Greg Basco is a resident Costa Rican professional photographer and environmentalist. He is a BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and multiple Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice prizewinner, and his photos have been published by National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, and Newsweek. His latest work is an acclaimed coffee table book on Costa Rica's natural wonders, and he is co-author of the popular e-books The Guide to Tropical Nature Photography and Lightroom for the Nature Photographer. Greg has earned a reputation as a knowledgeable workshop leader who puts his clients first. Greg does his own shooting on his own time, not yours!
Day 1, May 4 Santiago
Arrival to Chile. Meet our representative at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport and transfer to our hotel in the heart of Santiago. If you arrive early this day, make sure to get out and stroll around the neighborhood surrounding the hotel. The vibrant business district is a pleasant place to have a coffee or do a little shopping.
Day 2, May 5 Atacama Desert
After an early breakfast, we head to the airport for our flight to the Calama airport. Upon arrival, we take our private bus to our hotel in a beautiful colonial town on the edge of the Chilean altiplano. After check-in at our hotel, we head downtown to the charming center of San Pedro for street and building photography with hands-on lessons related to exposure and metering. After dinner at a great local restaurant, we'll do some night shooting in town and then return to our hotel for a well-deserved rest before tomorrow's early start.
Day 3, May 6 Atacama Desert
We head out very early this morning for sunrise at the Red Rocks Lake and then to photograph Vicuña at one of our favorite salt lakes. Both locations are beautiful! After lunch at a local restaurant we return to our hotel for a bit of rest before our fantastic late afternoon and night shoot. We'll be visiting a series of celestial blue lagoons set in an otherworldly salt flat. We'll have time to shoot with great late afternoon light and at sunset. We'll then enjoy a typical Chilean picnic for dinner right on site and afterwards continue to photograph the lagoons with stars as night falls. This will be a truly magical experience!
Day 4, May 7 Atacama Desert
Today is flamingo day in the Atacama desert! After breakfast at our hotel, we head out to a highland altiplano salt lake near the Bolivian border that offers great photo opportunities of three species of flamingo as part of the landscape. It's truly a special place. We then head down from the altiplano to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to a second lake that offers fantastic opportunities for tighter portraits of our beautiful flamingo subjects. The sunset here is wonderful, and we can often include flamingos as part of our sunset scene.
Day 5, May 8 To Patagonia
This morning we travel back to the airport and fly south to Santiago and then continue on to Patagonia. After a stop en route for dinner, we'll arrive to our hotel at night and check-in to rest up for the next day's shooting.
Day 6, May 9 Patagonia
This morning we shoot the sunrise right from our hotel and then have breakfast before heading out on our first Patagonian adventure. We'll take the morning to explore another nearby lake that offers us stunning mountain views. We return to our hotel for lunch and a bit of a rest before heading out to the Torres del Paine National Park for an area that offers us great views of the soaring mountain peaks. We can work with wide angle this afternoon but also with telephoto zooms for graphic compositions and time lapse. Throughout today and in the following days, we have hired our Patagonian friends, the best puma trackers in the world! Our local guides will be on the lookout for pumas, and we will be in constant radio contact to get you the best shot! We return to our hotel for dinner this evening.
Day 7, May 10 Patagonia
We leave very early this morning for sunrise over the stunning Laguna Amarga that offers a beautiful view of the famed Torres. We return to our lodge for lunch. In the afternoon, we will have a session on post-processing. We'll have an early dinner tonight and afterwards, head out right on the hotel grounds for sunset and night shots of the lake and the towering mountains of the national park by moonlight. Again, throughout the day, we will be on the lookout for puma.
Day 8, May 11 Patagonia
We enjoy sunrise this morning from a different overlook near our hotel that offers beautiful possibilities for reflections. After breakfast at our hotel, we take some time to photograph birds such as caracara, plant-cutters, and flycatchers in the woods near our hotel. We then depart for another section of the park that offers beautiful views. We have lunch at a very nice restaurant right on Lake Grey and then enjoy an amazing 3 hour boat ride to shoot blue icebergs and a glacier field set below the towering peaks of the Paine. It's awesome! We enjoy dinner at our hotel after this amazing day!
Day 9, May 12 Patagonia
This day is our final day to get that magical landscape shot, and we have some great spots planned for you! We'll be out all day to photograph the celestial blue waters of some nearby lakes, and we'll again be on the lookout for wildlife such as guanaco to include in our landscape photos. And as a bonus, we'll be on the lookout for the very cool Torrent Duck, which frequents the rushing rivers of the national park. This will be a busy but productive day. We return to our hotel for dinner and a chance to relax.
Day 10, May 13 To Santiago
Today we enjoy our last breakfast at our beautiful mountain hotel before heading back to the airport for our flight to Santiago. We arrive in late afternoon and have a bit of time to relax a bit before enjoying a farewell dinner with our new friends, Chilean and otherwise, in our hotel's restaurant.
Day 11, May 14 Flights Home
Walk across the sidewalk to the airport for your flights home.
THIS ITINERARY INCLUDES
Lodging as specified
Meals as specified
Private transfers to and from airport on first and last days
Transportation as specified w/private driver in spacious air-conditioned tour bus
Professional, full-time photo instruction from your leader(s)
All domestic flights within Chile
Entrances and fees for all described activities
Specialized local puma trackers in Patagonia
Snacks, coffee, and tea in the field
Taxes for all specified services
THIS ITINERARY DOES NOT INCLUDE
Non-mealtime snacks and drinks
Dinner the first night
Single room supplement ($785)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
+ Why is this trip more expensive than your other workshops?
