Costa Rica 2022—Alajuela & Guanacaste

Dec. 1–12, 2022

Explore and photograph the unique natural beauty of northern Costa Rica’s Alajuela and Guanacaste provinces

Explore and photograph some of the most beautiful natural wonders of Costa Rica’s Alajuela and Guanacaste provinces in the company of professional photographer Wayde Carroll and expert Costa Rican guide, Marco Fallas.

The food, the artists, and the historical architecture of the Bajo del Toro and Sarchi region offer unique cultural and street photography opportunities. The lively, colorful eco-gardens in Sarapiqui are enough to make any photographer lose track of time and want to stay and shoot more. The winding river valleys of Boca Tapada, Caño Negro, and Rio Celeste provide truly unique wildlife opportunites where we’ll have the chance to practice a number of camera and lighting techniques to make our images equally unique and captivating.

Each day will be filled with some combination of photography excursions, technique building workshops, hands-on guidance, assignments and reviews, as well as Marco’s home-grown insights into each area. You’ll get to work on perfecting an arsenal of travel photography skills including; landscape, stop-action, long-exposure, night, macro, portraits, fill-flash, and off-camera flash. Some evenings will be dedicated to sharing photos and post-processing so bring your laptop or tablet!

We have a number of multi-night stays in one location so if you just want to take a break and spend some time relaxing by the pool or on your porch, you’ll have that option as well.

 

11 Nights

6 to 8 Travelers

Activity Level

⬤ ⬤ ◯ ◯ ◯

$4,900

(Double-occupancy; single supplement $985)

$1,000

Deposit

Itinerary

Arrive at Hotel Bougainvillea in Heredia, just outside of San José. Check in and relax after your international flight. Explore the lush hotel gardens at your leisure. An optional photo walk with Wayde on the hotel grounds is a perfect way to warm up with your camera.

Highlights

  • Check in and relax at Hotel Bougainvillea
  • Optional photo walk in the hotel garden

Meals

  • Not included

Accommodations

  • Hotel Bougainvillea

Important

  • Consider that hotel check-in will not likely be available until the early afternoon when booking your international flights.

We’ll enjoy a scenic drive through Bajos del Toro where we’ll stop for a delicious local lunch. Then we’ll meander the streets of Sarchi, where we’ll focus on street photography, candid shots of people, architecture, and a visit to the Sarchi Oxcart Factory. We’ll finish the day checking into Ara Ambigua hotel, where we’ll enjoy dinner and our first nighttime photo walk in the garden in search of the red eyed tree frog.

Highlights

  • Scenic mountain drive
  • Local tour in Sarchi
  • Nighttime garden photo walk at Ara Ambigua

Meals

  • Breakfast at Hotel Bougainvillea
  • Lunch entroute at local restaurant
  • Dinner at Are Ambigua

Accommodations

  • Ara Ambigua
 

Walking the grounds of a local ecological garden and butterfly farm, we’ll have hours to photograph birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles, and perhaps more. We’ll enjoy a freshly prepared lunch onsite, and have the chance to make and taste homemade chocolate from local cacao beans. Amazing photo opportunities abound, and we’re certain to leave wishing we could spend even more time at this hidden gem in Sarapiqui. 

Highlights

  • Photo tour at a local ecological garden

Meals

  • Breakfast at Are Ambigua
  • Lunch at Pierella Ecological Garden
  • Dinner at Ara Ambigua

Accommodations

  • Ara Ambigua

We’ll depart Sarapiqui and head north toward Boca Tapada where we’ll check into our beautiful ecolodge on the San Carlos River. Then we’ll make our way to a private birding spot where we’ll have our own observation and photography platform for the afternoon to photograph a wide variety of bird species and macro setups. We’ll continue with beautiful sunset views of the river and a home-cooked dinner onsite before finishing the day with a nighttime flash photography workshop to photograph bats in flight.

Highlights

  • Check-in at Maquenque Ecolodge
  • Birding & stop action wildlife photography at Mirador Pizote
  • Macro photography workshop
  • Sunset and dinner at Mirador Pizote
  • Nighttime flash photography workshop at Mirador Pizote

Meals

  • Breakfast at Ara Ambigua
  • Lunch en route
  • Dinner at Mirador Pizote

Accommodations

  • Maquenque Ecolodge

Important

  • Guests are encouraged to bring a macro lens and off-camera flash equipment in order to participate in the nighttime flash photography workshop. Please see our photography packing list for additional details.

