Exotic Landscapes of Colombia
Photo Tour

DATES

August 22 - September 3, 2024
13 days / 12 nights

TUITION

$6,995
All Inclusive

TOUR STYLE - Adventure

Moderate hikes, high temps and humidity, accommodation is a mix of luxury hotels and rustic guest houses

Overview:

Colombia is one of the world’s most geographically and biologically diverse countries. In addition to containing more bird species than any other country, Colombia is comprised of unique landscapes not found anywhere else on Earth. On this tour we will visit three of those unique landscapes: Los Cerros de Mavicure, Caño Cristales, and Chingaza National Park.

Highlights of this tour:

The name of the trip says it all: exotic landscapes. This trip begins with a flight deep into the Colombian Amazon rainforest, where we will spend 3 days photographing monolithic granite domes that tower above the surrounding jungle and the great Inirida river. If you have a drone, bring it to this location as it is incredible to photograph from the sky!

Next we will return to Bogota for a few days exploring Chingaza National Park. Nestled in the Andes mountain range, we will explore a land of great cloud forests and paramos -a tundra like ecosystem unique to the high tropics- one of the few places in the world where the frailejon tree grows in abundance.

We will cap off our adventure with 3 days in Caño Cristales, often called the most beautiful river in the world. Here we will discover beautiful aquatic flowering plants and one-of-a-kind waterfalls in a wild setting that is the first ecological reserve ever to be established in the country.

 

So join us for 13 days, 12 nights of incredible photography, delicious food, and fantastic company.

Tuition includes:

  • 13 days of photography in some of the planet’s most unique landscapes
  • 12 nights of best-available lodging, including rustic guest houses and luxury urban hotels
  • All in-country transportation starting and ending in Bogota, including airport transfers, 2 flights, boat trips, and tuk-tuks
  • All meals during the tour (alcohol not included)
  • Unlimited delicious snacks and treats
  • Special surprises and games along the way
  • A small, intimate group of 8 photographers and 2 guides 
  • Memories to last a lifetime

Registration opening soon.
Email [email protected]
to be added to the priority list

YOUR TOUR LEADERS

Joshua Cripps – Photography Guide and Chief Avocado Eater

Joshua has been a professional landscape photographer for over a decade and has visited 6 continents and more than 45 countries. 

He visited Colombia for the first time in 2017 and fell in love with its beautiful, exotic landscapes. He has been back numerous times since then to continue to explore and photograph this stunning country.

Gabriel Eisenband – Colombia’s #1 Landscape Photographer

Born in Barranquilla in 1975, Gabo studied cinematography in France in 1998, and began his landscape work in 2002. His main interest is expressing the beauty of the natural world through the photographic medium, work that he has carried out in the National Natural Parks of Colombia. He has sought to establish a landscape-artist relationship, photographing these unique places in the world that mean so much to him. Since 2015 he has been entirely dedicated to touring the country and has currently photographed 46 parks, work done teaming up with the National Natural Parks of Colombia for the production of the first entirely photographic book of Colombia’s Parks, published in August 2018, with which won the award for best photographic book at the International Latino Book Awards in Los Angeles. In 2020 he won the award for the best photo in the Flora Category at the Wildlife Photography Awards, awarded by the Natural History Museum in London. He has exhibited his work in galleries in Colombia, the United States and at the Natural History Museum in London.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Los Cerros de Mavicure

Part of the vast Amazon rainforest, Los Cerros de Mavicure have a “lost world” feel that has to be experienced. As our private riverboat rounds the bend the cerros come into view and grow larger and larger until they are towering over us. These granite domes rise 2100 feet above the surrounding jungle, providing a dramatic look into the area’s geology. Their reddish-black color pick up the warm tones of the tropical sunrises and sunsets and make stunning subjects for photographs of all kinds from grand to intimate landscapes.

Chingaza National Park

This park was established to protect one of Colombia’s signature landscapes: the high altitude wetlands of the paramo.

Here we will encounter the bizarre and beautiful frailejon trees, blowing fog and dancing light, and vistas shrouded in mysterious atmosphere. There is even a chance to see Andean bears.

The River of 7 Colors

Caño Cristales is known as the Rainbow River or the River of 7 Colors. During our visit, an aquatic plant native to just this location flowers a brilliant fuchsia. This plant carpets the streambed with stunning reds and pinks. That, along with golden sand, black and orange rocks, vibrant green jungle, deep blue sky, and white puffy clouds form the 7 colors.

