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

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

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

Sara Robb – Operations Assistant: sara@visionarywild.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Limit 6 spaces | $11,250* Register
Expedition August 9 - 18, 2018 | View other workshops

Jaguars of the Pantanal with Justin Black and Morgan Heim

Map via Google

This is the finest jaguar photography experience, bar none.

Excellence is in the details.

 

"To see this iconic species hunting, stalking for yacarés, capybaras, is one unforgetable experience. During the trip, every day got better, lots of excitement, amazing photos, opportunities like no other place in the world for Jaguars."

-Alwin v.d.H., 2016 Jaguars of the Pantanal participant

 

It was once inconceivable that there could be a place where one 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, at an inland river delta where at least 47 individual jaguars presently hunt along 70 miles of riverbank. Years of research have proven it to be by far the world's most productive location for photography of wild jaguars. On all of our prior trips here our guests have enjoyed multiple jaguar sightings each day, lasting anywhere from five minutes to seven hours (most sightings are typically in the range of twenty to ninety minutes). On a previous trip, we have discovered a mother and daughter that had not been known to local biologists, and members of our group got to assign the nicknames that biologists will use for reference. We were also very fortunate to see one of our favorite cats, an-year-old male nicknamed "Mick Jaguar," stalk and take down a 200-pound, eight-foot-long caiman in the open and from close range  (see photos in the gallery and link to the video at the bottom of the page). Rivers and channels provide easy access for our customized photo boat – a state-of-the-art aluminum speedboat with revolving centerline camera mounts – to locations frequented by the big cats in the dry season. This may be the closest thing to an African photo safari in the New World.

Justin Black and Morgan "Mo" Heim will provide first-class photo instruction and guidance throughout the itinerary. Justin returns to lead his seventh expedition in the Pantanal for Visionary Wild. Mo comes to photography with a background in wildlife ecology and environmental journalism, bringing years of experiences as a scientist and photographer. Her wildlife photography has been featured in BBC Wildlife, Smithsonian, and National Geographic, ranging from mountain lions to monarch butterflies in Iowa to elusive fishing cats in Thailand. To get the best sense for Mo, we highly encourage you watch this one-minute film, An American Icon, about her recent adventure to photograph bald eagles in Alaska. As Mo puts it, this film reveals her heart. They look forward to sharing their experience, expertise, and good humor on this expedition for just six passionate photographers.

The small group size ensures ample space to maneuver for photography from the boat, and a great deal of time one-on-one with the instructors. The video below shows the brilliant design and construction of the boat we will use for photographers:

 

 

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, it harbors the world’s largest parrots (hyacinth macaw), the world’s largest snake (anaconda), the world’s largest otter, and many other species in astonishingly high densities.

We will spend a total of three nights (the first two nights, and the final one) at the Pantanal Wildlife Center’s Fazenda Santa Tereza, an intimate and comfortable lodge located on an expansive estate on the banks of the wildlife-rich Pixaim River. Our floating hotel for the other six nights of the trip is the spacious Jaguar Suites, offering the finest guest rooms in all the Pantanal, purpose-built to support serious photographers in comfort. Moored to the riverbank where the Piquiri and Cuiabá Rivers meet in the heart of the best jaguar action, when compared with other accommodations in the area this privileged location on the water permits us to spend an additional two hours per day with the cats, and at the best times of day for quality of light, comfortable temperatures, and scenic beauty in the Pantanal.

This trip coincides with the surreal magenta bloom of numerous large Tabebuia or "Ipê" trees on the lodge grounds and across the Pantanal landscape. Unique wildlife observation towers include one located just 16 meters from an active nest of habituated Jabiru storks – perfect at first light in the morning – and a second one in gallery forest along the banks of the river. Virtually guaranteed wildlife sightings here include giant otters, ocelots, capuchin monkeys, numerous bird species including toco toucans, hyacinth macaws, rufescent tiger heron, anhingas, crested caracaras, various fishing hawks, stunning yellow-billed cardinals, an the extraordinary great potoo. Jaguars and tapirs are sometimes seen at the Fazenda Santa Tereza as well.

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

ITINERARY

This itinerary is all-inclusive from pickup to drop-off at the airport in Cuiabá, packaged as single-occupancy by default (double-occ saves $975 per person)

August 9 – Arrival day in Cuiabá: Land late morning in Cuiabá, 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 – Fazenda Santa Teresa

August 10 – Pantanal from SouthWild Pantanal Lodge: Morning and afternoon excursions at SouthWild Pantanal. We'll make one boat excursion on the river as well as one safari drive. We'll also see 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 and Great Potoos in the forest trails at the lodge.  Overnight at SWPL – Fazenda Santa Tereza.

August 11 – Arrival day at SouthWild Jaguar Suites: After an early morning excursion on the Pixaim River followed by breakfast, we transfer by comfortable air-conditioned bus two hours to Porto Jofre and load into speedboats that will whisk us a half hour up the  Cuiabá River to our floating hotel – the Jaguar Suites.

August 12-16 – Pantanal from SouthWild Jaguar Suites: Morning and afternoon boat outings (a total of 8 hours of boat outings per day 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 Jaguar Suites.

August 17 – Return to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge: After morning jaguar excursion, depart Jaguar Suites by boat to return to Porto Jofre, and board our bus for the transfer back in time for lunch at Fazenda Santa Tereza. Relax until the afternoon outing starts at 2:30 pm.  Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal – Fazenda Santa Tereza.

