At a glance...
August 1-10, 2019
Min 4 Max 10
Los Amigos Biological Station, Madre de Dios, Peru (Western Amazon)
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
Geoff Gallice, Ph.D.
Anton Sorokin, M.Sc.
This expedition will take us to the Los Amigos Biological Station, located in the remote heart of the Madre de Dios region in southeastern Peru. Dubbed the ‘Biodiversity Capital of the World’, this region—where the towering Andes Mountains meet the sprawling Amazon basin—is the most biodiverse place known on earth. Los Amigos is located right in the middle of Peru's Manu National Park and the Tambopata National Reserve and is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, including more than 160 species of reptiles and amphibians (with more certainly remaining to be discovered!).
Our goals will be to find and photograph as many of these species as possible during our stay at Los Amigos, and to hone our photography skills in the process. The expedition will be led by Dr. Geoff Gallice and Anton Sorokin, who have 20+ years combined research and photography experience throughout the world’s tropics, including in Madre de Dios. Join us on this adventure as we explore the most biodiverse rainforest in the world!
What's the experience like?
We will be hiking long hours through the Amazon rainforest at Los Amigos, especially at night, to find reptiles and amphibians to photograph, and we will photograph them mostly in the field. We will also explore oxbow lakes and palm swamps from small canoes, scour dry season river beaches for caiman and turtles, wade through streams and temporary pools to find mating frogs, and spend time exploring and photographing diverse Amazonian landscapes and other fauna ranging from birds to mammals to insects and other invertebrates.
Who is this tour for?
For those who want to explore the Amazon rainforest, improve their nature photography, and photograph as much of the Amazon's incredible biodiversity as possible. Participants should be ready for an adventure—rainforest animals are elusive and do their very best to remain hidden, so we will need a good measure of patience to find a variety of amazing wildlife and photograph species in their natural habitats. Although the terrain at Los Amigos is mostly flat, participants should be in moderate physical condition—we will work hard to get our shots but we will also be rewarded with some of the most diverse, interesting, and photogenic subjects anywhere in the world!
Activities & Highlights
Hone your photography skills
Hone your photographic skills under the guidance of two biologist-photographers with 20+ years combined experience in the world’s tropical rainforests, including at the field site
Learn how to tell a natural history story through photography in one of the most challenging yet rewarding ecosystems, the tropical rainforest
Practice the basics of macro, portrait, & landscape photography and learn how to get the most out of your gear
Experiment with other techniques, including drones, camera traps, & white background
Use post-processing software (e.g., Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) to turn your photographs from good to great
Explore the Amazon rainforest
More than 160 species of reptiles & amphibians known from Los Amigos
Unmatched diversity of other plants and animals, including birds, mammals, insects, and more
Travel by motorized canoe 5+ hours to the field site located in the remote heart of the world’s largest and most biodiverse rainforest
Explore 60+ kilometers of trails through upland, ‘terra firme’ & floodplain forest and palm swamps, hike jungle streams at night, paddle an isolated oxbow lake, and watch epic sunsets over the Amazon rainforest
Go to sleep to the calls of frogs and tinamous, and wake to the sounds of macaws and monkeys
Highlight & target species
Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) - Emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) - Rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria) - Black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) - Smooth-fronted (Dwarf) caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus) - Bushmaster (Lachesis muta) - Mussurana (Clelia clelia) - Giant monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) - Poison frogs (Ameerega spp., Ranitomeya spp.) - Amazonian horned frog (Ceratophrys cornuta) - Caecilians (2 spp.) - Yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus) - Yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) - Fer-de-lance (Bothrops spp.) - Many, many more reptile & amphibian species - Non-herp species including big cats (jaguar, puma, ocelot), harpy eagle, monkeys (11 species), and many, many more - Thousands of insects & other arthropods
Dates: August 1-10, 2019
The expedition starts and ends in the city of Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Participants should arrive in Puerto Maldonado on or before August 1 (any flight) and depart on or after August 10 (any flight). We will meet team members at the Puerto Maldonado airport (PEM) when they arrive on the first day of the expedition and also provide return transportation for the departing flight on the last expedition day. While we do not organize flights directly, our partner STA Travel can help you make travel plans from your home country to Puerto Maldonado on a recommended flight.
Application & payment deadline: June 28, 2019
Group size: Minimum 4, maximum 10 participants
At the fee structure of $1,650 we will need a minimum of 4 participants for the expedition to be viable. We cap the expedition at 10 to ensure that tour leaders are able to work closely with the group to photograph subjects comfortably and to help each participant improve his or her photography.
Geoff Gallice, Ph.D.
Geoff is a biologist, conservationist, educator, and photographer based in Madre de Dios, Peru, and the President of the ASA. He uses photography to share stories about the threats facing wild plants and animals and the ways in which people can reverse the ongoing biodiversity crisis. His photography has been featured in numerous books, magazines, and online platforms. Follow him on Instagram at @gallice.g.
Anton Sorokin, M.Sc.
