Nature Photographers. Exclusive Photographic Explorations

Photography Programs with Katsuyoshi Tanaka

Photographic explorations with Katsuyoshi Tanaka

The remote territories of South America are the perfect backdrop for any photographer’s creations: an infinite array of chromatic variations and extreme contrasts. Our upcoming photography programs will take place in Easter Island and Patagonia and in the Sacred Valley.

Photographic explorations with Katsuyoshi Tanaka

This once in a lifetime experience will provide you the opportunity to capture amazing images in some of South America’s most amazing landscapes while refining your photographic skills and technique.

This program is designed for photographers of all skills and experience – anyone who has a passion for photography, nature and adventure.

explora offer this in collaboration with the photographer Katsuyoshi Tanaka and Nikon, the world’s leading imagining company.


Language: English

Patagonia and Easter Island

Note: The itinerary for the new dates will be the same except that we start the trip in Easter Island first, then go to Patagonia later.


The southermost tip of the world, is the most spectacular place for photography. In every corner, you’ll find an unimaginable landscape and with every passing minute, you will see dramatic change of color and light. This workshop will take you to the rugged mountains, gigantic glaciers and crystal clear volcanic lakes of Patagonia where you will also encounter iconic local figures, the gauchos, riding horses on the vast prairie.

Day 1

Depart Santiago early morning to Punta Arenas.

Transfer from the airport in Punta Arenas to explora Patagonia, situated in the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park. The explora Patagonia team will welcome you to the hotel and show you the rooms. You’ll meet the photographer and leader of the expedition, Katsuyoshi Tanaka, along with the explora‘s guide to discuss the program. Welcome slide presentation and lecture.

Late afternoon, we will start photographing the massive mountains in the park.

Day 2

Sunrise and lakes

The finest landscapes in Torres del Paine National Park, with an astonishing array of mountains and lakes, can be found right in front of the hotel. Wake up early in the  morning and you will be able to appreciate the spectacle of the sunrise in Patagonia. During this session, you will learn how to capture the changing light, color and ambience.

In the morning, you’ll photograph the magnificent color of the lakes surrounding the hotel and will learn how to frame images with various natural elements to add patterns, shapes and colors (Lake Pehoé and/or Nordenskjöld).

Grey Glacier

This exploration will take you by boat to Grey Glacier, at the southern end of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, one of the world’s largest freshwater reserves. (Please note: the boat trip is dependent on weather conditions).

Day 3

Quincho & Gaucho culture:

In the morning you will head to the explora Quincho to get a closer look at the local gauchos. This is a perfect opportunity to learn how to take portraits and interactive photos.

Encounter the wildlife

During the afternoon, we will venture into the Nordenskjöld field. Great opportunity to photograph wildlife including herds of Guanaco and wild birds.

Day 4

French Valley

This is a full day exploration that combines both adventure and  photography. We will leave explora by boat (30 min.) and then walk along the undulating trail that borders lakes Pehoé and Skottsberg. There are spectacular views of the two lakes, Paine Grande Mountain and the Paine Horns. We then cross the hanging bridge over the French River for view of French Glacier.

Day 5

In the morning, we will head to the wetland area to capture the variety of vegetation, learning macro photography. Other choice of trekking is available depending on the weather condition and guests’ interest.

Horses will be your best companions in Patagonia and they will certainly add a graceful touch to landscape photography. During this exploration, you will be able to capture them while riding through the fields. If you are up to it, you can even ride yourself !

Day 6

Leaving the hotel in the morning, we will take the flight back to Santiago and stay overnight at a hotel in Santiago airport.



The world’s most remote inhabited island located in the South Pacific Ocean, is the photographer’s dream place. Famous for its large stone statues, Moais, the island is filled with mystery and history. You will venture into the natural wonder of the volcanic crater and lava-made caves, encounter the pride and heritage of the local people, Rapa Nui. We will also experiment with variety of night photography, capturing incredible stars with light-painted Moai. Immerse yourself in this brand-new program on the tranquil and mystical island.

Day 7

Depart Santiago early morning to Easter Island.

Transfer from the airport in Easter Island to explora Rapa Nui, 10 minutes drive from the main town, Hanga Roa. The explora Rapa Nui team will welcome you to the hotel and show you the rooms. Welcome slide presentation and lecture.

First encounter with Moai

Program starts with the incredible sunset shoot at Ahu Tahai, where a line of the famous Moai statues stand on the hill. The sun goes down behind them and it makes impressive silhouette figures.

Day 8

Sunrise at Ahu Tongariki

Ahu are the sacred stone platforms for Moai statues. Tongariki has the biggest Ahu on the island with massive 15 Moai. You will try to capture the dramatic sunrise images with the statues, learning how to control the changing light, color and ambience.

