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 | $11,995* Closed
Expedition August 18 - 27, 2016 | View other workshops

Jaguars of the Pantanal II with Justin Black and Jeff Foott

Map via Google

 Award-winning video made on Visionary Wild Jaguars of the Pantanal Expedition

Captured on Visionary Wild's 2013 jaguars expedition, this collaboration by our clients Sally Eagle and Dan Mead was selected as the winning video for the 2014 Windland Smith Rice International Awards by Nature’s Best Photography. In anticipation of the action, instructor Justin Black positioned the boat in the ideal spot to photograph this amazing event.

This is the finest jaguar photography experience, bar none.

Excellence is in the details.

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 prey 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, a seven-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 wide and stable aluminum speedboats 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.

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 prey 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, though most sightings are typically in the range of twenty to ninety minutes. On previous trips, our groups have identified three jaguars that had not been known to local biologists – a mother and daughter, and a large male –  that members of our group earned the privilege to bestow with the nicknames that biologists will use for reference. We were also very fortunate to see one of our favorite cats, a seven-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 wide and stable aluminum speedboats 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.

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.

Award-winning nature photographer and BBC wildlife cinematographer Jeff Foott, and Visionary Wild founder Justin Black, both Pantanal veterans, 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 boats, and a great deal of time one-on-one with the instructors.

Our floating hotel for six nights of the trip is the brand-new and 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. 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.

We will also spend a total of three nights (the first night, and the final two) 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. This trip coincides with the surreal magenta bloom of numerous large 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, 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...


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

18 Aug. Thurs: Guests arrive late morning in Cuiabá, Brazil. 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

19 Aug. Fri: 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.

20 Aug. Sat: 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.

21 Aug. Sun: Repeat. Overnight at Jaguar Suites.

22 Aug. Mon:  Repeat. Overnight at Jaguar Suites.

23 Aug. Tues: Repeat. Overnight at Jaguar Suites.

24 Aug. Weds: Repeat. Overnight at Jaguar Suites.

25 Aug. Thurs:  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.

26 Aug. Fri: 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.

27 Aug. Sat: 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.


  • VISA: Normally, a valid visa is required for entry, but Brazil has waived visas for tourists from many nations during the summer of 2016 in preparation for the Olympics.
  • TRAVEL INSURANCE: We always strongly recommend arranging travel insurance. 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, 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


Jeff Foott

Having had the good fortune to work and play in nature most of my early life, it became obvious to me I had to spend my life outside. After working as a National Park Ranger, a mountain climbing guide, ski patrolman and a few other lesser jobs, I went back to school in marine biology – doing research on sea otters – which at the time were in trouble.

I had come to love these creatures and set out naively thinking that if I could only portray to the public how they survived the ocean storms, raised their young and the danger of extinction they faced, then the otters would be saved. This was my entry into photography.

I first took still pictures for lectures and magazine articles, and then started a film about this unique creature. The film was eventually shown in over 100 countries to an estimated 100 million people. I had found a platform to speak from. Forty-five films later, for National Geographic, Discovery, PBS, BBC, etc., I am still working to portray what we have in the natural world and its importance to our spiritual direction in a time where the calm of nature is less reflected in our beings than at any other time in the history of man.

Along the way, I added art to the biology. My last film for The Living Eden series, Patagonia, was a finalist for an Emmy for cinematography. I have continued to shoot still pictures, now often focusing on the simple beauty and design of nature. I have changed mediums from large format 4x5 to shooting digital. I have never lost touch with the original motivation of using the photography medium to show people the wonder and beauty of nature, and making a plea for sanity in dealing with our natural environment. Pristine natural environments provide optimum opportunity for each of us to experience the calm and wholeness of our being, which is really our natural state. While searching for photographs, I rely on what touches my center, and then with logic and camera I make the effort to pass on to the viewer the original feeling that drew me to the scene. – Jeff Foott


Jeff has been widely published in the U.S. and internationally.  National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, Audubon, National Wildlife magazine, Nature's Best, Outdoor Photographer, Sierra Club calendars, Audubon calendars are a few of the publications that use his work. He is an Associate of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has donated his time and photographic talent to the ILCP Borderlands and Patagonia Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVEs).

Video: Jeff's project to fight the pine bark beetle invasion

Video: Jeff gets an amusing endorsement deal! (circa 1982)


  • 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 Jeff Foott and Justin Black.
  • 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. Newly renovated, updated, and expanded dining and common areas. 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 18 through lunch on August 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 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 8th (flights on the Brazilian airlines TAM and GOL can be booked through 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.


A wonderful, well-organized trip with great Visionary Wild leader/photographer Jeff Foott and an excellent Southwild guide. The Pantanal is unique and still unspoiled. It rivals Africa in its wildlife diversity. My advice is to see it now!  – W. Custer



During our 2013 Jaguars of the Pantanal expedition, participant Sally Eagle captured amazing video footage (seen at the top of this page) of a large male cat successfully hunting a 200lb., 8-foot caiman, while the rest of the group shot stills. Trip co-leader Justin Black arranged for one of his agents to promote and distribute her video, as they did Justin's photographs of the same event. As a result, Sally's video was picked up by several international media outlets and has enjoyed over 14 million views on Youtube, generating several thousand dollars in royalties for Sally, not to mention a great deal of personal satisfaction.

The video has now won top honors at the 2014 Nature's Best Photography – Windland Rice Smith International Awards!

WATCH IT HERE: Visionary Wild client Sally Eagle's footage of "Mick Jaguar" taking an 8-foot caiman.

While it's always nice to be recognized for one's work, the most important outcome of the media coverage is the raised public awareness of the incredible wildlife of the Pantanal. The fledgling jaguar tourism industry there provides much-needed jobs in a region with an economy  otherwise based on cattle ranching, which persecutes jaguars and degrades wildlife habitat. The more valuable the jaguars and other fauna of the Pantanal become as a tourism resource, the more inclined locals and government will be to protect the animals and their habitat. Our partners at Southwild Pantanal are looking into ways to responsibly and sustainably expand jaguar tourism to other parts of the Pantanal, with a vision to protect the best jaguar habitat in the region. The Pantanal's jaguars range over large territories, so if their habitat is protected at a sustainable level, the habitat of countless other species is protected along with it.

VISIONARY WILD BLOG TRIP REPORT: 2013 Jaguars of the Pantanal