Landscapes and Predators Tour in USA
March – April 2017
Moab in Utah
Moab is one of those sleepy towns in Western USA that the majority of people have never heard of. The world famous landmark in that general area that everyone will know is the Grand Canyon. This is not, however, in out itinerary. It is a massive feature that is so vast that it is extremely difficult to photograph. Our targets are Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park. All three are within thirty minutes (or less) of Moab, and all offer incredible photographic opportunities. We will spend five days capturing the amazing features on offer before turning our attention to photographing animals with similar stunning rose-red backdrops. The annual rainfall in Moab is just 6 inches so the weather should be continually fine and dry.
We will have 4WD vehicles to enable us to go off-road if necessary.
Professional Local Landscape Photographer
We will have the services of a professional photographer who resides in Moab during the four landscape days. Photographers on Safari worked both with and without a guide when researching this tour in 2013. It was absolutely clear that some of the very best landscape shots are taken from positions unknown to the general public. While it is not impossible to discover which features are best photographed in the morning and which ones are better in the afternoon, it is his intimate knowledge of the area that will enable us to be in exactly the right location at the optimum time. Our aim is to use his expertise to help us to capture the very best features in that special early morning or late evening light. He will often be able to take us to more than one location within one session and his experience will enable us to make the very best use of our time in the parks.
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands has many features, but the one that makes this park famous is the Mesa Arch. It is a pothole arch with an incredible view behind and/or through it, depending on your choice of shot. It is ranked number one of the twenty-seven named attractions in the park. We photographed this arch just before midday on our first morning after our arrival in Moab. The purpose of this midday visit was to know exactly where to be at first light the following day. It produced some really special shots with snow-capped mountains glistening in the distance through the arch. It is definitely a visit we will repeat in 2014. The following morning at Mesa Arch was a wonder to behold. Just before the sun began to rise the underside of the arch became bright orange. As the sun began to emerge the tops of the rocks beneath the arch began to catch the first rays of the sun and the whole of the underside of the arch was illuminated with bounced light. Then the incredible features in the distance became a golden-yellow before becoming totally immersed in sunlight. It was the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen.
Dead Horse Point State Park
This park offers one of the most spectacular panoramic views imaginable. You are able to drive right to the end of Dead Horse Point in cars. There is a walkway around the point that offers viewpoints of both the sculpted pinnacles and buttes of Canyonlands National Park plus the winding Colorado River below. Time was too short in 2013 to do anything but a mid-day visit. It is well worthy of an early start one morning to enable us to capture the various views as the light first hits the tops of the different features. You can see for many miles and you can track the Colorado River as it winds its way through the desert landscape some 2,000 feet below. There is a spectacular horseshoe bend in the river immediately below the viewing point.
Arches National Park
This is, without doubt, where we will spend the majority of our five days of our landscape photography session. It is impossible to describe the scale of natural beauty that this park will offer. There is feature after feature after feature that will astound each and every visitor. The shapes that have been created are amazing. The deep reds, often with bands of white in between, provide some really unique photographs. The red rocks are made of a mixture of sand and soil. These layers are extremely susceptible to wind erosion. Thousands of years of wind have created some amazing shapes and huge rocks are left balancing on tiny supports. They look as if they could fall at any minute. Wait for the setting sun to hit and you will have a really special photograph that will astound all that see it. Some of the towers in the valley turn gold as the sun finally sets, while the huge rock face behind stays in dark shadow. I was a little late arriving at this point during my recce and arrived as the last light was fast disappearing. We will not make this mistake in 2014.
Delicate Arch is one of the most famous natural arches in the world and is the most outstanding feature that everyone wants to photograph when visiting Arches National Park. It is an evening shot and can be taken from three different locations. The best viewpoint requires an uphill hike of 1.5 miles. It is described as an intermediate walk but there will be ample time for even the slowest of walkers (me included) to make it. If this sounds too difficult, the other two viewpoints are more easily accessed. Once again, patience will provide some stunning photographs. As the sun drops the ground and the mountains behind will lose all light, leaving just the arch illuminated.
Balanced Rock, Turret Arch and Windows
There are a number of arches quite close together in one part of Arches National Park. One is the Double Arch that featured in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Some of these are best shot in the evening, but the most coveted shot is taken as the sun rises. It is the one of the Turret arch taken through the North Window. It is a short walk from the car park with a 50-metre scramble at the end. Really worth the effort of getting up a little before 6am. Balanced Rock looks as if it must fall over any moment. The rock is the size of three buses and sits on an unbelievably narrow support.
