Photographing Nature’s Wonders in Beautiful Costa Rica
Guest Instructors: Tom Till and Greg Basco
June 14-25, 2010
Come to beautiful Costa Rica and join world-famous landscape photographer Tom Till and Jon Fuller of Moab Photo Tours on a photographic tour of the natural beauties of Costa Rica, June 14-25, 2010. Also accompanying the workshop will be local Costa Rican professional photographer and naturalist, Greg Basco. Greg is one of Costa Rica’s best nature photographers, having been published in numerous publications world-wide, including National Geographic Magazine. Hone your photographic skills under the tutelage of Tom, Greg, and Jon as you photograph beautiful Costa Rica, from highland cloud forest to tropical lowland rain forests. This workshop is limited to 12 participants, so you’ll have an instructor/participant ratio of 1:4, allowing you unprecedented personal attention. This workshop is open to photographers of all skill levels. To see Tom Till’s work, go to www.tomtill.com. Greg Basco’s images are at www.deepgreenphotography.com.
Costa Rica is a nature photographer’s paradise. Typical subjects to photograph include tropical birds like toucans and macaws, colorful frogs, monkeys, sloths, iguanas, spectacular tropical flowers and equally colorful hummingbirds, along with an active volcano and gorgeous jungle waterfalls. You will learn how composition, natural light, flash, movement, and color allow you to produce magical images. In addition, you can learn more advanced techniques such as multi-flash hummingbird photography, daylight tele-flash photography, natural-looking daylight fill-flash, macro photography, and long exposure night photography, as well as general landscape and wildlife techniques. If you have a non-photographer spouse or traveling companion who would like to come along, they will still have a great time hiking and watching wildlife while we try to photograph them. There are also many non-photographic activities which can be arranged separately while you take photos. The workshop cost does not cover these alternate activities, however. These activities could include things such as visiting the fantastic hot mineral water spas near the Arenal Volcano, horse-back riding, hiking, rafting, or zip-lining through the forest canopy.
Day 1, Arrival – San José/Airport
Arrival in Costa Rica. Meet our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transfer to Hotel Bougainvillea near the capital city of San José, where Tom, Jon, and Greg Basco will be waiting for you. Hotel Bougainvillea is surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden filled with great subjects for macro photography, including orchids, bromeliads, and passionflowers. There is free wireless Internet throughout the property.
Hotel Bougainvillea overnight. (No meals included)
Day 2, Pacific Slope Cloud Forest, Savegre Mountain Hotel
After an early breakfast, we pack up and head to our next destination, the Savegre Mountain Hotel. Nestled in a remote valley high in the oak cloud forest, the area is the best in the country to photograph the resplendent quetzal, one of the world’s most beautiful and photographically sought-after birds. Numerous hummingbird species abound here, including the Volcano, Scintillant, Green Violet-ear, and Magnificent Hummingbirds. We’ll arrive at the Savegre Lodge for lunch with time to roam the hotel grounds in search of the quetzal in the afternoon. Greg will also provide two multiple-flash hummingbird setups (one Canon-based, one generic optical slave-based) in the new Foto Verde Tours-sponsored hummingbird photography area right at the hotel.
Hotel Bougainvillea (B), Savegre Mountain Hotel overnight (L, D)
Day 3, Pacific Slope Cloud Forest, Savegre Mountain Hotel
Today we will dedicate much of the day to locating and photographing the spectacular male resplendent quetzal, hiking the grounds and traversing the road on the valley floor in search of our photographic prey. We will also continue to work with our multiple-flash hummingbird setups. We have all day to divide our time between these two fantastic photo opportunities, and also have time to explore the grounds and surrounding area for some landscape images of the beautiful Savegre River.
Savegre Mountain Hotel overnight (B, L, D)
Day 4, Atlantic Lowland Rainforest, Selva Verde Lodge
After breakfast, we have a change of climate as we travel to the Selva Verde Lodge, located in the lush Atlantic lowlands. We arrive for lunch and then roam the lodge grounds in the afternoon in search of green and black poison frogs, strawberry poison frogs, red-eyed tree frogs, emerald basilisk lizards, and green iguanas that frequent the forest in and around the trails. Capuchin and howler monkeys also inhabit the trees along the trails.
Savegre Mountain Hotel (B), Selva Verde Lodge overnight (L, D)
Day 5, Atlantic Lowland Rainforest, Selva Verde Lodge
After a free morning to photograph on the lodge grounds we have lunch and then head over to the nearby La Selva Biological Station. We have all afternoon to canvas the trails in search of photographic opportunities. We return to Selva Verde Lodge for dinner and afterward work with flashlights to photograph the famed red-eyed tree frog. This is a new technique developed by photographer Greg Basco to give dramatic lighting for this beautiful frog while at the same time protecting this nocturnal species’ sensitive night vision.
Selva Verde Lodge overnight (B, L, D)
Day 6, Atlantic Lowland Rainforest, Selva Verde Lodge
After an early breakfast, we head to a surprise destination – a nearby farm owned by a local family that is a great place for photographing both the Great Green and Scarlet Macaws. The macaws are free flying but stay close to the farm to roost and feed. The owner also has a Baird’s tapir in a very large enclosure that is great for photography as well as two beautiful jaguars that are great for closeup portraits. We return to Selva Verde Lodge for lunch and then have the afternoon to photograph on the grounds or in the lodge’s primary forest reserve.
