FOTO VERDE TOURS



Greg Basco is a resident Costa Rican professional photographer and environmentalist. He is a BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice prizewinner, and his photos have been published by National GeographicOutdoor 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-book The Guide to Tropical Nature Photography. 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!

You can see more of Greg's work at his website Deep Green Photography.

Greg has been traveling the world teaching professional and amateur photographers for more than 15 years hosting his instructional workshops and seminars. Instructing photographers of all experience levels Greg has earned a reputation for his gracious and generous teaching style.

Greg's images are known for their unique style, exacting composition and strict attention to detail. As an internationally recognized photographer, his numerous publishing credits include books, advertising campaigns and editorial publications such as Birding Magazine,Outdoor Photographer Magazine, Birder's World, National Geographic and many others. Especially passionate about birds, his images can also be found in printed form in several Wildbird Centers on the east coast, as well as appearing in private art exhibitions.

In 2003 Greg founded www.NatureScapes.net with E.J. Peiker and Heather Forcier. Today Greg is the Publisher, President and sole owner of the company and oversees all operations from his home base in Parkton, Maryland.

As Greg travels the world taking pictures he enjoys meeting others, teaching and sharing his passion while making new lifelong friends in the process.

To see more of Greg's work visit his website.



WORKSHOP ITINERARY

Day 1, January 10 – San José

Arrival to Costa Rica. Meet our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transfer to your hotel near the capital city of San José, where Foto Verde Tours’ Greg Basco will be awaiting your arrival. Those who arrive early can take the afternoon to photograph the beautiful orchids and other tropical flowers in the hotel’s expansive gardens. The hotel has free wireless Internet throughout the grounds and in the rooms.

Day 2, January 11 – Atlantic lowland rainforest

After an early breakfast, we check out and head to our first destination, a rainforest lodge where we have worked to set up a feeder that offers unparalleled opportunities to photograph Keel-billed Toucans, Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, and Brown-hooded Parrots among many other birds. We arrive at the lodge for lunch and set in immediately to photograph at the feeders! This evening, we will have a presentation on fill-flash for bird and wildlife photography.

Day 3, January 12 – Atlantic lowland rainforest

Today we divide our time at the lodge among photographing toucans, honeycreepers, and hummingbirds and visiting the lodge manager's house where we have worked with the lodge manager to set up two blinds – one for honeycreepers (including the Green Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Shining Honeycreeper, and Blue Dacnis) and one for a multiple-flash hummingbird setup where you will have the opportunity to photograph lowland hummingbird species including Crowned Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, Green-breasted Mango, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, and Long-billed Hermit.– tropical bird photography doesn't get any better! Tonight we'll enjoy a presentation on getting creative in your tropical bird photography.

Day 4, January 13 – Atlantic lowland rainforest

We take this to shoot toucans, parrots, and tanagers at the lodge, and we'll also focus on a setup for the very handsome Great Curassow. We also have two special treats today – a macro session to photograph tree frogs and poison frogs as well as insects, lizards, and snakes and then in the evening, bat photography!

Day 5, January 14 – Atlantic slope cloud forest

After breakfast, we have some time to shoot the toucans and parrots at our restaurant feeder before travel ing toward the higher cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range and our last lodge and photography base for the rest of our trip. Our lodge 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. With its rushing mountain streams, cool air, and orchid and moss-festooned trees, the area is akin to a tropical Colorado. En route, however, we stop at a nearby local farm where the owner has a great population of Scarlet and Great Green Macaws. We'll enjoy a delicious lunch at the owner's farmhouse and then take the afternoon to photograph the macaws both in flight and on attractive perches. This evening, we will have a presentation on the technical and artistic aspects of multiple-flash hummingbird photography.

Day 6, January 15 – Atlantic slope cloud forest

After breakfast today, we set in immediately to begin photographing hummingbirds at our multi-flash setups right on the lodge grounds. We will concentrate on the Violet Sabrewing (Costa Rica’s largest species), Green hermit, Purple-throated Mountain Gem, and Green-crowned Brilliant. Greg and Doug will run the setups and provide attractive native flowers to ensure that you capture some fantastic hummingbird images. When not on the setups, you can relax and download images, shoot the Black Guan, Silver-throated Tanagers, Agouti, and Coatimundi that frequent the lodge grounds. And you can explore the cloud forest trails for macro and landscape photography.

Day 7, January 16 – Atlantic slope cloud forest

After breakfast, we visit a nearby waterfall, which is 110 meters high and offers beautiful photographic opportunities of the waterfall itself and the surrounding cloud forest. There are some absolutely world-class landscape and lush tropical foliage images to be made here. In addition, we have permission to set up our multiple-flash here to take advantage of some very interesting small hummingbird species such as Black-bellied Hummingbird, Coppery-headed Emerald, and Green Thorntail and others such as the endemic White-bellied Mountain Gem and the perennial favorite, the Green Hermit. We'll shoot throughout the day, alternating our time between the setups, perched hummingbirds, and landscape photography.

Day 8, January 17 – Talamanca cloud forest

After an early breakfast this morning, we head across and then up into the Talamanca Mountain Range en route to our last destination, the high cloud forests just on the Pacific side of the Continental Divide. We arrive to our family-run lodge for lunch and then settle in working at our new private photo area. This is a new area that is a collaborative effort between the family that owns the lodge and Greg's company Foto Verde Tours. We'll spend the afternoon photographing the amazing Fiery-throated Hummingbird as well as other hummingbird species such as the Green Violet-ear and Magnificent Hummingbird.

