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!

 

Workshops by Focus: Culture

Expedition June 5 - 21, 2018
6 spaces | $16,500* Register

“What an incredible experience! Beautifully orchestrated and managed, and exceptional guides and support staff. Choices of lodging and destinations very commendable. I have to say, the Trident, Imperial, Brijrama Palace, and Chamba Camp Diskit were all significant experiences in life, and the birthday celebration has to rank at the top of the list for birthdays. Thanks! The whole trip was seamless, good job!” –T. Hanagan, 2017 Varanasi & Ladakh participant

We invite you to join us for this photographic adventure, limited to only six guests, to two of India’s most visually rich spiritual centers, the ancient Hindu city of Varanasi on the Ganges River, and the Tibetan Buddhist sanctuary region of Ladakh in the Himalaya. The opportunities and experiences on this itinerary make the most of an incredible array of colorful cultural and majestic landscape elements, both urban and natural.

Day 1, Tuesday, June 5, 2018 – Arrive Delhi: Our trip begins with your arrival and airport pickup in Delhi, where-upon you will be transferred to our splendid accommodations at the Imperial Hotel. There you will meet your trip leaders, Justin Black and Jassi Oberai, and get to know your six fellow photographers over a fine dinner.

Days 2 to 4,  June 6-8 – Varanasi: The next morning, we fly to Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges River, the holiest of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism and Jainism, founded (according to legend) by the god Shiva himself.  A major pilgrimage destination, Varanasi is a photographer’s dream, an endless frenetic swirl of color and activity, with a steady stream of pilgrims visiting the ghats (stepped and terraced embankment leading down to the river). Transferring by comfortable Mercedes Sprinter van from the airport to the edge of the city center, we will travel the final two miles by boat on the Ganges itself, passing the spectacle of the ghats, temples, palaces, open-air crematoria, and pilgrims bathing in the river, before arriving at the luxurious and historic Brijrama Palace, our accommodation for the next three nights, at the center of all the action in Varanasi. Our photography in Varanasi will mainly take place morning and late afternoon to avoid the midday heat, and will include strolls along the ghats to photograph of the incredible tapestry of life that gathers there each day, including numerous Sadhus (traditional Hindu holy men) offering prayers for passersby, pilgrims bathing, holy cows strolling the streets, locals doing laundry, and even the odd goat. Turing off the river and into the narrow labyrinthine lanes of the old city will surprise and delight the observant photographer with unusual juxtapositions of subject and form, and endless “decisive moments” waiting to be captured. A visit to Varanasi isn’t complete without photographing the Aarti, a spectacular Hindu religious service of song, flame, smoke, and elaborate traditional dress. We have also made special arrangements to visit cultural sites of particular note, including Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, Varanasi’s silk-weaving district, and a traditional open-air wrestlers’ club, and others.

Day 5, June 9 – Varanasi to Delhi en route to Ladakh: After our time in Varanasi, we return to Delhi for a restful overnight at another of our favorite hotels, Trident Gurgaon, in transit to the next phase of our journey, the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh.

Day 6, June 10 – Leh and Nimmu: Now a Tibetan Buddhist-majority enclave bordering Chinese-occupied Tibet within India’s Jammu and Kashmir State, Ladakh is a high-elevation mountain desert features a very comfortable summertime climate, the green of poplar-forested and terrace-farmed valley bottoms, and rocky mountainsides. Upon arrival in the Ladakhi capital of Leh (elevation 11,500 feet), we will immediately load into our group’s comfortable private vehicles and drive to the village of Nimmu, and the beautiful inn at Nimmu House, a historic countryside palace built in the traditional Tibetan-Ladakhi style, that once belonged to the Ladakhi royal family. The rest of this day will be for rest, altitude acclimatization, and a review and feedback on your photography so far on the trip.

Day 7, June 11 – Yuru Kabyad Festival: We drive west into the Sham valley to Lamayuru, known for it’s mountainous lunar landscape. There, we will photograph the festival of Yuru Kabyad, celebrated with tremendous pomp and enthusiasm by the local Buddhist monks. In the evening, we will return to overnight at Nimmu House.

Day 8, June 12 – Alchi, Likir, Basgo:  Today we visit Alchi and Likir Gompas, as well as the old fortress at Basgo. Overnight at Nimmu House.

Alchi Gompa: 70 Kms from Leh on the banks of the Indus, is the Alchi Gompa, dating to the 10th century. One of its walls features thousands of miniature pictures of the Buddha. Three large, brightly painted images made of clay are focal attractions. No longer an active monastic center, it is looked after by monks from the Likir monastery. Among the thirty-four monasteries in Ladakh, this is the only one which is not located on a hilltop.

