Workshops by Focus: Adventure

Expedition July 5 - 22, 2021
6 spaces | $* Register

For lovers of wild mountain landscapes, few destinations on Earth are more spectacular than the Kyrgyz Republic (also known as Kyrgyzstan) with its soaring peaks ranging from Alpine to Himalayan in beauty and scale, glaciers, pristine lakes, wild rivers, spruce and fir forests, alpine wildflowers, and expansive high pastures. The Tien Shan mountains rise higher and wilder than the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Alps, or Andes – peaks below 16,000-feet in elevation are barely considered worthy of a name. Along the Chinese border, the Kokshaal-Too range soars to truly Himalayan heights, including the world’s most northern summits over 7,000 meters (22,965 feet): Khan Tengri (translation: Lord of the Skies) and Jengish Chokusu (also known in Russian as Pik Pobeda, or Victory Peak). The landscape beneath the peaks is sublime: glacier-carved gorges, slopes covered in alpine wildflowers (there is more edelweiss here than in the Alps), raging rivers, spruce and fir forests, and high pastures (“jai-loh”) where semi-nomadic Kyrgyz graze small herds of horses, yaks, sheep, and cattle during the short summer.

Kyrgyzstan’s majestic mountain landscapes and unspoiled natural beauty make it a gem for avid photographers, but it has been relatively unknown and little-visited. Kyrgyzstan is now gaining recognition as a highly desirable travel destination for its magnificent mountains, glacier-fed lakes, wild rivers, comfortable climate, and unique and welcoming culture. It was recently ranked #5 on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019 Top Countries list. While others are just discovering Kyrgyzstan, Visionary Wild recognized its vast opportunity for photography years ago. Based on extensive scouting we have carefully developed an exceptional photography-focused itinerary for those seeking to travel in style and comfort, with a spirit of exploration and adventure.

Our adventure begins in the Kyrgyzstani capital of Bishkek, where our guests will be met at the airport and transferred to the thoroughly modern Solutel Hotel, offering excellent accommodations and English-speaking staff, conveniently located in the city center. There, we will welcome you to our introductory orientation and first dinner as a group. Early the next morning, we load up into our four-wheel-drive caravan, comprising three highly capable and comfortable Toyota Sequoias to carry our six guests, plus Visionary Wild photo leaders Justin Black and Jerry Dodrill, both veteran Kyrgyzstan travelers. Two additional 4WD support vehicles will carry gear, provisions, our cook and camp staff. From there, we set off on our spectacular route through the Tien Shan mountains.

Our itinerary is designed to take advantage of prime light on the landscape morning and evening each day. After dark, clean air and absence of light pollution provide a superb opportunity for nighttime landscapes including the Milky Way. Wildlife we typically see at some point along the way includes golden eagles, Marco Polo sheep (the largest wild sheep in the world), Lammergeier (a bird of prey with a ten-foot wingspan, related to the Egyptian vulture), ibex, and marmots. If we are very lucky, we might even see a wolf or snow leopard. We will also enjoy excellent opportunities to interact with and photograph the Kyrgyz people themselves, particularly herders in the high pastures, families at our yurt camps, and at the sprawling and colorful Osh Market in Bishkek. This will be a highly productive and immensely fun photographic adventure that you’ll never forget.

Kyrgyz Republic
Map via Google
Expedition August 6 - 23, 2021
12 spaces | $* Register

If there is one place on Earth that represents the high Arctic in microcosm, it’s the Svalbard Archipelago. Wildlife is abundant here, featuring a large population of polar bears, as well as arctic foxes, walrus colonies, reindeer, blue whales, dolphins, seals, and numerous bird species. The landscape is characterized by rugged snow-capped mountain ranges, stunning fjords, vast glaciers, and icebergs, and towering cliffs that host busy seabird colonies. The beautiful serenity of the Arctic pack ice begins at the Archipelago’s northern end, where polar bears roam the ocean in search of seals. In the ice with the sun arcing low along the horizon, it becomes abundantly clear that you are truly on top of the world.

Designed for photographers by photographers, this extra-long itinerary provides quality time to photograph unrushed in the best locations, while most other Svalbard trips follow week-long tick-list itineraries with much less time in the prime spots. We will take you to the places we have fallen in love with on several prior voyages, making the most of this great spectacle of Arctic wildlife, ice, landscape, and light. Over the course of numerous expeditions and workshops together over the last 16 years, leaders Frans Lanting, Christine Eckstrom, and Justin Black have established a superb collaborative chemistry and will provide generous and effective expert photographic instruction to the small group of just twelve guests throughout the voyage.

Our private-charter expedition vessel, S/V Noorderlicht, is an ice-strengthened Svalbard specialist. She makes a superb platform for photography, with her spacious main deck low over the water, creating excellent vantage points, particularly if we are approached by polar bears on the ice, or walruses in the water. She also happens to be, in our opinion, the most visually striking vessel operating in Svalbard, making her a great model to incorporate into landscape scenes for scale and color accent (Noorderlicht is the red vessel in background of at least one of the trip gallery images). Well-suited to expedition cruising among small islands, she can get into locations that larger ships cannot access. Her two Zodiacs facilitate landings and wildlife photography opportunities in otherwise inaccessible areas.

As masters of the vessel, your leaders will coordinate with the highly qualified captain and crew to do everything possible to maximize photographic opportunities and to ensure the best possible journey. We will enjoy extra elbow room onboard Noorderlicht, in the Zodiacs, and ashore as our group will be limited to 12 guests plus the three leaders though the ship has accommodation for up to 20 passengers. Our small group and this vessel maximize our enjoyment and appreciation of the high Arctic’s immense serenity and vastness, a far more pleasant experience compared to waiting in line to go ashore or visit the buffet on a vessel with over one hundred other passengers.  Noorderlicht’s cabins are small, but they all have comfortable upper and lower berths, a cupboard, a washbasin with hot and cold water, and excellent ventilation. Shared showers (4) and toilet facilities (5) are conveniently located near cabins. Meals aboard Noorderlicht are served family-style, with fresh ingredients and healthy options available (catering well for vegetarians). We are assembling an excellent wine list for the trip as well!

Our itinerary begins in Oslo, Norway, with pick-up at the airport and transfer to The Thief, a modern, waterfront Scandinavian boutique hotel that is one of Oslo’s very best. In the afternoon, we will hold an introductory reception and orientation meeting, followed by dinner at one of Oslo’s fine restaurants. The next morning, we fly as a group to the small harbor of Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen, where our ship awaits us. That afternoon, we embark and set off for our adventure together!

We hope you will join us for this intimate 15-night private-charter expedition (within a 17-night all-inclusive itinerary) aboard the two-masted schooner S/V Noorderlicht, photographing the wildlife, landscape, and pack ice of this gem of the High Arctic.

Svalbard
Map via Google
Expedition January 2 - 18, 2020
6 spaces | $* Register

A Fly-In – Fly-Out, Antarctic Photography Expedition Aboard S/V Ocean Tramp

We are pleased to offer this intimate private-charter photographic expedition, including round trip flights across the Drake Passage, 13-nights aboard S/V Ocean Tramp, and instruction and guiding throughout by award-winning photographer and polar specialist Daisy Gilardini.

Ocean Tramp is a 20-meter motor-sail yacht (specifically, a ketch) which is operated by personal friends of Visionary Wild founder Justin Black, whose company Quixote Expeditions specializes in small-vessel Antarctic adventures. In an era when Antarctic expedition vessels are getting larger and larger, Ocean Tramp offers a wonderful way to go with a very small group of just six guests, on a comfortable vessel that can get into locations that bigger ships can’t reach.

