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Steve Gettle Wildlife Photography Tour

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September 6th thru 15th 2013

I am so excited to be able to offer this trip! Not only is it a great photo tour but it really is an epic adventure as well. The Jungle here is virtually dripping with subjects to photograph, check out this sampling of just a few of the images I made on my scouting trip last year. Tambopata Gallery

We will travel by motorized canoe up the Tambopata River which serves as the only road deep into the Tambopata National Reserve which is over 3 million acres in size. On our journey up river we will keep our cameras ready as we are certain to encounter many different things to photograph as we travel including, beautiful river scenery, tons of birds, primates, and capybara etc. If we are lucky we could possibly photograph a giant anteater or perhaps even a jaguar or two!

Using a series of three eco-lodges as our base, we will leapfrog our way deep into the Amazon basin. With our final destination being the Tambopata Research Center, arguably the most remote lodge in all of South America! The highlight of this lodge is the largest Macaw clay-lick in the world which was featured in a National Geographic cover story. On most mornings hundreds of Parrots and Macaws gather to ingest clay from the river side cliffs. It is believed they do this to get the minerals they are unable to get in their jungle diet. In addition to the birds, the jungle is filled with other things to photograph including some of the craziest insects I have ever seen. On my scouting trip last year, one of my favorite activities were the night-time jungle walks. You will be hard pressed to even find time to sleep! I strongly suggest a mid-day siesta on this trip. During these nightly walks we found all kind of interesting and unusual things to photograph including what turned out to be a newly discovered spider that builds a decoy spider to fool predators. You can see my trip report here: Tambopata trip report

The Accommodations

While in the rainforest, we will be staying in three different award winning eco-lodges. The lodges are designed to keep guests in close contact with the rainforest at all times. Each guest room is built with only three walls, the fourth wall being open to the jungle beyond. In fact, all of the common areas throughout the lodges are built without walls at all! As you sleep, the only thing between you and the jungle is the mosquito netting. You can’t imagine what it’s like to fall asleep at night to the sounds of the jungle, then the following morning to be awakened by howler monkeys calling in the distance!

The food at all the lodges is excellent and there is plenty of it which is quite a feat since everything… absolutely everything, has to be brought up the river.


September 6th thru 15th, 2013

Join an extraordinary photography expedition to the amazon rainforest a remarkable place, full of lush growth and life. In fact, it seems at times as if the forest is pulsating with life, with a constant background buzz of monkeys and birds chattering, and the gentle thump-thump of armies of leaf-cutter ants marching single file along endless tracks.

Here's just a taste of what you will experience on this photo adventure of a lifetime:

Photograph an intriguing variety of wildlife: Howler monkeys Giant River Otters Scarlet macaws Hoatzin birds leafcutter ants, and a newly discovered species of spider. Explore the hidden world of the rain forest at night. Night walks are great for photographing insects including: Cicadas and Katydids Dragonflies Large grasshoppers Frogs and for luring hairy tarantulas our of their ground nests for a few quick shots. The trip includes stays at all three of our lodges as well as all photography equipment, cameras and lenses.

Highlights: Pro Cameras and Lenses Included Two nights at the Tambopata Research Center See hundreds of parrots and macaws at the world-famous TRC clay lick Visit Macaw clay licks, two oxbow lakes and a jungle tower Visit All 3 of our lodges for great photography opportunities Learn to use pro equipment to get the best photos possible. "The high point of our tour was when a troop of squirrel monkeys (at least a hundred of them) came crashing through the trees above us, sometimes getting as close as a few feet away. It was a remarkable experience! - Ian Plant - United States

"We have had a really wonderful time with both of you with really intense periods. This allowed us to properly disconnect from our daily lives and we proved that we can reconnect with the wonderful and fabulous nature we've discovered together. I was a old generation photographer and you made me discover the new technology.I going to do a three days photoshop training and try to be as good as you but that will be really difficult..!! - Christine and Dominique - France - Christine and Dominique - France

NOTE: There is an additional $60 per person charge for entrance into the national park.



DAY 1

Arrival & Reception by Photography Guide

Because, photography in the rainforest requires a lot of patience and luck, our photography guides help with your equipment, provide subtle tips for improved use of blinds and maximize breaks with the weather and wildlife.

Transfer Airport to Puerto Maldonado Headquarters Upon arrival from Lima or Cusco, we will welcome you at the airport and drive you ten minutes to our Puerto Maldonado headquarters. While enjoying your first taste of the forest in our gardens we will ask you to pack only the necessary gear for your next few days, and leave the rest at our safe deposit. This helps us keep the boats and cargo light.