Likir Gompa: A monastery founded in the 11th century, skilled craftsmen at Likir produce excellent Thangkas, earthen pots, and carved wooden folding stools. Majestically situated, Likir commands a spectacular view.

Basgo Gompa: 40 Kms downstream from Leh, it was the seat of power of branch of a Namgyal family. It was here in 1680 that invading Mongol and Tibetan armies were held in check over a three-year siege. Original 16th-century murals and other historic art at Basgo are well worth a visit.

Day 9, June 13 – Shanti Stumpa and Leh: After breakfast, we drive the Srinagar highway to return back to Leh, where we will check in for the first night at the Grand Dragon Hotel. After lunch, we will visit the beautiful Shanti Stupa, with a view of the glacier-covered Himalayan Stok range, crowned by glacier-capped 20,187-foot Stok Kangri. In the later afternoon and evening, we will visit the local markets to photograph, and shop for authentic Tibetan and Kashmiri art and handicrafts as well.

Shanti Stupa: On the hilltop of Changspa, the Japanese for World Peace built the Shanti Stupa, inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 1985. The quality of design and workmanship here is superb.

Day 10, June 14 – Khardung La and Nubra Valley: Onward to the Nubra Valley (known as the Valley of Flowers), via Khardung La pass, among the very highest motorable roads in the world reaching an elevation of 17,582 feet. En route, we will take advantage of spectacular views of the never ending snow-capped mountain ranges around Khardung La. After spending some time at at the pass, we will proceed to Nubra. Nubra valley is distinctly different from Leh, offering excellent landscape photography opportunities such as sand dunes, marshes, streams and snow…

TO CONTINUE, CLICK “READ MORE” TAB, BELOW RIGHT:

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Varanasi & Ladakh
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…

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Kyrgyz Republic
Map via Google
Expedition September 22 - October 4, 2016
18 spaces | $15,995* Register

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


THIS UNIQUE ADVENTURE MAY NOT BE REPEATED, AS OUR SHIP’S CHARTER COMPANY WILL REPOSITION HER FOLLOWING OUR VOYAGE AND FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.

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 – Frans Lanting, Christine Eckstrom, and Justin Black – for this exclusive expedition to Greenland’s east and west coasts, 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 on the east coast – aboard the three-masted expedition vessel Rembrandt van Rijn, followed by a four-night stay on Greenland’s west coast at Ilulissat, where the massive Jakobshavn Glacier calves some 35 billion tons of icebergs into the sheltered waters of Ilulissat Icefjord, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the world’s largest island. Excursions by helicopter for doors-off aerials, and by boat to get in among the massive bergs, yield extraordinary photographic opportunities.


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 for the first eight days in Greenland: 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. 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. 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. While underway, in the ship’s common area Frans, Justin, and the ship’s expedition staff will make inspiring and instructive presentations, and offer constructive feedback on participants’ photographs during group critique sessions, with the aid of the ship’s four large LCD screens.

To make this special itinerary possible, we have arranged three private charter flights aboard modern twin-engine turboprop airliners (Dash-8 and Bombardier Q200). After disembarking Rembrandt, a private charter flight whisks us across the world’s second largest icecap to the west coast and the small fishing port of Ilulissat, home to 5,000 Greenlanders and an equivalent number of sled dogs. There, our base will be Hotel Hvide Falk (White Falcon). One of the highlights there will be a series of helicopter excursions (one hour of flight time per participant, each with a window seat) to do aerial photography of icebergs, Jakobshavn Glacier and Ilulissat Icefjord, and to access the Greenland Ice Sheet itself. We will also make excursions on a local charter boats to approach towering icebergs, and hikes on the autumn tundra with stunning views of Disko Bay and the coastal mountains.

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

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Greenland
Map via Google
Expedition September 9 - 21, 2015
16 spaces | $14,995* Register

 

 

 

Featuring private charter of the three-masted expedition vessel Rembrandt van Rijn, helicopter flights onto the second largest ice cap on Earth, close encounters with the Arctic’s largest icebergs, and excursions onto the colorful autumn tundra.

Greenland’s remote and little-visited west coast is a world of arctic grandeur. Each year, the massive Jakobshavn Glacier calves some 35 billion tons of icebergs into the sheltered waters of Disko Bay and Ilulissat Icefjord, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the world’s largest island. Towers, arches, and walls of ancient blue ice thrust skyward from the water’s surface. Whales and seabirds abound. Steep-walled fjords, dramatic coastal mountains, tundra in autumn color, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Aurora Borealis combine to form an incomparable landscape. Visionary Wild presents a unique opportunity to experience and photograph this arctic wilderness in all its glory.

