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Costa Rica Classic 2023

April 29–May 10, 2023

Capture the Magic of Costa Rica

Capture the magic of Costa Rica in the company of professional photographer Wayde Carroll and expert Costa Rican guide, Marco Fallas.

With a plethora of wildlife and natural wonders, charming locals, historical architecture, and quaint towns, Costa Rica is a photographer’s dream. On this trip our small group will also dine with locals, explore jungle canals, seek out the Resplendent Quetzal, traverse hanging bridges, dip in hot springs, learn how to make tortillas, and so much more! We’ll spend ample time photographing in three diverse climate zones while immersing ourselves in the local culture. Having 11 full days together will allow each member of our small group to receive plenty of hands-on instruction and guidance throughout our journey.

In Costa Rica, we’ll have plenty of daylight to capture a wide variety of locations at our own pace and we’ll have interesting opportunities at night to photograph as well. We’ll have our own van and private driver and will be able to stop en route any time something strikes our fancy.

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!

We have a number of multinight 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

$4,950

(Double-occupancy; single supplement $1,016)

Activity Level

⬤ ⬤ ◯ ◯ ◯

Itinerary

Arrival at the Juan Santamaría International Airport. As you exit you will be met by a driver for a private transfer to Hotel Bougainvillea in Heredia. Today you’ll meet with Wayde and Marco at the hotel. They’ll give you an orientation briefing and go through your itinerary. If you arrive early we’ll get warmed up with some photography in the beautiful gardens at the hotel. Dinner tonight on your own or join Wayde.

Highlights

  • Arrival in beautiful Costa Rica!
  • Meet the guides
  • Orientation and briefing
  • Optional photo walk in the hotel gardens

Meals

  • Not included

Accommodations

  • Hotel Bougainvillea

After breakfast we’ll have our private transfer to the local city of Cartago, where we’ll visit beautiful churches and ruins. We’ll lunch at a local restaurant en route, and continue on to Cerro de la Muerte.

Highlights

  • Basilica de los Angeles Church
  • Ujarras Ruins

Meals

  • Breakfast at Hotel Bougainvillea
  • Lunch at a local restaurant
  • Dinner at Trogon Lodge

Accommodations

  • Trogon Lodge


This morning we’ll have a private tour and lunch at Paraiso del Quetzal. We’ll be in search of the stunning Resplendent Quetzal. After lunch we’ll visit a hummingbird garden and hone our stop-action skills photographing these amazing birds.

Highlights

  • Paraíso del Quetzal
  • Hummingbird Garden

Meals

  • Breakfast at Trogon Lodge
  • Lunch at a Paraiso del Quetzal
  • Dinner at the Trogon Lodge

Accommodations

  • Trogon Lodge

This morning we’ll have an optional early morning hike to photograph sunrise above the clouds. Then we’ll enjoy a delicious traditional meal at the home of a local family. Afterward we’ll visit the Batsu Birding Photography Garden to photograph highland birds, wildlife, and local flora.

Highlights

  • Sunrise Hike
  • Breakfast with Local Family
  • Batsu Birding Photography Garden

Meals

  • Breakfast with local family
  • Lunch at Trogon Lodge
  • Dinner at the Trogon Lodge

Accommodations

  • Trogon Lodge

After breakfast we head to lush and scenic Sarapiqui. We’ll pass through Braulio Carrillo National Park and enjoy views of this vast rainforest. At our lodge we’ll have the opportunity to photograph a nice variety of wildlife right from our restaurant.

Highlights

  • Braulio Carrillo National Park
  • Night search for red-eyed tree frogs

Meals

  • Breakfast at Trogon Lodge
  • Lunch at Ara Ambigua Lodge
  • Dinner at Ara Ambigua Lodge

Accommodations

  • Ara Ambigua Lodge

After an early departure, we’ll stop in Siquirres for breakfast and continue on our way toward the La Pavona dock where we’ll board a boat for a private transfer to our lodge in Tortuguero. There’s a possibility for wonderful photo opportunities on this relaxing boat ride. In the afternoon we’ll take a photo walk through the tiny Jamaican-influenced Tortuguero Town and then take our first tour by private boat in the canals of Tortuguero National Park where the wildlife opportunities are endless.

Highlights

  • Boat ride through lowland rainforest
  • Walking tour of Tortuguero Town
  • Small-boat canal tour

Meals

  • Early breakfast at restaurant in Siquirres
  • Lunch in Evergreen Lodge
  • Dinner at Evergreen Lodge

Accommodations

  • Evergreen Lodge

After breakfast we’ll take our second two-hour private boat tour along the wildlife-rich canals of Tortuguero National Park. We’ll be on the lookout for monkeys, river otters, caiman, boas, and 100s of bird species. This afternoon we’ll visit the local Tortuguero Town again to enjoy a unique coconut candy-making demonstration and have a delicious lunch at a local favorite Caribbean restaurant. Tonight we’ll have photo reviews and, after dark, seek the elusive red-eyed tree frog.