Transfer Pto Maldonado Headquarters to Tambopata River Port Skirting Puerto Maldonado, we drive 20 kilometers to the Tambopata River Port, entering the Native Community of Infierno. The port is a communal business.

Transfer Boat - Tambopata River Port to Posada Amazonas The forty five minute boat ride from the Tambopata Port to Posada Amazonas will take us into the Community´s Primary Forest Private Reserve.

Boxed Lunch

Orientation Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips.

Introduction to Photography Lecture After lunch we will have a presentation about basic photography. Subjects such as aperture, ISO and shutter speed will be covered. We will also learn about some specialized photographic techniques and see sample.

Dinner

Night Photography

Night walks are great for photographing insects and frogs. We may be able to find praying mantis, cicadas, leaf mimicking grasshoppers as well as huge toads, shiny green tree frogs and bizarre horned frogs.

Overnight at Posada Amazonas



DAY 2

Breakfast

Photography at the PAL parrot clay lick

This clay lick is only a twenty minute walk from Posada Amazonas. From a blind located about twenty meters away you will see dozens of parrots and parakeets descend on most clear mornings to ingest the clay on a river bank. Species such as Mealy and Yellow- headed Amazon, Blue- headed Parrot and Dusky headed Parakeet descend at this clay lick. The clay lick is most active at dawn and during the late morning and early afternoons. From the blind we have constructed next to this lick, even the amateur photographer can take good pictures of these wonderful birds.

Lunch

Photography from the Tower

A thirty minute walk takes us to this 30 meter tall scaffolding tower, which will add a whole new dimension to our Amazon birding experience: the forest canopy. We will wait for a canopy mixed flock to appear. The mixed flock is mostly all about tanagers: Paradise Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Flame-crested Tanager, Turqoise Tanager, Opal- rumped Tanager and others. The tower also offers good opportunity for Cream- colored Woodpecker, Gilded Barbet, Plum-throated Cotinga and Striolated Puffbird. Macaws and toucans are seen flying against the horizon, including the Chestnut-eared, Lettered, Emerald, Curl-crested, and Brown-mandibled Aracaries. We will see lonely raptors riding the thermals. This is your best chance for hawk-eagles and even harpy!

Dinner

Photo Review Session

After dinner we have time to pick our best photos and load them into the computer for a slide show. We will have time to analyze and talk about the day’s photography. Any questions about camera/ lens usage, composition etc. can be addressed.

Overnight at Posada Amazonas



DAY 3

Breakfast

Photography at Tres Chimbadas oxbow lake

Tres Chimbadas is thirty minutes by boat and forty five minutes hiking from Posada Amazonas. Once there you will paddle around the lake in a catamaran, searching for the resident family of nine giant river otters (seen by 60% of our lake visitors) and other lakeside wildlife such as caiman, hoatzin and horned screamers. The lake provides wonderful opportunities to photograph majestic trees, water reflections and, if we are very fortunate, animal life. Although otters are frequently seen, the distances at which they are sighted usually do not make for good photography.

Transfer Boat - Posada Amazonas to Tambopata Research Center

Six and a half hours by boat from Posada Amazonas, in the pristine heart of the reserve, lies the Tambopata Research Center. As we cross the confluence with the Malinowski River, we will leave the final traces of human habitation behind. Within the 700,000 hectare uninhabited nucleus of the reserve, sightings of capybara, caiman, geese, macaws and other large species will become more frequent.

Boxed Lunch

Orientation

Upon arrival, the lodge manager will welcome you and brief you with important navigation and security tips.

Photography from Overlooks

A three to five kilometer hike will lead us to overlooks commanding magnificent views of the Tambopata winding its way into the lowlands. The forest on this trail, regenerating on old bamboo forest, is good for Howler Monkey and Dusky Titi Monkey. The overlooks provide excellent panoramic photo opportunities of the Tambopata winding its way down from the highlands. On a clear day, it will even be possible to view and photograph the snow capped Andean peaks in the distance. At each overlook we will have good chances of encounters at eyelevel at 30-50 yards with large turkey-like birds called guans and chachalacas, or toucans, or macaws roosting on the trees.

Dinner

Photo Review Session

After dinner we have time to edit and review our photos. Any questions about camera/ lens usage, composition etc. can be addressed.

