Overview

Day 1: Arrival to Costa Rica - Juan Santamaria's International Airport

Day 2, 3, 4: Cerro de la Muerte

Day 5, 6: Esquinas Rainforest

Day 7, 8, 9: Central Pacific

Day 10, 11: Ensenada

Day 12, 13: Monteverde

Day 14: Departure - Juan Santamaria's International Airport

 

Daily Itinerary by destination:

Day 1. Arrival to San Jose. Overnight at Isla Verde Hotel. IMPORTANT NOTE: FIRST DAY’S HOTEL IT WOULD BE BASED ON INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT SCHEDULES Arrival in Costa Rica. Pick up by CRBJ staff, transfer to San Jose’s overnight hotel. Briefing about the tour. Dinner is not included.

Day 2. Paraiso de Quetzales. Drive after breakfast to the heights of Talamanca’s Mountain Forest to a place well known to have the most splendid bird in this hemisphere. Although Paraiso del Quetzal is located at a higher elevation than our next destination Savegre Mountain Lodge; the number of species doesn’t drop as much. Many different species occur here that are not present at San Gerardo de Dota, therefore, we have decided to explore both destinations within Talamanca’s Cerro de la Muerte mountain chain.

· Exploring gardens, forests, and river edges. Wild bird photography. These recently opened trails show an incredible number of endemic bird species found nowhere else. Many of them occur in small patches of land near the river edges, some others walking around the lovely gardens.
· Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
· Hummingbird garden 2:30 – 3:30 followed by forest edges exploring
· Dinner at 18:30 (a la carte, options for vegetarians available)
· Photography workshop Subject: Editing tools Camera Raw, Capture One, DXOLab3, Topaz and questions (19:30 – 21:30) video beam presentation

Day 3. Savegre Lodge. We will concentrate on capturing hummingbirds in the air. Many hotels had for a long time built very attractive gardens filled with hummers fighting for the best perches and nectars.

· Early departure 5:30 – 9:30 am is search for Resplendent Quetzal
· Oak Forest bird exploration
· Batsu Bird Garden
· Photography workshop Subject: Hummingbirds as art (conceptual photography)

Day 4. Savegre Lodge.

Piedras Blanca’s Rainforest Located in the small community of La Gamba, Esquinas Rainforest has become an icon of sustainable tourism, employing local people, and conserving its natural habitat. This piece of paradise has truly become a dream for bird seekers: Trogons, Hummingbirds, Flycatchers, Woodcreepers, and Arcaries are plentiful. On its trails and riverbeds new species are found daily, and this is truly an incredible destination for target birds such as Manakins, Potoos, Cotingas, rare foliage gleaners, Hummingbirds and Tanagers.

Day 5. Esquina Lodge. Arrive and let’s go Birding!!! A mesmerizing destination of mainstream tourism dedicated to conservation and education in the local communities. Esquinas Rainforest is one of those places where birds

· Exploring gardens until lunch. Setting up for tanagers, toucans, and trogons. Carry your super-telephoto lens.
· Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
· Meeting back at 14:30 to continue exploring trails, gardens and river edges
· Dinner at 18:00 (a la carte, options for vegetarians available)
· Photography workshop Subject: Composition, background, the timing of captures and questions (19:00 – 20:30) video beam presentation

Day 6. Esquinas Lodge. Forest edges exploration. La Gamba Rainforest. A day to let nature surprise us. We will be taking a hike along the road to Golfito Rainforest. Half-day trip to an unpaved road with tons of different habitats. Breakfast on the go and lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon at the lodge.

· Dinner at 18:30 (a la carte, options for vegetarians available)
· Photography workshop Subject: Editing tools Camera Raw, Capture One, DXOLab3, Topaz and questions (19:30 – 21:30) video beam presentation

 

Day 7. Pacifico Lodge. Drive after breakfast to the down valley into the heart of the Central Pacific of Costa Rica. Exploring gardens, forests, and river edges. Wild bird photography. There are so many different locations to explore during this destination. Agricultural fields, forest patches, river edges, primary, secondary & mangrove forests.

· Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
· Mangrove Boat tour 2:30 pm
· Dinner at 18:30
· Photography workshop Subject: Macaws in flight

Day 8. Pacifico Lodge. Full day at Carara National Park. Two different trail systems with endless possibilities to capture manakins, trogons, antbirds, motmots, raptors, woodcreepers, toucans and so much more.

· Full day at the park’s trails
· Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
· Dinner at 18:30

Day 9. Pacifico Lodge. . Exploring only open areas, marshes, grasslands, pasture fields, road edges. A journey to the upper roads of Carara National Park at Bijagual’s area and Jaco Wetlands.

· Bijagual’s road 7:00 am to 6:00 pm
· Lunch (between 11:30 – 13:00)
· Dinner at 18:30

 

Day 10. Drive to Ensenada Lodge from Pacifico Lodge is like crossing a different dimension. The green foliage fades out giving room to a new type of tropical forest known as Dry Tropical; an ecosystem that is nearly gone from the rest of Central America due to cattle ranching but in Costa Rica, a good track of it still exists and has been protected. Home of numerous unique species such as Elegant Trogon, Banded Wren, Lesser ground Cuckoo, Pacific Screech-Owl, etc.

· Birding at the Pacifico Lodge premises before departure
· Arrival and birding at Ensenada Lodge fields
· Lunch and rest time until 3:00 to salt ponds
· Dinner at 18:00 (buffet, options for vegetarians available)
· Photography workshop Subject: Sunset and birds.

Day 11. Early birding hike around the lodge grounds before breakfast. There are more than 300 hectares to hike, trails left and right, active and abandoned pastures, mangroves and coastline. No time to get bored. Today before lunch we will concentrate on forest edge species such as Orioles, Hawks, Gnatcatchers, Parrots, Thickknees, Trogons and Motmots. After a beat of rest and escaping from the heat of the middle of the day a 30-minute drive to Punta Chira to trying capture the always rare and elusive Rufous-necked Woodrail amongst many other species.

· Breakfast 9 am
· Based on tides we will either visit the waterfront edges & mangroves or Salinas
· Lunch at 13:00
· Departure to Salinas and Punta Chira 14:30
· Dinner at 18:30
· Photography workshop Subject: Whites, blacks, golden hour and questions (19:00 – 20:30) video beam presentation

 

Day 12. Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Upon arrival and since the forest is right there at the lodge, we will explore many different trail systems or focus on the road edges searching for Guans, Bellbirds, Barbets, Flycatchers etc. During the late afternoon when most people have left the trails we will go birding at El Camino Trail and others searching for cloud forest mixed flocks or a rare glimpse of woodquails, antpittas, leaftosser and tinamous.

· Breakfast 5:30 am
· Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve
· Lunch at 13:00
· Afternoon at Hummingbird Garden
· Dinner at 18:30
· Photography workshop Subject: Lowlight & movement (19:00 – 20:30)video beam presentation

Day 13. Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Begin birding at sunrise near the lodge where hundreds of bird species are concentrated before the sun shines on the forest floors. A good opportunity to capture good views of Quetzals coming to feed on fruits at the road edges. Deeply covered canopies can be a bit challenging while birdwatching but many rare birds occur in the shady sides.

· Early birding hike in the quest for Resplendent Quetzal
· Breakfast 9 am
· All day long exploring the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve
· Lunch at 13:00
· Dinner at 18:30
· Photography workshop Subject: Hummingbirds, glares & colours 19:00 – 20:30) video beam

Day 14. Last day in a tropical paradise. Activities based on international flight schedule. Breakfast included.

Notes

A journey created for true passionate and committed photographers

Visiting 5 world known destinations covering from highlands to lowlands.

All areas have been chosen based on the 20 years of guiding success of our company, nothing has been left to chance except for nature itself. From the chill mountains of San Gerardo de Dota to the dry lowlands of the North Pacific. This photography experience has been created to capture all aspects of bird photography, shapes, colours, moments, above and beyond.