Selva Verde Lodge overnight (B, L, D)
Day 7, Northwest Rainforest, Arenal Volcano
After an early breakfast, we travel to the Arenal Volcano area. Arenal is the country’s most active volcano, with continuous emissions of lava and incandescent pyroclastic flows. On clear nights, the views of incandescent avalanches are breathtaking! We will stop en route to photograph green iguanas at a river bridge — a rare opportunity to encounter these reptiles at eye level. After a quick lunch in the town of La Fortuna, we arrive at the Arenal Observatory Lodge in late afternoon and, after check-in, photograph the sunset over Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano with stars and pyroclastic flows. The Arenal Observatory Lodge affords some of the area’s best photographic views of the famous Arenal volcano and offers fantastic sunset views over Lake Arenal and the surrounding hills.
Selva Verde Lodge (B), Lava Rocks (L), Arenal Observatory Lodge overnight (D)
Day 8, Northwest Rainforest, Arenal Volcano
We dedicate the morning to photographing Montezuma oropendolas, Passerini’s tanager, green honeycreepers, red-legged honeycreepers, and emerald tanagers at the lodge feeders, which Greg will have set up with attractive perches. Just before lunch, we depart for the Snake Zoo in nearby El Castillo. The Snake Zoo is run by Greg’s friend Victor Quesada, and Victor and his staff will help us to photograph numerous color forms of the amazing eyelash vipers, parrot snakes, vine snakes, and even tree frogs in Victor’s collection. Indeed, Victor has a special collection of animals that he makes available only to Greg and his clients. We will photograph all of these animals on natural stages that we will set up on site. This is a great opportunity to photograph a number of species that are very difficult, even dangerous, to find in the wild. We will enjoy a delicious home-cooked lunch as well as refreshments and coffee throughout the day at Victor’s. We return to the Arenal Observatory Lodge in late afternoon to photograph the sunset and the Arenal Volcano.
Arenal Observatory Lodge overnight (B, D), El Castillo Snake Zoo (L)
Day 9, Atlantic Slope Cloud Forest, Bosque de Paz
After breakfast, we travel to the cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range and our lodge and photography base for the rest of our trip, Bosque de Paz. Bosque de Paz Ecolodge is located in one of the most biodiverse areas of the country, nestled in a picturesque valley at approximately 4,500 feet above sea level between the Poas Volcano and Juan Castro Blanco National Parks. With its rushing mountain streams, cool air, and orchid and moss-festooned trees, the area is akin to a tropical Colorado. We arrive at Bosque de Paz for lunch. Afterward, we can unpack and do a bit of photography around the lodge’s fruit feeders. In late afternoon, we can usually obtain great portraits of the turkey-like black guan and the large forest rodent, the agouti. Hummingbirds, including the Violet Sabrewing and Green-crowned Brilliant, abound at the lodge feeders. We’ll enjoy a relaxing dinner this evening at the lodge.
Arenal Observatory Lodge (B), Bosque de Paz overnight (L, D)
Day 10, Atlantic Slope Cloud Forest, Bosque de Paz
After an early breakfast today, we head to the nearby Catarata del Toro Waterfall, which is over 300 high, falling into an extinct volcanic crater. It offers beautiful photographic opportunities of the waterfall itself and the surrounding cloud forest. As a special surprise, Greg has negotiated permission to set up our multiple flashes at the feeders around the restaurant at the waterfall. This is a great place to photograph some hummingbird species, such as the Green Thorntail, Coppery-headed Emerald, and White-bellied Mountain Gem, that are less common at Bosque de Paz. We will alternate turns on the hummingbird setups with landscape photography. There are some spectacular tropical foliage shots here of palms and ferns on the cliffs surrounding the waterfall. We’ll enjoy a delicious typical lunch at the waterfall. We return to Bosque de Paz in the evening for a relaxing dinner and time to download our great hummingbird and lancscape images.
Bosque de Paz overnight (B, D), Catarata del Toro (L)
Day 11, Central Valley, Hotel Bougainvillea
After breakfast, we pack up and leave for San José and the Hotel Bougainvillea, which has excellent, free wireless Internet throughout the grounds, as well in the rooms. We will stop for a typical Costa Rican lunch en route in the town of Sarchi, with options for a bit of souvenir shopping and coffee purchasing, or photographing the artisans painting typical Costa Rican ox carts. Throughout the day, Greg Basco will be available to help you with caption info for your select images from the trip. After arriving at the Hotel Bougainvillea, we have a bit of time to relax and then enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Bosque de Paz (B), lunch en route, Hotel Bougainvillea overnight (D)
Day 12, Departure – San José/Airport
Private transfer to the Juan Santamaría International Airport for your flights home.
Hotel Bougainvillea (B)
THE ITINERARY ABOVE INCLUDES
- Lodging as specified
- Meals as specified (B,L, D)
- Transportation as specified w/private driver in spacious air-conditioned van
- 3 Professional photo/naturalist guides
- Multiple-flash setups for hummingbird photography
- Entrances and fees for all described activities
- Taxes for all specified services
- Biodegradable plastic water bottle for each participant
THE ITINERARY ABOVE DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Airport departure tax (US $26)
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Extras, including activities for non-photographers
Price for this 12-day, 11-night photography tour is $3895.00 USD per person, based on double occupancy. A single supplement is $550.00. Participation is limited to only 12 participants. A minimum of 8 participants will be required, or the workshop may be canceled. Trip insurance is strongly recommended in the event that you have to cancel, or in the unlikely event that the workshop is canceled by Moab Photo Tours, LLC. For further information or a registration form, email firstname.lastname@example.org.