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 | $12,945* Register
Expedition March 28 - April 6, 2018 | View other workshops

Pumas with Roy Toft

Map via Google

SEE PUMAS EVERYDAY

WITH EXPERT GUIDES ON A PRIVATE RANCH

ON THIS ALL-INCLUSIVE EXPEDITION

Pumas can easily spy on nearby activity without being noticed. From hiding in tall grasses or lounging about shadows among rocky cliffs, they often spot us before we spot them. Pumas are surprisingly secretive big cats, adapting to more hostile environments where the other felines do not bother to live. How do photographers get close-up to the action and experience the lives of pumas in their territory?

Join Roy Toft on a huge private ranch, directly adjacent to Torres del Paine National Park, where these wild pumas roam free and our talented local guides track these apex predators through this landscape of rolling hills beneath the Paine mountains, otherwise known as "Pumaland."

In partnership with SouthWild, our Puma spotters and guides are top notch. We will see and photograph many of these amazing cats at reasonable distances. Please watch the video below for a first-hand glimpse of visiting Pumaland:

SouthWild Pumas on Vimeo.

Before the expedition ends, we are including a special day to visit the private the “Cerro Palomares” Condor Roost Cliff where Andean Condors fly. From convenient perches, we will photograph scores of “below-horizon fly-bys” of Andean Condors, which on average is the world’s heaviest flying creature. The roost cliff normally has 60-90 Andean Condors on it in the late afternoon as they fly back and forth below the horizon, offering the world’s most spectacular photo opportunities for Andean Condors.

Throughout the itinerary, we expect to walk a total of about 3-6 miles each day, split between two field sessions. There are also some hills which we will need to hike around at each person's own pace; for a more pleasant photographic experience, we do recommend that you are fit to hike with gear, including tripods and long telephotos. Porters are available to assist with carrying equipment; please inquire for further details. Though we may sometimes see pumas from our vehicles, venturing out on foot yields the best opportunities.

Although we consider this expedition to be one of our more strenuous ones, you can expect to have extremely comfortable hotel nights to prepare you for more activity in the days ahead. At Hotel Cabo de Hornos in Punta Arenas, we will stay in sea view rooms of this highly-rated, modern hotel. All rooms boast deep soaking tubs, free WiFi, 24-hour room service, and luxurious bedding. At Hotel Las Torres near Pumaland, we will stay at their Ciprés rooms, which are newly renovated, spacious, with large windows to enjoy the scenery. Each one has been decorated with different and special elements of the area, such as looms and ethnic masks with furniture made by artisans from Patagonia.

Outside of the park borders, we are able to seek out and respectfully approach the Pumas, without the hinderance of recent National Park restrictions regarding walking off trail. If you are ready to follow in the paths of these powerful animals and capture their incredible behavior on camera, this expedition is what you have been waiting for.

 

 ITINERARY

March 28 – Arrival day in Punta Arenas: Land at Punta Arenas Airport (PUQ), where our representative meets you and takes you to your hotel. Overnight in Punta Arenas at Hotel Cabo de Hornos. (D)

March 29 – Leave Punta Arenas for Pumaland: After breakfast, your guide will be meet you at the hotel and transfer you to Torres del Paine, arriving at Refugio Laguna Amarga. The Puma search begins in the afternoon; join the trackers who will have been out from pre-dawn looking for Pumas for you. Overnight at Hotel Las Torres.  (B, L, D)

March 30-April 4 – Pumas: Spend three to four hours each day searching for and tracking pumas in Pumaland.  We will have breakfast before the morning session, lunch between sessions and then dinner after the late afternoon pumas tracking session, which will last another three to four hours. Overnight at Hotel Las Torres.  (B, L, D)

April 5 – Condors and return to Puntas Arenas: After breakfast, we will drive for approximately four hours south to an exciting new location: the “Cerro Palomares” Condor Roost Cliff at the private, 20,000-acre “Estancia Olga Teresa” Ranch. At dusk we will drive approximately one hour back to Punta Arenas for our farewell dinner.  Overnight in Punta Arenas at Hotel Cabo de Hornos. (B, L, D)

April 6 – Departure day: Wake up for breakfast at the hotel, and then our driver will be transfer you to the airport. Check out of the hotel is at noon. (B)

PLEASE NOTE:

  • VISA: No visa is required for stays less than 90 days.
  • 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 Punta Arenas, Chile (airport code: PUQ)
  • GRATUITIES: Baseline tips are included. Our local guides, driver, and lodging staff work very hard to make our experience in Chile be 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.
  • CAMERA EQUIPMENT: Participants will carry their camera body and lens; a tripod is optional. Porters are available to assist with carrying equipment; please inquire for further details.

Roy Toft

Roy Toft is one of the world's most highly accomplished wildlife photographers, in addition to being a biologist, natural-history educator, and a Senior Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Roy has received top honors in the most prestigious professional competitions in his genre including the London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Nature's Best. In 2007, Roy won first place and the Gerald Durrel Award for endangered species in the BBC Wildlife Photographer  of the Year competition. He is a well-loved figure among his professional peers, admired as much for his upbeat good humor, an engaging and compassionate personality, and generously collaborative nature as for his immense talent as a photographer.

Roy's photographic career started with getting his first SLR camera as a college graduation present in 1986. Two days later, Roy was in Alaska working as a biologist on a wolf population study for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Over the next ten years, Roy’s day jobs included bird trainer & educator for the San Diego Wild Animal Park, naturalist, elementary school teacher, natural history museum curator and collaborator with National Geographic photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols.