Bike ride along south coast

Enjoy a bike ride with the most scenic and panoramic view of the island. There will be plenty of opportunities to grab action shots during the ride. You will also try to capture the dramatic landscape with huge waves crashing into the cliff.

In the afternoon, you will venture into this volcanic high island, photographing the rounded hills and mountains, lava-made caves. You will also capture the wild horses running in the field.

Night shoot with Moai

One of the highlights of this program is experiencing various night photography. There is no other place in the world where you can experiment such unique photos with light painting on Moai and long exposure shot of the Milky Way.

Day 9

Encounter the heritage

Meet the island’s iconic figure, “Mokomae”, the tattoo and body painting artist. Tattoo and body painting are artistic and cultural manifestation on the island. You will visit his studio and photograph this form of art. A portrait shoot will be arranged with him and his model at the ocean.

Trekking to Volcano

Largest volcanic crater, Rano Kau, is the most spectacular natural wonder on the island. A few hours of trekking along the massive crater, you will learn how to position yourself and how to choose the right lens for high impact pictures. You will visit the archeological site, Orongo, where people used to celebrate the rituals of “Birdman Competition”.

Day 10

In the morning, you will visit the island’s main town, Hanga Roa, photographing morning mass at the church, the local market on the street, fishermen at the port.

Local Culinary

Food culture on the island is also unique and photogenic. Fresh seafood is sometimes cooked seaside on hot stones.

Boat trip to islets

Late afternoon, you will head to the ocean by small boat and capture the crystal clear water. You will witness the 3 sacred islets which were the center stage of the Birdman cult races.

Day 11

Leaving hotel at noon, flying back to Santiago, then connecting the flight back home.

Sacred Valley

Photography in the Sacred Valley


Once home to the great Inca Empire, the Sacred Valley -located between Cusco and Machu Picchu- is a combination of stunning nature and landscape, magnificent archaeological sites and rich and colorful local culture. You will photograph the Inca’s legacy and wisdom and venture throughout the foothills of beautiful valley, visit a traditional weaving village, trace the ancient agricultural laboratory and walk through the living towns of Inca. Of course, the highlight of the trip is to visit the world-famous Machu Picchu and former capital of Inca, Cusco.

Day 1

Transfer from the airport in Cusco to explora Valle Sagrado (1h30min drive), situated in the heart of “Sacred Valley”. The explora team will welcome you to the lodge and show you the rooms. You’ll meet the photographer and leader of the expedition, Katsuyoshi Tanaka, along with the explora’s guide to discuss the program. Welcome presentation and lunch.

First encounter with Inca’s wisdom:

Program starts with a late afternoon visit to “Salineras de Maras”, thousands of salt pans spreading along the hill. It has been used for salt extraction since Inca times. Capture the shinning reflection on the water with the sunset hits over the deep valley.

Day 2


Mid-August is a season for festivity, best time to capture the cultural heritage in the valley. Visit of the religious celebration of “Virgin Asunta” in a village, Coya. You will photograph the mass in the central square and follow the colorful procession in which you will document the incredible syncretism of Christianity and local religion.


Visit of another festival in the uphill village, Tiobamba. Thousands of locals gather from mountains to watch the traditional bullfight. It is a fight between two bulls pushing each other, rather idyllic scene but serious ritual for the locals.

Day 3


Early in the morning, you will visit the Sunday market at Chinchero to capture the daily buzz and traditionally dressed locals. A 17th century adobe colonial church, built on Inca foundation, is open for the Sunday mass.


The amphitheater- like circular stone terraces are believed to be the agricultural laboratory during Inca period. You will have the chance to capture this breathtaking and mysterious archaeological site.

Bike ride along the hill

Riding a bike is best way to get the feel of stunning landscape with snow-capped

Andean mountains and vast plain. This is a great opportunity to learn action shoot as well.

Day 4

Machu Picchu

Full day exploration to the historical sanctuary, Machu Picchu. We will take train from Ollantaytambo  to Aguas Calientes through deep valley and bus ride to top of the ruins. This sacred yet mysterious site was abandoned in the history until rediscovered in 1911. Photograph the myth and legacy of “lost city of Inca”.

Day 5

Sunrise over La Verónica 

Early departure to foothill of Mountain La Verónica and capture the astonishing sunrise over the signature mountain. After outdoor breakfast, we will trek down the preserved highland forest. Microclimate over the hill creates Zen-garden like tranquil landscape with the moss covering the trees and ground. Best place to photograph the endangered birds.