Spend almost two weeks on location at Antarctica, rather than wasting precious days “rockin’ and rollin'” on the Drake Passage crossing. As master of the boat, Daisy will work with Captain David Roberts (U.K.) to choose the best route to maximize the photographic opportunities at destinations along the way, responding to local conditions of weather and ice. Captain Roberts and Ocean Tramp’s experienced first mate and cook have an excellent track record of delivering exceptional Antarctic experiences for their guests.

Ocean Tramp normally sleeps eight guests in four cabins, but we are limiting the group size to six to eliminate crowding onboard, in the Zodiac, and at landing sites. The boat’s Shackleton Suite features an en-suite private bathroom, while the other three cabins share two bathrooms.

If you have any questions at all, please let us know. We hope you will join us on this Antarctic adventure!

VIDEO OF S/V OCEAN TRAMP IN ANTARCTICA
https://youtu.be/jAPXU7DH1ik

VIDEO TOUR OF INTERIOR OF S/V OCEAN TRAMP, by our friend Laura Smith of Quixote-Expeditions: https://youtu.be/YNpsYLosl3M

Antarctica by Yacht
Map via Google
Expedition November 10 - 23, 2019
8 spaces | $13,500* Register

PATAGONIA is vast and beautiful, and there is a great deal most visitors never see, beyond the most iconic locations like Torres del Paine National Park. While Torres represents a wonderful microcosm of what Patagonia has to offer, Chile’s little-visited Aysén region is home to soaring peaks, pristine lakes, wild turquoise rivers, water-sculpted marble caves, unique forest ecosystems, and numerous glaciers descending from the massive Northern Patagonian Ice Field. It offers the passionate photographer incredible opportunities for landscape, wildlife, and cultural photography, without the tour buses of the more heavily touristed Patagonian destinations. Put simply, the wild serenity, scenic splendor, and photographic potential will amaze you.

We are visiting in the Patagonian spring, when the lupines and other wildflowers are in full bloom, the rivers are roaring, and the high peaks still wear veils of fresh snow. Our trip begins in Balmaceda, Chile (population approximately 500), the location of the regional airport, with direct flights from Chile’s capital of Santiago. You will be met upon exit from baggage claim by our local guide team, headed by our good friend Ruth Cohen, regarded as one of the very best guides in Chilean Patagonia. Then, transfer to Patagonia House, Ruth’s excellent boutique lodge on the outskirts of the regional capital of Coyhaique (population approx. 50,000). We’ll all gather there and then kick off our adventure with a festive welcome dinner to get to know everyone. The next morning after breakfast, we will load up in our two spacious passenger vans, with plenty of extra room for gear and luggage, and proceed on the rest of our journey through the stunning landscape of Aysén. We will take helicopter flights to do aerial photography over the ice cap, a jet boat trip to the face of the Leones Glacier, and an excursion by boat through the fjords. See below for the full itinerary.

Eddie Soloway and Justin Black will lead this small group of passionate photographers (limited to eight guests) on field sessions adapted to make the most of the best opportunities presented to us by light, weather, landscape, and wildlife each day. Emphasis will be on creative photography and hands-on mentoring in the field. We’ll photograph when the conditions and light are their best, and we’ll gather for presentations on composition, visualization, qualities of light, technique, and digital workflow at times when light or weather aren’t as conducive for photography (during harsh mid-day light, if a rain storm passes through, etc.). We will also hold constructive critiques of participant photographs and then head back out into the field to apply what we’ve learned.

Excursions will include helicopter flights (each guest gets one flight) to do doors-off photography over the spectacular Northern Patagonian Ice Field and Monte San Valentin, a jet boat excursion from Lago Leones to the Leones Glacier, a boat excursion to Marble Caves on Lago General Carrera, as well as a day aboard a private expedition boat to visit the fjords and the Jorge Montt Glacier. Via our group vehicles, we’ll visit spectacular locations that we have explored on prior visits. Some locations involve short hikes, but nothing particularly strenuous.

Each evening, we will gather for a nice dinner and some good Chilean wine. Then it’s off to bed to get some rest, as most mornings we’ll be out around 5:30am to take advantage of the incredible pre-dawn light. Breakfasts and lunches will be handled in relation to our photographic activities, served either at our accommodations or local restaurants, or in the field as a gourmet picnic.

Hidden Patagonia
Map via Google
Expedition January 16 - 30, 2019
6 spaces | $* Register

A Fly-In – Fly-Out, Antarctic Photography Expedition Aboard S/V Ocean Tramp

Note: As this opportunity has developed on very short notice, and availability of berths is limited, this expedition may be booked directly through our office only. Please either call us at +1-202-558-9596 or email Director of Operations Jennifer Woolley at jennifer@visionarywild.com to book this trip or be added to the waiting list. Online bookings for this expedition are not enabled at this time.

We are pleased to offer this intimate private-charter photographic expedition, including round trip flights across the Drake Passage, 12-nights aboard S/V Ocean Tramp, and instruction and guiding throughout by National  Geographic photographer Michael Melford.

Ocean Tramp is a 20-meter motor-sail yacht (specifically, a ketch) which is operated by personal friends of Visionary Wild founder Justin Black, whose company Quixote-Expeditions specializes in small-vessel Antarctic adventures. In an era when Antarctic expedition vessels are getting larger and larger, Ocean Tramp offers a wonderful way to go with a very small group of just six guests, on a comfortable vessel that can get into locations that bigger ships can’t reach.

Spend almost two weeks on location at Antarctica, rather than wasting precious days “rockin’ and rollin'” on the Drake Passage crossing. As master of the boat, Michael Melford will work with Captain David Roberts (U.K.) to choose the best route to maximize the photographic opportunities at destinations along the way, responding to local conditions of weather and ice. Captain Roberts and Ocean Tramp’s experienced first mate and cook have an excellent track record of delivering exceptional Antarctic experiences for their guests.

Ocean Tramp normally sleeps eight guests in four cabins, but we are limiting the group size to six to eliminate crowding onboard, in the Zodiac, and at landing sites. The boat’s Shackleton Suite features an en-suite private bathroom, while the other three cabins share two bathrooms.

Travel insurance and medical evacuation insurance are required for this trip.

If you have any questions at all, please let us know. We hope you will join us on this Antarctic adventure!

Contact info@visionarywild.com or +1-202-558-9596 to register or for more information.

VIDEO OF S/V OCEAN TRAMP IN ANTARCTICA
https://youtu.be/jAPXU7DH1ik

VIDEO TOUR OF INTERIOR OF S/V OCEAN TRAMP, by our friend Laura Smith of Quixote-Expeditions: https://youtu.be/YNpsYLosl3M

Antarctica by Yacht II
Map via Google
Expedition January 3 - 18, 2019
6 spaces | $* Register

A Fly-In – Fly-Out, Antarctic Photography Expedition Aboard S/V Ocean Tramp

We are pleased to offer this intimate private-charter photographic expedition, including round trip flights across the Drake Passage, 13-nights aboard S/V Ocean Tramp, and instruction and guiding throughout by award-winning photographer and polar specialist Daisy Gilardini.

Ocean Tramp is a 20-meter motor-sail yacht (specifically, a ketch) which is operated by personal friends of Visionary Wild founder Justin Black, whose company Quixote-Expeditions specializes in small-vessel Antarctic adventures. In an era when Antarctic expedition vessels are getting larger and larger, Ocean Tramp offers a wonderful way to go with a very small group of just six guests, on a comfortable vessel that can get into locations that bigger ships can’t reach.