Day 9, January 18 – Talamanca cloud forest

Before breakfast, we will head out with the lodge owner to look for the Resplendent Quetzal, the Holy Grail for neotropical bird photographers. The lodge owner and his family have started a project to work with local farmers in the area to monitor and protect the Quetzal, and this network exponentially raises our probability of getting a good photographic look at this beautiful species. After breakfast, we'll work in our new private photo area for multi-flash hummingbird photography and also photograph the local birds (Flame-colored Tanager, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Large-footed Finch, and Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher) at our feeder setups.

Day 10, January 19 – Talamanca cloud forest

We'll take the whole day today to search for the Resplendent Quetzal and will also visit a local house to photograph Acorn Woodpeckers and the Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher. We return to our lodge in early evening for a relaxing dinner after a busy day!

Day 11, January 20 – Quetzals and Back to San José

This morning we have some time for our last bird photography and then check out to head back to the capital city. We arrive to our city hotel for lunch. We'll take the afternoon to go over image captioning and a bit of post-processing before enjoying a farewell dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Day 12, January 21 – Airport

Private transfer to the airport for your flight home.

THIS ITINERARY INCLUDES

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

THIS ITINERARY DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Airfare
  • Airport departure tax (US $29, may be included in the price of your plane ticket)
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Tips
  • Non-mealtime snacks and drinks
  • Dinner the first night
  • Single room supplement ($317)



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

+ 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.

+ 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 light polartec and a good rain jacket are also good to have. 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 your photography out in the field, and if you’re visiting a beach area, you will want sandals or aqua shoes as well. Of course a good hat and sunscreen are important. The sun is strong in the tropics, even on cloudy days. We will send you clothing information specific to your trip after you've signed up.

+ Can I have laundry done?

Many of the lodges we use offer laundry service for a cost of approximately $1 per garment with same or next day service. We will indicate to you which lodges have laundry service after you've signed up for a given trip.

+ 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 and around capital cities is treated with chlorine and generally can be consumed with no worries. The lodges that we use for our photo travel often have their own well water, which is tested regularly by the Ministry of Health. Nonetheless, upset stomachs do occur as a result of change in diet or simply bacteria different from those to which Northern stomachs are accustomed. Serious disorders such as Giardia or amoebic dysentery are virtually unheard of. Bottled water is very widely available at our hotels and lodges, and a conservative strategy would be to use it as often as possible when outside the capital. 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.

+ How do I keep my equipment safe from humidity while in the rainforest?

The lush cloud forests and rain forests for which Costa Rica is famous means that your camera gear will be exposed to high humidity. We’ve never had problems with our gear here in Costa Rica, and neither have our clients, so humidity is nothing to be obsessed about. And it is certainly not a deterrent to visiting and photographing the rainforest. Nonetheless, a three-pronged strategy will help avoid damage to your gear and allow you to concentrate on your photography.

First, pack your gear well in water repellant camera bags and backpacks and sprinkle these liberally with silica gel packages. Former Foto Verde Tour participant Christian Moynihan turned us on to this site for all of your silica gel needs: http://www.silicagelpackets.com/. Whenever possible, pack each item in ziploc bags to avoid condensation upon exiting an air-conditioned vehicle or when traveling from the cool highlands to the warm lowlands.

Second, try to avoid actually getting your gear wet. We try to send our photo clients to lodges with covered shooting areas but these are not always available. A good rain cover for your camera and/or a small umbrella that clips onto your tripod can be very useful. And rain showers can come down suddenly when you are out with your camera. That same small umbrella is an easy way to cover up as are garbage bags stored in handy places in your camera bag. Camera bags with built-in rain covers are particularly useful.

Third, at night you may want to dry your equipment with a compact hair dryer that you bring along for this purpose (most lodges do not have hair dryers in the bathroom).

+ 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 toucan beaks, in addition to allowing the toucan to snip fruits from the ends of branches and eat bird eggs and chicks from nests, serve as temperature control? The toucan beak is filled with blood vessels. On a hot rainforest day, the toucan can pump more blood into the beak, allowing a greater surface area for cooling.

You should arrive to and depart from Costa Rica's Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO).

All of our hotels and lodges have electricity and hot water. They're quite nice! All even have WiFi available.

Plan to arrive early? No problem, we'll make your reservation for you!

We run this trip in conjunction with our friends at NatureScapes, the leading online nature photography forum in the US. Upon booking, you will be directed to the NatureScapes site, where their staff will guide you through the payment and pre-trip process. Upon arrival in Costa Rica, Foto Verde Tours wil take care of everything!

This trip requires a moderate fitness level. Your leaders will go over the gear you need for every shooting session so you don't have to carry the kitchen sink. Though most of our shooting will be right on the grounds of our ecolodges, you should be able to carry a tripod, camera, and long lens for 15-20 minutes on easy trails.

Electrical current is 110 volts, the same as the US. If you are coming from Europe or Asia, you may need a voltage converter.

A small power strip for charging camera, flash, laptop, and phone/tablet is useful. Greg Basco recommends this one:

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.

Costa Rica does not require any special vaccinations or medicines.





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 take bird photos that stand out from the crowd!


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS