the evening. (B,L)

The single-occupancy rate for this deluxe all-inclusive package is $18,500. Double-occupancy is $17,500 per person. 50% deposit required upon booking, and balance due by November 9th, 2015. For more information, please contact Justin at justin@visionarywild.com or 202-302-9030.

Not included: international round-trip flights from your point of origin to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Tanzania, incidental personal expenses, and gratuities for local safari guides at our camps.

TRAVEL NOTE: A passport (valid for at least three months after your date of departure) and tourist visa is required to enter Tanzania, which can be arranged either in advance through the Tanzanian Consulate in your home country or upon arrival in Tanzania. A Yellow Fever vaccination is required for those who have traveled recently in a country where YF is present, though as YF is present in Tanzania, we recommend it for all travelers. The Serengeti is a low-risk malaria area, and malaria prophylaxis is recommended.

 

Justin Black

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, photo workshops instructor, expedition leader, and an affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Through both Visionary Wild and Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography (1999 – 2009) he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

A professional photographer since 1995, before founding Visionary Wild he served the ILCP as Executive Director, and for seven years was General Manager and Curator of Mountain Light Gallery.

Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy.

Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns are The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Panthera, Land Trust Alliance, Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, Conservation International, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.

In 2015, Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the Nature's Best Photography Africa competition. He has also served as an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. His limited edition fine prints are represented by G2 Gallery in Venice, California, and by The Art of Wild in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography, founded by Galen Rowell – a world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer – and his wife and business partner, Barbara, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning in May of 1999, Justin managed marketing of the Rowell image collection, assisted Galen on assignments and in his workshop program, and taught seminars on nature photography. In April 2002, the Rowells invited Justin to relocate with them to California's scenic Owens Valley as Mountain Light's General Manager. Justin eagerly embraced the sublime Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape as his new home.

Four months later, Galen and Barbara perished in the crash of a chartered plane, leaving behind a tremendous creative and visionary vacuum. Justin went to work, building on the impressive Rowell legacy to reinvigorate Mountain Light by establishing a seasonal series of guest photographer exhibitions, expanding the image collection, and relaunching the highly acclaimed photo workshop program through collaboration with Galen's leading professional peers, including Frans Lanting, Pat O'Hara, Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, and Jeff Foott. In May 2008, Justin's successful efforts were recognized by both Sunset and American Photo magazines, as each magazine featured editorial recommendations of his workshop program at Mountain Light.

After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited to take over the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental conservation. At ILCP, Justin oversaw an explosion of productivity in expeditions, publishing, multimedia production, and the achievement of successful conservation outcomes. He contributed photographic coverage to ILCP's Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVE) program, including Flathead Valley (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project for The Nature Conservancy, documenting the Dragon Run wetland on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. One of Justin's photographs from the Flathead River project appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threatened watershed received significant coverage in that nationally important media outlet.  The photograph was later selected by the United States Senate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building, as Canada and the USA reached an agreement to protect the Flathead.

Justin left his position at ILCP in late 2010 to establish Visionary Wild, building on his successful leadership of the Mountain Light workshop program and applying expertise gained at ILCP to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. His own work continues to evolve in new directions, driven by the ongoing search for extraordinary qualities in our world's dynamic landscapes.

Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena (Visionary Wild's Director of Operations), and their children Philippe and Alexandra.

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

Justin's Conservation Photography Projects

 

Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras for most of his career, Justin has switched fully to Nikon digital SLRs. His current gear includes:

Camera Bodies:

Nikon D810 (x2)

Lenses

24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S ED Nikkor

24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

70-200mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

200-400mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor

 

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

 

Flash

Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-700

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels

 

Filters

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

 

Tripods

Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead

 

Photo Packs

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

Think Tank Photo (TTP) Streetwalker Harddrive

TTP Streetwalker Pro

TTP Airport Addicted V2.0

TTP Airport Acceleration

TTP Urban Disguise 50 V2.0

 

Lou Coetzer

Understanding animal behaviour enabled me to predict with reasonable accuracy "what’s going to happen next," which I discovered was a wonderful asset when photography became part of my life 40 or so odd years ago.

Lou Coetzer is an award-winning professional wildlife and sports photographer and safari leader from Johannesburg, South Africa. His photographic adventure began four decades ago as a student at the then Helpmekaar Boys High School in Johannesburg. These early years in the black and white darkroom and his involvement in sports and sport photography remain major influences in his wildlife photography today.

Before becoming a full-time sports photographer, Lou was involved with The Photographic Society of South Africa for many years. As a member of PSSA, Lou won numerous National and International awards in various fields such as Wildlife, Sports, Landscape and Portraiture. In the years following his entry into the sports photography field, Lou received numerous awards in the prestigious Allied Bank South African Sport Photographer of the Year competition

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These were the days of Apartheid when South Africa was still in relative economic isolation, and a sustainable career as a sports photographer was major challenge. "If Madiba and F.W. De Klerk had gotten together one year earlier I would probably today still be a sport photographer!" says Lou. He moved to other photographic interests in the early 90's, achieving international recognition for his portrait work along the way, but it was in his love of wildlife that he found his ultimate calling.

