This has been an extraordinary trip capped off by several days spent in one of my favorite places on the planet: the Bolivian Altiplano. Salt lakes, many-hued mountains, and the surprise of flamingos living at 15,000 feet – it is an amazing place to be for a time, and I hope my travels lead me back here again.
One of the world’s most formidable landscapes, the Atacama in Chile is the oldest, driest desert on earth and has been for about three million years. This was my first experience there and it did not disappoint. I just love these craggy, austere landscapes, where the light plays such an important roll in getting great photographs.
Using San Pedro de Atacama as our base, we photographed in the Los Flamencos National Reserve with its impressive Valle de la Luna, or Moon Valley. A highlight was photographing at the geyser basin of El Tatio at night as the Milky Way stretched across the sky. Purely primeval.
It’s autumn in the southern hemisphere. It’s always windy; between the latitudes of 40 & 50 degrees, the Roaring Forties, strong westerly winds, smack the Andes and create the most amazing cloud formations. Lenticular clouds scud across enhancing the most spectacular of landscapes in Los Glaciares National Park, which includes Mount Fitz Roy Massif and Cerro Torre.
It has become a year of firsts for me: in Japan I was able to photograph the Steller’s sea eagles for the first time, and now when I am in Chilean Patagonia, I have been able to photograph Southern South American pumas and their cubs. A couple of these photos will surely find their way into my next book project for 2014.
Patagonia offers a great opportunity to get close to wildlife. It really delivers the goods in that respect: foxes that walk right up to you, guanacos that are chilled out, and over 300 species of birds native to the region. And they are all surrounded by the really dramatic landscapes that are indicative to Patagonia. Big skies, big mountains, and wonderful wildlife. What more could you ask for?
This is one of the most beautiful and enchanted places on the Earth! I look forward to returning to Patagonia.
It’s no secret that I absolutely love international travel. For the past 30 years, I have spent 9 months of each year on the road. I have met some amazing people and seen fascinating and varied cultures in my travels. It reinforces my belief that we are all connected.
I became hooked on international travel in 1984, when I was asked to join the first US Everest Expedition allowed in through Tibet. I didn’t go to climb Mt Everest, or even to just stand on her flanks. I went to see the magical city of Lhasa. I had learned about such incredible places in school and had always wanted to see one with my own eyes. I was instantly hooked and I’ve been traveling the world ever since.
The Pantanal offers a wetland environment like no other on the planet. At 54,000 square miles you could hide the whole of the Florida Everglades in the center and never find them. It’s no secret that I love photographing wildlife and the Pantanal offers some of the best avian photography anywhere. While the Amazon rain forest may be larger, the Pantanal has a concentration of wildlife that allows you to see (and photograph) 100 times more birds and animals than you ever would in the Amazon. I chose the Pantanal for my “Travels to the Edge” TV show for this very reason.
You will have the chance to photograph capybaras and caimans and many of the 400 species of birds that live in the Pantanal. Nearly a quarter of these birds weighing in at over a pound (1.6kg) – which is a pretty big bird when you stop to think about it. We may even get to see Giant Otters (big as a grown man) and Giant Anteaters. If you’ve seen the episode of “Travels to the Edge” from this region you have some idea of what you’ll be in store for. But don’t worry, when it comes to the caimans, we’ll keep a respectful distance (this time).
Through traveling to photograph wildlife, I have been blessed with getting to know some of the most interesting and diverse cultures around the world. For this tour, I have scheduled visits to two working Brazilian ranches so we can get a taste of what it is like to pull a living from this land and call it home. To visit a country without getting to know the people is an incomplete story for me. There is so much to be learned from others who share this earth with us but have different perspectives and unique viewpoints. Seeing the challenges they face can bring a new perspective to our own lives.
And if you’re not hooked yet… on my previous trips I have stumbled across a very remote corner of the Pantanal where there is an incredible opportunity to see Jaguars in the wild. This particular group has become habituated to seeing people much like some of the lion troops you would see on safari in Africa and they no longer
instinctively retreat and hide in the dense forest. It may take a while to swallow your heart back down from the middle of your throat, but seeing a Jaguar in the wild is a experience you will never forget.