Overnight at Tambopata Research Center



DAY 4

Macaw Clay Lick Photography from the Beach

On most clear mornings of the year dozens of large macaws and hundreds of parrots congregate on this large river bank in a raucous and colorful spectacle which inspired a National Geographic cover story. Discretely located fifty meters from the cliff, we will observe Green-winged, Scarlet and Blue-and-gold Macaws and several species of smaller parrots descend to ingest clay. Outings are at dawn when the lick is most active. If the river is not swollen, thereby reducing the effective beach area, photographers should have plenty of opportunities to shoot the typical clay lick photographs from distances of 50-100 meters.

Breakfast

Photography in the floodplain forest

This five kilometer trail covers the prototypical rain forest with immense trees criss-crossed by creeks and ponds. Amongst the figs, ceibas and shihuahuacos we will look for Squirrel, Brown Capuchin, and Spider Monkeys as well as peccaries. TRC is located within this habitat. Photo opportunities for all mammals and birds on this trail will be scant as visibility and lighting are poor and animals timid. Our principal focus will be general rain forest shots as well as portraits of the huge trees that are scattered throughout this forest.

Lunch

Macro Photography Workshop

Tonight we get to venture into the jungle for nighttime macro photography. This lecture introduces us to macro photography and some of the specialized equipment that is used to take these photos. In addition to the top of the line Nikon 105mm VR macro lenses we have access to the amazing Canon MP-E-65 lens. This rare extreme macro lens allows can zoom in so close that a 5mm subject will fill the entire frame!

Photography on the Pond Platform

Ten minutes upriver from the lodge is a tiny pond with a platform in the middle. It is a great place for the late afternoon where we whiddle away the remains of the day as we spot waterfowl such as Muscovy duck, sunbittern and hoatzin along with the woodpeckers, oropendolas, flycatchers and parakeets that call this pond their home. Opportunities to photograph these beautiful birds will abound, as the lighting and visibility of the pond is excellent and these birds´ habits are predictable over short periods of time.

Dinner

Overnight at Tambopata Research Center

DAY 5

Breakfast

Photography around the TRC clearing

We will photograph herps around the TRC clearing: frogs, snakes and lizards. TRC specialists will have spent the past few days screening the vicinity for encounters with the most photogenic herp species and will have prepared appropriate scenarios. The chicos, our flock of semi-wild, hand reared macaws will provide additional photographic opportunities as they fly about around the lodge.

Lunch

Photography from the palm swamp tower

Although macaws nest from October to April, there are different degrees of macaw activity at the swamp year round. From this vantage point we can photograph Blue and gold macaws landing and roosting on their nest holes in dead palms. The nests are all less than fifteen yards away, and only a yard or two above eye level. As the sun sets behind the birds´ golden chests we will have opportunities for close ups of superb quality.

Dinner

Night Photography

Night walks are great for photographing insects and frogs. We may be able to find praying mantis, cicadas, leaf mimicking grasshoppers as well huge toads, shiny green tree frogs and bizarre horned frogs. Along the way your photography guide will show you how to use your camera and flash together to take amazing macro photos.

Overnight at Tambopata Research Center

DAY 6

Time - off Time off to relax and enjoy the lodge surroundings, try out a new trail, or repeat your favorite activity.

Breakfast

Transfer Boat - TRC to Refugio Amazonas

A three and a half hour boat ride brings us to Refugio Amazonas.

Boxed Lunch

Brazil Nut Trail and Camp

A few minutes hike from the lodge is a beautiful old growth patch of Brazil Nut forest that has been harvested for decades (if not centuries) where the precarious remains of a camp used two months a year by Brazil Nut gatherers can still be experienced. We will be demonstrating the whole process of the rain forest's only sustainably harvested product from collection through transportation to drying.

Dinner

Photoshop and Bookmaking Workshop

We again review and upload our best photos for a photo review session and are introduced to book making software and Photoshop.

During the Photoshop part of the lecture we learn about levels, saturation, image sharpening, resizing, transforming and RAW processing. We also get the chance to enhance some of our favorite images.

We are also introduced to bookmaking software comes with Loads of pre-designed and customizable layouts, a huge selection of fonts, and all the tools you need to make sophisticated bookstore quality photography books. The software is connected to a print on demand service allowing you to print your book when you are finished.

Overnight at Refugio Amazonas

DAY 7

Breakfast

Transfer Boat - Refugio Amazonas to Tambopata River Port

Transfer Tambopata River Port to Pto Maldonado Headquarters

Transfer Puerto Maldonado Headquarters to Airport We retrace our river and road journey back to Puerto Maldonado, our office and the airport. Depending on airline schedules, this may require dawn departures.