All daily activities would be based on light or natural opportunities such as nesting sites, feeding frenzy, fruiting trees, etc. During the down times or complicated light garden explorations of visits to other parts of the chosen destinations. Since we will be focused on no control environments or bird feeding stations; exploring the surrounding habitats near our lodges can well be highly rewarding. In many cases sitting still on flowering bushes or tree cavities can give us positive results.

The Osa Peninsula is like no place on earth! This is the last pristine lowland rainforest of Central America, boasting some of the most amazing birding anywhere; thousands of hectares of mangroves, old pasture fields, and a giant canopy of primary forest hold more than 430 recorded species, a true birdwatcher’s dream. You can find White-crested Coquettes, Uniform Crake, Yellow-billed Cotinga, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and Black-checked Ant Tanager, all found within easy reach of the lodge. If you enjoy longer hikes you will find unlimited birding in this serene environment of lush tropical rainforest.

(3:00 hrs) 226KM
Sea level 150 meters
Temperature 21-39
Humidity 80% +

Carara National Park is by far one of the best birding places all year long in Costa Rica and perhaps in all of Central America. The national park protects the second largest population of Scarlet Macaws, easy access to all trails, mangrove swamps, pasture fields and forest edges. There are very few places in the country where more than a hundred species can be found in one single trail. Meandrica’s trail has become an icon for quality birding, tinamous, trogons, wrens, antpittas, manakins, cotingas, bellbirds, antshrikes are among the most common birds in the forest. The nearby forested edges give a good number of open field birds, jays, blackbirds, greenlets, rails, ground doves, motmots, hawks, parakeets, and owls among many of the avifauna found in these habitats. The mangroves at Rio Grande de Tarcoles are very rewarding on a good day along the river edges 5 species of kingfishers can be spotted, and more than a couple of dozens of shorebirds, herons, and egrets are also easy to find but the most remarkable species are the ones with a restricted range or to the mangroves such as vireos, warblers, cuckoos, flycatchers, the elusive Rufous-necked woodrail and the only true Costa Rican endemic Mangrove Hummingbird.

Sea level 50 meters
Temperature 29-36
Humidity 80% +

Ensenada This private reserve is an area that attracts thousands of birds during the migration from the north, and is truly birding to rave about! It is a fabulous area to find dry tropical forest specialities such as Thicket Tinamou, Long-tailed Manakin, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, and the rare Jabiru Stork. This seasonally flooded flatland with the deciduous forest is full of possibilities for combination birding. Adjacent to mud flats, mangrove forests and coastlines, this region provides the opportunity to see dozens of ducks and heron species, Kingfishers, Frigatebirds, and dozens of migratory species such as Turnstones, Sandpipers, Skimmers, Willets, and Spoonbills.

(1:30 hrs) 120KM
Sea level 50 meters
Temperature 27-38
Humidity -70%

Monteverde Cloud Forest. Nestled in the Tilaran volcanic range and facing the dry forest of the Nicoya’s Peninsula, this world-known paradise has been an icon for conservationists for decades. Blasted by the Caribbean trade winds at the top of its hills the evergreen forest of Monteverde/Santa Elena holds one of the most astonishing biodiversity anywhere on earth due to its geographical position. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded here and their adjacent preserves on the 3 major ecosystems. Home of the all-mighty Resplendent Quetzal, and the weird-looking Three-wattled Bellbird with its unique call. Dozens of kilometres of trails to explore. Dripping wet forest with more than 400 species of orchids and gentile-blown clouds enchants everyone’s eyes. There are very few places on earth so breathtaking at first glance

(1:30 hrs) 45KM
Sea level 1300 meters
Temperature 17-32
Humidity 80%

Early rising: In some locations we will be leaving before sunrise. In order to capture certain moments, situations or specific targets.

Photographing habitats: Many bird photography expeditions have always focused on just the birds therefore a good part of the experience is reduced and the story telling would not be as rich as I could be.

Mastering bird photography: There are many tricks to ensure quality and momentum. We will explore them all as long as nature lets us.

Playing with black and white: Many times we let colours run our bird photography nonetheless experimenting with shades, shadows, contrasts of the enchanting universe of blank & white can give you new ways to see our beloved feathery friends.

