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Join Andrew McLachlan and Mark Pepper (Understory Enterprises) for an exclusive photography retreat within the Cordillera Escalera, near Tarapoto, Peru. This location is situated within the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in Amazonian Rainforest. The dates for this event are October 19 – October 26, 2019 (6 ½ days of photography). Maximum number of participants is 6 / 8 depending on participants attending (if two couples are attending the tour we can extend the capacity to 8). The minimum number of participants for this tour is 3. The photo tour fee is $3800.00 US Currency. We need to arrive in Tarapoto, Peru on October 19, 2019 and we will depart for home on October 26, 2019. Depending on everybody’s departure time on October 26, 2019, we may be able to fit in one additional half day of photography.

The focus of this photo tour will be landscapes and micro fauna of the Cordillera Escalera. There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the foothills of the Andes Mountains as each new day awakens, standing in awe at towering waterfalls, photographing dart frogs in their natural habitat, or venturing out to explore the night life of the Amazon rainforest. One highlight of the night-time excursions will be photographing the endangered Cochran Frog, which has a very limited range in the Cordillera Escalera. We will also be photographing many species of insects endemic to this region. The biodiversity of the Cordillera Escalera leaves no shortage of subjects to photograph.

For more info or to register, please contact Andrew via e-mail.

Mark Pepper

We could not ask for a more friendly and knowledgeable guide. Mark Pepper has been exploring this rainforest environment for over 15 years. Mark has even worked with BBC film crews filming in the area. Using his extensive knowledge and keen eye he will locate several species of dart frogs for us to photograph, not to mention some very fascinating insects!

Some locations during this tour will require the ability of being able to walk several kilometres over uneven terrain in a humid environment. If you have any concerns regarding this please do not hesitate to inquire for additional information.

Our accommodations will be at the luxurious Understory House, which is also equipped with a gorgeous infinity pool over-looking the Cordillera Escalera, within the foothills of the Andes Mountains and Amazonian rainforest. There are two rooms with one queen bed each and one room with two sets of adult bunkbeds. Many of our morning sunrise sessions will be conducted on site, as we have an outstanding view of the sun rising over the mountain range.

Itinerary:

Daily excursions will be determined based on the current weather conditions.
Image review sessions will be conducted both in the field via LCD and at the Understory House via laptop computers.
Breakfast – at the Understory House
Lunch – at various locations during the tour based on each day’s travel plans
Dinner – in the town of Tarapoto at one of the many fine restaurants

What’s Included:

In-depth Photographic instruction
Accommodation at the Understory House
Transportation to and from Understory House and to all photographic destinations
Pick-up and drop-off at the Tarapoto airport for your arrival and departure
Free Wifi at the Understory House
All meals

What’s Not Included:

Your airfare to and from Tarapoto, Peru (via Lima).

Alcoholic beverages
Travel insurance
Medical insurance

The Details

Photo Tour Fee: $3800.00 US per person.

To secure your spot a non-refundable deposit of $1,200 US is due now. The balance of the fee, $2600.00 US, is due no later than March 31, 2019. A signed Waiver of Liability form must accompany the non-refundable deposit. Waiver of Liability forms will be emailed to those wishing to register.

Travel Insurance: Participants are encouraged to purchase their own medical, travel, and trip cancellation insurance.

The Cancellation Policy:

Full refund less $1200 US non-refundable deposit up to 91 days prior to Photo Tour date.

No refunds 90 days prior to the date.

If fewer than three folks sign up you will receive a complete refund that will include your non-refundable deposit.

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Join Andrew McLachlan and Mark Pepper (Understory Enterprises) for an exclusive photography retreat within the Cordillera Escalera, near Tarapoto, Peru. This location is situated within the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in Amazonian Rainforest. The dates for this event are June 30 – July 6, 2018 (6 nights). Maximum number of participants is 6. All accommodations for this photo tour will be shared with no single supplement option available. The photo tour fee is $3500.00 US Currency. We need to arrive in Tarapoto, Peru on June 30th and we will depart for home on July 6th.