Another spectacular Inca ruins with enormous stone terraces and temple. Once unbeatable fortress, it is a living town of Incas now where the people live and preserve the history. In the evening, you will go on a photo walk through the deep narrow alleys in the town.

Day 6


Full day exploration to Cusco, the former capital of Inca Empire. Start from the fortress of Saqsaywaman, down to the temple of Corincancha and the main square of Plaza de Armas. This exploration combines street photography and architectural shoot, which captures a rich and complex history and present life of Cuscanian.

Day 7


You will visit a small weaving village, Chahuaytiri, deep in the valley and document the traditional Andean textile making. About forty weavers in the village, both men and women, old and young, engage and preserve this precious culture.

5 Lagoons

Half day expedition with adventure and photography. We walk along the trail with a stunning view of snow-capped mountains and 5 different lagoons, go through a ravine with plenty llama and alpaca herds. Great finale for the program!

Photography Program in the Sacred Valley

Useful information

Equipment for a photographic exploration

Equipment and important information

These expeditions are designed for photographers of any level that are passionate for photography, nature and adventure. We highly recommend that participants bring a digital SLR camera, tripod and their own laptop computer with software for organizing and submitting photos, as we will have daily critique sessions. Both in Easter Island as well as in Patagonia, we will have Nikon equipment available, D-SLR cameras and lenses, for your use upon request without extra cost.  Please ask for the detail.

Recommended clothing

Multiple layers of clothing are recommended, including a base layer of: thick socks, warm underwear, short or long sleeved thermal t-shirts; a second layer of: trekking pants and a thin fleece shirt; a third layer: a windbreaker; a fourth layer: waterproof pants and jacket (recommended for Patagonia); comfortable trekking shoes, gloves, sunglasses with UV filter with a strap and side protection, sun hat to protect your face and ears from the sun and wind, sunblock and a daypack.


Our expeditions are led by New York based photographer and Latin America specialist Katsuyoshi Tanaka, who has traveled extensively through both Patagonia and Easter Island. In addition to Katsuyoshi Tanaka, one of explora’s bilingual guides will accompany you on each exploration, introducing you the history, flora & fauna, geography and others key aspects of the area. All of the explora guides have advanced level Wilderness First Responder certification and always carry a radio and emergency kit with them.


  • Airport transfers to and from both explora hotels
  • Accomodation
  • All meals
  • Open bar
  • Daily explorations
  • Entrance to national parks and reserves

Not included: airfares, hotel expenses in Santiago, phone calls from explora hotels, massages, fine wine menu.

Who is Katsuyoshi Tanaka?

katsuA native of Japan, Katsuyoshi Tanaka, relocated to New York in 1993. After working as an assistant for a National Geographic photographer, he began his freelance career in 1995. Since then he has been involved in various projects for magazines, books and exhibitions in the U.S., Japan and many other countries.

He travels extensively in Europe and South America and has been documenting traditional cultures and lifestyles such as bullfighters in Spain, Inca descendants in Peru, and mixed races and cultures in Brazil. He has also documented social issues such as school reform in the United States and America’s imprisoned.

In recent years, he has photographed various performing arts such as ballet and dance companies as well as opera theaters. He held a series of photo exhibitions of the American Ballet Theatre in Tokyo, New York, and Alexandria, Virginia.

He also held an exhibit of Argentina Tango at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. in 2007 with full support from American Red Cross. He was also the official photographer for Cirque du Soleil, Canadian based world-famous circus art group when they opened the residential show in Tokyo, 2008.

Tanaka started documenting Brazil in 2001 and has photographed people and nature throughout the country. In February 2011, he published the book, “BRAZIL – The Poetry of Diversity” with full sponsorship of Nikon Inc.

Tanaka started photographing Chile in 2005. He has been fascinated by the grandeur of the landscape and has frequently traveled to Patagonia, Atacama Desert, Easter Island and the high plateau in the Andes with the support of explora.

To view his work, visit his website:


“Katsu is not just a master photographer, but a great passionate teacher.  I have been taking pictures all my life and learned more than 10 days with him than I learned in decades.” Hakam Kayasseh, TX USA.

“It’s a five star program filled with adventure, the best instructor, personal attention, and some of the most beautiful places on earth! It is an opportunity to do what you dream of.” James Martellotti. Tustin, CA.

“Our instructor is a master in his art of teaching through advise while shooting and daily critique. The program was very well planned and executed!!” Pierre Debbane. Beirut, Lebanon.

“Yes, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity! A great field instructor with real passion and commitment to teaching.” Jerry Cooper. Atlanta, GA.

For more information on our programs, please contact our reservation team at  or call +56 2 2395 2800.

More Information

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