Spend almost two weeks on location at Antarctica, rather than wasting precious days “rockin’ and rollin'” on the Drake Passage crossing. As master of the boat, Daisy will work with Captain David Roberts (U.K.) to choose the best route to maximize the photographic opportunities at destinations along the way, responding to local conditions of weather and ice. Captain Roberts and Ocean Tramp’s experienced first mate and cook have an excellent track record of delivering exceptional Antarctic experiences for their guests.

Ocean Tramp normally sleeps eight guests in four cabins, but we are limiting the group size to six to eliminate crowding onboard, in the Zodiac, and at landing sites. The boat’s Shackleton Suite features an en-suite private bathroom, while the other three cabins share two bathrooms.

If you have any questions at all, please let us know. We hope you will join us on this Antarctic adventure!

Contact info@visionarywild.com or +1-202-558-9596 to register or for more information.

VIDEO OF S/V OCEAN TRAMP IN ANTARCTICA
https://youtu.be/jAPXU7DH1ik

VIDEO TOUR OF INTERIOR OF S/V OCEAN TRAMP, by our friend Laura Smith of Quixote-Expeditions: https://youtu.be/YNpsYLosl3M

Antarctica by Yacht
Map via Google
Expedition September 3 - 15, 2019
18 spaces | $14,950* Register

I feel very privileged to have participated in the 2016 Greenland expedition. It far exceeded my expectations. And, as someone who has traveled extensively, I would rate it as truly a trip of a lifetime. – Sid S., 2016 Greenland participant

Thank you for another fantastic VW expedition! What a privilege to experience and photograph this wild and remote area in comfort while accompanied by the best leaders offering a wealth of experience and a willingness to share their immense talents. Thanks to Justin’s meticulous advance planning, all the arrangements were perfect throughout. –David & Kathy R., 2015 Greenland participants

Greenland’s remote and little-visited ice fjords hold a wealth of arctic grandeur. Towers, arches, and walls of ancient blue ice thrust skyward from the water’s surface. Steep-walled fjords, soaring coastal mountains, tundra in autumn color, the vast Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Aurora Borealis combine to form an incomparable landscape. Join a world-class team of leaders – Daisy Gilardini, Daniel Beltrá, and Jerry Dodrill – for this  expedition to Greenland, photographing this arctic wilderness in all its glory. With generous photographic instruction and attentive support throughout, explore the largest fjord system in the world – Scoresbysund, covering 14,700 square miles and penetrating over 200 miles into Greenland’s interior – aboard the three-masted expedition vessel Rembrandt van Rijn.

We will make frequent landings by zodiac to photograph in morning and evening light, and as serendipity presents us with compelling opportunities along the way. In addition to the arctic landscape, we will photograph whales as we encounter them, as well a variety of coastal and pelagic birds such as fulmars, kittiwakes, and gannets. Excursions by Zodiac take us in among the icebergs. The ethereal glow of the Aurora Borealis dancing in the night sky over the iceberg-dotted fjords and bays will be the sight of a lifetime. One thing is for certain: this expedition will yield extraordinary photographic opportunities. This is of course a floating workshop as well, and while underway, Daniel, Daisy, Jerry, and the ship’s expedition staff will make instructive and inspiring presentations, answer your questions, and offer constructive feedback on participants’ photographs during group critique sessions, with the aid of the ship’s four large LCD screens.


Greenland was a trip of a lifetime. Imagine fog-shrouded icebergs, vibrant red/orange/yellow tundra, unreal sunsets, glistening ice and snow, colorful villages clinging to rocky headlands, Northern Lights and so much more under the generous guidance of world class instructors. I learned so much while having lots of fun. Thank you! –Ann L., 2015 Greenland participant


Our adventure begins in Reykjavik, Iceland, the world’s northernmost capital. Guests will be greeted upon arrival at Keflavik International Airport and transferred to the elegant Hotel Holt, conveniently located in the city center. After an introductory group meeting and dinner at Grillmarket, one of Reykjavik’s finer restaurants, the next morning we board our private charter flight to Greenland’s east coast. Awaiting our arrival will be our private floating base camp: the 168-foot, three-masted schooner Rembrandt van Rijn (click here for more about RVR). We are booking the entire ship for our exclusive use to ensure ample space for our group both on the ship and in zodiacs – our group will consist of sixteen to eighteen participants and three leaders (though Rembrandt normally sleeps up to 33 guests) in addition to her twelve-person crew and expedition staff. She is exceptionally well-suited to exploration and photography along the Greenland coast, with a reinforced hull, expansive unobstructed sight lines even under sail, and very comfortable accommodations.

To make this special itinerary possible, we have arranged private Air Iceland charter flights aboard modern twin-engine turboprop airliners (Bombardier Q200). After disembarking Rembrandt at Constable Point, we will be picked up by our aircraft and flown back to Reykjavik, where a celebratory group dinner and final restful night at the Hotel Holt await you.

Greenland
Map via Google
Expedition July 5 - 22, 2019
6 spaces | $14,500* Register

Client Testimonials

“Kyrgyzstan was an amazing trip! Truly a unique country. I’m in to return with you next year.” –Dan W., three-time Kyrgyz Republic expedition participant

“The Kyrgyz trip has been one of our best. Full marks to Visionary Wild and the Kyrgyz team on the ground here for a seamless trip.” –Alastair F. and Helen M, 2018 participants

Lonely Planet recently ranked Kyrgyzstan #5 on its Best in Travel list of ten top countries ripe for travel in 2019, and we are not surprised. Two of the six participants from our 2017 expedition to the Kyrgyz Republic  came back with us in 2018, one of them is joining us yet again this year, and the other hopes to go again next year! Yes, it’s that good. 

For lovers of wild mountain landscapes, the Kyrgyz Republic is among the most underrated travel destinations on Earth. The Tien Shan mountains rise higher and wilder than the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Alps, or Andes, and peaks below 16,000-feet in elevation are barely considered worthy of a name. Along the Chinese border, the Kok Shaal-Too range soars to truly Himalayan heights, including the world’s most northern summits over 7,000 meters: Khan Tengri and Jengish Chokusu (also known as Pik Pobeda, or Victory Peak). The landscape beneath the peaks is sublime: glacier-carved gorges, grassy slopes covered in alpine wildflowers, raging wild rivers, spruce and fir forests, and high pastures (“jai-loh”) where semi-nomadic Kyrgyz graze small herds of horses, yaks, sheep, and cattle during the short summer.

The sheer scale and beauty of this landscape is phenomenal, but what is almost unimaginable is the fact that it is barely on the tourist radar. The Kyrgyz Republic is solidifying democracy, and the Kyrgyz people take their freedom seriously. Though it is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of Central Asia,” this complimentary moniker neglects to recognize the nation’s unique qualities. A former Soviet republic with slow economic growth, Kyrgyzstan has been spared excessive development, so what it lacks in infrastructure is made up for with glorious wild nature. The Kyrgyz people are a nomad culture that boasts the longest history of all currently extant groups in Central Asia. Over the last fifteen centuries, their language and culture have survived the Chinese, the Mongols, various Khaganates, the Russians, the Soviet era, and the challenges of building a viable democracy.