The focus of this photo tour will be landscapes and micro fauna of the Cordillera Escalera.  There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the foothills of the Andes Mountains as each new day awakens, standing in awe at towering waterfalls, photographing dart frogs within their natural habitat, or venturing out to explore the night life within the Amazon rainforest. One highlight of the night-time excursions will be photographing the endangered Cochran Frog, which has a very limited range in the Cordillera Escalera. We will also be photographing many species of insects endemic to this region. The biodiversity of the Cordillera Escalera leaves no shortage of subjects to photograph.

If you have not already viewed my image gallery from my scouting trip to Peru’s Cordillera Escalera please click here.

We could not ask for a more friendly and knowledgeable guide. Mark Pepper has been exploring this rainforest environment for over 15 years. Mark has even worked with BBC film crews filming in the area. Using his extensive knowledge and keen eye he will locate several species of dart frogs for us to photograph, not to mention some very fascinating insects!

Some locations during this tour will require the ability of being able to walk several kilometres over uneven terrain in a humid environment. There is also the possibility of river crossings on some hikes, however, these rivers are narrow and shallow. If you have any concerns regarding these please do inquire for additional information.

Our accommodations will be at the luxurious Understory Enterprises Field House, which is also equipped with a gorgeous infinity pool over-looking the Cordillera Escalera, within the foothills of the Andes Mountains and Amazonian rainforest. Many of our morning sunrise sessions will be conducted on site, as we have an outstanding view of the sun rising over the mountain range.

 

 

Itinerary:

Meet and greet on June 30, 2018 at the Understory Enterprises Field House.

Daily excursions will be determined based on the current weather conditions.

Image review sessions will be conducted both in the field via LCD and via laptop computers at the Understory Enterprises Field House.

Breakfasts – will be at the Understory Enterprises Field House

Lunches – at various locations during the tour based on each day’s travel plans

Dinners – we will go into the town of Tarapoto for dinner at one of the many fine restaurants

 

What’s Included:

  • In-depth Photographic instruction throughout the photo tour
  • Accommodation at the Understory Enterprises Field House
  • Transportation to and from Understory Enterprises Field House to all photographic destinations
  • Pick-up and drop-off at the Tarapoto airport for your arrival and departure
  • Free Wifi at the Understory Enterprises Field House
  • All meals

What’s Not Included:

  • Transportation to and from Lima, Peru
  • Transportation to and from Tarapoto, Peru
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Medical insurance

Photo Tour Fee:

$3500.00 US per person.

To secure your spot a non-refundable retainer of $1200 US is due now. The balance of the photo tour fee ($2300.00 US) is due no later than March 31, 2018.

A signed Waiver of Liability form must accompany the non-refundable retainer. Waiver of Liability forms will be emailed to those wishing to register.

Travel Insurance: 

Participants are encouraged to purchase their own medical, travel, and trip cancellation insurance.

Cancellation Policy:

Full refund less $1200 US non-refundable retainer 91 days prior to Photo Tour date.

No refunds 90 days prior to the date.

 

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Ameerega trivittata, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Perhaps the biggest highlight of my recent trip the Cordillera Escalera region of Peru was having the opportunity to photograph several species of dart frogs within their natural habitat. Since dart frogs are a diurnal species, searching for them is made somewhat easier as we are doing so during the light of day. Often we encountered the frogs among the dry leaf litter on the jungle floor where their brilliant coloration really stands out. My go to set-up for photographing the dart frogs in the wild is the same set-up that I use here at home, in the wild or in my Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Workshops – a Nikon D500 with Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens and a Nikon SB400 Speedlight mounted on a Wimberlet F-2 Macro Bracket (the best macro bracket available today). To be more specific regarding my macro lens of choice, I use the Nikkor 105mm f2.8 D Micro Lens originally released in 1990 and now discontinued, but it is still a fantastic lens that focuses down to lifesize which is perfect for these tiny frogs.

The above photo of the Ameerega trivittata represents the largest dart frog we encountered, with this species being approximately one inch in length. The remainder of species encountered were not much larger than a thumbnail. Since the dart frogs are most often encountered on the jungle floor creating pleasing images of them means you to must get down to their level. Lying down among the leaf litter will, 99% of the time, yield the best perspective from which to photograph them.

Please note that I prefer to caption my dart frogs according to their scientific name. Not only is the most accurate means of identification, it is also less confusing as many of these dart frog species can have several common names.

