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

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

Justin Black – Managing Director: 1-202-302-9030 • Email:

Jennifer Woolley – Director of Operations • Email:

We look forward to hearing from you!


Limit 6 spaces | $8,950* Closed
Expedition September 19 - 27, 2014 | View other workshops

Jaguars of the Pantanal with Justin Black

Map via Google

Just a few years ago, it was inconceivable that there could be a place where a photographer could reliably photograph wild jaguars in their home habitat, and better yet, in the open along a river bank and in great light. Incredibly, such a place exists in the Pantanal wetland of Brazil. The Visionary Wild group that visited in August 2013 enjoyed multiple jaguar sightings each day, lasting anywhere from five minutes to an hour and a half each, totaling nine individuals patrolling their territories in the area. We discovered a mother and daughter that had not been known to local biologists (so members of our group got to assign the nicknames biologists will use for reference), and we were very fortunate to see one of our favorite cats, nicknamed "Mick Jaguar," stalk and take down a 200-pound, seven-foot-long caiman from a great vantage point just forty meters away! Rivers and channels provide easy access by boat to water's-edge locations frequented by the big cats in the dry season.This is the closest thing to an East African photo safari in the New World.

The Brazilian Pantanal, the world's largest continental wetland, is a luxuriant forest-savannah mosaic in central-western Brazil that is home to the highest density of jaguars in the world. It is also simply the greatest wildlife spectacle of Latin America. In addition to its jaguars, which are far more accessible to photographers here than anywhere else in their range, it harbors the world’s largest parrots (hyacinth macaw), the world’s largest snake (anaconda), the world’s largest otter, and many other species of wildlife, often in astonishingly high densities.

Award-winning nature photographer Justin Black – a Pantanal veteran – looks forward to sharing this expedition with six passionate photographers. The small group size will ensure ample space to maneuver for photography from the boats.

Our floating hotel is anchored right in the middle of the best jaguar action.  When compared with other accommodations in the area, this privileged location on the water permits us to spend up to two hours extra time per day with the cats, and at the best times of day for quality of light, comfortable temperatures, and scenic beauty in the Pantanal. We have secured enough space on the "Flotel" for each of the six participants to have a private en-suite room if they wish (double-occupancy clients save $650 per person; single-occupancy rate is $9,600 per person).

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

Why did we choose this location? First and foremost, it is centrally-located to allow fast boat access to Jaguars spotted on any part of the 80 kilometers of river that years of research have proven to be the world's most productive location for photography of wild jaguars.


19 Sept. Fri: Land late morning in Cuiaba, Brazil, flying in from São Paulo International Airport. Lunch in Cuiabá before driving to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge, across the Transpantaneira highway, photographing as opportunities present themselves along the way. Arrive to SouthWild Pantanal in late afternoon. Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge.

20 Sept.  Sat: Two outings at SouthWild Pantanal (we'll make one boat excursion on the river, and also work the wildlife observation towers and a number of species of habituated large vertebrates such as Marsh Deer, Jabiru Storks, hawks that take fish from the water's surface, Ringed Kingfishers that do the same, and Brown Capuchin monkeys in the forest trails at the lodge.  Overnight at SWP lodge.

21 Sept. Sun: Early in the morning, after breakfast and a possible visit to the lodge by Toco Toucans, leave the lodge to drive south 80 km (50 miles) to the end of the road at Porto Jofre. Travel upstream 15.5 km (in 30 min) by boat to the SouthWild Jaguar Flotel. Check-in and then go out in Jaguar search boats, with one person per row. Lunch at noon, followed by a break until 2:00 pm, when we head out again in the boats to search for jaguars and giant otters.   This afternoon outing will run until sunset. Overnight at SouthWild Jaguar Flotel.

22 Sept. Mon: Morning and afternoon boat outings (a total of 8 hours of boat outings during the period between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm) in search of Jaguars, giant otters, tapirs, caiman, macaws, and other fauna.  Overnight at the SWJF.

23 Sept. Tues: Rinse and repeat

24 Sept. Weds: Rinse and repeat

25 Sept. Thurs: Rinse and repeat

26 Sept.  Fri: After breakfast, check-out of the flotel and travel 15.5 km by boat to the river port downstream at Porto Jofre and board a vehicle for the transfer back up the last 80 km to SouthWild Pantanal Eco-Lodge.  Lunch at SouthWild Pantanal, and rest until the afternoon outing starts at 2:30 pm.  Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal.  SWP has a number of spectacular photo opportunities that are not possible at the Jaguar Flotel. Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal lodge.