Our adventure begins in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, where our guests will be met at the airport and transferred to the thoroughly modern Solutel Hotel, offering excellent accommodations in the city center. There, we will welcome you to our introductory orientation and first dinner as a group. Early the next morning, we load up into our four-wheel-drive caravan, comprising three highly capable and comfortable Toyota Sequoias to carry our six guests, plus Visionary Wild photo leaders Justin Black and Jerry Dodrill, both veterans of three prior trips to Kyrgyzstan. Two additional 4WD support vehicles will carry gear, provisions, our cook and camp staff. From there, we set off on our spectacular route through the Tien Shan mountains.

Our itinerary is designed to take advantage of prime light on the landscape morning and evening each day. After dark, clean air and absence of light pollution provide a superb opportunity for nighttime landscapes including the Milky Way. Wildlife we typically see at some point along the way includes golden eagles, Marco Polo sheep (the largest wild sheep in the world), Lammergeier (a bird of prey  with a ten-foot wingspan, related to the Egyptian vulture), ibex, and marmots. If we are very lucky, we might even see a wolf or snow leopard. We will also enjoy excellent opportunities to interact with and photograph the Kyrgyz people themselves, particularly herders in the high pastures, families at our yurt camps, and at the sprawling and colorful Osh Market in Bishkek. This will be a highly productive and immensely fun photographic adventure that you’ll never forget.

Note: We advise anyone considering this adventure to read “Travel in the Kyrgyz Republic,” farther down on this page.

Kyrgyz Republic
Map via Google
Expedition April 5 - 16, 2019
10 spaces | $10,995* Register

This combination of workshop and expedition is a unique hit! The leaders knew the area, worked well together, imparted their knowledge with enthusiasm and congeniality to each participant and the local staff were professional and helped us as a group and individually at all times. The logistics and lodgings were excellent. An outstanding photographic experience! –S. Dater, 2015 Patagonia participant

We returned home with lots of great memories and many images to review and process! It was a very well organised trip & thanks again to the entire team. We will definitely look at Visionary Wild when planning future trips. –G. & H. Cuff, 2018 Patagonia participants

Patagonia: the word is synonymous with awe-inspiring landscape, and Torres del Paine National Park is both its crown jewel and a microcosm of the most aesthetically appealing features of the region. This hybrid program – part expedition, part workshop, led by National Geographic photographer Michael Melford and Justin Black is designed to maximize opportunities to execute well-crafted and compelling photographs that capture the spirit of this incredible place. Participants will have ample time to get to know Torres del Paine during its colorful autumn splendor, and your photography there will benefit from the opportunity to revisit fruitful situations to apply lessons learned and to take advantage of changing weather and light. The goal is for each participant to come away from this trip with a strong body of work, a new body of knowledge, new friendships, rejuvenation, and priceless memories.

Puma Extension – Save $1,000: Those interested in the best opportunity on Earth to photograph wild pumas up close should note that this itinerary is preceded immediately by and can be combined perfectly with our Pumas of Patagonia trip led by Roy Toft, March 30-April 6. Joining us for both itineraries entitles you to a $1,000 discount on the combined cost (on a per person basis, in either single or double-occupancy).

Torres del Paine National Park and Biosphere Reserve is the centerpiece of Patagonia – the ultimate distillation of the region’s most inspiring qualities. It’s one of those rare places that routinely exceeds the grandest dreams of even the most experienced photographers. Peaks and spires thrust abruptly upward above turquoise lakes, forcing moisture-laden winds off the ocean to form soaring lenticular clouds that catch the fiery sunrise and sunset alpenglow. Glaciers spill down from the Patagonian icecap, depositing cobalt blue icebergs on the shores of Lago Grey. Endemic lenga and ñirre tree forests glow in hues of gold and copper in the southern autumn. Rivers tumble over cascading waterfalls as condors ride thermals on the flanks of the Cordillera del Paine mountains. Guanacos, foxes, and pumas range over the golden pampas, and flamingoes wade the lagoons. At this time of year, the days are a manageable length with extended periods of dawn and dusk, and the sun never rises more than 35 degrees above the horizon. The quality of light is spectacular.

 

Michael Melford and Justin Black will lead the small group on field sessions adapted to make the most of the prevailing conditions each day. Emphasis will be on photography and hands-on mentoring in the field. We’ll photograph when the conditions are good, and we’ll gather in the lodge for presentations on light, composition, visualization, technique, and digital workflow at times when light or weather aren’t as conducive for photography (during harsh mid-day light, if a rain storm passes through, etc.). We will also hold constructive critiques of participant photographs, and then head back out into the field to apply what we’ve learned.

Excursions will include trips by ferry to visit the calving face of Glacier Grey and, via our group vehicles, spectacular locations around the park that we have discovered and scouted thoroughly on numerous prior visits. Some locations involve short hikes, but nothing particularly strenuous.

 

Torres del Paine
Map via Google
Expedition March 30 - April 7, 2019
6 spaces | $13,995* Register

Pumas, wild and up close, beneath the Torres del Paine

Pumas are secretive survivors, adapting to a tremendously diverse range of environments. Also known as Mountain Lions or Cougars (all are Puma concolor), they sometimes thrive in surprisingly close proximity to humans, but rarely permit themselves to be seen, much less photographed up close and eye-to-eye. So, you might wonder what our secret is to reliably photographing wild pumas up close on this Patagonian expedition.

To find out for yourself, make pictures you never imagined were possible, and learn a great deal about puma behavior in the process, join Roy Toft on a huge private ranch, Estancia Laguna Amarga, with panoramic views over one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth: Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. A healthy population of wild pumas roam free there, moving at will between the ranch and park, and we have mastered the art of successfully tracking these apex predators through this landscape of rolling hills beneath the Paine range.

Based out of excellent accommodations at Hotel Las Torres,  we will observe and photograph many of these amazing cats at distances that can be surprisingly close. With the help of our top notch Puma spotters and guides, our 2018 group had several close-up encounters, including one individual that calmly approached us within thirty feet. Note that the pictures illustrating this page are all the product of Visionary Wild’s 2018 Puma trip, not a “greatest hits” collection accumulated over the course of several visits or months on location. The simple fact is that the opportunities here are unrivaled anywhere in the Puma’s expansive range. Please watch the videos below (made on an iPhone) for a first-hand glimpse of Pumaland:

Though we will use 4WD vehicles to drive into the vicinity of puma sightings, and may sometimes see pumas from our vehicles, venturing out on foot yields the best opportunities. Throughout the itinerary, we expect to walk a total of about one to two miles each day in hilly, uneven terrain, split between two field sessions. We do recommend that you are fit enough to hike with gear, including tripods and long telephotos. With advance notice, porters can be made available to assist with carrying equipment (at additional cost); please inquire for further details.

On the way back to Punta Arenas, we are including a special day to visit the private “Cerro Palomares” Condor Roost Cliff where Andean Condors fly. From convenient perches, we will photograph scores of “below-horizon fly-bys” of Andean Condors, the world’s heaviest flying creature. The roost cliff normally has 60-90 Andean Condors on it in the late afternoon as they fly back and forth below the horizon, offering the world’s most spectacular photo opportunities for this impressive bird.

Landscape Extension – Save $1,000: This itinerary dovetails perfectly with our Torres del Paine landscape photography workshop, led by National Geographic photographer Michael Melford, and Justin Black of Visionary Wild, which meets the Puma group at Hotel Las Torres on April 6, and ends in Punta Arenas on April 16. Joining us for both itineraries entitles you to a $1,000 discount on the combined cost (on a per person basis, in either single or double-occupancy).