Good question. We pack a lot of diversity into our tour, a local photo/naturalist guide, and even specialized local puma trackers in Patagonia. Unlike other tours in Chile, we also include everything. There are no hidden costs or extras. Finally, Chile is simply quite a bit more expensive than Costa Rica or Ecuador, for instance. The cost of everything is higher, and Chile also has a high VAT (value-added tax) that raises costs further. We have worked with our local Chilean partners to bring down prices as much as possible for all of us!
+ Will someone be there to meet me at the airport?
Certainly! We take care of you from the moment you step off the plane until the moment you leave to return home. We'll send you all of the info you need to know regarding arrival in a final info message before the trip.
+ I plan to arrive a day early. Can you help?
Definitely, we'll be happy to make your reservations to ensure that you get to the same hotel that we have booked for the official first night of the tour. By the way, private transfers to and from the airport are always included in our tours, and you can use this transfer whether you arrive early or depart later than the official dates.
+ I see that we will be at moderately high elevations at times. Is there anything I can do to reduce the chances of altitude sickness?
Good question. We will be at higher elevations for the first 4 days of this trip. Hydration, ibuprofen, and being in shape can help but altitude sickness can strike regardless of age or physical condition. The local coca leaves are a traditional preventative, and we will have these available for you. They taste OK and do not produce any narcotic effect, though they do make you feel like kind of an outlaw, which is a cool bonus! If you think you are sensitive to higher altitudes, please ask your physician about the prescription medication Diamox.
+ What kind of clothes should I bring?
In general, your best choices are lightweight garments that breathe and dry quickly, and you’ll want a mix of long sleeves and short sleeves. A sturdy polartec and a good rain/wind jacket are also good to have as well as a warm hat and gloves. For meals, it’s informal at the lodges and in the region in general. A pair of jeans, tennis shoes, and a clean shirt are just fine for dinner, even in the captial city hotels. Lightweight hiking boots are fine for our photography out in the field. We will send you clothing and photo gear information specific to this trip after you've signed up.
+ Can I have laundry done?
The hotels and lodges we use offer laundry service for a cost of approximately $1-3 per garment with same or next day service.
+ Can I drink the water?
This is probably the question that our clients ask us the most. And it’s the one for which we have the least definitive answer, except to say that beer is always a safe choice! Water in Santiago is perfectly safe. The water at our hotel in the Atacama Desert is also safe. The water at our hotel in Patagonia is also considered safe, and we drink it with no problem. But, bottled water is available at the hotel bar, and we will make a grocery store stop to stock up on water and sundries. As with travel to any foreign country, immodium pills are good to have along, and some of our clients also bring along Cipro or other broad-spectrum antibiotics. Some go so far as to begin taking antibiotics before arriving in-country. For antibiotic use, we suggest you consult with your physician. That said, we have very very few problems with water and food-related issues on our tours.
+ I'd like a single room. Can that be arranged?
Certainly. Simply indicate your rooming preference on the workshop signup form.
+ I'm traveling by myself but would like a double room. Can that be arranged?
It depends. If we can match you up with a suitable solo traveler who also wants to share, we will place you in a double room.
Did you know that the Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth? Some areas have never received a drop of rain!
You should arrive to and depart from Chile's Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport (SCL).
All of our hotels and lodges have electricity and hot water. They're quite nice! They even have WiFi available.
Plan to arrive early? No problem, we'll make your reservation for you!
This trip requires moderate fitness. There are no long hikes involved, but you we will visit a couple of areas that are over 12,000 feet in elevation. Our highest elevation for lodging, though, will be at only about 7,000 feet.
Electrical current is 220 volts and 50 Hz, so most of us will need an adapter. This is one option that we have found to work well and would serve you well in the US too.
Another option is to combine a small, stackable adapter set with a US-style portable power strip. Greg Basco has used this combo in Chile (and Europe) with no problems.
We recommend purchasing travel insurance if you have not already done so. There are many companies out there, but we've found Frontier MedEx to have a pretty good selection. Note that in the case of a medical emergency, we will assist you in every way possible.
Gear insurance is also a good idea. You may, of course, have your gear covered under your homeowner's policy. If not, we've heard good things about TCP Insurance. Greg Basco has had his gear covered under the NANPA policy offered through Rand Insurance for years. He's only had to file one claim but they took care of things right away with no hassle. Note that NANPA also offers recommendations for travel insurance for photo tours.
Travel to Chile does not require any special vaccinations or medicines, but you should be up to date on routine vaccinations. The CDC recommends being up to date on Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations. We advise you to consult with your physician.
Check out our reading list for our recommendations on great natural history books for our destinations.
Click the pic to read Greg Basco's ideas on how to make your bird photos stand out from the crowd.
- Apr 14, 2018 – Apr 24, 2018 COSTA RICA - Art of Biodiversity Pacific - SOLD OUT! Apr 14, 2018 – Apr 24, 2018
- Jan 20, 2019 – Jan 31, 2019 COSTA RICA - Toucans, Hummingbirds, & Quetzals - SOLD OUT! Jan 20, 2019 – Jan 31, 2019
- Feb 25, 2019 – Mar 9, 2019 ECUADOR - Tropical Bird Photography - SOLD OUT! Feb 25, 2019 – Mar 9, 2019
- Mar 12, 2019 – Mar 23, 2019 ECUADOR - Hummingbirds, Herps, and More - SPOTS OPEN! Mar 12, 2019 – Mar 23, 2019