Monarch butterflies, elephant seals, sea otters & more!

January 19-24, 2020

**See itinerary below.

Why Take This Photo Tour With Us?

*Only a small window of time when both the monarchs are wintering and the elephant seals are mating/fighting/giving birth, and this is it.
*The perfect tour for photographers who enjoy seeing large numbers of animals.
*An incredible variety of wildlife and spectacular coastal scenery.
* We stay right on the beach most nights, so you're never far from the photography.
*We are one of very few companies that offer this tour, and we were the first.

We'll start with the Beauties at Pismo Beach, and we're not talking about surfers. The sight of thousands of monarch butterflies clustering together is an amazing sight. It's an unforgettable experience watching these colorful insects take to the air in huge masses as they warm up each morning--nothing like spending the day with the sound of butterfly wings in your ears.

The next two nights will be spent listening to the incoming surf just below our hotel. The Beasts are only a short drive away. A little more than a decade ago, the first elephant seal pup was born on this beach. This winter, over 3,500 pups will be born here. We'll be able to photograph these huge mammals at point blank range. Even though we'll be at a safe distance, the noise will make us feel as though we're part of the rookery. With so much activity, it can be difficult to know which way to point your lens; there is mating, battling, caring for their babies, and all against one of the most impressive backgrounds on the Pacific Coast.
The last two days will be spent exploring the enchanting village of Morro Bay, and the variety of photography subjects will certainly keep everyone busy. This is the furthest south that sea otters can be reliably photographed, and we've had good opportunities on almost every trip. There will also be lots of shorebirds, grebes, loons and even displaying hummingbirds. Yes, hummers are nesting here in February and every year we've been able to photograph them from minimum focusing distance.

You'll be amazed at the variety of subjects and scenes you'll find to photograph on this tour--everything from the living kaleidoscope of the monarch clusters to the awesome behavior of the elephants seals to fabulous California sunsets.


Day 1: Pick up from Santa Barbara airport/airport motel, drive to Pismo Beach. Check into our hotel, unpack, instructional presentation of what we’ll be photographing. Head to the butterflies! Dinner after.
Day 2: Early morning with the butterflies again. Breakfast after. Pack up and head to the elephant seals. Check into our motel on the beach and drive a short distance to the elephant seal rookery. Photograph until sunset. Dinner after.
Day 3: Sunrise with the elephant seals. Breakfast after. Participant critique/sharing and rest/recharge time—walk on the beach anyone?? Back out to the seals in the afternoon for sunset. Dinner after.
Day 4: Sunrise with the elephant seals once more. Breakfast after. Pack and load, head to Morro Bay. Our lodging is in sight of the famous Morro Rock and we’ll spend some time there, and other nearby spots, photographing shorebirds, Anna’s hummingbird, scenics, marina/boats, sea otters and whatever else we find! Dinner after.
Day 5: Repeat some of the things we found yesterday—lots of possibilities! Breakfast after. Rest/recharge. Afternoon shoot of whatever we want to work. Dinner after.
Day 6: Out early to see what we see. Breakfast after. Drive back to Santa Barbara.


Deposit: $500

Airport: Santa Barbara, California (SBA)

Tour Cost Includes: Transportation, breakfast, dinner, snacks, water, lodging, critique and instruction as needed.