Throughout the itinerary, we expect to walk a total of about one to two miles in hilly terrain each day, split between two field sessions. For a more pleasant photographic experience, we do recommend that you are fit enough to hike with gear, including tripods and long telephotos. Porters are available (by advance request and at additional cost) to assist with carrying equipment; please inquire for further details. Though we may sometimes see pumas from our vehicles, venturing out on foot yields the best opportunities.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • VISA: No visa is required for stays less than 90 days.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: We always strongly recommend arranging travel insurance. 
  • FLIGHTS: No flights are included. Please contact us if you would like recommendations regarding flights to and from Punta Arenas, Chile (airport code: PUQ)
  • GRATUITIES: Baseline tips are included. Our local guides, driver, and lodging staff work very hard to make our experience in Chile be the best it can be, and Visionary Wild budgets for a healthy group tip in recognition of their services. Guests are encouraged to tip additionally if they would like to recognize exceptional service.
  • CAMERA EQUIPMENT: Participants will carry their camera body and lens; a tripod is optional. Porters are available to assist with carrying equipment; please inquire for further details.
Pumas of Patagonia
Map via Google
Expedition September 14 - 27, 2018
18 spaces | $13,500* Register

I feel very privileged to have participated in the 2016 Greenland expedition. It far exceeded my expectations. And, as someone who has traveled extensively, I would rate it as truly a trip of a lifetime. – Sid S., 2016 Greenland participant

Thank you for another fantastic VW expedition! What a privilege to experience and photograph this wild and remote area in comfort while accompanied by the best leaders offering a wealth of experience and a willingness to share their immense talents. Thanks to Justin’s meticulous advance planning, all the arrangements were perfect throughout. –David & Kathy R., 2015 Greenland participants

Greenland’s remote and little-visited ice fjords hold a wealth of arctic grandeur. Towers, arches, and walls of ancient blue ice thrust skyward from the water’s surface. Steep-walled fjords, dramatic coastal mountains, tundra in autumn color, the vast Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Aurora Borealis combine to form an incomparable landscape. Join this world-class team of leaders – National Geographic photographer Jason Edwards, Justin Black, and Chris Linder – for this exclusive expedition to Greenland, photographing this arctic wilderness in all its glory. With generous photographic instruction and attentive support along the way, explore the largest fjord system in the world – Scoresbysund, covering 14,700 square miles and penetrating over 200 miles into Greenland’s interior – aboard the three-masted expedition vessel Rembrandt van Rijn.  We will make frequent landings by zodiac to photograph in morning and evening light, and as serendipity presents us with compelling opportunities along the way. In addition to the arctic landscape, we will photograph whales if we encounter them, as well a variety of coastal and pelagic birds such as fulmars, kittiwakes, and gannets. Excursions by Zodiac take us in among the icebergs. The ethereal glow of the Aurora Borealis dancing in the night sky over the iceberg-dotted fjords and bays will be the sight of a lifetime. One thing is for certain: this expedition will yield extraordinary photographic opportunities. This is of course a floating workshop as well, and while underway, Jason, Justin, Chris, and the ship’s expedition staff will make inspiring and instructive presentations, answer your questions, and offer constructive feedback on participants’ photographs during group critique sessions, with the aid of the ship’s four large LCD screens.


Greenland was a trip of a lifetime. Imagine fog-shrouded icebergs, vibrant red/orange/yellow tundra, unreal sunsets, glistening ice and snow, colorful villages clinging to rocky headlands, Northern Lights and so much more under the generous guidance of world class instructors. I learned so much while having lots of fun. Thank you! –Ann L., 2015 Greenland participant


Our adventure begins in Reykjavik, Iceland, the world’s northernmost capital. Guests will be greeted upon arrival at Keflavik International Airport and transferred to the Canopy by Hilton, conveniently located in the city center (please note change in accommodations from the Holt Hotel to Canopy by Hilton). After an introductory group meeting and dinner at Grillmarket, one of Reykjavik’s finer restaurants, the next morning we board our private charter flight to Greenland’s east coast. Awaiting our arrival will be our private floating base camp: the 168-foot, three-masted schooner Rembrandt van Rijn (click here for more about RVR). We are booking the entire ship for our exclusive use to ensure ample space for our group both on the ship and in zodiacs – our group will consist of sixteen to eighteen participants and three leaders (though Rembrandt normally sleeps up to 33 guests) in addition to her twelve-person crew and expedition staff. She is exceptionally well-suited to exploration and photography along the Greenland coast, with a reinforced hull, expansive unobstructed sight lines even under sail, and very comfortable accommodations.

To make this special itinerary possible, we have arranged private Air Iceland charter flights aboard modern twin-engine turboprop airliners (Bombardier Q200). After disembarking Rembrandt at Constable Point, we will be picked up by our aircraft and flown back to Reykjavik, where a celebratory group dinner and final restful night at the Canopy Hotel await you.

Click “read more” at below right for the detailed itinerary…

read more…

Greenland
Map via Google
Expedition July 5 - 22, 2018
6 spaces | $14,500* Register

When I tell folks that my wife Lena is from Kyrgyzstan, the response is usually, “She’s from Kurdistan?!?” or alternatively, “What? Where is that?” This little-known Silk Road country is, however, home to some of the most awe-inspiring mountain landscapes on the planet, as well as an immensely hospitable culture. Visionary Wild’s first overland expedition there in July 2017 grew out of a lengthy scouting trip that Lena and I made in 2015. This photographic adventure, from the idyllic alpine lake of Song Kul to the glacier-borne basecamp beneath mighty Khan Tengri – one of the world’s most beautiful peaks rising to 23,000ft. – represents what Lena and I consider the finest of the Kyrgyz mountain landscape. We have fallen in love with the Kyrgyz people and their spectacular homeland, and look forward to sharing this wonderful corner of the planet with you! –Justin Black

For lovers of wild mountain landscapes, the Kyrgyz Republic is among the most underrated travel destinations on Earth. The Tien Shan mountains rise higher and wilder than the Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Alps, or Andes, and peaks below 16,000-feet in elevation are barely considered worthy of a name. Along the Chinese border, the Kakshaal-Too range soars to truly Himalayan heights, on the world’s most northern summits over 7,000 meters: Khan Tengri and Jengish Chokusu (known in the Soviet era as Pik Pobeda). The landscape beneath the peaks is sublime: glacier-carved gorges, slopes covered in alpine wildflowers, raging rivers, spruce and fir forests, and high pastures (“jai-loh”) where semi-nomadic Kyrgyz graze small herds of horses, yaks, sheep, and cattle during the short summer.

The sheer scale and beauty of this landscape is phenomenal, but what is almost unimaginable is the fact that it is barely on the tourist radar. The Kyrgyz Republic is an emerging democracy, and the Kyrgyz people take their freedom seriously. Though it is commonly referred to as the “Switzerland of Central Asia,” this complimentary moniker neglects to recognize the nation’s unique qualities. A former Soviet republic with relatively slow economic growth, Kyrgyzstan has been spared excessive development, so what it lacks in infrastructure is made up for with glorious wild nature. The Kyrgyz people are a Turkic nomad culture that boast the longest history of all currently extant groups in Central Asia. Over the last fifteen centuries, their language and culture have survived the Uyghurs, the Chinese, the Mongols, various Khaganates, the Russians, the Soviet era, and the challenges of building a viable democracy while surrounded by less democratic neighbors.

