Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be able to charge my digital camera batteries?

Yes, electricity is available at all of the lodges we use. Current in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama is the same as in the United States. If you are traveling to these countries from Europe or other areas, you will likely need to bring along a voltage converter, which can be found at many hardware and electronics stores. Peru, Argentina, and Chile have 220 volt European-style plugs in most areas. Brazil has variation by state but you will likely need an adapter. On each workshop page and in our pre-trip info we send once you've signed up, we will give you links to the adapters we like to use for each country. All hotels on every Foto Verde Tours trip have outlets in each room, allowing you to recharge your camera and other rechargeable batteries. You may wish to bring along a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter plug as one sometimes encounters older outlets with only 2 slots, which can cause problems with many modern computer, electrical, and photo devices that use a 3-pronged grounding plug. A small extension cord is also a good idea.

How should I back up my images during the trip?

You have a few options. The first, and by far the easiest to pack and carry is a portable hard drive such as a Hyperdrive. Couple this with a 256 GB flash drive, and you have a very light and portable backup system. The second is a laptop, which is attractive because you can review and work with your images and connect to the Internet to e-mail family and friends. MacBooks, Huawei Matebooks, and Microsoft Surface laptops are all light, small, and powerful. Bring along a couple of USB drives or external SSD drives to make redundant copies, and you'll be all set. The third is via a tablet. There are connection kits available that allow you to view your images on an iPad or Android tablet. Nonetheless, this type of setup is not quite there yet in our experience in terms of ease and reliability. The fourth is our least favorite and that is simply bringing enough memory cards to get you through the trip. We find that people often take more pictures than they originally thought and end up deleting images to free up space. We've also seen cards become corrupted. Finally, if using the card strategy, you're putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Can Foto Verde Tours arrange my air travel? Does Foto Verde Tours offer travel insurance?

No. Because you have so many different options and reward/point possibilities with regard to international air travel, it's best for you to book your tickets yourself. Please note that when one of our workshops involves air travel within the destination country, we do indeed arrange that and include it in the price of a tour. Though it would be easier for us, we think it's unprofessional to leave our clients the task of navigating and purchasing confusing domestic airline flights to try to arrive at a certain destination during the workshop. We prefer to take care of the hassle even though it means that our final advertised price for a given workshop may appear at first glance to be more expensive than others. The same goes for trip cancellation and travel insurance. Since you may have all or some of this included with different credit cards, we think it's best for you to choose the best option for yourself. Note that in the case of a medical emergency in country, we will assist you in every way possible. And if you have to make a claim to cancel a trip before you leave, we will be happy to provide you with supporting documentation.

How should I pack my photo gear for air travel?

We're big fans of the rolling Pelican Air 1535 as an overhead carry-on. If ever forced to check our carry-on, we are confident the Pelican Air would protect our gear from damage. Click the photo at left to see an extensive review of the Pelican Air 1535 by Greg Basco. Good rolling bags such as those made by ThinkTank are also a great option for your overhead carry-on. If your itinerary involves domestic air flights, you will be allowed the same carry-on permissions as on any flight as we use large planes for these trips. We will send you detailed info and recommendations for how to pack for your workshop once you sign up :-)

How should I pack my gear on a daily basis once I arrive at my destination?

A great way to handle gear for everyday shooting during a Foto Verde Tours photo workshop is to use a smaller backpack or a belt system. Your tour leader will go over the objectives for each shooting session, helping you to decide what gear to have on hand. You'll rarely need everything so a way to carry only what you need is very handy. We like the ThinkTank Shapeshifter, which can do double duty as a personal item carry-on and then a backpack for the field. It's a great complement to a Pelican Air or ThinkTank rolling case.

How do I keep my equipment safe from theft while during my tour?

As photographers, we accept the need to be careful with our equipment as a fact of life. The best rule is never to let your equipment out of your sight. Nonetheless, this is not possible at absolutely all times. Despite the fact that Foto Verde Tours chooses reputable lodges and hotels, care, as with travel anywhere in the world, must be taken. We take great care to minimize safety risks during our workshops. Equipment theft is not something that should make you nervous. While we avail ourselves of hotel safes when available to store documents and cash and other small valuables, we don't use any special locks or devices for our camera equipment. We simply use caution.

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

The lush cloud forests and rain forests for which many countries in Latin America are famous means that your camera gear may be exposed to high humidity. We’ve never had problems with our gear, 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. Second, try to avoid actually getting your gear too 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 can be very useful. And rain showers can come down suddenly when you are out with your camera. Camera bags with built-in rain covers are particularly useful. A garbage bag or two in each of your camera bags is also a cheap and easy way to rescue you in an emergency. Third, if your gear does get wet, at night you may want to dry your equipment with a compact hair dryer that you bring along for this purpose (most lodges away from the capital city do not have hair dryers in the bathroom).

Are there any tropical diseases of which I should be aware?