While most tourists can only visit during the middle of the day, our group will have special sunrise and sunset access to the river via our private lodging nearby.

THE TOUR EXPERIENCE

Behind The Scenes Gallery from This Tour

Check out this BTS gallery full of pictures and videos from the trip.

Who is this Photo Tour for?

This Colombia photo tour is for upbeat, adventurous photographers who crave unique travel experiences, and who appreciate a wide array of landscapes and scenes. If you love intimate details of ferns as much as grand landscapes, then this trip is for you. There is a wonderful range of subjects and scales to explore throughout our three locations, and photographers open to all kinds of different shots will find great joy on this trip. Each location offers its own photography highlights.

Accommodation

Our accommodation on this tour is varied. Here’s where we will be staying in each location:

  • Bogota – luxury 5 star hotel in the nicest neighborhood in the city with easy access to wonderful restaurants and shopping.
  • Mavicure – a rustic guesthouse in the village of El Remanso. Every person has private sleeping quarters with clean sheets and a mosquito net. Rooms are very simple and have a cloth in lieu of a front door. There are shared, outdoor bathroom facilities with manual flush toilets and running cold water. The facilities are clean but very basic. It’s a bit like camping, but with beds.
  • Chingaza – We are staying in the park village in a series of shared hotel rooms with shared bathrooms. There is running hot and cold water. Facilities are clean and simple. 
  • Caño Cristales – We have a local guesthouse just for our group. Everyone will have a private room with electricity (until 10 pm). Bathroom facilities are shared, and have running cold water. 

Food

The food on this trip is absolutely amazing! It’s a highlight for sure. In the city we will enjoy some of Bogota’s nicest restaurants for our meals. When we are in the jungle in Mavicure we will enjoy delicious meals made by our hosts. Expect fresh fish, tropical fruits, rice, potatoes, and beans. The food in Caño Cristales is similar but with chicken or beef instead of fish. If you are vegetarian please let us know so we can plan ahead with our hosts to accommodate you.

Safety

Colombia has made huge strides in recent decades and Bogota is just as safe as visiting any major city in the US. As such, the same kinds of precautions apply: don’t flash your camera equipment, phone, cash, or credit cards around. Don’t walk around alone at night. Lock the doors when you’re in a taxi. Watch how the locals behave and follow their lead. Use common sense precautions and you won’t have any issues.

In Mavicure, Cristales, and Chingaza we will be in very remote small villages where it is incredibly safe and peaceful.

Photography Experience Level

This tour is for photographers of all experience levels, from pros to novices. That being said, you will get the most out of this trip if you understand the basics of exposure and composition. 

One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to know your camera. Understand how to change the settings, how to zoom in to 100% on Live View and on Playback, and how to quickly access the histogram and menus. When the good light is changing rapidly, simply knowing how to work your gear quickly and efficiently will set you up for success. 

Drones

Mavicure is a drone-friendly location. Caño Cristales and Chingaza are not. It is absolutely worth bringing a drone just for Mavicure because of how spectacular it is. Please practice flying your drone before the trip.

Group Dynamics

This is a group trip, and morale is a key factor to everyone’s enjoyment. Our favorite kinds of photographers:

  • Roll with the punches and go with the flow.
  • Respect people from different backgrounds and different styles of shooting.
  • Can laugh when Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into the plan.
  • Look for reasons to be excited about the landscape, regardless of the light or conditions. The locations we are visiting offer fantastic photographer, no matter whether it’s totally overcast or blazing blue skies. Photographers who are fixated on “epic light and clouds” are going to miss out on a lot of great shots that may be more subtle. So be open to the opportunities in each moment.

If this describes you, we’d love to have you aboard this tour. Negative, complain-y, or high-maintenance “everything needs to be my way” photographers need not apply.

In short, this tour is for anyone who wants to explore and photograph stunning scenery with a fun group of like-minded people. The trip is limited to 8 participants for a small, personal feel. 

Fitness and Physicality: Medium High, 7/10

This Colombia photo tour is appropriate for photographers who have plenty of hiking experience and good balance on uneven terrain.  Hiking is approximately 2-3 miles total each day, with some steep climbs, steps, and ladders.

Mavicure and Caño Cristales are both located in tropical jungles. Therefore, heat and humidity are quite high, reaching as much as 95 deg / 95% humidity. At these locations we will be limiting our activities to around sunrise and sunset in order to avoid the hottest part of the day.