Our adventure begins in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, where participants will be met at the airport and driven to the thoroughly modern Golden Tulip Hotel, offering excellent accommodations in the city center. There, we will welcome you to our introductory orientation and first dinner as a group. Early the next morning, we load up into our four-wheel drive caravan, comprising three highly capable and comfortable Toyota Sequoias to carry our six guests, Visionary Wild photo leaders Justin Black and Jerry Dodrill, as well as our team’s Kyrgyzstan native and Russian-language interpreter, Lena Black, Visionary Wild Director of Operations. Two additional 4WD support vehicles will carry gear, provisions, and camp staff. From there, we set off on our spectacular route through the Tien Shan mountains.

Our itinerary is designed to take advantage of prime light on the landscape morning and evening each day. After dark, clean air and virtual absence of light pollution provide a superb opportunity for nighttime landscapes including the Milky Way. We will also enjoy excellent opportunities for photography of the Kyrgyz people themselves, in the high pastures, at our yurt camps, and at the sprawling and colorful Osh Market in Bishkek. This will be a highly productive and immensely fun photographic adventure that you’ll never forget.

Click “read more” at below right for the full itinerary, inclusions, exclusions, and more photos…

read more…

Kyrgyz Republic
Map via Google
Expedition August 28 - September 6, 2018
19 spaces | $* Register

 

Join us for this all-inclusive expedition to the crown jewel of the High Arctic!

Note: Traveling alone? Feel free to book at the lower double-occupancy rates, so long as you are content to be paired with another guest of the same sex.

Designed for photographers by photographers, this expedition to the Svalbard archipelago will take you to the places we love, to make the most of the great spectacle of Arctic light, ice, landscape, and wildlife. Led by a dream team – Michael Melford, Daisy Gilardini, and Justin Black – generous expert photographic instruction will feature prominently throughout the voyage. Here are some highlights:

  • An excellent photography experience aboard the ideal expedition vessel
  • World-class photo instructor team, and an excellent participant-to-instructor ratio (group size limit of 19 guests)
  • The natural beauty of Svalbard itself, a superb destination for both landscape and wildlife photography, timed to coincide with seemingly endless sunsets, first snows of autumn on the mountains, and excellent wildlife opportunities.
  • All-inclusive from airport pickup in Oslo, Norway, featuring a high standard of accommodations and dining, and including R/T flights from Oslo to Svalbard, and all ground transfers.

Our expedition vessel, M/V Plancius, optimizes the photographic potential and overall quality of experience on this trip. She is a very comfortable and capable 296-foot ice-rated expedition ship with accommodation in comfortable en suite cabins and staterooms. We have chosen to do this voyage on this ship because she offers the capabilities, amenities, comfort, dining, and photographic support that will enable us to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable and creatively productive experience, both aboard and on shore. If you wish to travel with a world-class team of photographic instructors to the best locations, and you appreciate the advantages of an adventure designed specifically to optimize both the photography and overall experience, this is an exceptional opportunity.

Our expedition begins in Oslo, Norway, with an introductory reception dinner at one of the capital’s finest restaurants. After a restful night at The Thief – a modern Scandinavian boutique hotel that is one of Oslo’s very best – we fly as a group to the small harbor of Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen, where our ship awaits us. We set sail that afternoon through the sheltered waters of Adventfjord on our way to the west coast where we will work our way northward with views of the stunning mountain landscape.

The wild landscape of Svalbard and the pack ice are characterized by a mesmerizing serenity… I felt like I was floating through a dream. –Justin Black

The High Arctic is one of Earth’s most serene, sublime, and evocative places, and in our opinion the mountainous, glacier-covered islands of the Svalbard archipelago are the crown jewels, in part because a visitor here experiences the best features of the Arctic in microcosm. We have deliberately timed this expedition for Arctic autumn – late August and early September – to take advantage of special seasonal phenomena. The quality of light at this time of year is beautiful. The sun sets for several hours at this time of year, but gorgeous post-sunset light lingers all night long. Also, by this time the mountains typically have had their first fresh snow for the season, making the landscape look its best. Polar bears are to be found on both the islands and the pack ice, and Arctic fox patrol the shorelines. Blue whales – the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth – ply the coastal waters. Large walrus colonies can be photographed both ashore and at sea, and seals – bearded, ringed, harp, and harbor – are commonly sighted. Migratory birds linger on for a while, including Ivory Gulls, Kittywakes, Fulmars, Eider ducks, and more, while native Rock Ptarmigans transition to their winter plumage. Temperatures are still relatively comfortable by Arctic standards, but the summer’s mosquitoes will have been killed off by the frost. Weather and seas tend to be calm, and free of fog that can limit visibility in summer.

We have conceived this Svalbard expedition with considerable advantages for the passionate photographer. The first-rate photo leader team comprises three outstanding professionals, all known as generous and engaging teachers, who have a superb collaborative chemistry. Their photographic specialties cover a cross-section of the opportunities we will be presented with during the expedition: wildlife, landscape, natural abstract, travel, fine art, and conservation.

M/V Plancius: Our ice-rated expedition vessel provides an excellent platform for this voyage, in part due to her strength, maneuverability, and ability to navigate the ice pack and waters that can be impassable to larger ships. Those who appreciate small-group travel will enjoy our group’s participant limit of nineteen guests, with our own private Zodiacs for landings and cruises to approach wildlife and explore the ice.  The ship typically carries a complement of around 108 passengers, supported by a fleet of ten zodiacs, a highly experienced expedition staff of eight, and a top-notch crew who welcome guests on the ship’s spacious bridge. With our relatively small group, everyone will have excellent access to our photo leaders and expedition staff, landing operations will be efficient, and we’ll be able to get to know one another well. Plancius offers an impressive range of vantage points for photography, from close to waterline to up high, and her three diesel-electric engines are surprisingly quiet and produce little vibration.

Dining aboard Plancius is of a high standard, with menus prepared by an accomplished German chef, sous chefs, and baker, with ample fresh ingredients and healthy options available. We are assembling an excellent wine list for the trip as well! She’s just a great ship.

Svalbard
Map via Google
Expedition August 22 - September 9, 2017
5 spaces | $13,812* Register

“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.” –African Vision Safari Participant

Join expert African wildlife photographers Lou Coetzer, Johan Greyling, and Elana Erasmus for this superlative African safari experience for a small group of five, designed to exceed a passionate photographer’s wildest dreams. We will visit Africa’s very finest wildlife destinations at an ideal time of year: Masai Mara, Kenya during the Great Migration, and Chobe River, Botswana, with mammals and birds concentrated along the river by the dry season.

• Includes loan of big telephotos – 600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4 – so you don’t have to travel with them. Full-frame Nikon DSLR bodies available for free loan too!

• Unique custom photo safari vehicles, the best photographer’s set-up in the business, both on the land and on the water, complete with photographer’s chairs featuring fully adjustable 360-degree revolving Wimberley camera mounts. This makes it a breeze to work with big lenses  and capture fleeting moments of dynamic wildlife behavior.

• Excellent accommodations, perfectly positioned at Chobe River Lodge and &Beyond’s Kichwa Tembo luxury tented camp in the Mara Triangle.

At Chobe, animals congregate along the river in the dry season to drink and feed on the lush greenery on the banks and flood plain. In addition to Chobe’s population of over 50,000 Kalahari elephants, opportunities include hippos (with young at this time of year), Nile crocs, buffalo, waterbuck, kudu, impala, giraffes, fish eagles, lions, hyenas, baboons, and countless bird species. Lou Coetzer and Johan Greyling will lead inspiring photography instruction at Chobe. Both Lou and Johan have successfully lead our previous expeditions to the Chobe River. Lou continually receives positive feedback from our clients as the most experienced and knowledgeable photo leader they have learned from in Africa, and Johan is a talented teacher of wildlife photography and receives high praise for his editing and classroom critiques.