 

Ameerega cainarachi, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

The below Ranitomeya imitator is actually a frog that mimics the coloration of dart frogs. These tiny frogs are completely harmless and incapable of producing toxins, yet their brilliant colors warn potential predators that perhaps they should stay away.

 

Ranitomeya imitator, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

My favorite encounter was with the Ranitomeya summersi we discovered during a grueling 8 kilometer hike through a large, multiple hectare reserve belonging to Understory Enterprises. Without the expertise of Understory Enterprises these dart frog images would have been very difficult to capture.

 

Ranitomeya summersi, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

The below images of Ameerega femorlais and Cryptophyllobates azuriventris were located on a short excursion in the jungle near Pongo, Peru. The Cryptophyllobates azuriventris was a particularly nice find as my guide indicated it was the first time he had found an adult specimen here in about 12 years.

 

Ameerega femoralis, Pongo, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Cryptophyllobates azuriventris, Pongo, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

During one of our night excursions along small streams within the Cordillera Escalera to search for tree frogs and insects we encountered several Hyloxalus nexipus sleeping on narrowed leaved plants over-hanging the streams. To create the below image sitting in the stream to gain the low perspective was required.

 

Hyloxalus nexipus, Tarapoto, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

WORKSHOP UPDATE

A quick update on the Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop – Understory Enterprises and yours truly have added a second date on Sunday November 26 in Mississauga, Ontario and there are only two spaces remaining for this event. We do not use wild caught specimens in these workshops, they are all captive bred here in Ontario at the Understory Enterprises breeding facility. These workshops give folks the incredible opportunity to photograph nature’s most colorful animals in a comfortable setting with natural set-ups. Click here for more information and click here to register yourself for this event.

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Small stream in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 4 seconds

Over the course of the last few days I have been busy optimizing the image files from my trip to the Cordillera Escalera near Tarapoto, Peru. I created and uploaded of a selection of the imagery into a gallery of its own to my website today. Please click here to view the Peru Gallery. The daily temperatures during the trip were around 34 degrees Celsius with humidity around 80%, which in turn gives us a humidex value of close to 52 degrees Celsius. To say it was hot would be an understatement. In fact, I felt very tired for several days after returning from Peru. Although I drank plenty of water, I believed that my electrolytes might be on the low side, therefore a trip to the pharmacy to buy some electrolytes packets was in order and upon drinking the electrolytes I felt 100% better. On my next trip I will be sure to pack electrolyte packets to replenish what is sweated out during the heat of the day.

Tree Frog (Osteocephalus family) in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Photographically speaking the main subjects I created images of were landscapes and micro fauna. Above is an image of a tree frog from the Osteocephalus family that was encountered during one of our many night-time excursions. Being able to photograph numerous species of frogs within the Amazon rainforest was a fantastic opportunity, especially the Cochran Frog (Rulyrana saxiscandens) an endangered species with a very limited range within Peru’s Cordillera Escalera. I was also fascinated by a large, old growth tree that I discovered during one of the hikes. This tree had another tree that had set root and grabbed hold of it’s massive trunk some time ago, but what really caught my eye was the plethora of orchid roots that covered virtually every inch of the old growth tree.

Root details in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 85mm
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.8 sec

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper versions and enjoy the new website gallery 🙂

Cochran Frog (Rulyrana saxiscandens),  Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberely F-2 Macro Bracket

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Tununtunumba Falls in the Cordillera Escalera, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens at 24mm
ISO 64
f18 @ 0.3 sec
Nikon Neutral Polarizing Filter

After a full 24 hours of travel I arrived back home in Ontario at 11:30 am on Saturday, September 23rd. I spent much of today resting, doing laundry, and doing an initial edit of some of the imagery created during my time in Tarapoto, Peru. One of the highlights of the trip was a grueling hike to Tununtunumba Falls deep within the Cordillera Escalera near Chazuta, Peru. The trail into the waterfall was 4 kilometers (8 km round trip) of what I would describe as the most strenuous hiking I have ever undertaken with numerous, very steep inclines as we made are through  the mountains and two river crossings. The temperature on the day of the hike was 34 degrees Celsius, with roughly 80% humidity, making the humidex factor 51 degrees Celsius – it was hot! Nonetheless, it was such an awesome experience to be hiking through this area of the Amazon. Stay tuned for many more images in the coming days 🙂

Please do remember to click on the image to view the larger, sharper version.

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