27 Sept. Sat: Out at 9:00 am (after breakfast) to drive 2.5-3.0 h back to the Cuiabá Airport to catch a flight to São Paulo to then fly home that evening.

Justin Black

JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, expedition leader, photo workshops instructor, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW), and a former executive director of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Since 2011 with Visionary Wild and for ten years at Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography, he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.

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

Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy among others. His work has also been published by major news outlets in print and online, and has been used in advertising for brands such as MasterCard, Patagonia, Nikon, and Fujifilm.

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

In 2017, he entered the world of motion pictures as an Executive Producer on the award-winning documentary film, Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas, and Camera, produced and directed by Michele Westmorland. Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the 2015 and 2017 Nature's Best Photography Africa competitions. He has also been an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. His limited edition fine prints are available through his portfolio website at

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

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

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

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

Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena, and their children Philippe and Alexandra.

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

Justin's Conservation Photography Projects


Justin’s Camera Bag

After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras in the first two decades of his career, Justin fully embraced digital cameras in 2010. His current gear includes Nikon DSLRs and Fujifilm mirrorless systems.


Fujifilm Medium Format Mirrorless:

GFX 50S camera

23mm f/4 GF Fujinon

32-64 f/4 GF Fujinon

120mm f/4 GF Fujinon


Nikon DSLR:

Nikon D810 cameras (x2)

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

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

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

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

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

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

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

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

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

Nikon SB-900 flash

Nikon SB-700 flash

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables


Fujifilm APS-C Mirrorless:

X-Pro2 Cameras (x2)

14mm f/2.8 XF Fujinon

23mm f/2 XF Fujinon

35mm f/1.4 XF Fujinon

50mm f/2 XF Fujinon

18-55mm f/2.8-4 XF Fujinon

55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 XF Fujinon


Filters and Light Modifiers

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

Photoflex reflectors and diffusers

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels



Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead or Arca-Swiss D4 geared head

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead


Photo Packs

MindShift Backlight 36L

MindShift Backlight 26L

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift Rotation 180 Panorama

ThinkTank Airport Addicted V2.0

ThinkTank Urban Disguise 50 V2.0



  • Photograph wild Jaguars close-up and active in their native habitat – guaranteed.
  • Excellent opportunities to get close to Giant Otters, Yacaré Caiman crocodilians, Hyacinth Macaws, Tapirs, Jabiru Storks, Great Potoos, birds of prey, and a wide range of exotic birds and other South American wildlife.
  • Generous expert photographic instruction and experienced guiding throughout the trip by Justin Black and English-speaking naturalist guides.
  • Photography outings each morning and evening, making the most of the best light, from three to four hours in duration.
  • Each photographer will have their own seating row in the boats.
  • Comfortable accommodations on the water and close to the action
  • Satisfying meals, all beverages (including beer, wine, and caipirinhas with dinner), and gratuities for hotel staff are included

Accommodations & Travel

  • Three nights at SouthWild Pantanal: air-conditioned bedrooms with private hot-shower bathrooms.
  • Five nights at SouthWild Jaguar Flotel: air-conditioned cabins with private hot-shower bathrooms. The location of the Flotel couldn't be better for photography in the area. This is a small hotel on a river barge in the Pantanal wilderness, so accommodations are functional, clean, simple, and comfortable enough, but not designed for luxury.
  • All meals and beverages from lunch on Sept 19 through lunch on Sept 27.
airplane iconcar iconboat iconfoot iconweather icon
Tourist visa is required for entry to Brazil, so please contact the Brazilian Consulate that serves your area no less than six weeks prior to the trip. Flights are not included. Fly from your point of origin to Cuiabá, Brazil (via São Paulo or Brasilia), to arrive by noon on Sept 19th (flights on the Brazilian airlines TAM and GOL can be booked through All ground transfers are provided from Cuiabá on. Boat transfers and excursions are included. At the Flotel, morning and afternoon boat excursions will be made to photograph jaguars and other wildlife each day. SouthWild Pantanal Lodge features an excellent system of nature trails and wildlife viewing platforms, all of which are a short and easy walk away. Temps at this time of year typically range from 70ºF at dawn to a high of 95ºF in mid afternoon, though cold snaps do occur at this time of year. Weather is typically clear to overcast with a small chance of short rain showers.