Masai Mara is famous for its migration of millions of wildebeest, zebras, and Thompson’s gazelles, accompanied by an abundance of lion, cheetah, leopard, and other African species. Elana Erasmus will lead expert photography instruction at Masai Mara.

At both locations we have arranged use of new photo safari vehicles with innovative custom features that deliver an ideal photographic experience. The heavily customized and air-conditioned 4WD IVECO vehicle we will use at Masai Mara features wide pop-up window panels for a broad unobstructed field of view for each photographer, and the vehicle seals up tight to keep out dust, rain, and heat.  Both the IVECO and our custom-built photo boat at Chobe comfortably accommodate our whole group. Both on land and on the water, each photographer will have his or her own rotating photographer’s chair with fully adjustable revolving Wimberley-equiped telephoto lens mount.

This package is designed to deliver a superb overall experience, and includes first-rate lodging, all meals, beverages (including fine wine and beer at dinners), expert guides, photographic instruction, loaner Nikon telephotos and cameras, park entry fees, ground transfers, and in-Africa flights during the itinerary.

Click “read more” below right for the itinerary and more information…
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African Vision
Map via Google
Expedition August 12 - 19, 2017
8 spaces | $6,295* Register

Renowned landscape photographer Charles Cramer and Visionary Wild’s Justin Black have teamed up to lead a small group to the dramatic granite spires, alpine lakes, and meadows in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. “The Winds” are the most alpine range in the northern Rockies, with soaring granite peaks reminiscent in many ways of the High Sierra Nevada but less well known and more lightly visited. The alpine wildflowers in the meadows and nearby lakes and streams offer excellent foregrounds for photographing the east-facing Cirque of the Towers and other nearby peaks, which catch spectacular alpenglow at sunrise.

This is one of North America’s great mountain wildernesses, but don’t take our word for it. Following a summer 1999 horse pack trip into the Winds, internationally acclaimed mountain photographer Galen Rowell wrote the following in his April 2000 column for Outdoor Photographer magazine:

The Wind River Range is my favorite in the Rockies. Warm, relatively dry summers create a paradise for backpackers, climbers, and photographers. Hundreds of peaks rise over 12,000 feet above glaciers and snows that last late into summer. Melt waters cascade into alpine basins filled with meadows, open pine forest, and countless lakes before joining into rivers separated by the Continental Divide.”

Charles Cramer and Justin Black will lead photography outings morning and evening, and whenever else the light and weather conditions offer compelling opportunities. Night photography of the high-elevation starry skies can be amazing too. Options for midday activities will include scouting hikes, talking photography, relaxing around camp, reading, napping, fishing, lake swimming, etc. Beyond the phenomenal landscape and wildlife photography opportunities, these pack trips provide an excellent shared experience with other passionate photographers, enjoying fireside stories and camping under the stars.

Click “read more” below right for more information and the image gallery…

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Wind River
Map via Google
Expedition July 7 - 16, 2017
10 spaces | $12,500* Register

 

Join arctic explorer Chris Linder and Cornell Lab of Ornithology photographer Gerrit Vyn for this unique photographic experience during prime puffin chick-rearing season on a diligently customized route around northwest Iceland.

Iceland’s steep, rocky coastline explodes with life in the summer months. Atlantic puffins, black guillemots, northern fulmars, and kittiwakes all raise their chicks here before returning to a life at sea.  Our primary subject will be the colorful, charismatic Atlantic puffin, and we will be visiting some of the best locations for puffin photography in the world. In addition to Iceland’s cliff-dwelling seabirds, we will also spend time looking for tundra breeding birds including red-throated loons, tufted duck, black-tailed godwit, whimbrel, European golden plover, red-necked phalarope, and redshank.

Renowned bird photographers Chris Linder and Gerrit Vyn will lead this nine-night photo workshop for ten participants, which will be focused on the remote Westfjords region of Iceland. Chris is a repeat visitor to Iceland, making his familiarity with the best photography locations, timing for optimal light, and personal contacts there a great benefit for the expedition. He is the 2015 Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards winner for the birds category and recently completed an assignment on climate change impacts on Icelandic puffin populations. Gerrit’s 2016 photography book, The Living Bird, was a New York Times Bestseller and he continues to travel around the world to document wildlife and conservation stories. He is well-experienced in creating powerful photography, particularly showcasing birds as they can show affects from climate change and environmental challenges.

The itinerary has been carefully crafted based on numerous assignments to photograph Iceland’s puffins with Icelandic bird researchers, and includes some unique locations you won’t find on any other Icelandic photography tour.  The expedition was developed with the focus of puffin chick-rearing in mind; mid-July is the best time to capture images of puffins bringing bill-fulls of spaghetti-like sand eels back to their burrows.

Our small group will travel in comfort in a specially customized bus with room for everyone to have a window seat, complete with Wi-Fi and numerous power outlets to enable us to edit our images while we’re on the road. When traveling to the next location, we will take advantage of photogenic opportunities of the Icelandic landscape. Chris and Gerrit scheduled exceptional locations for more instruction inland, such as tiered waterfalls, and will look out for serendipitous moments as the bus rolls onward.

Click the “read more” tab below to continue… read more…

Birds of Iceland
Map via Google
Expedition June 30 - July 8, 2016
6 spaces | $4,975* Register

 

This special boat-based Botswana photo safari offers a first-rate experience and an unbelievable value.

Join award-winning wildlife photographer Johan Greyling on Botswana’s spectacular Chobe River for this exciting all-inclusive boat-based safari for a small group of six participants. Johan has a distinct, recognized talent in story telling photography, exhibiting excellent quality and personal passion in capturing candid wildlife behavior, particularly from the waters of the Chobe River.

Set in one of Africa’s finest wildlife destinations at an ideal time of year, this safari focuses on the incredible biodiversity accessible via the Chobe River’s various channels, islands, and wetlands, where animals congregate along the river in the dry season to drink and feed on the lush greenery on the banks and flood plain. In addition to Chobe’s population of over 50,000 Kalahari elephants, opportunities include hippos (with young at this time of year), Nile crocodiles, leopards, buffalo, waterbuck, kudu, impala, giraffes, fish eagles, lions, hyenas, baboons, and countless bird species. In fact, this safari is a bird photographer’s dream, featuring the tiny and colorful Malachite Kingfisher, the largest heron in the world – the Goliath, several species of Bee-Eater, African Jacanas, and an endless array of water birds.  The concentrated displays of mammalian wildlife behavior, from battling hippos to leopards drinking at water’s edge and herds of elephants looming overhead on the riverbank, ensure you will capture peak moments of exceptional behavior. The quality of light in morning and evening is wonderful on the Chobe, as the wide, open floodplain enables low-angle light at sunrise and sunset to skim over the water and bathe the animals in golden illumination.

• Includes loan of big telephotos – 600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor Lenses – so you don’t have to travel with them. Full-frame Nikon DSLR bodies available for free loan as well.

• The best boat-based photo safari set-up in the business, complete with photographer’s chairs featuring fully adjustable 360-degree revolving Wimberley camera mounts, makes it a breeze to work with big lenses and photograph dynamic wildlife behavior.

