Photo Tour Patagonia and PumaLand

Tour Intro

Cathy & Gordon Illg invite you to join them on this amazing journey of what we like to call PumaLand in Patagonia, Chile. Photograph this vast land, a vaguely defined geographic region, Patagonia encompasses the southern tip of South America, including Chile and Argentina. Travel to Santiago and on to Punta Arenas, Chile.

The Puma (Mountain Lion or Cougar) can be seen in nine million square kilometers of terrain, from Punta Arenas Chile, north to the southern border of Alaska, the greatest latitudinal range of any terrestrial mammal on Earth. PumaLand is the one place where travelers can see Pumas in the wild on 92% of days, and normally for hours each day: 25,000 acres of open, rolling hills on the eastern edge of the Torres del Paine National Park and on the adjacent, private reserve). These cats are visible thanks to decades of protection from hunting combined with a high density of their favorite prey, Guanacos and hares. Your local guides are able to track and safely showcase these graceful but powerful top predators. In addition, you may photograph Andean Condors, Darwin’s Rheas, Chilean Flamingos, foxes, Black necked swans, geese and many other bird species all within the stunning views of the Torres del Paine towers. The landscape photography is famous around the world.

Local guides provide wonderful tours for everyone, but above all they are great trackers. Expert guides enthusiastically undergo rigorous training about habitats, ecology, birds, trees, plants, animals and insects, in order provide guests with an incomparable wildlife experience. They are equipped with the most advanced communications and scoping equipment to ensure that daily discoveries are quickly available to all our guests. Every day they work round the clock to make sure that clients get to see and photograph the world’s greatest animals, up close in safety and comfort.

Tour Highlights

  • Patagonia in winter is a photographer’s dream, with snow packed peaks making for spectacular reflections in the surrounding lakes.
  • Photograph Torres del Paine National Park ~ a world famous collection of granite spires, glaciers and lakes.
  • Lodge is located on Lake Pehoe with views of the Torres del Paine peaks, not far from where the Puma’s roam.
  • Seven days with acclaimed tour guides and professional photographers Cathy & Gordon Illg.
  • Extend your stay in South America and travel to Brazil and the Pantanal with  Cathy & Gordon Illg.

Tour Itinerary

June 26: Depart Home for Punta Arenas, Chile

Depart Home for Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ), landing June 27. You will likely connect with a flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas. The group will travel together from the Punta Arenas airport to begin your adventure. The flight arrival time will be announced in your first packet of pre-departure materials.

If you would like to spend time in Santiago to rest, relax, or recover from jet lag, hotel options can be provided. In doing so you would have to depart home prior to June 26.

PLEASE NOTE: Those attending the Pantanal Photo Tour to Brazil can overnight with Illg’s in Santiago Chile &/ or Cuiaba Brazil, in order to rest prior to the program beginning. If you are attending both tours you will need to issue international flights multi-city, Home/PUQ; CGB/Home. Strabo will send suggestions for flying PUQ/CGB and booking airport hotels.

June 27: Punta Arenas

Photo By: Jacque Boehm Steedle

Photo Location: Torres del Paine Lago Azul Chile

Your guide will meet you at the Punta Arenas airport, time to be announced. Enjoy the day on your own to rest and relax before an early start tomorrow morning. This is Chile’s most southerly city and gateway for your explorations in Patagonia.

From the air you will appreciate how long and narrow this country is, enjoy great views of the Andes. At some point, you will see how the topography drastically changes and the country transforms into a mosaic of fjords, islands, and glaciers. This is Patagonia, the scenario for your photography outings during the following week. Overnight HOTEL PUNTA ARENAS

June 28-2: PumaLand - Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine

Photo By: Cathy & Gordon Illg

Photo Location: Patagonia

Depart after an early breakfast with your local guide to your lodge for the week. After lunch at the lodge you will begin your first Puma search. Enjoy another four full days photographing the wildlife and amazing landscapes. After breakfast each day depart on a 4-5 hour program, returning to the hotel for lunch followed by a second photo session each day.

Large herds of camel-like Guanaco will be a common sight along the entire drive towards Punta Arenas and other mammals potentially include Southern Grey Fox, Patagonian Hairy Armadillo and Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk. Chilean Flamingo, Upland and Ash-headed geese, Coscoroba and Black-necked swans and Silver Teal are all possible sightings along with thousands of waders such as Baird’s and White-rumped sandpipers and Wilson’s Phalarope at the roadside wetlands.