In contrast, both Bogota and Chingaza are high and cool. Altitude can be a serious factor. Bogota is at 8,600 ft above sea level, and in some areas of Chingaza National Park we will reach 12,000 ft. If you have adverse reactions to being at elevation, please reconsider joining this trip.

We recommend preparing for the trip by walking at least a few miles per week leading up to the tour. All participants are expected to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the tour. 

What’s the difference between a photo tour and a workshop?

This is a photo tour, meaning that we are focused on getting you to the right places at the right times to create amazing images. This trip is about having the best possible experience in Colombia. That means in addition to shooting we are also enjoying meals together, learning the history of these areas, and allowing for down time so that you can stay rested and excited. We set a relaxed pace during the tour so that you will enjoy each day, rather than feeling exhausted, burned out, or mentally fatigued. This trip is FUN, not boot camp.

We are here to help, without overwhelming you.

In the field your guides are always available to answer questions, provide guidance and feedback, and give you ideas of how to approach your photography. In short, if you have questions, we’re here for you. At the same time, it’s important to avoid spending every field session cramming your brain full of as much photography knowledge as possible, as this only leads to overwhelm and an inability to retain anything.

Your guides will also be shooting photos during the trip, both to provide examples and ideas, and so that you can see the scene through their eyes, get inspiration, and learn about their approaches to photography.

A Typical Day

4:15 am – meet for coffee and fruit.

4:30 am – walk 15- 30 minutes to our shooting location.

5:00 am – arrive on location 30 minutes prior to sunrise and begin exploring and shooting.

5:30 am – sunrise.

7:00 am – wrap up morning shoot, and walk back.

7:30 am – breakfast.

Midday – rest, import and process photos, play games, optional river swims, or transportation between locations.

3:45 pm – leave for afternoon shooting session. Walk 15-30 minutes.

4:15 pm – arrive on location 1.5 hrs before sunset to explore, see the landscape, and shoot.

5:40 pm – sunset.

6:00 pm – wrap up evening shoot, and return to the hotel / guesthouse.

7:00 pm – dinner

Note that these times are given as a general sense of what to expect. Exact meet times, drive times, and hiking distances will vary day to day. We do our best to spread out the long drives and hikes, but we always let the conditions guide us to the best spots each day.

ITINERARY AND LOGISTICS

Tour Itinerary*

Our itinerary is organized to visit some of the most spectacular locations within Colombia. The tour is 12 days total. We’ll set a relaxed pace on the trip, with emphasis on shoots during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, with breaks in the middle of day for meals, optional side-trips, or transit between locations. 

Day 1, Arrival Day – Bogota

Meet in Bogota. We will pick you up at the airport and transport you to our hotel for the tour orientation, introductions, and a delicious kick-off dinner. We will plan to relax and rest this night.

Days 2 – 4, Mavicure

On our first full day of the tour we will have a beautiful breakfast at our hotel, then head to the airport for a short flight to the outpost town of Inirida. There we will have lunch and get on the boat which will transport us 2 hours up the river to the village of El Remanso. We will stay in El Remanso for three nights while we explore and photograph Los Cerros de Mavicure.

Days 5 – 8, Bogota and Chingaza National Park

After a final morning shoot in Mavicure we will take the boat back down the river to Inirida and fly back to Bogota for the next two nights. We will explore the city, enjoying photography and amazing food. The following day we will drive in private 4x4s to Chingaza National Park, stopping along the way for a few local treats. 

We will spend the afternoon photographing Chingaza then head to our accommodation in the park for dinner and to spend the night. We will photograph the park again in the morning then head back to Bogota in the afternoon for an amazing dinner.

Days 9 – 11, Caño Cristales

In the morning of day 9 we will head back to the airport for the quick flight to La Macarena. From there we will move by tuk tuk, boat, and truck to our private accommodation at Caño Cristales.

We will stay at Caño Cristales for 3 nights to have ample time to explore the various waterfalls and beautiful plant pools.

Days 12 & 13, Bogota and Departure

On the morning of day 12 will have a final sunrise shoot in Caño Cristales then pack up for the journey back to Bogota. We will have a final celebratory dinner together. Lodging is included this night. After breakfast the next morning we will transport you to the airport for your flights back home.

*We reserve the right to revise this itinerary at any time. 

Getting to the tour

This photography tour meets and disbands in Bogota, Colombia. Participants are responsible for their flights to and from Bogota International Airport. We will provide the airport transfers to our hotel and back.