The rare and marevelous king vulture will be the photography highlight of the day, as we make our way back to Mirador Pizote for an exclusive photography opportunity in the morning. Then we’ll head back to spend the rest of the day at Maquenque Ecolodge, where we’ll have the choice to explore the grounds on a guided photo walk, go for a canoe ride, take a tour of the onsite organic farm, or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Highlights

  • King vulture observation and photography at Mirador Pizote
  • Exploration or relaxation at Maquenque Ecolodge

Meals

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Lunch in transit
  • Dinner at Maquenque Ecolodge

Accommodations

  • Maquenque Ecolodge

Important

  • Short (5-10 min) uphill hike required to reach the king vulture viewpoint.

After departing Maquenque Ecolodge, we’ll make our way into Caño Negro where we’ll have a 2-hour afternoon boat tour of Rio Frio. Monkeys, birds, cayman, and even crocodiles are among the wildlife species we’ll hope to capture as we cruise the river and its tributaries. After the river cruise, we’ll relax and settle into our hotel, where we’ll enjoy dinner and review photos.

Highlights

  • Caño Negro Rio Frio boat tour

Meals

  • Breakfast at Maquenque Ecolodge
  • Lunch en route
  • Dinner at Caño Negro Natural Lodge

Accommodations

  • Caño Negro Natural Lodge
 

After breakfast we’ll venture out again on Rio Frio for a 2-hour morning boat tour to witness the difference in activity levels from morning to afternoon in this rich riparian ecosystem. Following the morning boat tour we’ll head back to the lodge where we’ll have the opportunity to work on post processing techniques and to review images from the first half of the tour..

Highlights

  • Caño Negro Rio Frio boat tour
  • Post processing workshop

Meals

  • Breakfast at Caño Negro Natural Lodge
  • Lunch en route
  • Dinner at Caño Negro Natural Lodge

Accommodations

  • Caño Negro Natural Lodge

We’ll head out from Caño Negro on our way to Rio Celeste on the outskirts of the Vulcan Tenorio National Park. We’ll give ourselves a day to take it easy and enjoy our vacation in style. Lounge poolside at our luxury hotel, check into the spa for a relaxing massage, or explore the nature trails leading down to Rio Celeste right from the hotel grounds. Wayde and Marco will be on hand to guide walking tours on the premises based on interest and weather conditions.

Highlights

  • Enjoy the grounds at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel

Meals

  • Breakfast at Caño Negro Nature Lodge
  • Lunch en route
  • Dinner at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel

Accommodations

  • Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel
 

We’ll depart our hotel early for a morning tour of Tapir Valley Nature Reserve, where the many walking trails and bird watching observation platforms offer photo opportunities galore. Then we’ll make the scenic transfer to our hotel in Rincon de La Vieja National Park, where we’ll spend the next two days.

Highlights

  • Morning photo walk at Tapir Valley Nature Reserve

Meals

  • Breakfast at Rio Celeste Hideaway Hotel
  • Lunch en route
  • Buffet dinner at Hacienda Guachipelin

Accommodations

  • Hacienda Guachipelin

We’ll head into Rincon de la Vieja National Park for a walking photo tour beneath the forest canopy, where we’ll be on the lookout for motmots, trogons, sloths, spider monkeys, and even the elusive tapir. Rich with wildlife, this national park is sure to be a highlight of our trip. After the walking tour, we’ll head back to Hacienda Guachipelin where we’ll have the opportunity to rest for a bit before a unique photocultural activity arranged on the hotel grounds.

Highlights

  • Walking tour of Vulcan Rincon de la Vieja National Park
  • Photocultural activity at Hacienda Guachipelin

Meals

  • Breakfast at Hacienda Guachipelin
  • Picnic lunch at Hacienda Guachipelin
  • Dinner at Hacienda Guachipelin

Accommodations

  • Hacienda Guachipelin

Important

Light walking on well-maintained trails for Rincon de la Vieja National Park tour

Those up for an early morning adventure will make their way with our guides to a secluded waterfall and swimming hole before we head to our beach destination in Playa Hermosa. Those wishing to sleep in a bit longer can instead explore the grounds at Hacienda Guachipelin where there’s plenty to see and photograph. Following our morning exploration, we’ll transfer to Hotel Bosque del Mar in Playa Hermosa and enjoy a beach BBQ dinner together for our final meal as a group.

Highlights

  • Morning exploration to Cascada Orupendula
  • Morning exploration of Hacienda Guachipelin
  • Beach BBQ dinner at Hotel Bosque del Mar

Meals

  • Breakfast at Hacienda Guachipelin
  • Lunch en route
  • Dinner at Hotel Bosque del Mar

Accommodations

  • Bosque del Mar Playa Hermosa Hotel

We’ll awaken in our beautiful beachfront hotel to enjoy another morning in Guanacaste province, where we’ll have breakfast before heading to Liberia for our departing flight.