This very competitively-priced package is designed to deliver a superb overall experience, and includes excellent accommodations, all meals, beverages (including fine wine or beer at dinners), snacks and soft drinks during photography sessions, expert guides, photographic instruction, loaner Nikon telephotos and cameras, park entry fees, ground transfers, and in-Africa flights during the itinerary.

We have arranged use of Lou Coetzer’s custom-built photo boats with innovative features that deliver an optimal photographic experience. Each photographer will have his or her own rotating photographer’s chair with fully adjustable revolving Wimberley-equiped telephoto lens mount.  Included at no additional cost is 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…
read more…

Chobe River Safari II
Map via Google
Expedition December 4 - 11, 2016
6 spaces | $6,995* Register

Exotic Birds – Poison Dart Frogs –  Monkeys – Waterfalls – Wild Pacific Beach

All of this and more is to be found in one of the most biologically exciting places on Earth – Coast Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula – and we’d like to share the best of it with you. Envision original primary rainforest rising up a low ridge from a pristine and entirely undeveloped Pacific beach, stretching as far as the eye can see. Native toucans, scarlet macaws, two- and three-toed sloths, and four species of New World monkeys cruise through the trees, while dramatic waterfalls roar in the jungle. Numerous species of visually striking frogs inhabit the area, including three species of colorful poison dart frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, masked tree frogs, and massive cane toads in their native habitat. Hundreds of exotic bird species abound. In addition to the toucans and macaws, long-tail hermit hummingbirds, elegant and violaceous trogons, blue-capped manakins, crested caracaras, ibis, various raptors and myriad other species are readily photographed. The forest itself is stunning, with old-growth trees and vegetation full of character and beautiful graphic designs just waiting to be discovered.

Leaders John Shaw and Justin Black will share their creative approaches to photographing rainforest fauna and flora, as well as the dramatic landscape. Hands-on in the field, we will cover long-lens and macro wildlife techniques, control of composition and light, fill-flash, control of focal plane and perspective with tilt-shift lenses, panoramic stitching, and other techniques that can be used to great effect in this amazing place.

Read Justin Black’s article “Frogs of the Osa” in Outdoor Photographer magazine

Our base camp is El Remanso, a top-rated eco-lodge, which offers a uniquely rich and accessible environment to witness and explore the incredible flora and fauna of Central America’s rainforests.  The owners are our personal friends, and the staff make guests feel like family. It’s a peaceful resort where it’s easy to let go of the hassles of travel logistics and fully immerse yourself in exploring and photographing the birds, waterfalls, monkeys and frogs, gorgeous old-growth trees, and the stunning Pacific beach.

The staff at El Remanso take great care of us – providing a delicious mix of international and local Tico cuisine, fresh tropical fruits, not to mention the superb margaritas, caipirinhas, and piña coladas – all on an inviting and spacious covered dining deck perched at the top of a canyon, at eye-level with the forest canopy.  We’ll bring our long lenses to breakfast to photograph monkeys, macaws and toucans feeding in the trees.  The opportunities to explore don’t end with the setting sun. A stroll with our naturalist guides around El Remanso just after dark reveals all manner of nocturnal species.

Click “read more” at below right for the full itinerary

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Costa Rica
Map via Google
Expedition June 30 - July 8, 2016
6 spaces | $4,975* Register

 

This special boat-based Botswana photo safari offers a first-rate experience and an unbelievable value.

Join award-winning wildlife photographer Lou Coetzer on Botswana’s spectacular Chobe River for this exciting all-inclusive boat-based safari for a small group of six participants. Lou is simply the best there is at teaching the anticipation of animal behavior, timing, and camera handling skills that empower you to capture successful “decisive moment” wildlife images.

Set in one of Africa’s finest wildlife destinations at an ideal time of year, this safari focuses on the incredible biodiversity accessible via the Chobe River’s various channels, islands, and wetlands, where animals congregate along the river in the dry season to drink and feed on the lush greenery on the banks and flood plain. In addition to Chobe’s population of over 50,000 Kalahari elephants, opportunities include hippos (with young at this time of year), Nile crocodiles, leopards, buffalo, waterbuck, kudu, impala, giraffes, fish eagles, lions, hyenas, baboons, and countless bird species. In fact, this safari is a bird photographer’s dream, featuring the tiny and colorful Malachite Kingfisher, the largest heron in the world – the Goliath, several species of Bee-Eater, African Jacanas, and an endless array of water birds.  The concentrated displays of mammalian wildlife behavior, from battling hippos to leopards drinking at water’s edge and herds of elephants looming overhead on the riverbank, ensure you will capture peak moments of exceptional behavior. The quality of light in morning and evening is wonderful on the Chobe, as the wide, open floodplain enables low-angle light at sunrise and sunset to skim over the water and bathe the animals in golden illumination.

• Includes loan of big telephotos – 600mm f/4 and 500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor Lenses – so you don’t have to travel with them. Full-frame Nikon DSLR bodies available for free loan as well.

• The best boat-based photo safari set-up in the business, complete with photographer’s chairs featuring fully adjustable 360-degree revolving Wimberley camera mounts, makes it a breeze to work with big lenses and photograph dynamic wildlife behavior.

This very competitively-priced package is designed to deliver a superb overall experience, and includes excellent accommodations, all meals, beverages (including fine wine or beer at dinners), snacks and soft drinks during photography sessions, expert guides, photographic instruction, loaner Nikon telephotos and cameras, park entry fees, ground transfers, and in-Africa flights during the itinerary.

We have arranged use of Lou’s custom-built photo boats with innovative features that deliver an optimal photographic experience. Each photographer will have his or her own rotating photographer’s chair with fully adjustable revolving Wimberley-equiped telephoto lens mount.  Included at no additional cost is 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…
read more…

Chobe River Safari
Map via Google
Expedition October 10 - 25, 2016
6 spaces | $16,495* Register

 

 

An intimate first-class photo adventure through the magnificent landscape of the South Island

The NZ trip was really spectacular… and you’re to be congratulated for ensuring that it was such a great experience for us from beginning to end.” –Kathy R., 2014 participant

“The expedition greatly exceeded my expectations. It was no doubt an amazing and awesome experience of a lifetime!” – Susan S., 2015 participant

Towering mountain ranges, hanging alpine glaciers, wind-swept coastlines, crystal blue lakes, pristine turquoise river valleys, and primordial tree fern rainforests are just some of the scenes we will photograph as we explore the South Island on this intimate 16-day journey led by two top pros: National Geographic photographer Michael Melford (who recently covered the South Island on assignment for Nat Geo), and Phillip Bartlett, a renowned Kiwi landscape photographer and guide who is acclaimed for his professionalism and intimate knowledge of New Zealand’s stunning landscape. It was with good reason that motion picture director Peter Jackson chose New Zealand as his location for the fantasy world of Tolkien’s “Middle Earth”: the variety of incredible landscapes found in such a compact area is simply astounding.

We sought to design a trip that would take your breath away, visiting locations off the regular tourist path that offer superb photography. To access these areas we will be travelling by 4WD Toyota Landcruisers, with two guests per vehicle. In addition, private charter excursions by helicopter and boat – at Fox Glacier, Milford Sound, and Kaikoura – provide us access to some truly phenomenal opportunities. All the while, your trip leaders offer generous guidance and instruction to ensure that you make the most of the photographic possibilities.

Our 2014 and 2015 trips were exceedingly well received by our guests (see testimonials at the bottom of this page), but nevertheless we have adjusted the itinerary slightly to maximize the quality of the overall experience.

Click “read more” below right to see the itinerary and photo gallery

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New Zealand
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