Transportation during the tour

Private transportation just for our group is provided throughout the tour, from our first hotel until our return to Bogota.

Wi-Fi and Cell Coverage

Wi-Fi and cell coverage are very good in Bogota, and minimal in other areas. 

EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING

Camera Gear You Should Bring

  • Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera
  • Lenses. We highly recommend you have the following three lenses (or equivalent) to take advantage of the wide variety of scenes you will experience:
    • Ultra-wide, such as a 14-24mm or 16-35mm
    • Midrange, 24-70mm
    • Short telephoto, 70-200mm
  • A sturdy tripod
  • A drone for Mavicure is highly recommended
  • Comfortable camera backpack you can hike up to 1 mile with
  • Filters (A 10-stop ND, 6-stop ND, and Polarizer are highly recommended)
  • Remote shutter release
  • Rocket blower and shammy cloth, lens/sensor cleaning fluid, lens wipes, sensor swabs
  • Extra batteries, charger, and memory cards

Weather, Conditions, and Clothing

Mavicure and Caño Cristales

The weather will be hot and humid. Classic tropical conditions. The days will be 85-95 deg F, slightly cooler overnight, with a chance of thunderstorms at any time. Recommended clothing and gear:

  • Lightweight sunshirt (I love these by Ketl).
  • Travel/hiking pants, leggings, or shorts. As lightweight as possible.
  • Wide brim hat or travel hat for sun protection.
  • Neck wrap or handkerchief. 
  • Swimsuit.
  • Merino wool or synthetic travel underwear and socks.
  • Hiking shoes that can get wet and dry fast like Keens or other river shoes.
  • Crocs or flip flops for around camp and in the shower.
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or poncho.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Headlamp.
  • Mosquito repellent.
  • Water bottle.

Bogota

The weather is cool. Temps between 50 and 70 deg F with showers possible any day. Pants and a light jacket recommended.

Chingaza

The weather is cold and wet. Temperatures will be something like 35 – 55 deg F, with lots of fog, mist, and wind. It will feel colder than it is.

Recommended clothing and gear:

  • Base layers top and bottom.
  • Travel/hiking pants.
  • A warm jacket.
  • Beanie and gloves.
  • Warm socks.
  • Waterproof hiking boots.
  • Crocs for walking around inside our accommodation.
  • Waterproof jacket or poncho.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Headlamp.
  • Trekking poles.
  • Water bottle.

TOUR TUITION – $6,995 USD

A $2,995 USD deposit is required to reserve your spot. The balance is due 4 months before the tour. Payment can be made via check, bank transfer, credit card, or PayPal. Payments made via credit card / PayPal incur a 3% fee.

See our cancellation and other policies.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

  • 13 days of photography in some of the planet’s most unique landscapes
  • 12 nights of best-available lodging, including rustic guest houses and luxury urban hotels
  • All in-country transportation starting and ending in Bogota, including airport transfers, 2 flights, boat trips, and tuk-tuks
  • All meals during the tour (alcohol not included)
  • Unlimited delicious snacks and treats
  • Special surprises and games along the way
  • A small, intimate group of 8 photographers and 2 guides 
  • Memories to last a lifetime

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

  • International Airfare to Colombia
  • Domestic transport / airfare to Bogota
  • Personal items, souvenirs, passport/visa fees as applicable, and gratuities
  • Trip insurance 

HELPING MOTHER NATURE THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Fully Insured and Permitted, Leave-No-Trace Advocates 

We take pains to ensure our activities are 100% above board. We obtain all the necessary permissions, certifications, and insurance required in order conduct our tours.

We are also strong advocates of Leave No Trace (LNT) wilderness ethics. We teach responsible photography practices and never sacrifice the environment for the sake of a photo. Our goal is to leave our tour locations in better shape than the way we found them.

Carbon Offset and Planting Trees

We partner with the Give Back to Nature Project to plant trees to offset the carbon emissions generated by this tour. In fact we plant enough trees to offset a further 50% of our emissions so that the tour ends up net carbon negative

TO REGISTER FOR THIS TOUR

1) Fill out this 1-minute registration form

2) Once you complete the form you will be taken to the deposit payment page.

