FOTO VERDE TOURS



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 GeographicOutdoor 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!

You can see more of Greg's work at his website Deep Green Photography.

E.J. was born in 1960 in Augsburg, Germany and moved to Ohio in 1969. He attended Purdue University and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering and completed graduate studies in Microelectronics and Semiconductor Physics. After working for the Intel Corporation for 27 years, he is now retired from the electronics industry and is a professional freelance photographer. E.J. and has formally studied photography at the University of New Mexico and completed courses from The Rocky Mountain School of Photography. E.J. has two sons, and has lived in Chandler, Arizona since 1994. A photographic specialty is artistic images of ducks and E.J. has published the book Ducks of North America - The Photographer's Guide. E.J. is also prolific in landscape photography, his first photographic love. E.J.'s photographs have been published worldwide in books, advertising, magazines, billboards, murals and more. Some of his publishers and clients include The National Geographic Society, World Wildlife Fund, The United States National Parks Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Navy, State Parks Arizona, Barrons, and Dorling Kindersley. New Zealand Post honored E.J. by making one of his penguin images the primary image for their 2014 Commemorative Antarctica Ross Dependency Stamp set. He has also been named one of the top 100 Wildlife Photographers in the world by Eastern Europe's Digital Photographer Magazine. 

Check out more EJ's work here.
 



WORKSHOP ITINERARY

Day 1, June 26 - San José

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 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, June 27 - Pacific Coast

After an early breakfast, we enjoy an introductory presentation from Greg on the challenges of landscape photography in tropical ecosystems. We then check out and head toward Costa Rica's beautiful Pacific Coast. After lunch en route, we check in to our hotel and then head down the road to Greg's favorite Costa Rica beach for sunset photography. If the sky is clear, we'll stay and keep photographing the beach with starry skies.

Day 3, June 28 - Pacific Coast

After an early breakfast, we head to the hills up above our hotel and to one of Greg's favorite waterfalls. We travel by horse and then hike the last kilometer on a forest trail to the falls. In the afternoon, we return to our hotel with a bit of time to unwind and then head out to the beach again for another shot at sunset.

Day 4, June 29 - Rio Celeste Area

After breakfast this morning, we head to our lodge near the Tenorio Volcano National Park. After lunch en route, we arrive to our beautiful lodge and check in before heading out to a nearby back road for some photography of fields and trees at sunset in the open tropical savanna. We return to our lodge in the evening for a relaxing dinner at the lodge restaurant and then enjoy a presentation by EJ on technical considerations for landscape photography.

Day 5, June 30 - Rio Celeste Area

After an early breakfast, we head to the nearby Tenorio Volcano National Park to photograph the otherworldly Rio Celeste. This river's sapphire blue waters (which result from a combination of copper and sulphur from the volcano) make for a stunning contrast with the lush green vegetation. We will take along a light box lunch and photograph in the park all day. We return to our lodge in the late afternoon and then head to a delicious local pizza joint for some well-deserved pie after this long but productive day of photography and hiking!

Day 6, July 1 - Cloud Forest

After an early breakfast, we travel to 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 between the Poas Volcano and Juan Castro Blanco National Parks. With its rushing mountain streams, cool air, and orchid and moss-festooned trees, the area is akin to a tropical Colorado. We arrive for lunch, and then spend the afternoon photographing hummingbirds with natural light and fill-flash.

Day 7, July 2 - Cloud Forest

This morning we explore the lodge grounds for photos of the beautiful rushing cloud forest streams. We then visit a nearby waterfall that is over 300 feet tall and plummets into an extinct volcano crater. It's a fantastic place to photograph!

Day 8, July 3 - Cloud Forest

After breakfast, we again explore the lodge's private cloud forest reserve for photos. After lunch, we visit a hidden gem, the Rubber Lake, for late afternoon and sunset photography.

Day 9, July 4 - San José

After breakfast this morning, we return to our San José hotel. We arrive for lunch and then take the afternoon to work on post-processing our landscape images.

Day 10, July 5 - Poas Volcano

After breakfast, we head out on a day trip to photograph the awesome Poas Volcano, the world's second largest active crater. And then we visit the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where we can photograph some beautiful waterfalls and rushing river scenics as well as orchids and butterflies. We'll return to our San José hotel in the evening and enjoy a farewell group dinner.

Day 11, July 6 - Airport

Private transfer to the airport for your flight 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)
  • Entrances and fees for all described activities
  • Taxes for all specified services

THIS ITINERARY DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Airfare
  • Airport departure tax (US $29, may be included in the price of your plane ticket)
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Tips
  • Non-mealtime snacks and drinks
  • Dinner the first night
  • Single room supplement ($560)



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).

+ 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.

Did you know that Costa Rica has beautiful beaches, mangrove swamps, lush rainforests, misty cloud forests, alpine lakes, and desert-like dry forests all packed into an area the size of West Virginia or Denmark? It's a wonderland for the nature photographer!

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! All even have WiFi available.

Plan to arrive early? No problem, we'll make your reservation for you!

We run this trip in conjunction with our friends at NatureScapes, the leading online nature photography forum in the US. Upon booking, you will be directed to the NatureScapes site, where their staff will guide you through the payment and pre-trip process. Upon arrival in Costa Rica, Foto Verde Tours wil take care of everything!

This trip requires a moderately high fitness level. Your leaders will go over the gear you need for every shooting session so you don't have to carry the kitchen sink. You should be able to walk forest trails with a camera, lens, and tripod for up to 30 minutes.

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.



Click the pic to read how Greg Basco took this dreamy shot of a volcano we'll be visiting!


UPCOMING WORKSHOPS