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Nature & Culture


Oct. 4 to 15, 2023

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!



Oct. 4 to 15, 2023





Difficulty Level



Available Spots

Contact us to get on the wait list.

View the itinerary below, read more about the tour, or sign up now!

Go to sign-up form

About the Workshop

Nature & Culture

About the Workshop

Nature & Culture


Frank Pichardo

Frank Pichardo

Frank Pichardo is a Peruvian wildlife photographer and tour leader with a strong passion for nature, most of his experience in the field comes from his seven-year work as a naturalist guide for the prestigious lodges of Rainforest Expeditions leading people and teaching about the flora and fauna since 2009. Frank obtained his degree from the Tourism School in Lima, where he also became fluent in English and German. This was the beginning of a long term work in the ecotourism industry.


At the moment, he is part of Tropical Herping, contributing for the “Reptiles of Ecuador”, “Reptiles of Galapagos” and “Amphibians if Ecuador” books, joining also scientific expeditions into remote areas to understand better this group of animals, leading workshops and photo tours. Frank’s work has been featured in National Geographic and BBC Wildlife Magazine.

Follow Frank on Instagram -- @frank_pichardo

Greg Basco

Greg Basco

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.

Follow him on Instagram @gregbascophotography

Follow him on Facebook @deepgreenphotography

Watch his YouTube channel @DeepGreenPhotography

Sign up now!





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.


Internet Access

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.

Camera Gear

Recommended gear

  • Tele lens 400 mm or longer

  • Camera body or bodies

  • Medium zoom lens, e.g., 70-200 mm, 100-400 mm

  • Macro lens

  • Wide angle lens

  • Polarizing/ND filters

  • Fast wide angle lens for night scenes

  • Cable release

  • 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.

Itinerary includes

  • 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

  • International airfare

  • Dinner the following nights – Day 1, 9, 10

  • Alcoholic Drinks

  • Tips

  • Non-mealtime snacks and drinks

  • SGL room supplement - $831

Sign-up Form

Name *

Are you registering for one person or more?


Please provide names of additional people signing up with you, and please indicate if the additional people are photographers or not. We offer discounts for non-photographers on some trips.

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!

  • + 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 polar-tec 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 capital 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. 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. During the tour, we will indicate to you where and when it might be better to stick to bottled water.
  • + I'd like a single room. Can that be arranged?
    Certainly. Simply indicate your rooming preference on the workshop signup form. There may be an extra for the single room supplement. This is simply the difference due to what our hotels and lodges charge us. We do not take a commission for single room supplements.
  • + 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 be happy to place you in a double room.
  • Should I bring a tripod?
    Yes, you always want to bring a tripod. We will advise your each trip of any need for specialized heads or flash brackets.
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