There are two very different and very striking balanced rocks in Park Avenue –Queen Nefertiti and Sausage Rock. They can be photographed from many different angles at most times of the day. This is a deep canyon with a massive wall of rock each side. There is vehicular access to both ends and it is an easy walk from the top end to the lower exit point. You can be dropped at the top and met by car at the bottom. Park Avenue has been the backdrop for a number of Hollywood movies. There are far too many features in Arches National Park to mention them all,but we will attempt to visit all of the most spectacular features that are easily accessible.
Ease of Access to Various Features
There are many different levels of access (distance and difficulty of walking) to the various sites within the parks. We will mostly target those that involve as little walking as possible. The furthest we will walk to a subject is 1.5 miles and, as already mentioned, there is an easier alternative if you think this is too far. You do not have to be super fit to view the best features here. Anybody who knows me will know that I am not very capable in the walking department. Things can be tailored to the group’s capabilities and there will always be an easier option available. Most photography will involve either a small amount of walking or a maximum of half a mile or so.
Click here for Moab Landscape photos
Time will be put aside in the middle of the day on alternate days to review your photographs and offer advice where needed. This will major on exposure and composition, but all points will be covered. On location advice will always be available. A tripod is essential for early morning and late evening exposures.
For your interest only; There was enough light for me to take all the photographs in the gallery (with exception of two sunrise landscape sessions) without using a tripod. This is not a technique that I advocate and high ISOs were used. Time was very limited in 2013 and I wanted to be able to show a full sample of what could be achieved. You will have more time and your photos should of a higher quality than mine.
We will drive the whole length of Long Canyon one day after our early morning session is over. It is a single-track off-road climb. We start at the bottom and climb (in 4wd vehicles) more than two thousand feet to the very top. The scenery is breathtaking. There are numerous stacks of rock where natural weathering has created vertical pillars with what look like carved heads on top. Maybe this is where the idea of totem poles was conceived. Indians lived here, and we will photograph rock carvings made by the Indians that once occupied these lands. There is also a large flat rock that has footprints made by dinosaurs. It is a short but somewhat difficult scramble to get right to the rock, but very reasonable shots can be taken from the road.
Predators in Amazing Landscapes
After having exhausted ourselves with landscapes we will spend the second half of our tour photographing a selection of the animals from our Pro Shoot in Montana that takes place each January. A number of these will be transported to Moab where they can be photographed in totally different surroundings. Our subjects are likely to be a Brown Bear, a Wolf, a Bobcat, a couple of Mountain Lions and a Lion. There could be a slight variation, but those are our planned subjects. We will use various hand-picked locations just outside the main parks that will place our subjects in some really special locations.
We will have two very contrasting sessions with the Bear. The first is at the bottom of a really quaint waterfall that has a small pool at its base. The bear absolutely loves his time here and loves showing off. He will bathe in front of the waterfall and also walk behind it. There are some great shots as his head emerges through the cascading water while his body remains behind. There is lots of headshaking with water making circular patterns as he empties the water from his ears. He explores the vertical banks to the side of the pool as if looking for fish that might be hiding from him. He finds a stick to play with before offering his trademark “snarl” to each waiting camera. We then take him to the top of the falls where he plays in the narrow stream in front of tall brown rocks. A second session with the bear will be in a woodland setting high in the mountains. This will give totally different opportunities. In 2013 we found deep snow there. This is not what would normally be expected and was the result of a big snowstorm the night before.
We should have two Mountain Lions again in 2014. They will be nearly 2 years old and almost fully-grown by then. The picture that everyone wants is of them jumping from one rock to another high above the ground below. You will see from the pictures that they were quite fearless, even at less than a year old. You may have seen similar photographs taken by some of the world’s top professional wildlife photographers. You may well have marveled at these pictures and wondered how they achieved such masterpieces. You will now have a unique opportunity to join Photographers on Safari and to return home with exactly those shots. People that see your resulting images cannot fail to be impressed. We will have further sessions with these cats in other locations where one might see them in the wild. There are wild Mountain Lions currently living around Moab.
Click here for Moab Animal photos
Bobcat, Wolf and Barbary Lion
The remaining sessions will be with these three subjects. There are also wild Bobcats in the area, so that animal will always be in natural surroundings. We will then choose locations that best show off the Lion and the Wolf. The Barbary Lion (now extinct in the wild) looked really good in the small red canyon that we used. The close-up headshots were really impressive and the uncluttered background showed him off to his maximum potential. We will use the wolf on the rocks and also in a woodland setting. We will photograph all the animals at sunrise and at sunset. This is when the animals look their best, and it is too hot for them in the middle of the day. We will have approximately five hours photographing the animals each day.
