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 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-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!
Day 1, April 14, Airport/San José
Arrival to Costa Rica. Meet our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transfer to our hotel near the capital city of San José, where Foto Verde Tours’ Greg Basco 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, April 15, Central Pacific Coast
After breakfast, we enjoy an introductory presentation from Greg Basco. We depart late morning and then head toward our lodge on the Central Pacific Coast. We arrive for lunch, check in, and then set out in our private boat to photograph herons, egrets, motmots, caracara, frigatebirds, and crocodiles on the Tarcoles River.
Day 3, April 16, Central Pacific Coast
This morning we have an early boat tour on the Tarcoles River where we will photograph egrets, herons, kingfishers, and crocodiles. We return to our lodge for a late breakfast and then take the rest of the morning to download pictures and do a quick image review. After lunch, we dedicate our time to a field session on combining natural light and flash, a foundation that will open up creative opportunities for you with telephoto, macro, and wide angle lenses throughout the rest of the trip. We have a relaxing dinner this evening and then a night hike in the evening to look for insects and frogs to photograph.
Day 4, April 17, Central Pacific Coast
This morning we roam the grounds of our lodge in search of iguanas and basilisk lizards to photograph. After lunch, we head out again on our private boat for more photography of the river wildlife. We return in time for dinner and then enjoy a presentation by Greg on tropical landscape photography.
Day 5, April 18, South Pacific Coast
After breakfast, we head down the coast to our next destination, a beautiful lodge on a bluff between rainforest and sea. Upon arrival, we check in and then have lunch. We take some time after lunch to relax and then head out to a great nearby beach for sunset photography.
Day 6, April 19, South Pacific Coast
We enjoy an early breakfast this morning and then enjoy a day trip to the nearby Manuel Antonio National Park, a great place to photograph white-faced capuchin and squirrel monkeys, as well as iguanas, sloths, and crab-eating raccoon. We return to our lodge in late afternoon with time to relax and enjoy a well-deserved cold drink!
Day 7, April 20, South Pacific Coast
We take this morning to enjoy the trails of our lodge's private rainforest reserve, looking for wildlife and macro opportunities. After a relaxing lunch, we head over to the nearby Ballena Marine National Park for late afternoon and sunset photography at the beach.
Day 8, April 21, Pacific Cloud Forest
After breakfast today we have a refreshing change of scenery as we climb up to the towering oak forests of the Talamanca mountain range and 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, April 22, Pacific Cloud Forest
This morning we 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. This afternoon we work with more hummingbirds and then head out again to search for the quetzal. This evening we have a presentation by Greg on processing images in Lightroom.
Day 10, April 23, Pacific Cloud Forest
We head out early again this morning to search for the quetzal. After breakfast, we head a nearby area to photograph the beautiful Savegre River. We spend the day there with a bite to eat for lunch and then return to our lodge in the evening.
Day 11, April 24, Back to San Jose
This morning we concentrate on getting morning landscape images of the Jurassic-looking paramo swamp forest just across the road from our lodge. The ecosystem itself is fascinating, and the large ferns and cycads, besides offering compositional anchors for the photographer, make us feel as if we've stepped back in time. After lunch at the lodge, we pack up and then arrive to our San Jose hotel in late afternoon with time to relax a bit before enjoying our farewell dinner together.
Day 12, April 25, Departure - San José/Airport
Private transfer to the Juan Santamaría International Airport for your flights home.
THIS ITINERARY INCLUDES
- Lodging as specified
- Meals as specified
- Transportation as specified w/private driver in spacious air-conditioned tour bus
- Professional, full-time photo instruction from your leader(s)
- Multiple-flash setups for hummingbird photography
- Entrances and fees for all described activities
- Taxes for all specified services
THIS ITINERARY DOES NOT INCLUDE
- Airport departure tax (US $29, may be included in the price of your plane ticket)
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Non-mealtime snacks and drinks
- Dinner the first night
OK, I want to go! How does it work?
Fill out the form below to register for this workshop.
Send us your traveler info form.
Send us your reserve deposit.
We'll send your final invoice.
Book your international air travel.
We'll send you everything you need to know before you hop on the plane!
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).
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! Many even have WiFi available.
Plan to arrive early? No problem, we'll make your reservation for you!
This trip requires only moderate fitness. Your leader will go over the gear you need for every shooting session so you don't have to carry the kitchen sink. There are no long hikes involved, but you are always welcome to get out on the trails if you want!
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.
- Jan 25, 2018 – Feb 5, 2018 COSTA RICA - Toucans, Hummingbirds, & Quetzals - SOLD OUT! Jan 25, 2018 – Feb 5, 2018
- Feb 4, 2018 – Feb 16, 2018 COSTA RICA - Tropical Bird Photography - SOLD OUT! Feb 4, 2018 – Feb 16, 2018
- Mar 16, 2018 – Mar 27, 2018 ECUADOR - Hummingbirds, Herps, and More - ONE SPOT OPEN DUE TO CANCELLATION! Mar 16, 2018 – Mar 27, 2018
- Apr 14, 2018 – Apr 24, 2018 COSTA RICA - Art of Biodiversity Pacific - SOLD OUT! Apr 14, 2018 – Apr 24, 2018
- Jul 19, 2018 – Jul 31, 2018 COSTA RICA - The Art of Flight -- 4 SPOTS OPEN! Jul 19, 2018 – Jul 31, 2018
- Sep 7, 2018 – Sep 19, 2018 ECUADOR - Art of Biodiversity - SOLD OUT! Sep 7, 2018 – Sep 19, 2018
- Oct 8, 2018 – Oct 18, 2018 CHILE - Sand & Stone - Just announced! Oct 8, 2018 – Oct 18, 2018