Lou’s years of experience as a sports photographer and portraitist are revealed in his constant search for exquisitely lit wildlife subjects in high-action against clean backgrounds. "I'll be honest: only when the action is not happening will I start looking for the graphic image."

In 2010, Lou was honored by Nature’s Best magazine for his outstanding photography, and he has been recognized repeatedly for his skill at capturing animal behavior. His photographs have been published and exhibited internationally, including in the USA at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. Lou was also the chief photographic moderator for The African Photographic Awards 2010.

"I’ve been going into the African bush to experience the animals in the wild from a very young age, and I learned early on to pay close attention and learn from wildlife behaviour. This understanding helped me to predict with reasonable accuracy "what’s going to happen next," which I discovered was a wonderful asset when photography became part of my life 40 or so odd years ago.

I have an insatiable appetite for detail, and out of that grew my love for nature’s intimate stories. As I write this, I’m at Etosha National Park in Namibia, and over the last few days I’ve had the privilege to photograph lions unsuccessfully hunting Giraffe, Kudu, Cape Turtle Dove and even little Red Billed Queleas! I can truthfully say, though, that the highlight of the week was the way the Helmeted Guinea Fowl out foxed the Tawny Eagles this morning just to have the favour returned by a Male African Shelduck this afternoon. Africa's magic is often revealed by the unexpected and not necessarily by the so-called “Big Five,” or can we rather say the “Big Seven” and include the Hippo and Nile Crocodile.

Whether on my own or with a safari group, I am adamant about choosing destinations and scenarios in nature that make for successful photography. It’s easy to get addicted to the clean blue water and sky backgrounds of the Chobe River in northern Botswana, but I also have a deeply ingrained respect and affection for Africa's animals that must struggle to survive in its desert and arid areas like Etosha.

My wife Veronica and I have been pursuing nature photography seriously for many years, and we started leading photo safaris in 2004 on a limited scale, but it was only after launching our first photographic boat on the Chobe River in 2009 that we became real “Safari Rats.” Since then, we’ve led over seventy specialized wildlife photographic safaris to African destinations, and several to Alaska as well!

–Lou Coetzer

Highlights

  • We've selected exceptional locations that enable us to provide the best possible overall photo safari experience, from density and accessibility of fauna, to effective conservation management, to quality of accommodations and cuisine, to lack of crowds.
  • World-class wildlife photography guiding and instruction by Lou Coetzer, Justin Black, and expert naturalists at our camps and lodges.
  • Experienced leaders put you in the right place at the right time to capture peak-action animal behavior in the best light.
  • Morning and evening photo excursions by custom photo-safari vehicles with three photographers' chairs per vehicle, daily from our camps in the Grumeti and southern Serengeti.
  • Mid-day instruction on wildlife photography techniques, composition, digital workflow, and image processing.
  • February brings the Wildebeest calving, excellent predator activity, great bird diversity, short green grass for easy wildlife viewing, and few other visitors.
  • Weather is quite comfortable and mostly sunny with a small chance of rain.

Accommodations & Travel

 

 

  • &Beyond Serengeti Grumeti Tented Camp – A luxury safari lodge in the Western Serengeti, this camp offers an unmatched wildlife experience, with exceptional resident game year round, including the largest pride of lions in Tanzania, numbering forty-nine individuals.
  • &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas – a luxurious semi-permanent tented camp that moves around the Serengeti bringing guests within range of the massive herds of the Great Migration. In February, our camp will be located near Ndutu and the Wildebeest calving.
  • Onsea House – Arusha – This tranquil boutique hotel has earned its status as the best luxury bed and breakfast in Arusha, with superb accommodations and an excellent Belgian-influenced restaurant.

 

 

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A visa is required for entry to Tanzania. Fly into Tanzania's Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), to be met for ground transfer by private vehicle to Onsea House, our guesthouse for the first night. Charter flights within Tanzania are included. All ground transfers, transportation, and excursions using customized 4WD photo-safari vehicles are included. February generally brings a drier period between the
outcomes

TESTIMONIALS

Client feedback on prior Visionary Wild safaris:

The Africa trip was one of the best I have been on. I learned so much. The facilities were top-notch, vehicles and boats were specially equipped for photographers, and to top it off the dining was excellent! Thank you for putting together an interesting, educational, and fun trip for all of us. I have recommended this trip so I hope you will continue to offer it.

–Ruth K., Visionary Wild safari participant

I highly recommend Visionary Wild for any serious photographer who wants to upgrade skills while having fun in an enriched environment with others who share that same passion. Justin's attention to detail and ongoing support both in the planning stages and during the expedition was wonderful and fairly unique.

–Kathy C., Visionary Wild safari participant
Over the years I have been fortunate to pursue my passion for wildlife photography in North, Central and South America and sharing the experiance with others on my return.   However, this safari has without question taken my interest in wildlife photography to a whole new level...

...My sincere thanks for a journey I will never forget!

–David C., Visionary Wild safari participant