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Best of Costa Rica: Birds, Wildlife, and Rainforest Photo Tour

Best of Costa Rica: Birds, Wildlife, and Rainforest Photo Tour

Costa Rica

Frog on branch © Nikhil Bahl

This Costa Rica photography tour features an itinerary that’s packed with the best of everything! Tons of photo opportunities await you at this biodiverse destination, including colorful birds and gorgeous flowers, unique reptiles, tiny frogs, lush greenery, and more.

Our experienced workshop leader Nikhil Bahl teams up with professional tour guide and driver José Lopez, paving the way for you to learn new photography tips while creating new memories at one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Two hummingbirds at flower © Nikhil Bahl

Itinerary

Day 1, September 24: Airport/San José
Arrival to Costa Rica

Your Costa Rica photography tour begins by meeting our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transferring to our hotel near the capital city of San José, where NatureScapes’ Nikhil Bahl will be waiting for you. Our hotel 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.

Day 2, September 25: Tortuguero
Birds, monkeys, and basilisk lizards

We depart early today to travel to the Tortuguero area, one of Costa Rica’s most amazing destinations. There are no roads here—only canals through the lush rainforest. After a quick breakfast en route, we take our bus to the boat docks and then continue on the rest of the way to Tortuguero on a private boat. We arrive to our lodge for lunch and then have the afternoon to roam the grounds in search of birds, monkeys, and basilisk lizards.

Monkey swinging in trees © Nikhil Bahl

Day 3, September 26: Tortuguero
Boat tour for bird and wildlife photography; evening focus on macro

This morning we have an early boat tour through the jungle canals in search of wildlife to photograph. We’ll have great opportunities to photograph snowy egrets, tiger heron, northern jacana, and many other birds and animals in our verdant jungle setting. Cruising through the canals of Tortuguero is an unforgettable photographic experience. We return to our lodge for a late bite to eat and then take a break before lunch. After lunch, we’ll take some time to review our images from the morning boat trip to ensure that everyone is dialed in for the next day. In the afternoon, we’ll do a hands-on learning session for macro photography with off-camera flash.

Day 4, September 27: Tortuguero
Boat tour for wildlife and landscape photography

This morning we have breakfast and then take the morning to shoot wildlife on the lodge grounds or to relax and process photos or enjoy the pool if you choose. After lunch, we head out again on our private boat for an afternoon shooting wildlife in the jungle canals, and we’ll also be on the lookout for landscape images from the boat with reflected leaves in the blackwater canals we’ll be visiting. We return in time for dinner and then have a relaxing evening downloading images and packing up for our departure tomorrow.

Black bird by water © Nikhil Bahl

Day 5, September 28: Sarapiqui
Premier rainforest destination for bird and wildlife photography

After breakfast, we travel toward one of Costa Rica’s premier rainforest destinations, the county of Sarapiqui. We arrive to our lodge for lunch and then take the afternoon for photography on the lodge grounds, looking for tanagers, kingfishers, and caiman.

Day 6, September 29: Sarapiqui
Hummingbird photography

This morning we head to a nearby destination with bird feeders that Foto Verde Tours worked with the owner to set up a few years ago. We’ll be setting up great perches for colorful tanagers and honeycreepers and with a bit of luck, we may be able to photograph aracaris, toucans, and motmots too! We’ll also photograph a few different species of lowland hummingbirds that visit the feeders. We return to our lodge for a relaxing dinner after this busy day.

Hummingbird silhouette © Nikhil Bahl

Day 7, September 30: Sarapiqui
Surprise destination for hummingbird photography; evening focus on photographing frogs

After breakfast this morning, we head out all day to a couple of surprise destinations. First, we’ll visit the house of a very talented local wildlife painter who has set up feeders that attract a number of different tanagers and even the grey-necked wood rail. We may also be able to photograph the elusive white-tipped sicklebill hummingbird! After a delicious home-cooked lunch at our friend’s house, we head down the road to the home of another friend for an afternoon of frog photography. We’ll have the chance to photograph red-eyed tree frogs, poison dart frogs, and maybe even a glass frog among other subjects. What a day! We return to our lodge for dinner in the evening.

Day 8, October 1: Cloud Forest
Central Volcanic Mountain Range

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. En route we stop at a nearby farm for a delicious homecooked lunch and then an afternoon photographing wild Scarlet and Great Green Macaws both in flight and in the trees—an unparalleled opportunity! We arrive to our lodge in the evening with time to check-in before dinner.

Macaw © Nikhil Bahl

Day 9, October 2: Cloud Forest
Multi-flash hummingbird set-ups, macro, and landscapes

No Costa Rica photography tour would be complete without hummingbird photography! Today we will be joined by Foto Verde Tours’ Greg Basco to work with multi-flash hummingbird set-ups throughout the day on a rotational basis, photographing the vividly iridescent Violet Sabrewing and Green-crowned Brilliants that are abundant around the lodge. When not on the setups, you can explore the private cloud forest reserve for macro and landscape opportunities.

Day 10, October 3: Cloud Forest
Waterfall, hummingbirds, and landscapes

After an early breakfast today, we head to a nearby waterfall, which is 110 meters high and offers beautiful photographic opportunities of the waterfall itself and the surrounding cloud forest. As a special surprise, Foto Verde Tours 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 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 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 landscape images.

Waterfall Costa Rica © Nikhil Bahl

Day 11, October 4: Back to San José

We have the morning today to explore the private cloud forest reserve at our lodge for landscapes or you can photograph more birds or work with the fascinating orchids blooming in the lodge’s orchid garden. After lunch, we check out and head back to our captial city hotel. We enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel before retiring to pack for tomorrow’s departure.

Day 12, October 5, Departure: San José/Airport

Private transfer to the Juan Santamaría International Airport for your flight home.

Yellow bird perched © Nikhil Bahl

Includes

  • Lodging as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Transportation as specified with a private driver in a spacious air-conditioned tour bus
  • Professional, full-time photo instruction from your leader Nikhil Bahl
  • Multiple-flash setups for hummingbird photography
  • Entrances and fees for all described activities
  • Taxes for all specified services

Does Not Include

  • Airfare
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Tips
  • Non-mealtime snacks and drinks
  • Dinner the first night (September 24)

If you would like to register for this workshop, please fill out our registration form. A non-refundable deposit (listed above) is required to reserve your spot. Please refer to our workshop information section for our cancellation and refund policies.

Workshop Information
  • Dates: Sep. 24 - Oct. 4, 2017 (7 openings)
  • Cost: $4,995
  • Deposit: $1,000
  • Participants: 8
Single Supplement: $515
The single supplement fee reflects our actual cost and is subject to availability. If you are a single traveler and we are unable to place you with a roommate, you will be placed in a single room and charged the single supplement fee.
Leader

Nikhil Bahl

Nikhil Bahl

Nikhil Bahl is a full time professional photographer, author, educator, workshop instructor and environmentalist residing in the Washington D.C. area. Drawing inspiration from nature, Nikhil adopts novel approaches and seeks meaningful interpretations: to create photographs that transcend the commonplace, reflect deeper insights, and convey an enchantment of the subject's beauty. Continue reading »