Highlights

  • Beachfront breakfast before final departure

Meals

  • Breakfast at Hotel Bosque del Mar

Accommodations

  • No accommodations included

Important

  • We depart from Guanacaste Airport in Liberia (LIR), so be sure to book your international itinerary accordingly.
Note: All activities are weather-dependent; if poor weather keeps us inside, we’ll practice photo editing and post-processing techniques.

Meet Your Guides

Wayde Carroll

Principal and Photography Instructor

Marco Fallas

Guide: Chile 2022

Packing List

Recommended

  • Digital SLR or advanced “point and shoot” camera with the ability to shoot in “manual” mode and with a wide angle to telephoto range zoom.
  • Plenty of batteries for your camera and flash. Don’t forget to bring your chargers!
  • A card reader so you can download images.
  • Individual lenses, fixed focal length, or zoom, that give you wide-angle and telephoto possibilities. A good range would be 24mm to 400mm. 500mm and more would be great!
  • A macro lens or close-up filter. If you love macro photography there are great opportunities in Costa Rica.
  • Tripod. Please make sure it is made to support the weight of your camera model. Flimsy tripods are useless!
  • Rain cover for your camera and camera bag. (Check out Fotosharp and Think Tank Photo covers for example). I often carry a small umbrella as well.
  • A lens hood for each lens. This helps keep stray light out as well as rain off the front glass.
  • A polarizing filter for each lens diameter. I think all models use “circular polarizers” now but check your lens/camera manual to be sure! (You can also buy a filter for your largest lens diameter and buy “step-down” rings that allow that filter to attach to smaller lens sizes.)
  • Your Camera’s manual. A digitial version saves weight and space.
  • Cable release, or wireless trigger-for tripod work.
  • Plenty of storage cards and batteries. I would bring enough cards to shoot about 1000 images a day just in case. More if you shoot multiple frames per second often.
  • Small portable hard drive to store your images on.( 500 GB)
  • Small hand towel to keep in camera bag.
  • Lens cleaning solution and cloth.
  • Jeweler’s screwdrivers (pack in checked luggage!)
  • Dust blower and your preferred way of cleaning your camera sensor.
  • Lap Top Computer (with surge protector) or iPad etc., with your photo manipulation software ie: Photoshop, Lightroom. We will spend time viewing images to make sure we’re all getting results we’re happy with! We’ll work on post-processing when time allows as well.

Optional

  • 2 or 3 stop graduated neutral density filter with holder and lens mount for each lens size.Second camera body as back up
  • Dedicated flash unit. This is a flash separate from your camera. The “built-in” flashes in the camera are very limited.
  • Project-a-flash/ flash extender
  • Small softbox or umbrella for dedicated flash.
  • Off-camera flash cord or wireless trigger such as Pocket Wizards.
    ( I love to do portraits/wildflowers with off-camera flash and a small umbrella!)
  • Photoflex Litedisc gold/white reflector. 12 inch or 22 inch.
    1.4 X or 2X Tele-extender (Makes a 200mm a 280mm/400mm for example)
  • Binoculars/ spotting scope
  • Lightweight, water-resistant/wicking clothing is best here. Shorts and short-sleeve shirts are tempting, but long-sleeve shirts and pants can help protect you from the sun and insects.
  • Light rain jacket
  • Sturdy hiking/walking boots
  • Sandals/flip-flops for around the pool
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Your preferred bug deterrent
  • Umbrella
  • Toiletries

FAQ

The deposit to hold your spot on the tour is non-refundable provided that the tour runs as scheduled. For this reason, we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance will often cover unexpected trip cancelations, delays, lost luggage reimbursement, and other travel-related expenses that may arise unexpectedly (policies vary). Should the tour itself be canceled for any reason, we will do our very best to refund any deposit amounts that have not already been forwarded to secure airfares or hotel accommodations.

Current COVID-19 travel protocols for Costa Rica can be found on the US Embassy website. Because we expect further developments between now and the tour departure date, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely for any update. Currently, Costa Rica has no restrictions on tourists entering the country. As of June, 2022, COVID tests are no longer required for reentry into the U.S. from Costa Rica.

As of June, 2022, COVID tests are no longer required for reentry into the U.S. from Costa Rica. Should this change, we will keep you updated on the availability of tests.

We will be out walking quite a bit but there are no long treks, or walks of anything over moderate difficulty, built into our itinerary. We will likely do some light walking along well-marked trails and roads in order to find good vantage points for photographs but we will not be hiking or trekking over any great distances or for long periods of time. We have private transportation throughout the entire trip, and when we need to cover more ground, we’ll be doing so from our private vehicle.

Average temperatures in Alajuela & Guanacaste range from the low 80’s to mid 60’s with some humidity. Typically we will get a little rain each day, but not for long. There is always a possibility of heavier rain days but it is not typical for this time of year.