Diseases are not a major hassle where we travel. We suggest being up to date on all regular vaccines and standard travel vaccines (influenza, Hep A and B). Diseases with insect vectors, such as malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever are a fact of life in tropical countries in Latin America. But, we do not visit any areas of particular concern. Considerations will of course vary according to country. For each specific photo tour, we will give you all of the info you need to prepare yourself for travel well in advance. We recommend that you consult with your physician if you are considering taking malaria medication. Once in country, covering up and using plenty of your favorite insect repellant is always a safe strategy. Remember that DEET, a major ingredient in many insect repellents, melts plastic. To avoid fusing your shutter button to your camera body, we suggest repellents made from botanical ingredients or other non-DEET products. Another option that is reported to have no effects on plastic is Picaridin, which is the main ingredient in a number of different repellant brands that can be found at sporting goods stores in the US and Europe. There are also a number of other repellents made with essential oils and the like that may be more to your liking. For more information on health issues in Latin America, visit the websites for the Center for Disease Control and/or the Pan-American Health Organization.

Will I have access to the Internet while on a photo workshop?

Most of the hotels and lodges we use offer free WiFi. In fact, we use hotels in capital cities for your arrival and departure days that do offer good, free Internet so that you may e-mail family and friends. A smartphone or tablet is a great accessory to have as you can connect quickly when you have a chance. Once out in the rural areas, Internet will be less reliable and slower. You should plan on keeping in touch once a day with a simple, Internet based messaging app such as Whatsapp or Messenger when away from the capital.

What emergency contact numbers should I give to friends and family?

We have a number of different emergency contact options, all of which will be made available to you when you book with us.

Will someone be there to meet me when I arrive?

Certainly. One of our representatives will be waiting for you as soon as you exit the airport after going through immigration, claiming your baggage, and clearing customs. Private transfers to and from the airport are always included in the price of any Foto Verde Tours workshop. We will provide you with detailed arrival information specific to each country when you book a photo workshop with us.

What expenses does my Foto Verde itinerary cover?

As a matter of course, your package price will include everything except tips, alcoholic beverages, non-meal time drinks and snacks, and airport departure taxes if applicable. From the time you step off the plane until the time you depart, we have you covered. With Foto Verde Tours, there are no hidden costs, and unlike many people running photo tours, we operate completely legally and transparently.

Where should I change money? Do I need to change money?

This depends on which country you are traveling to. In general, however, US dollars will be accepted throughout Latin America. If you want to change a bit of money to a local currency, our city hotels we use for the arrival days of each trip will usually give a better rate than the airport exchange stalls, and you'll be able to change money in a more relaxed environment.

Do I tip at a restaurant?How much is an appropriate tip for drivers, hotel staff, guides, etc.?

In general, tips in Latin America are included on all meal charges as an automatic 10% service charge . Nevertheless, since the costs of meals are included on Foto Verde trips, you rarely need to worry about tipping at restaurants. As for other tips, though we will send you detailed information once you book a workshop, the following should serve as loose guidelines. The exact amount is of course up to you and according to the level of service any one of these people might have provided during your stay. Amounts noted below are in US dollars.

  • Bellhops often receive $1 per bag.
  • Cleaning staff at your capital city hotels can receive $3-5 per night.
  • A $1 tip for a bartender at the hotel is fine when you order drinks.
  • Hotels and lodges often have a tip box that goes to a general pot that is divided among the staff. If leaving a tip in the box, we suggest somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 per room per day.
  • Drivers transferring you to or from the airport appreciate a tip of $3-5 is appreciated but not obligatory.
  • If you have a full-time driver during your trip, a tip of $5-10 per day per person is appropriate for groups of 5 people or more. For smaller groups, you can add a little bit to this per day suggestion.
  • If you have a full-time local photo/naturalist guide, a tip of about $10 per day per person is appropriate, with perhaps a bit more for smaller groups.
  • Tips for professional photographers who lead your workshop is an open question. A tip certainly is not expected your photographer leader will be able to set his/her own price. Nonetheless, if you would like to tip your professional photographer leader, the practice is not considered inappropriate.

Why doesn't Foto Verde Tours include the cost of tips?

That's a good question, and we have considered it after discussing the matter with numerous workshop participants. Though we realize it can be a source of stress dealing with tips, people's preferences for how much is appropriate has led us to refrain from including tips automatically in the price of our workshops. Nonetheless, we will help you out to great degree in making sure you're prepared both with our pre-trip information and throughout the workshop trip itself. Please don't stress about tipping :-)

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. Though each workshop will be different, layering is always a good strategy. We will send you clothing information specific to your workshop after you've signed up.

Can I have laundry done?

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

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. By the way, we take no commission on single room supplement prices so we have no incentive to try to get you to book a single :-)

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. Bottled water is available at all of our hotels and lodges outside capital cities. We have had very few problems with water and food-related issues on our workshops. Before and during the workshop, we will be sure to advise you on where and when the water is safe to drink.

The airline lost my luggage. What do I do?!

Don’t worry — too much! We will help you through the process. Each country will be different so please pay close attention to the contact info we send you after you've signed up for a workshop. We always think it's a good idea to arrive a day before the date stated as the Foto Verde Tours official arrival day for a given workshop. We don't any commission on booking extra nights for you, so we're not trying to upsell. Arriving a day early gives you peace of mind and a chance to unwind after a long day of travel while exploring a bit of the capital city and getting to know the local culture a bit.

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