Note: new dates and pricing for the 2013 season coming soon. We are confining the photo workshops at the bat cave to month of August when it is at its peak, with general ranch and bat cave tours starting in June. Please check back for details!
This photo tour takes place on the vast Armendaris ranch in south central New Mexico. The ranch encompasses 358,000 acres of pristine Chihuahuan grassland and mountain habitat which is managed for its extensive wildlife diversity. The property has been private for almost 200 years, and Blue Photo Safaris is privileged to have gained access for hosting photographic tours and workshops. These tours offer an exclusive opportunity to see and photograph a large variety of wildlife, landscapes and wildflowers – including the spectacular raptor feeding frenzy at one of the largest bat colonies in North America.
The bat caves are created by lava tubes associated with the ancient Jornada volcano, and serve as the summer breeding home to 3-6 million Mexican Free-tailed bats. In the evening the bats funnel out of the cave, and for some, straight into the talons of the waiting Swainson’s Hawks (at times more than 50). Peregrine falcons often join the fray of bats and Swainson’s, making for one of the most dramatic predator/prey aerial displays to be found. This is a great opportunity to hone your ‘in-flight’ photography skills, and is simply an amazing natural occurrence that few have ever witnessed.
The Amendaris boast a wide variety of birdlife, and we have blinds and feeding set-ups for photographing many mountain and grassland species – such as Scotts Orioles, Bullocks Orioles, Blue Grosbeaks and many Flycatchers – to name a few. A full bird list is being compiled and could number well over 200 species. For raptors we target the Burrowing owls and Swanson’s hawks, and are always on the lookout for the endangered Aplomado Falcons. Other commonly seen raptors include: Golden Eagles, Prairie and American Kestrel Falcons, Coopers, Red-tailed and Northern Harrier Hawks. The western boundary includes over 40 miles of the Rio Grand river, of which the northern end borders the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, which is world famous as a birding destination.
Large mammals on the ranch include Desert bighorn sheep, Pronghorn antelope, Mule deer, Elk, Oryx, Mountain lion, Bison, Javelina, Bobcats, Coyotes, Foxes, Badgers and Ring-tailed cats. The private property takes in the entire Fra Cristobal Mountain Range which is home to the largest Desert Bighorn population in New Mexico.
Reptiles abound in this habitat – and an opportunity to see and photograph some of the many lizards and snakes is good. In addition to chance encounters, we will often have several reptile species on hand to photograph in a controlled setting.
This photo tour is a very exclusive – and all-inclusive, with every effort made to make your stay an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Photographers of all skill levels are welcome and continual guidance and instruction is included. Photo tours are available from June 15 – August 31. Please watch the blog for stories and images from the ranch – keyword: Armendaris
Day 1, Afternoon game drive & evening shoot at the Bat cave
Meet at the Armendaris ranch headquarters between 1 & 2:PM. All tours begin at the ranch headquarters, where you can leave your vehicle - or drive it the 10 miles of gravel road to our lodging. We depart for the Bat caves everyday in the afternoon - allowing time to get set up and provide photography instruction prior to the bats flying. We shoot until it is too dark, then return back to our lodging with dinner waiting.
Day 2, Morning shoot and evening at the Bat cave
Our mornings start early to capture the golden light and colorful sunrise. After a hearty breakfast, we target a number of species in our morning shoot, from blinds and game drives. Our target species are the Burrowing owls, Mountain and Grassland bird species, Bighorns , Pronghorns, Bison and Oryx. Mid-day is spent relaxing back at our lodging or visiting the ongoing wildlife projects on the ranch. We head back to the bat cave in the afternoon for the evening shoot.
Day 3, The final day for 3 day tour guests, includes breakfast and the morning shoot.
Final day guests will be transferred or escorted back to the ranch headquarters by 11AM. 5 day tour guest continue on the Armendaris or transfer to the amazing Ladder Ranch after the morning shoot on the Armendaris (See "Birds of Animas Canyon" tour for info on the Ladder ranch).
Notes: you can extend your stay on the Armendaris or the Ladder by the day (space available) 5 Day tours may split the time between ranches - 2 night minimum stay per ranch.
- All accommodations (no single supplement charges)
- All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) 'Southwest cuisine'
- Transportation throughout the tour
- Guides and Photography instruction
- Unlimited bottled water & non-alcoholic beverages
- Transportation to the ranch headquarters (approximately 2 1/2 hour drive south of Albuquerque, NM or 2 1/2 hour drive North of El Paso, TX)
- Photography equipment
- Alcoholic drinks
- Laundry services
Non-refundable deposit: 100./person
If you would like to participate in this exciting photo tour, please contact us via phone or email and we will get your spot locked in for the dates that work best for you. Keep in mind that we have a limit of six persons per day, per ranch, and a limited season, so booking early assures the dates and duration you desire. Special accommodations can be made for families and larger groups to have the ranch to themselves.