Highlights

  • Boat tour of Tortuguero National Park
  • Learn to make coconut candy in Tortuguero Town
  • Photo reviews
  • Night walk in search of red-eyed tree frogs

Meals

  • Breakfast at Evergreen Lodge
  • Lunch at Miss June’s in Tortuguero Town
  • Dinner at Evergreen Lodge

Accommodations

  • Evergreen Lodge

After breakfast, we’ll take a shared boat transfer towards La Pavona dock where we’ll meet our private van again for our transfer to the Arenal Volcano area. En route we’ll stop at the amazing Pierella Ecological Garden for lunch and some unique photo opportunities of rare insects, snakes, and other surprises. If weather cooperates, we’ll work on some night images of the volcano.

Highlights

  • Boat ride through lowland rainforest
  • Pierella Ecological Garden
  • Night photography of Arenal Volcano

Meals

  • Early breakfast at Evergreen Lodge
  • Lunch at the Pierella Ecological Garden
  • Dinner at Arenal Observatory Lodge

Accommodations

  • Arenal Observatory Lodge

This morning we’ll take an early private guided walk along the forest trails of Arenal Observatory Lodge in search of a variety of birds, coatimundi, monkeys, and other wildlife. In the afternoon we’ll enjoy lunch and a tour of a local organic farm. Here we’ll make our own tortillas and photograph local dancers in traditional dress. Then get ready to truly relax at the Ecotermales Hot Springs before dinner back at our lodge.

Highlights

  • Guided walk on forest trails
  • Learn how to make tortillas at Arenal Vida Campesina local organic farm
  • Photograph local dancers in traditional dress
  • Ecotermales Hot Springs

Meals

  • Breakfast at Arenal Observatory Lodge
  • Lunch at Campesina Organic Farm
  • Dinner at Arenal Observatory Lodge

Accommodations

  • Arenal Observatory Lodge

Today we’ll walk the famous Mistico Hanging Bridges in search of unique rainforest and wildlife images. Then we’ll head to the Danaus Biological Reserve where more than 154 bird species have been identified and we’ll explore its frog ponds and butterfly garden. Time allowing, this afternoon we’ll explore La Fortuna town for a full cultural photography experience. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for great night photography opportunities.

Highlights

  • Mistico Hanging Bridges
  • Danaus Biological Reserve
  • La Fortuna town cultural photography
  • Night photography

Meals

  • Breakfast at Arenal Observatory Lodge
  • Lunch in La Fortuna
  • Dinner at Arenal Observatory Lodge

Accommodations

  • Arenal Observatory Lodge

After breakfast at our hotel we’ll be looking for anything that strikes our fancy as we take a leisurely drive back to San José. We’ll stop for lunch at the famous Hummingbird Café and stop at a beautiful waterfall. Tonight will be our farewell dinner in town, where we’ll share photos and stories of what will have been an incredible journey.

Highlights

  • Leisurely drive with photography stops along the way
  • Hummingbird Café
  • Farewell dinner

Meals

  • Breakfast at Arenal Observatory Lodge
  • Lunch at Hummingbird Café
  • Dinner in San José

Accommodations

  • Bougainvillea Hotel

Sadly, the trip officially ends today. Airport transportation will be provided as necessary unless you’re continuing in Costa Rica on your own after this date. Approximately 30-minute transfer. Recommended check-in is three hours prior to your scheduled flight time.

Meals

  • No meals included

Accommodations

  • No accommodations included
Note: All activities are weather-dependent; if poor weather keeps us inside, we’ll practice photo editing and post-processing techniques.

Meet Your Guides

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Wayde Carroll

Principal and Photography Instructor

Marco Fallas

Wildlife and Culture Guide

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.
  • Laptop 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 the three areas we’ll be visiting range from the high 80s to mid 60s 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’s not typical for this time of year. The evenings in Sevegre can occasionally get cool enough to warrant a light jacket/ fleece.

  • Lodging starting April 29 (standard room, double occupancy; single supplement available)
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners as noted in itinerary
  • All travel in Costa Rica during trip dates
  • All park entrance and activity fees as listed
  • Transfer from and to the Juan Santamaría International Airport, April 29 & May 9 
  • Photography instruction, workshops, assignments, reviews, and critiques
  • Wildlife and historical interpretation by Costa Rica’s own Marco Fallas!
  • Private van and driver
  • A group of like-minded individuals looking to have a wonderful time perfecting their photography skills in an amazing place!
  • Any unplanned excursions or meals of your own choosing
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance (We HIGHLY recommend travel insurance!)
  • Guide gratuities (any tips are earned and not expected)
  • Extras in hotels (laundry, phone, room service, etc.)
  • Personal equipment
  • Costs for changes to your itinerary for reasons beyond our control