Anton is a biologist that has conducted research throughout the world’s tropics, including Borneo, Ecuador, and, most recently, in Peru on the poison frog genus Ranitomeya. Anton is also an award-winning nature photographer and has contributed to various photography initiatives, magazines, and books. He is on Instagram as @antonsrkn.
Expedition location: Los Amigos Biological Station,
Madre de Dios, Peru
The expedition will take place at the Los Amigos Biological Station, located in Peru’s Madre de Dios region, in the country’s southeast where the Andes mountains meet the Amazon rainforest (ca. 200-250 masl). Due to its geography—and also to its unmatched habitat diversity that includes upland and floodplain rainforest, Mauritia palm swamp, two major rivers, and multiple oxbow lakes—Los Amigos is home to more plant and animal species than anywhere else on earth, including more than 160 reptiles and amphibians. This is one of the most important research sites in all of the Neotropics and is an ideal place for exploring the western Amazon’s unmatched biodiversity.
Los Amigos photo gallery
After meeting in the city of Puerto Maldonado we will travel by land to a port on the Madre de Dios river and then travel 5+ hours upriver by motorized canoe to reach the remote Los Amigos station. Using Los Amigos as our base we will explore the rainforest that stretches unbroken rainforest stretches for hundreds of miles in all directions.
Los Amigos Biological Station
Private cabins at Los Amigos
The first night of the expedition will be spent in shared rooms in a comfortable, mid-range hotel in Puerto Maldonado; supplementary private rooms are also available. The hotel offers clean, air-conditioned rooms, hot water showers, and free breakfast.
At Los Amigos participants will stay in shared dormitories with shared, cold-water showers; supplementary private, wooden cabins are also available that offer a greater degree of style and comfort, including increased privacy and hot water showers.
Los Amigos is a rustic yet comfortable research station that offers a dining hall where meals are eaten as a group following a fixed, but flexible, schedule (included), 24-hour access to hot drinks and snacks (included), laboratory space and lounging areas, and a small library. Limited WiFi is available and 220V electricity is provided daily from roughly 6-9pm.
Please see the full program description for a complete packing list.
Cost: $1,650 per person
All expedition-related local transportation—transfer to and from the airport (or bus terminal) in Puerto Maldonado & all other transportation to and from the field site (by road and boat)
All accommodations—shared room in 2 star hotel in Puerto Maldonado & bed in shared dorm at Los Amigos (basic facilities, cold showers, etc.)
All food in the field—3 meals per day plus 24 hrs. coffee, tea, & snacks at Los Amigos
What’s not included?
International or domestic airfare, bus tickets, etc. (i.e., from your home country to Lima and/or Puerto Maldonado)
Meals in Puerto Maldonado
Photography gear—all cameras, lenses, flashes and accessories are your responsibility
Post-processing software, laptop, etc.
Personal expenses (e.g., toiletries, souvenirs, alcoholic beverages, etc.)
Personal gear and equipment (e.g., binoculars, headlamp, rubber boots, etc). See the packing list for items to bring with you.
Private room supplement
Private room in Puerto Maldonado
Private rustic/wooden cabin at Los Amigos (w/private bath & hot water shower)
Single occupancy $625
Double occupancy (per person) $250
Triple occupancy (per person) $150
Please note that an application fee of $150 is due after registering for the Herp Expedition & Photo Tour, which reserves your spot on the program and is non-refundable. The minimum group size at the $1,650 fee structure is 4; if this number of participants is not reached by the application & payment deadline (June 28, 2019) the expedition will be cancelled and all fees paid to the ASA will be reimbursed, including the application fee. Confirmation of the expedition will be provided just after the application & payment deadline. Please read our Cancellation Policy, as well as our Terms and Conditions before making a payment. You will be given payment options upon completion of the online application form.
A note about ethical nature photography
Ethics in nature photography is important not only so that photos represent a reasonable or realistic interpretation of the natural world, but also so that the animals that we care about are not stressed, harmed, or injured to get a picture. We have high ethical standards and we expect the same from all of our participants, and we will work with participants to improve their photography and take beautiful pictures in a way that respects the subjects.
At least 18 years old at time of expedition (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian)
Proof of medical and travel insurance
Excellent physical condition
Valid passport or ability to travel to/within Peru. Citizens from most countries (including the USA and Canada) receive a visa at the international airport in Lima, usually for 90 days but check this with the immigration official that admits you. Passport must be valid at least 6 months from the end of the expedition. Please note that immigration officials may request proof of departing flight from Peru before granting entry to foreign citizens.
No formal training or education is required; we invite people from all background to assist our biodiversity surveys. However, a healthy curiosity for tropical nature, a positive attitude in the face of challenging field conditions, and a willingness to work with people from a variety of backgrounds to achieve a common goal are essential.
How to Sign Up
Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements (see previous section)
When you’re ready to apply, click here to fill out the form, or visit the following link:
You will receive a message with instructions on how to make your payment and secure your spot.