Times: Very crucial to make the most out of your holidays; we have selected all lodging, forests, or locations with a maximum distance/hours of driving. Generally speaking traveling time would be during the off hours or between 10 am – 1 pm.

Difficulty Level: If you are able to manage 2-3 Km on a daily basis with intervals you should be fine. Just a friendly reminder we specialize on physically limited tours for those who would share our passion for nature and bird photography.

How much photography skill do I need to have to enter the trip? Intermedia, Advance

IMPORTANT NOTE: FIRST DAY’S HOTEL IT WOULD BE BASED ON INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT SCHEDULES

Number of nights by destination: SJ (1), Cerro de la Muerte (3), Esquinas (2), Carara (3), Ensenada (2), Monteverde (2), SJ (1)

Number of participants: Minimum 2, Maximum 6 (8 upon request)

Dates/Months: Open all year

Additional Information

1. GEAR

• Small hiking backpack for day trips

• Small first aid kit

• Binoculars

• Camera (optional)

• Sunglasses

• Sunblock and Bug Spray

• Several pencils

• Daily journal

• A passport purse (to carry money, credit cards, etc... wear it close to your body)

• Any needed medications, anti-diarrhea, or any prescriptions

• Torch/Flashlight

2. WHAT TO BRING LIST

• Tennis shoes with good traction or hiking shoes with ankle support (waterproof)

• Comfortable sandals or flip flops

• Swimming wear

• Neutral color clothing for camouflage

• Several cool long sleeve shirts and short sleeve shirts

• Hat for sun protection (breathable)

• 2-3 pairs of light weight long pants for rain forest hikes

• Lightweight rain jacket (neutral color only)

• Casual beach clothing (t-shirts, shorts, sun dresses)

• Long pants and a fast drying sweater for the city/mountains (temp. are cooler can reach 3.5 degree celsius)

• Lightweight gloves for cooler areas

• Wellingtons/rubber boots can be bought in Costa Rica for $15 usd

3. MONEY, CREDIT CARDS, IDENTIFICATION

• Travelers checks (American Express or Visa) (can exchange some of them for Colones at the the local banks or hotel front desk)

• About $50-200 in cash (not tears in bills, small bills are better)

• Visa credit card widely accepted in Costa Rica, except rural towns (keep phone number of credit card company separate.)

• Passport

• Photocopies of passports and driver’s license (kept in a separate place)

• Use a credit card to call US from your hotel room or local pone

• You can also purchase a phone card here for international calls ($9 for 12 minutes to US)

4. USING FLASH OR NOT:

We would be teaching the use of natural light rather than multiflash control as those use to capture hummingbirds with fake backgrounds. Nonetheless we will also take some time to explain the uses of flash on bird photography.

5. Mastering bird photography on flight:

We will concentrate it on capturing hummingbirds in the air. Many hotels had for a long time built very attractive gardens fill with hummers fighting for the best perches and nectars.
Apart from hummingbirds at Tarcoles River boat tour the number of birds fishing, catching or simply gliding are fabulous.

6. ALL DAILY ACTIVITIES WOULD BE BASED ON LIGHT OR NATURAL OPPORTUNITIES SUCH AS NESTING SITES, FEEDING FRENZY, FRUITING TREES, ETC.

During the down times or complicated light garden explorations of visits to other parts of the
chosen destinations. Since we will be focus on no control environments or bird feeding stations; exploring the surrounding habitats near our lodges can well be highly rewarding. In many cases sitting still on flowering bushes or tree cavities can give us positive results.

7. ALL AREAS HAVE BEEN CHOSEN BASED ON THE 20 YEARS OF GUIDING SUCCESS, NOTHING HAS BEEN LEFT TO CHANCE EXCEPT FOR NATURE ITSELF. FROM THE DEEP JUNGLES OF BRAULIO CARILLO´S NATIONAL PARK TO THE SMOKY SUMMIT OF ARENAL VOLCANO´S RAINFOREST.

This photography experience has been created to capture colourful, beautiful and most iconic bird life from our rainforests.

General Topics

Mind Map