NOTES

Included

Programmes based on double occupancy. Includes all meal, accommodations, and services, all river transportation, and transfer from and to the airport of Puerto Maldonado.

Not Included

International or domestic airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations, alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls or messages, reconfirmation of flights and items of personal nature.

Boat Transportation

All our boats are 20 foot long, roofed canoes with 55 hp outboard motors. Transfer-in (From Puerto Maldonado to Lodge): we have two departures daily at 13:00 and 14:30 Transfer-out (Lodge to Puerto Maldonado) : Two daily departures at 07:00 and 08:00 For other schedule possibilities please consult us Spanish: Traslado de llegada (Puerto Maldonado – Albergue): Tenemos dos traslados diarios a las 13:00 hrs. y 14:00 hrs. Traslado de salida (Albergue – Puerto Maldonado) : Dos salidas diarias a las 07:00 hrs. y 8:00 hrs. Para otras alternativas de traslados por favor consúltenos.

We reserve the right to change the order of activities.

Although not valid for the rainforest part of Peru, we recommend that all foreign travelers bring their original passports in order to avoid the payment of national taxes (IGV 18%) at Hotels.


Included Programs based on double occupancy. Includes all meal, accommodations, and services, all river transportation, and transfer from and to the airport of Puerto Maldonado.

Not Included International or domestic airfares, airport departure taxes or visa fees, excess baggage charges, additional nights during the trip due to flight cancellations, alcoholic beverages or bottled water, snacks, insurance of any kind, laundry, phone calls or messages, reconfirmation of flights and items of personal nature.

Notes: Programs to Refugio Amazonas : There is an additional $13 per person charge for entrance into the national park. This applies for tours to Refugio Amazonas Lodge Programs to Tambopata Research Center : There is an additional $75 per person charge for entrance into the national park. This applies for tours to Tambopata Research Center Lodge

Lodge Transfers

  • Transfer-in (From Puerto Maldonado to Lodge): we have two departures daily at 13:00 and 14:30
  • Transfer-out (Lodge to Puerto Maldonado) : Two daily departures at 07:00 and 08:00 For other schedule possibilities please consult us

ESPAÑOL

Incluido Programas en base acomodación en habitación doble. Todos los transportes terrestres y acuáticos de acuerdo al itinerario. Traslados Aeropuerto – Albergue - Aeropuerto. Todas las excursiones con guía bilingüe. Re-confirmación de vuelos nacionales desde Puerto Maldonado. Comidas especificadas en el itinerario.

No Incluido Vuelos internacionales o nacionales, impuestos aeroportuarios, exceso de equipaje, noches adicionales por mal tiempo o cancelación de vuelos, bebidas alcohólicas, gaseosas o agua mineral embotellada, snacks, seguro de cualquier tipo, lavandería, llamadas telefónicas nacionales o internacionales, reconfirmación de vuelos internacionales.

Notas: Programas a Refugio Amazonas : Hay un pago adicional de $13 por persona por la entrada al parque Nacional que aplica a los visitantes a Refugio Amazonas Lodge Programas a Tambopata Research Center : Hay un pago adicional de $75 por persona por la entrada al parque Nacional que aplica a los visitantes a Tambopata Research Center

Transfer a los Albergues:

  • Traslado de llegada (Puerto Maldonado – Albergue): Tenemos dos traslados diarios a las 13:00 hrs. y 14:00 hrs.
  • Traslado de salida (Albergue – Puerto Maldonado) : Dos salidas diarias a las 07:00 hrs. y 8:00 hrs. Para otras alternativas de traslados por favor consúltenos.



Superior Room at Refugio Amazonas Lodge
Superior Room at Refugio Amazonas
The Loft Area at Refugio Amazonas
Refugio Amazonas Dining Room
Tambopata Research Center Room
Tambopata Research Center
Posada Amazonas Commons Area
Posada Amazona Classic Room
Refugio Amazonas Loft
Motorboats are used for transport on the river
Beautiful Butterfly
Macaw Clay Lick (click to enlarge)
A Baby Capybara
Side Necked Turtles
A Big Caiman
Parrots at Clay Lick
Learning About Wildlife in the Amazon
A Happy Guide with a Happy Visitor
Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis)
A Jaguar near TRC
Squirrel Monkey
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