August 18 – Departure day from Cuiabá: Early morning photo excursion by boat on the Pixaim River, breakfast, and out to drive back to the Cuiabá Airport by noon to catch flights home.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • VISA: It is required that your passport is valid upon the date of entry, in addition to a visa; please obtain your visa in advance from the Brazilian consulate that has jurisdiction in your state of residence in the United States.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: We always strongly recommend arranging travel insurance. Travelguard.com is excellent.
  • FLIGHTS: No flights are included. Please contact us if you would like recommendations regarding flights to and from Cuiabá, Brazil (airport code: CGB)
  • GRATUITIES: Baseline tips are included. Our local guides, boat drivers, and lodge staff work very hard to make our experience in the Pantanal 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.

Justin Black

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Black's limited editions portfolio

Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile

Bringing focus and meaning to your photography

The Top 40 Nature Photos Project

Justin's Conservation Photography Projects

 

Justin’s Camera Bag

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

Camera Bodies:

Nikon D810 (x2)

Lenses

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

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

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

24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art

85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor

200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor

500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor

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

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

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

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

 

Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter

Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter

 

Flash

Nikon SB-900

Nikon SB-700

Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables

Lumiquest soft boxes

Rogue Flashbender

Rosco gels

 

Filters

Nikon Circular Polarizer II

Singh-Ray Vari-ND

Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters

 

Tripods

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

Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead

 

Photo Packs

MindShift Rotation 180 Pro

Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon

Mindshift FirstLight 30L

Think Tank Photo (TTP) Streetwalker Harddrive

TTP Streetwalker Pro

TTP Airport Addicted V2.0

TTP Airport Acceleration

TTP Urban Disguise 50 V2.0

 

Morgan Heim

Morgan Heim has been sneezed on by a whale, stampeded by bison and almost mistaken for salmon by hungry grizzly bears. All of which she took as great compliments, considering they let her live to impersonate animals for another day.

She began these journeys as an ecologist working in fisheries. Today, she is a photojournalist and filmmaker dedicated to sharing the stories of wildlife and wild places through tales of science, culture and exploration. Morgan believes firmly in growing that love for the natural world by empowering others to experience and share it through their photography. 

With a background in zoology (BS) and environmental journalism (MA), she employs photographic techniques ranging from aerials to camera traps, wildlife photojournalism and film in her mission to share stories that grow our fascination with nature.

Morgan received top honors for conservation photography in the Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition. She is an Associate Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers, trustee of The WILD Foundation, board member of the North American Nature Photography Association, and alum of the prestigious Missouri Photo Workshop. She is a producer for Day’s Edge Productions and her work has appeared in such outlets as Smithsonian, Nature Conservancy, National Geographic NewsWatch, and BBC Wildlife.

When taking a break from work, Morgan hits the trails around Gunnison, Colorado, with her husband Philipp and their tree-climbing dog, Javier. View her portfolio at morganheim.com and daysedge.com

Highlights

  • 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 Morgan Heim.
  • Wildlife spotting and interpretation by our favorite English-speaking naturalist guides.
  • A total of sixteen wildlife photography excursions, including twelve in the prime jaguar zone,  each from three to four hours in duration, plus four excursions at Fazenda Santa Tereza.
  • The best boats available for photography in the jaguar zone. Each guest will have his or her own seating row in the boats. Many operators use narrow, unstable fishing dinghies that are unsuitable for serious photography.
  • Comfortable, stylish accommodations in the heart of the wildlife action
  • Satisfying home-style Brazilian meals
  • All beverages included, including beer, wine, and/or caipirinhas with dinner
  • Gratuities included

Accommodations & Travel

 
  • Three nights at SouthWild Pantanal's Fazenda Santa Tereza Lodge: air-conditioned bedrooms with two full beds per room and en-suite hot-shower bathrooms.
  • Six nights at SouthWild Jaguar Suites: spacious luxury air-conditioned staterooms with two beds per room (which combine to create a "super-king-size" bed) and en-suite hot-shower bathrooms. The suites feature scenic river views, powerful air-conditioning, high-speed Wi-Fi, and desktops with multiple power outlets for charging laptops and batteries. We have secured enough space at the Jaguar Suites for each of our six guests to have a private room with en-suite bathroom. The suites accommodate double-occupancy very comfortably as well. In 2015, the upper deck restaurant and common areas at the floating Jaguar Suites have undergone a stylish renovation and expansion, offering guests a great place to relax in comfort and modern elegance. The Jaguar Suites couldn't be better positioned to make the most of the local wildlife spectacle.
  • Includes all meals and beverages from lunch on August 9 through lunch on August 18.
airplane iconcar iconboat iconfoot iconweather icon
Tourist visa is required for entry to Brazil, so please contact the Brazilian Consulate that serves your area as soon as possible, and 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 August 9 (flights on the Brazilian airlines TAM and GOL can be booked through Travelocity.com). All transfers are provided from Cuiabá on. Boat transfers and excursions are included. At the Jaguar Suites, morning and afternoon boat excursions will be made to photograph jaguars and other wildlife each day. We will also enjoy two boat excursions on the Pixaim River at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge. SouthWild Pantanal Lodge features an excellent system of nature trails and wildlife viewing platforms, all of which are an easy stroll or boat ride away. Temps at this time of year typically range from 70ºF at dawn to a high of 95ºF in mid afternoon, though surprising cold snaps do occur at this time of year. Weather is typically clear to overcast with a small chance of short rain showers.

Expectations

I have done expeditions to the Pantanal and Galapagos Islands. I loved the entire experience because it was fun, exciting photography and great guests. I had a great time and always learn something new. It is always a first class trip.

-Vaughn H., repeat Visionary Wild expedition participant

Having participated in five programs, I can testify I never came away disappointed, only wishing there was an extra day or so.

-Paul H., repeat Visionary Wild expedition participant