In November 2021, I'll be co-leading Cat Expeditions' Pumas of Patagonia photo tour with one of the world''s top wild cat experts and photographers, Sebastian Kennerknecht.
Sebastian has spent over 300 hours with these pumas. This is an incredible opportunity to observe and photograph these animals with someone who knows them intimately. He knows the individuals, their personalities, and their behaviors. And our timing offers a good chance to see cubs.
I have the highest regard for Sebastian's passion for ethics and for conservation. Like me, he is a fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers ILCP. This trip is founded on contributions to conservation, and on ethical photography approaches to wild animals. The pumas' safety and space will be our top priority.
In southern Chile, the biggest threat to pumas is being killed by livestock farmers. Our expedition takes place on a private ranch, or estancia, adjacent to Torres del Paine National Park. The ranch, once a working farm, converted to puma ecotourism in 1996. For years pumas were seen as a threat to farming, and were often killed. Through community conservation efforts, pumas are now protected by ranchers and more are converting their properties to ecotourism.
In addition to paying for access to private puma territory, a percentage of the tour proceeds are donated to Panthera, the world’s leading wild cat conservation organization, who is running a research project in the area. Sebastian has worked extensively with Panthera on wild cat conservation all over the world.
Another hallmark of this tour is that we'll be staying at Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, one of South America's finest hotels (in fact, was ranked the #1 South American Resort Hotel in the 2018 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards). It's a 40-room resort on a spectacular location on the banks of Lake Sarmiento on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park and UNESCO Biosphere.
The lodge is primarily constructed of sustainably harvested, local Lenga wood, designed to minimize heat loss and reduce energy consumption. Native wildlife such as guanaco and nandu mingle with the ranch's free-roaming horses and sheep. Along with a variety of initiatives to support and preserve local habitats and cultures, the lodge is supporting a reforestation campaign that seeks to plant 1,000,000 trees in Chilean Patagonia.
Though this tour offers two expert leaders, we are keeping it to only 6 people to keep our presence smaller, and our interactions more personal.
This will surely be the trip of a lifetime!
Open to anyone who wants to come, whether your priority is photography or just observation.
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