We will use a good quality hotel in Moab on a Bed and Breakfast basis. Hot food is always part of this first meal. Rooms are large with two double beds, fridge, microwave, en suite bathroom, coffeemaker, and free internet connection. There is a heated swimming pool if you want a break from photography. We tend to buy what we need for lunch at a supermarket, as most people want very little between a large, late breakfast and the huge dinner portions that are served at various locations in town. I have not included dinners in the tour cost as prices are extremely variable and different people will have different requirements. You can then choose exactly what you want and pay accordingly. Accommodation is on a twin share basis and single rooms are available at an extra charge.
Day 1. March 31 2017; Depart UK approx. 08.00am and arrive Moab approx. 20.00pm (flights not included). Transfer to Aarchway Hotel. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 2. April 1 2017; Breakfast at hotel 09.00 – 09.30. Hire cars available at 09.45. Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park 10.00 – 13.30. Lunch at own expense. Digital Photography talk and briefing 14.15 – 15.30. Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 15.30 – 19.30. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 3. April 2 2017; Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 05.30 – 09.15. Breakfast at 09.30. Free time to download photographs / sleep from 10.00. Photography review / critique session at 14.15. Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 15.30 – 19.30. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 4. April 3 2017; Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 05.30 – 09.15. Breakfast at 09.30. Drive to see Indian rock carvings and Dinosaur footprints followed by off-road drive through Long Canyon 10.30 – 14.30. Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 15.30 – 19.30. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 5. April 4 2017; Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 05.30 – 09.15. Breakfast at 09.30. Free time to download photographs / sleep from 10.00. Photography review / critique session at 14.15. Visit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with local professional photographic guide from 15.30 – 19.30. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 6. April 5 2017; Breakfast 06.00 – 06.30. First session photographing animals 07.00 to 09.30. Free time to download photographs /sleep from 10.30. Photography review / critique session at 14.30. Second session photographing animals 16.30 – 19.00. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 7. April 6 2017; Breakfast 06.00 – 06.30. First session photographing animals 07.00 – 09.30. Free time to download photographs / sleep from 10.30. Photography review / critique session at 14.30. Second session photographing animals 16.30 – 19.00. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 8. April 7 2017; Breakfast 06.00 – 06.30. First session photographing animals 07.00 – 09.30. Free time to download photographs / sleep from 10.30. Photography review / critique session at 14.30. Second session photographing animals 16.30 – 19.00. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 9. April 8 2017; Breakfast 06.00 – 06.30. First session photographing animals 07.00 – 09.30. Free time to download photographs / sleep from 10.30. Photography review / critique session at 14.30. Second session photographing animals 16.30 – 19.00. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 10. April 9 2017; Today is our “weather day”. In the unlikely event that we have lost a session with the animals due to inclement weather, we will replace that session without charge. If we have photographed the animals as planned, we will have the option to photograph our subjects again in the morning at an extra cost. In the afternoon we will revisit some of our favourite places in Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park with John Wright from 15.30 – 19.30. Overnight Aarchway Hotel.
Day 11. April 10 2017; One last chance to revisit Arches National Park / Canyonlands National Park / Dead Horse Point State Park with John Wright from 05.30 – 09.15. (or) Morning free to pack your bags and maybe relax by the pool. Breakfast at 09.30. Leave the hotel at midday for Moab airport to take outbound flight toDenver (flights not included) . Onward flights to UK by own arrangement. Overnight in flight.
Day 12. April 11 2017; Arrive UK
N.B. It is possible to arrange activities in between the animal photo sessions but, after having completed this Itinerary in 2013, I think you will appreciate some down time. We typically wake up at 04.30 on landscape days (one hour later on animal days) and don’t get to bed until 22.00 (later if you have a lot of downloading to do). This tour is not designed to be an endurance test. !!!!!!!!
Excl. international flights
What is included;
All breakfasts while staying at The Aarchway Hotel. Transfers between Moab airport and the hotel. Transfers between the hotel and our photography locations. Transport for shopping in town and transport for evening dinners. Park entrance fees. Complimentary hotel shuttle bus.
What is not included;
All airfares including local taxes when applicable, all personal items, gratuities, travel insurance, and anything not mentioned in the description above.
Meals other than those indicated above.
We recommend that you purchase travel insurance to protect your vacation investment. Travel insurance is not an absolute requirement and is not included in the price of your tour.
Due to the exclusivity and high demand for places at this venue, it is mandatory that a non-refundable deposit of $500 per person for any 3 day period with the animals is paid with booking. All group bookings must be made by Photographers on Safari at least 12 months prior to departure to secure the dates we require. Therefore a non-refundable deposit of £500.00 is required with booking. Insurance against any unforeseen personal circumstances is recommended. Indications are that places on this tour are likely to be taken very quickly, so early booking is advised. Places may be booked (subject to availability) at any time prior to departure.
Contact us to book…