Nature, conservation and education have always been Roy’s passions and since turning to photography full time in 1993, his work has focused on wild animals and their fragile environments. His publications include National Geographic, Smithsonian, Audubon, Discover, Wildlife Conservation, Ranger Rick, and other natural history magazines and publications worldwide. His work is primarily represented by National Geographic Image collection and Getty.

Using photography as a conservation tool has always been important to Roy and in 2005 he became a founding fellow in the prestigious ILCP. Along with making images, Roy has always enjoyed teaching people about nature and photography. His first photo workshop was taught more than a dozen years ago in the Osa peninsula, Costa Rica, and since then Roy has led workshops in Africa, Alaska, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Japan, and Madagascar.

Roy makes his home in the boulder-covered backcountry of Ramona, Ca. (30 miles north east of San Diego), with his wife Robin and their three Labrador Retrievers (Beau, Summer, and Tundra). Roy enjoys essentially everything active out in nature, including hiking with the dogs, surfing, and mountain biking. His favorite pastime when not traveling for photography is designing and cultivating his extensive garden, inspired by South African flora, including a wide variety of aloes and other exotic plants.

ROY TOFT LINKS

Roy Toft Photo Website

ILCP Fellow Bio

Roy Toft's Youtube Channel, with videos on his photo safaris and packing tips

Blast from the Past: Roy Toft appearance on the Chevy Chase Show (1993) as bird trainer for the San Diego Wild Animal Park

 

Highlights

Package includes:
  • R/T transportation within Chile: Punta Arenas – Torres del Paine National Park – Punta Arenas
  • Two trackers looking for Pumas in their own, dedicated 4WD car.
  • Entrance fee for viewing condors from top of Palomares Hill at Estancia Olga Teresa
  • One 4WD for driving to the top of Palomares Hill to view condors from the top.
  • Entrance fee to the Torres del Paine National Park
  • The very expensive daily Puma entrance fee for the private ranch of Laguna Amarga
  • All ground transportation
  • All meals and snacks
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, and wine, beer, and cocktails (Pisco sour, anyone?) with dinner
  • English-speaking naturalist guide as noted in the itinerary.
  • Excursions as noted in above itinerary for eight days of wildlife photography and instruction from Roy Toft

Accommodations & Travel

 

Double-occupancy and single-occupancy accommodation in excellent hotels: Hotel Cabo de Hornos (two nights) in Puntas Arenas and Hotel Las Torres (seven nights) in Torres del Paine National Park.

airplane iconcar iconfoot iconweather icon
Fly into Puntas Arenas, Chile, (PUQ) to be met for ground transfer to our group's hotel for the first night. Ground transportation is provided throughout the workshop. Walks will typically be 3-6 miles each day, split up between two field sessions. There are also some hills which we will need to hike around at each person's own pace. We do recommend that you are in good physical fitness for a more pleasant photographic experience. Weather is variable, with highs between 45 to 65ºF and lows between 30 to 45ºF at this time of year. We will likely experience a mix of conditions from partly cloudy to overcast, with wind varying by local microclimate. Rain showers and snow flurries are possible from time to time.

Expectations

  • SouthWild is the only operator with year-round, full-time Puma scouts in the field, and full-time Puma operations. Other operators are walking on ELA for only a few days or maximum a few weeks at a time, notably during the main Puma high season, which is February through April.  They are not out in the field most days of the year like SouthWild is.  Pumas are visible and photographable in Pumaland in all months of the year, and SouthWild is there year-round to protect the Pumas. The handful of other Puma tour operators have no full-time, dedicated Puma searchers, while SouthWild has three full-time field staff, two of whom spend most days of most months searching for Pumas. Additionally, our Puma trackers search for and monitor Puma movements and behavior both when we have guests and when do we do not.  As a result, we know a lot more about the recent Puma activity than do any other operators.
  • SouthWild is the only operator equipped with infrared scope. This piece of equipment is very expensive, hard to source, and require special effort to import into Chile. This special-forces-style scope allows for effective following of Pumas in total darkness, which translates into more Puma face time for our guests, who thus start to enjoy the first “Puma-of-the-day” as soon as the pre-dawn light becomes strong enough to allow photography.
  • SouthWild is the only operator with a Puma ID guide of the individual Pumas of Pumaland. We are the first to admit that Pumas are much harder to ID than are Jaguars, but we are finding that very detailed photos of facial scars, ear nicks, and body scars allow us to identify each adult uniquely. This is a work in progress, and the photos taken by our guests allow us to perfect our ID guide, doing what amounts to the best of “citizen science”.
  • SouthWild is the only operator with custom-produced, nightly lectures about charismatic wildlife species of Torres del Paine and of the geology of the national park.
  • SouthWild is the only operator directed by an international PhD conservation biologist, so the whole operation is underpinned by cutting-edge science and conservation techniques.
  • SouthWild was the first and only operator that committed to pay sheep ranchers a large amount per tourist per day for the access to walk on ELA.

In order to ensure the protection and the proper, sustainable appreciation of the Pumas at Torres del Paine, Dr. Charles Munn, one of the world’s leading conservation biologists and founding CEO of SouthWild, consulted with professional Puma biologists and with other Puma operators and developed a robust set of rules for viewing Pumas. By observing these rules under the guidance of your expert Puma tracker, you will be contributing to the conservation of the Pumas and their habitat. You will also be enhancing the Puma sighting for yourself and for your fellow guests.