Colombia's weather is notoriously changeable. We may go from a warm, sunny day to a thunderstorm in the span of 20 minutes. But in my view, there's always plenty to shoot no matter the conditions, and photographers who are only looking for "epic light and clouds" will miss out on lots of wonderful, satisfying photographic opportunities. Are you onboard with the idea that clear skies, clouds, and even rain and fog can make for amazing photos if you come into the trip with an open mind, and listen to the landscape instead of putting your expectations upon it?
This tour is a true adventure and travel experience. We will be visiting extremely remote locations with limited infrastructure and amenities. When we are not in Bogota we will be sleeping in rustic guesthouses run by local villagers and facilities can be extremely basic so don't expect swimming pools and pina coladas.

Does this sound like something you'd enjoy?

Physicality and Fitness Level
I rank the physical demands of this tour as a 7 out of 10: it is appropriate for photographers who have good hiking experience and good balance on uneven terrain. Hiking is approximately 2-3 miles total each day, with some steep climbs, steps, and ladders. Mavicure and Caño Cristales are both located in tropical jungles. Therefore, heat and humidity are quite high, reaching as much as 95 deg / 95% humidity. At these locations we will be limiting our activities to around sunrise and sunset in order to avoid the hottest part of the day. In contrast, both Bogota and Chingaza are high and cool. Altitude can be a serious factor. Bogota is at 8,600 ft above sea level, and in some areas of Chingaza National Park we will reach 12,000 ft.

Does this trip sound like something you're ok with physically?

What is one skill or technique you'd love to learn / improve during this tour?
If you've been on a photo tour or workshop before, please tell us your favorite and least favorite aspects of those trips.

If you've never been on a photo tour or workshop before, please tell us your favorite joke.

Please tell us a fun fact about yourself. Do you have any unusual hobbies or interests or claims to fame?
Any specific questions you have for us about the tour?
Last step before putting down your deposit: please read and agree to our social contract.

This is a group trip, and morale is a key factor to everyone’s enjoyment. Our awesome groups are built on a foundation of mutual respect, love of the outdoors, and photography stoke. In other words, if you love photography, love being outside, and love other people who love being outside doing photography, you will fit right in.

We do everything in our power to get you to awesome locations in light that brings out their best, and we are going to see some amazing sights. But we also believe that whether the light is "epic" or not, or whether the location is grandiose or more subtle, there are opportunities to engage with the landscape, to appreciate being outdoors, and to have a blast taking pictures. If you feel the same way, come join us!

(By contrast, if you look for what's "wrong" with a location or the light, or seek out opportunities to complain, you probably shouldn't join this tour.)

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TOUR POLICIES

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Travel insurance is REQUIRED for this trip, which will reimburse you if you need to cancel for any reason, including COVID-19. It can also provide medical coverage, lost luggage coverage, and other benefits while abroad, and policies are generally inexpensive.  IMG and Travel Guard are reliable companies.

IMG Plans

Travel Guard Plans

It is important to note that travel insurance will generally only cover up to a certain dollar amount for high value items like cameras and computers. Therefore please pay close attention to the coverage on your policy. You may need to have your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance cover these items if you wish to have them fully insured. CHUBB provides outstanding camera insurance through the North American Nature Photography Association.

Deposits are non-refundable. Additional payments toward your balance are fully refundable up to 120 days before the tour. If you withdraw from the tour and we are able to fill your spot, we will refund your payments (including deposit), less a $200 administrative fee and any discounts given to fill the space. If we cancel this tour for any reason, your entire tuition fee will be transferred to another tour or refunded to you at your discretion.

If you have a personal emergency prior to the tour such as a medical emergency or a death in the family, please contact us. We are willing to work with you to reschedule or refund your fee on a case-by-case basis. This tour requires a minimum of 5 participants. In the case of under-subscription we reserve the right to cancel the tour, in which case your registration will be transferred to another tour of your choosing. Or we may conduct the tour with a single instructor. 

Getting Sick While On Tour

Unfortunately it does happen. Prior to the tour you should stock up on Vitamin-C, Airborne, or your favorite immune booster. During the tour make sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to help prevent the chance of getting sick. 

Medication and Allergies

Please bring any medication along that you require and advise us of any allergies. In some areas we will be 2-3 hours from the nearest doctor’s office or pharmacy, so be prepared.

COVID-19

If you are sick prior to the tour, please stay home. We will work with you for a trip credit. If you test positive for COVID-19 while on the tour you may have to leave the tour. 

Trip insurance is REQUIRED on this trip and will give you peace of mind in case of sickness.

Safety Policy

Your guides are first aid / CPR / wilderness first aid certified. They carry a first aid kit and emergency supplies. Your lead guide carries a GPS locator beacon.

QUESTIONS?
Email [email protected]

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