Join this world-class team of leaders – Frans Lanting, Christine Eckstrom, Justin Black, and Chris Linder – for our all-inclusive photographic exploration of Greenland’s west coast. The 168-foot, three-masted schooner Rembrandt van Rijn (click here for more about the vessel) will be our private floating base camp for the first eight days in Greenland. We are radically under-booking this comfortable vessel to ensure ample space for our group both on the ship and in zodiacs – our group will consist of only sixteen participants and four leaders, though Rembrandt normally sleeps 33 guests in addition to her crew of twelve. 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. 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 Disko Bay’s whales, including beluga, bowhead, and humpbacks, and a variety of coastal and pelagic birds such as eider ducks and albatross. The etherial glow of the aurora borealis dancing in the night sky over the iceberg-dotted bay will be the sight of a lifetime.

After disembarking from Rembrandt, we will move on to the nearby town of Ilulissat, home to 5,000 Greenlanders and an equivalent number of sled dogs. There, our base will be Hotel Hvide Falk (White Falcon). One of the highlights of our four days there will be a series of helicopter excursions (one hour of flight time per participant, each with a window seat) to do aerial photography of icebergs, Jakobshavn Glacier and Ilulissat Icefjord, and to access the Greenland Ice Sheet itself, where we will land and photograph at a moulin, meltwater lake, or other interesting feature on the kilometers-deep icecap. We will also make excursions on a local charter boat to approach large icebergs, and hikes on the autumn tundra with stunning views of Disko Bay and the coastal mountains.

Click “read more” at below right for addition information, the itinerary, and the complete photo gallery…

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Greenland
Map via Google
Expedition June 22 - July 3, 2013
10 spaces | $10,250* Register

Magical places with towering red sand dunes, ancient withered, desiccated forests, and storm-ravaged coastline make Namibia unique.  Rare desert lions, gemsbok, elephants, and giraffes inhabit the area, with the colorful Himba people carving out a life in this arid region.

In all my travels, I have never seen such amazing and colorful dune formations.  The colors ran from black to garnet to peach and red colored…sometimes bathed in coastal fog.  The Namib Desert has a timeless quality that calls to me. –Jack Dykinga

Experience the haunting beauty of Namibia – Africa’s desert gem – with renowned landscape photographers Jack Dykinga and Justin Black. We will explore the striking quiver tree forests and geological formations, a ghost town abandoned to drifting sands, the rugged beauty of the coast, culminating with three days of intensive photography among the elegant forms of the thousand-foot red dunes of Sossusvlei. With warm tints of apricot, orange, red and maroon, these dunes offer abstract beauty unseen anywhere else in the world. This special place is also home to the ancient sun-blackened skeletons of camel thorn trees at the white clay “dead marsh” of Deadvlei.

A string of colonial port towns dot the coast, trapped between the South Atlantic and the dunes. Lüderitz, on the edge of the diamond-rich Sperrgebiet area, is a fascinating relic of Germany’s late 19th-century imperial aspirations. Nearby is the otherworldly and sand-bound abandoned mining town of Kolmanskop, where dunes have invaded the abandoned buildings. The photographic potential of this place is astonishing. Further north, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay bracket the southern end of the Skeleton Coast. Both possess a welcoming resort town atmosphere, with ample photographic opportunities along the coast.

Awe-inspiring and unrestrictive, this diverse geography leaves an impact you won’t soon forget.

Our itinerary has been designed to take maximum advantage of the best landscape photography opportunities that Namibia has to offer. In addition to attentive photographic instruction throughout by Dykinga and Black, our group of up to ten photographers will be led by two excellent local guides. This trip includes excellent lodging, in-Africa flights (Johannesburg–Windhoek–Johannesburg), transfers and group ground transportation from start to finish, and all meals, snacks, and beverages.

Namibia is a very safe and welcoming country, and a tourist visa is not necessary for citizens of the USA and most developed nations.

We hope you will join us! To sign up, click the “REGISTER” link above right.

Click “read more” at below right to continue to the itinerary and image gallery…

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Namibia
Map via Google
Expedition January 24 - 30, 2012
6 spaces | $8,249* Register

In the final year of the 5,126-year Mayan calendar cycle, we bring you a very special expedition for six photographers into this land of hidden cenotes, stunning pre-Columbian cities, elegant haciendas, and abundant tropical life.

The Mexican state of Yucatán, on the west side of the peninsula, is a world apart from the more familiar tourist Mecca of Cancún.  It is a wonderful, safe, and intriguing place, rich with human and geological history and overflowing with haunting beauty. Subtropical forest conceals beneath its roots a geological sponge of porous limestone. The Chicxulub impact crater, created by the asteroid that ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, filled with water that dissolved pockets and channels in the subterranean limestone around its periphery, creating myriad caves and underground rivers. read more…

Yucatán
Map via Google