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 | $8,750* Closed
Expedition August 20 - 29, 2013 | View other workshops

Jaguars of the Pantanal with Jeff Foott and Justin Black

Map via Google

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 happen to be 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 incredibly high densities.

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, but without the crowds and malaria.

Award-winning nature photographer and film maker Jeff Foott – a Pantanal veteran – and Justin Black of Visionary Wild look 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.  This privileged location 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 $9,400).

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. Experience indicates that river sections further upstream or downstream have proven to be considerably less productive for both jaguars and giant otters.


20 August (Tuesday): Land late morning in Cuiaba, Brazil, flying in from São Paulo International Airport. Drive to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge, across the Transpantaneira highway, stopping for lunch and to photograph as opportunities present themselves along the way.  Arrive to SouthWild Pantanal in mid afternoon.  Overnight at SouthWild Pantanal Lodge.

21 Aug. Wed: 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 smaller 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 Aug. Thurs: Morning and afternoon boat outings (a total of 8 h of boat outings during the period between 600 am and 600 pm) in search of Jaguars, giant otters, tapirs, caiman, macaws, and other fauna.  Overnight at the SWJF.

23 Aug. Fri: Rinse and repeat

24 Aug. Sat: Rinse and repeat

25 Aug. Sun: Rinse and repeat

26 Aug.  Mon: After breakfast, check-out of the flotel and boat in one large transfer boat for the 15.5 km to the river port downstream 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.

27 Aug.  Tues: Two outings at SouthWild Pantanal (one boat ride per day, and also work the two 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.

28 Aug. Weds: SWP for the day and for overnight.

29 Aug.  Thurs: 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.

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)

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



  • The best opportunity in the world to reliably photograph wild Jaguars close-up and active in their native habitat.
  • Excellent opportunities to get close to Giant Otters, Yacare Caiman crocodiles, Hyacinth Macaws, Tapirs, Jabiru Storks, and other South American wildlife.
  • Generous expert photographic instruction and experienced guiding throughout the trip by Jeff Foott, 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, with only 3 photographers per boat.
  • Comfortable accommodations on the water and close to the action
  • Satisfying meals and all beverages included

Accommodations & Travel

  • Four 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, however, and accommodations are functional, clean, simple, and comfortable enough, but not designed for luxury.
  • All meals and beverages from lunch on August 20 through breakfast on August 29.
airplane iconcar iconboat iconweather icon
Tourist visa is required for entry to Brazil. Fly from point of origin to Cuiabá. Brazil, via São Paulo (GOL airlines Flt #1624, leaves São Paulo International Airport at 10:10 am, arriving Cuiabá at noon). All ground transfers are provided from Cuiabá on. Boat excursions are included from the lodge and flotel. Temps at this time of year typically range from 70ºF at dawn to a high of 94ºF in mid afternoon. Weather is typically clear to overcast with a small chance of rain showers. Medical note: Though there is little risk of tropical diseases in the dry season, a yellow fever vaccination is recommended at least ten days before the trip. No other vaccinations are necessary, nor is malaria prophylaxis.