Art of Flight
Dec. 11 to 22, 2023
If you love things that fly, this is the trip for you. From toucans to macaws to hummingbirds to quetzals and even bats and butterflies, we'll have great photo opportunities! As the local experts, we conceived and helped to make possible many of the photo options we'll have on this trip. With two leaders, one a pro photographer and the other a photographer/ecologist, you'll come away with a stunning image portfolio, great natural history knowledge, and a ton of new photo skills!
Dec. 11 to 22, 2023
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View the itinerary below, read more about the tour, or sign up now!
About the Workshop
Art of Flight
About the Workshop
Art of Flight
Costa Rican born and raised, Paulo Valerio is an ecologist, tourism entrepreneur, and nature photographer. Paulo graduated as a tropical ecologist from the Biology School of the National University. During his graduate studies, he specialized in the development of sampling and research methods for high-flying bats in the rainforest canopy.
Involved with ecotourism since 1992, Paulo has worked as a naturalist guide and field instructor for several companies, has developed and directed field study programs and taught tropical ecology at various universities in Costa Rica and the US.. He is also a nature photographer and birdwatcher. Paulo recently also decided to pursue a long time interest and passion and obtained his PhD in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.
Gregory Basco is a professional nature photographer based in Costa Rica. After completing graduate degrees in political science and tropical ecology (his doctoral dissertation focused on the politics of ecotourism in Costa Rica), Greg worked in conservation before turning to photography full-time in 2006. His images have been awarded in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice competitions and have appeared in numerous magazines and books around the world.
His latest major project is the second edition of the large format printed book National Parks of Costa Rica in conjunction with Zona Tropical and Cornell University Press. His popular e-books include The Guide to Tropical Nature Photography, the mega e-book Flash for the Nature Photographer, and the new Complete Video Guide to Lightroom for the Nature Photographer.
You can see more of Greg's work at his website.
You should arrive to and depart from Costa Rica's Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Our driver will be waiting to provide your private transfer to our capital city hotel.
Electrical outlets are US-style. Those coming from Europe or Asia may need travel adapters. We will send more info after signup.
We strongly recommend you purchase trip insurance that includes trip cancellation and medical coverage while overseas.
Costa Rica does not require any vaccinations to enter the country. Please consult with your doctor regarding general travel vaccinations.
All of our hotels have free WIFI. We will also have cell data coverage for most of the trip.
All of our services are conducted by fully licensed travel, lodge, and transport operators. This is part of our commitment to providing a professional travel experience.
Tele lens 500 mm or longer
Camera body or bodies
Medium zoom lens, e.g., 70-200 mm, 100-400 mm
Wide angle lens
A flash with TTL functionality
Telephoto flash bracket
Flash plus Better Beamer for birds and wildlife
Rain cover for camera
Small softbox or diffuser
Small pack or shoulder bag for daily shooting
View the full Itinerary +
Day 1, Arrival/San Jose
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, Atlantic Rainforest
After an early breakfast, we check out and head to our first destination, a rainforest lodge where Greg has 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, Greg and Greg will give a presentation on fill-flash for bird and wildlife photography.
Day 3, Atlantic Rainforest
Today we divide our time at the lodge among photographing toucans, parrots, king vultures, honeycreepers, and hummingbirds – tropical bird photography doesn't get any better! Today we will split the group with half using blinds for toucans, oropendolas, and vultures that we've rented for the day and the other half shooting at our restaurant tanager and parrot feeders and visiting the lodge manager's house where we have worked with the lodge manager to set up two blinds – one for honeycreepers 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.
Day 4, Atlantic Rainforest
And today we do it all again, with each half of the group visiting the blinds at which they've not yet photographed. And tonight we have a special treat – bat photography!
Day 5, 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. 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, we stop at a local farm where Foto Verde Tours has laid the groundwork to set up photo opportunities of the wild, free-flying Great Green and Scarlet Macaws that inhabit the owner's large farm property. We arrive to our lodge in late afternoon, with time to settle in and enjoy a relaxing dinner after this busy day.
Day 6, 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 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. There are some great rushing cloud forest stream images to be made only minutes from the lodge restaurant.
Day 7, 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, Elfin Forest
After an early breakfast today, we head to the Talamanca Mountain Range and one of our favorite lodges where Foto Verde Tours has worked to set up a private photography area for hummingbirds, tanagers, and finches. We arrive to our family-owned lodge for lunch and set in to begin photographing the fantastic fiery-throated hummingbird!
Day 9, Elfin 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. After breakfast, we will begin 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 10, Elfin Forest
Before breakfast this morning, we strike out again for the Resplendent Quetzal. After a late breakfast, we head over to a nearby valley that offers some great photos of rushing cloud forest streams. After our landscape work this morning, we'll grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant and then finish the day with a great surprise – a visit to a new feeder area run by a good friend of ours. From a private deck, we'll set up perches to photograph flame-colored tanagers and acorn woodpeckers and, if we're lucky, maybe even golden-browed chlorophonia and long-tailed silky flycatchers. We return to our lodge this evening for a relaxing dinner after this busy day.
Day 11, Back to San Jose
After breakast this morning we have time for our last hummingbird photos and also a session for photo captioning and post-processing. We depart late morning and stop for a bite to eat on the way back to the capital city. We'll enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel restaurant this evening.
Day 12, Airport
Private transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Full-time photo instruction and setups by Greg and Paulo
Lodging as specified in DBL occupancy
Meals as specified
Private transfers to and from hotels on first and last days
Professional driver/photo/nature guide and private transportation in spacious tour bus
Multiple-flash hummingbird and other photography setup equipment
Entrance fees for all described activities
Taxes on all services listed above
Itinerary does not include
Dinner the first night
Non-meal time snacks
Non-meal time soft drinks and bottled water
Single room supplement - $382
Booking a tour with us is easy!
1. Register for your tour using the form at the end of each workshop page.
4. Send us your traveler info form.
2. Send us your reserve deposit.
5. We will send you your final invoice.
3. Book your international air travel.
6. We´ll send you everything you need to know before you hop on the plane!