The experience of “Walking with Pumas” is extremely exciting. The Pumas are the only large cats in the world one can walk with, often for hours on end. The itinerary includes days searching and watching Pumas, along with photographing them in their natural habitat and surrounding landscape. This remote region offers unbelievable landscape photo opportunities, with vast mountains, and natural beauty.

The Andean Condor, is one of the world’s largest flying birds, with an impressive wingspan of more than 10 feet (nearly 3 meters); these magnificent birds soar over the summits of the Andes, all the way from Venezuela down to Tierra del Fuego. It is quite an amazing experience to see these colossal birds flying low, very close to the sea level. Overnight TORRES DEL PAINE HOTEL (B, L, D each day)

July 3: Punta Arenas - Santiago - Connect Home or Onward

Depart early this morning for Punta Arenas, flying to Santiago, and connect with your flight home* (flight time from Punta Arenas to be announced). The majority of flights to North America will land home the next day July 4. (B) *Depending on flight departures you may need to overnight in Santiago before proceeding home, if so we can recommend the Hotel Diego de Almagro Santiago Airport which provides a free shuttle service, rooms estimated at $180.

Photo Leader

Cathy & Gordon Illg
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Cathy & Gordon Illg

Cathy and Gordon Illg are freelance photographers specializing in nature and wildlife photography. For more than twenty years they have been guiding tours to outstanding locations for both scenic and wildlife photography. Their work has appeared in nearly all the major nature publications and prominent travel magazines, as well as earning numerous awards in Nature’s Best International Photographic Competitions. In 2003, they earned second place in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

They are more than just skilled photographers and instructors; they are also Certified International Tour Managers, which ensures that traveling companions will have a great time, regardless of where they are traveling and what they are doing. The job is particularly fulfilling when it involves bringing guests face to face with the great outdoors and the creatures that call it home.

If you are already an accomplished photographer, they will get you to the good locations, at the right times, and set you free. However, if you want help, they will provide as much instruction as you want. On most tours instructional presentations are provided, and participants are always encouraged to bring a sample of their work for a helpful, friendly critique or just to share with the group.

It was an amazing trip and the uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands certainly added to that. Everyone did a great job!!

S. Hon

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 8 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $400 if 6-7 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.

Testimonials

Dan was very helpful in photography and more, I learned a lot from the experience with him and from the other participants. Dan was also very gracious in responding to my many emails about photo equipment

J. Meznarich

Dan made himself available to everyone based on their own needs. I wanted to let you know what a fantastic time I had with Dan and your tour group. All of the information I received from Strabo prepared me well for the experience – I have nothing but compliments for all the coordination you did to make everything flow smoothly.

D. Pollack

The photo tour was fantastic with plenty of time for photography. Places visited were interesting with a good deal of amazing subject matter. Lance and Sam were very helpful, especially for a beginner to photography. We give the trip a 10 out of 10.

R. Lee

Additional Notes

What to Expect
This tour is designed to be a photo tour, and, as such, we must be flexible in our scheduling. Much of what we do, and when we do it, will depend upon the wildlife, weather, and the light. In the event that changes may occur, we will need to be flexible, which will also allow us to take advantage of new photographic opportunities.

All our accommodations will be clean and comfortable, with private toilet and shower/bath. The hotels have been chosen for their proximity to prime photographic locations. At Torres del Paine, the lodge is simple, with amazing views of the Torres del Paine mountain peaks. It is an easy drive to the Puma conservation, started by the Goic Family. Sheep ranchers by trade, they stopped shooting Pumas many years ago. At any one time there are on average 13 adult Pumas and 12 cubs living and hunting on the ranch.

Health and Fitness
Tour participants should be in good health and good physical condition to get the most out of the trip. You will find that every day includes walks/hikes to gain access to prime locations and following the Puma in their habitat. You could be walking 3-4 miles in the morning and again in the afternoon. Not every day will be that long, as there will be some photography from the vehicle as well, but you should be prepared. You need to be comfortable scaling hills with your camera gear, occasional steep slopes, and climbing over boulders. We will be at various altitudes, from the coastline to 4,000’ feet above sea level. There may be a couple long drives on very winding, narrow roads.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.

Airfare

Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

Exceptions:

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

Accommodations

All our accommodations will be clean and comfortable, with private toilet and shower/bath. The hotels have been chosen for their proximity to prime photographic locations. Majority of accommodations do not have elevators, and rooms may be on second floor, although there will be porters for your luggage.

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