Nature & Culture
Sept. 4 to 15, 2022
We've designed this trip to teach you how to photograph biodiversity in the broadest sense of the word while producing a portfolio that tells a story. We'll help you take your photography to the next level while giving your whole photographic kit a workout. From wildlife to birds to macro to landscapes and cultural photography, with and without flash, you will up your skills and take home a stunning and diverse portfolio. And, unlike other tours to Ecuador, you have 2 award-winning photographer leaders and a local photographer/naturalist guide with you full-time, making this a fantastic value!
Sept. 4 to 15, 2022
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View the itinerary below, read more about the tour, or sign up now!
About the Workshop
Nature & Culture
About the Workshop
Nature & Culture
Lucas Bustamante is a passionate biologist and wildlife photographer from Ecuador. For seven years now, he has been dedicated to documenting Ecuador's biodiversity, particularly reptiles and amphibians. He is a co-founder and general coordinator at Tropical Herping. Like Greg, Lucas' images have been honored in both the BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice contests.
In addition to leading photography tours, he also has written several articles and books about conservation and herpetology. Lucas' photographic work has been featured in National Geographic, Ranger Rick Jr., Discovery Channel and many other magazines, books, calendars and articles. He recently won the Macro category in the Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice competition.
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 Ecuador's Mariscal Sucre International Airport (UIO). 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.
Though Ecuador does not require any vaccinations besides Covid-19, we suggest you stay up to date on routine travel shots. Some countries may require that you have proof of yellow fever vaccination upon departing from Ecuador.
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 400 mm or longer
Camera body or bodies
Medium zoom lens, e.g., 70-200 mm, 100-400 mm
Wide angle lens
Fast wide angle lens for night scenes
A flash with TTL functionality
Off-camera TTL flash cord
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/Quito
Arrival to Ecuador. Meet our representative at the Mariscal Sucre International Airport and transfer to our amazing, locally-owned hotel in the colonial heart of Quito. Our hotel lends itself well to architectural photography; it's so beautiful!
Day 2, Quito
We meet today for a great breakfast in our hotel and then head to explore some of the nearby markets for photography of the abundant fruits and vegetables on display. We'll work throughout the morning on tips for street photography, and we'll also provide plenty of info on the produce that we see and how it relates to the culture of Ecuador. We'll have a hearty typical lunch in a great restaurant downtown and then return to our hotel for some classroom time that will lay the foundation for our photography work in the coming days. Greg will give a presentation on the use of flash in photography, and then Lucas will offer us some ideas for how generate a portfolio that tells a story. Late in the afternoon, we'll head up to our hotel's rooftop bar for some blue hour photography of the city while we enjoy innovative Ecuadorian cocktails and snacks – what a way to end a day in Quito!
Day 3, Cloud Forest
Today we travel to one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, the western Andean cloud forests. We arrive to our charming country lodge for lunch and a quick check-in before heading out to a nearby local house to photograph colorful tanagers, toucanets, and barbets. We return to our hotel for a relaxing dinner and time to lay out gear for tomorrow; it's going to be a busy day of photography!
Day 4, Cloud Forest
Today we have a full day with our multiple-flash setups for hummingbirds at the lodge. Booted Racket-tail abound, and our highlight is the fantasy-like Violet-tailed Sylph! In addition to hummingbird setups, we will be doing macro photography with subjects such as Executioner Clownfrog, Palm Treefrog, and Babbling Torrenteer, Emerald Glassfrog, Dappled Glassfrog, Gem Anole, Equatorial Anole, and the uber-cool Hippie Anole!
Day 5, Cloud Forest
This morning we visit one of our favorite spots for toucan and hummingbird photography. This will be a real treat, and we'll have a great home-cooked breakfast at the owner's house. We return to our lodge for a quick lunch and then take the afternoon for more hummingbird and macro photography. We'll end the day with a pizza dinner at our favorite restaurant in the area!
Day 6, Cloud Forest to Otavalo
After breakfast, we check out head toward our next destination, the mountains of the Otavalo region. The area is famous for its agriculture and indigenous culture. We arrive to our gorgeous hacienda style hotel for a fabulous lunch. We then take a bit of time to settle in to our rooms before setting out in our bus to photograph in late afternoon light as the sun sets over the beautiful highland valleys. After a great dinner, we will be on the lookout for night photography opportunities right on the grounds of our hotel.
Day 7, Otavalo
After an early breakfast today, we head to the famed Otavalo markets. It's Saturday so all of the colorful regional wares will be on full display. After photographing (and shopping!) at the market, we'll head to the home of a local indigenous woman who is famous for her weaving. She'll explain the whole process, and we are free to photograph. We'll enjoy a great homecooked lunch at her house and then head up to a highland lake for some landscape photography. We end the day by heading down to a different lake for sunset photography and a fantastic dinner right on site. We return to our hacienda hotel after dinner for a well-deserved rest.
Day 8, Otavalo
Today we spend all day in the area surrounding our hacienda hotel. Local people grow quinoa, potatoes, corn, wheat, and amaranth in the area and also herd goats, sheep, and cows that provide the milk for the famous cheeses of the region. We'll be able to photograph them in different settings, and it will be a fantastic opportunity to produce great photos while also putting into practice our flash techniques. We'll teach you a great way to use flash for dramatic portraits of subjects in a wide angle scene!
Day 9, Otavalo to Quito
After an early breakfast, we head back toward the capital city, our base for the next couple of days while we do a series of great day trips. En route we stop at a raptor rehabilitation center to take photos of condors, a fun bonus. We'll grab lunch en route and then check in at our hotel in Quito's vibrant and modern business district. Late in the afternoon, we'll take the aerial tram up to one of the peaks above the city to photograph the whole Quito valley at sunset. We return to our hotel with time to relax and gear up for the next day. We're not including dinner this evening as some people tend to be full or want to relax and organize things in their room. Room service is available, and there are a number of great restaurants right outside our hotel for those who do want to grab some food.
Day 10, Elfin Cloud Forest
After an early breakfast, we head to the misty highlands above Quito to photograph the famed Sword-billed hummingbird. We will set up custom perches to photograph this iconic species as well as the very cool Giant Sapphirewing, Shining Sunbeam, and Buff-winged Starfrontlet. This will be an amazing day! We return to our city hotel in the late afternoon where you can relax, repack, and edit photos before enjoying dinner at one of the many great local restaurants right near our hotel. Dinner is not included this evening so that you relax and eat as much or as little as you'd like.
Day 11, Eastern Slope Cloud Forest
After an early breakfast, we head to the misty highlands on the Amazonian side of the Andes mountains to photograph a different set of hummingbirds. We'll have a great chance at the Sword-billed Hummingbird again and will also have the chance to photograph the fantastic Long-tailed Sylph in a beautiful cloud forest setting. And if we're lucky, we may get a good luck at the super cool Torrent Duck. We'll have a great lunch on site and return to our hotel in the early evening where we'll meet up in the hotel bar to have a drink and some snacks and to share some of our favorite photos from the trip!
Day 12, Airport
Private transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Lodging as specified in DBL occupancy
Meals as specified
Transportation w/private driver in spacious air-conditioned tour bus
Private transfers to and from airport
Professional, full-time photo instruction from your leaders Greg and Lucas
Multiple-flash setups for hummingbird photography
Entrances and fees for all described activities
Taxes for all specified services
Itinerary does not include
Dinner the following nights – Day 1, 9, 10
Non-mealtime snacks and drinks
SGL room supplement - $981
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!