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 18 - 27, 2018 | View other workshops

Jaguars of the Pantanal II with M. Westmorland 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 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 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.

Michele Westmorland and Morgan "Mo" Heim will provide first-class photo instruction and guidance throughout the itinerary. Michele is proud to be a Founding Fellow of International League of Conservation Photographers — she received the award for Fellow of the Year in 2016 — and is highly regarded as a leader of small-group photo tours. Whether from open safari vehicles, hides, river boats, or on foot, capturing the incredible diversity of wildlife is a highlight of her photographic talents. We admire how she effectively engages our guests with ease and can anticipate the best opportunities for photography at any location. 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 and 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 boats, 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:

 

SouthWild Photoboat on Vimeo.

 

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 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. 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 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...

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 18 – 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 19 – 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 20-24 – 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 25 – Arrival day at 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 26 – 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 27 – 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.

M. Westmorland

Michele Westmorland is an internationally-renowned photographer, speaker, and filmmaker specializing in telling the stories of indigenous cultures and the natural history of marine life. Westmorland Images, LLC represents her vast library of imagery from around the world.

First recognized for her talents in capturing beautiful images of the ocean environment, she is passionate about conservation. She is proud to be a Founding Fellow of International League of Conservation Photographers and to have received the award for Fellow of the Year in 2016. In 2011, she was the keynote address speaker at the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) conference and she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.

Michele is an adept visual storyteller, whether covering exotic travel destinations or the wonders of the natural world. Papua New Guinea has been a primary focus of her work, taking her to the remote island thirty-one times since her first visit in 1991. In 2016 she received an National Endowment for the Arts grant in support of her film, Headhunt Revisited, which documents the travels of an American woman artist in the 1920s to the remote islands of Melanesia. To see more on this project, visit www.headhuntrevisited.org.

Michele presents regular lectures on world cultures and the marine environment, and has extensive experience as a photography workshop instructor and photo travel leader. She has been honored as a National Fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club and NANPA, as well as a member of the Society of Woman Geographers and Wings WorldQuest.

Her photographs have appeared regularly in National Geographic Adventure & Traveler, Nature’s Best, Smithsonian and Outside magazines. Michele has won several awards for her imagery including, Grand Prize in the Papua New Guinea Underwater category, the Environmental Photography Invitational, Photo District News, and many others. She is proud to have been included in the book Adventurous Dreams-Adventurous Lives by Jason Schoonover. Her book Ocean Duets, focusing on the beauty of the underwater world, was published in 2006. Michele’s passion project is a documentary film titled Headhunt Revisited, which documents the travels of an American woman artist in the 1920s to the remote islands of Melanesia. To see more on this project, visit www.headhuntrevisited.org.

Michele's website: WESTMORLAND IMAGES

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 Michele Westmorland 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.
  • All 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 18 through lunch on August 27.
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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 18 (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