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COSTA RICA BIRD PHOTO TOUR

This 13 day photo tour features the best lodges and locations for bird photography in Costa Rica.  You will photograph toucans, tanagers, curassows, parrots and King Vultures in the Northwest, beautiful poison dart frogs and roosting owls in the Sarapiqui Valley.  We do multi-flash hummingbird photography at 2 different lodges at both mid level and higher altitude elevations to get a lot of different species.  We spend a day and a half photographing the majestic Resplendent Quetzal and we will go on a river cruise where we photograph raptors, herons and crocodiles up close.  And those are just the highlights of the tour.

Number of Participants: Maximum of 6 photographers and 9 total participants.

Cost and Logistics

$6,950 per photographer with a $900 single supplement. $6,250 for a non photographer spouse.  Deposit to reserve your spot $2,400. This includes all in country transportation, lodging, meals, guiding, instruction, property fees and drinking water.  It does not include airfare to get to Costa Rica, drinks other than water, tips and items of a personal nature such as phone calls or laundry. 2026 costs: $7,250 photographer, $6,550 nonphotographer, $900 single.

Itinerary

January 26th – Arrival in San José CR, transfer to El Robledal Hotel only 15 minutes away from the airport. The hotel has some green areas to start photographing some new birds as soon as you arrive.

Overnight El Robledal

January 27th – We depart after breakfast looking for birds along the way, chances of Crimson Collared Tanager, Blue-Gray Tanager, Emerald Toucanet among many others. We arrive at Bosque de Paz to spend the afternoon shooting in the premises of the lodge. Green-crowned Brilliant, Black-bellied Hummingbird, Spangle-cheeked Tanager.

Overnight Bosque de Paz

January 28th – We drive shortly to reach Blue Falls, our first Hummingbird Multiflash location. Green-Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Coppery Headed Emerald are possible. Some other birds seen in the gardens like Bananaquit and Black-chested Wood Quail.

Overnight Bosque de Paz

January 29th – We depart to the Northern Wetlands of Costa Rica, we have time to set up at the photography deck and start shooting right away. Best lodge in Costa Rica for photographing birds coming in to fruit feeders. Keel-billed Toucan, Golden Hooded Tanager, Brown Hooded Parrot, Montezuma Oropendula, Yellow-Throated and Keel-billed Toucans, Collared Aracari are just some of the species that regularly show up.

Overnight Laguna Lagarto Lodge

January 30th – We will spend our day photographing at Laguna Lagarto. Mid Morning we will set up at the best King Vulture Hide in Costa Rica where they sometimes show up in great numbers. We use the afternoon to keep shooting at the deck or enjoy the gardens and trails of the lodge. King Vulture, Great Green Macaws, Great Curassow.

Overnight Laguna Lagarto Lodge

January 31st – We continue to photograph at the deck and gardens, in the evening we set up for our Bat Photography session. Learn the techniques to capture nectar feeding bats at night using a multi-flash setup. The Pallas’s Long-tongued Bat is the most common species seen and captured at our setup.

Overnight Laguna Lagarto Lodge

February 1st – We will leave the lodge early and spend the morning at a location in the lowlands where we will visit roosting sites of owls, potoos and Honduran White Bats.  At this spot there are also fruit feeders which attract some different birds such as Chestnut-headed Oropendula and Orange-chinned Parakeets.  In the evening we will arrive at our new lodge, which will work as our base camp for the upcoming activities.

Overnight Selva Verde Lodge

February 2nd – We will spend the morning photographing at a small reserve looking for Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Red-legged Honeycreeper, White-collared Manakin and occasionally, sloths! After lunch we drive shortly to the spot of our Snakes and frogs macro session. We will shoot the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, Red-eyed Leaf Frog, White-sided Palm Pit Viper, among others. Macro lens recommended but not required.

Overnight Selva Verde Lodge

February 3rd – We depart in the morning making a stop where we can photograph Broad-billed Motmot, Long-tailed Tyrant, Crimson Collared Tanager and other nice species. We continue our way and arrive late afternoon at the cloudforest of the Talamanca mountain range. The southmost cordillera of the country is home of the largest Quetzal population in the world!

Overnight Paraiso Quetzal Lodge

February 4th – We will spend a whole day looking for the Resplendent Quetzal split in two halfs, sometimes working on a tree trunk for the upcoming nesting season or simply visiting wild avocado trees to feed, the Quetzal is always the star of the tour! We have set up perches near the trees they frequently visit to have great photography opportunities!

Overnight Paraiso Quetzal Lodge

February 5th – We will set up a Multi-flash in the premises of the lodge, the best place to photograph the endemics Fiery-throated Hummingbird, Green Violetear, Talamanca Hummingbird and Volcano Hummingbird. As we take turns to use the multi-flash we will take advantage of the lodge gardens, Peg-billed Finch, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher and Golden-browed Chlorophonia are common visitors.

Overnight Paraiso Quetzal Lodge

February 6th – We make our way to the Central Pacific, in the afternoon we will take a boat safari upstreams Tarcoles river and then back towards delta and the mangroves looking for big crocodiles, egrets, frigate birds, pelicans and more! Overnight Cerro Lodge

February 7th – We spend the whole day with a local expert at Orotina’s dry forest. We will be able to photograph species like the Turquoise-Browed Motmot, Pacific Screech Owl, Black-headed Trogon and many more. We drive less than 2 hours to our hotel near the airport for our last night in the tropics. Overnight El Robledal

February 8th – Transfer to the airport and fly home. Time to enjoy the post processing!

Costa Rica Arenal Extension

Cost: $2,950 with a $300 single supplement, nonphotographer spouse $2,650. 

February 8th – We will drive around route 1 looking for good opportunities, we have a chance to photograph Jabiru and other water birds and raptors on the way to our lodge.  We will arrive to Heliconias Lodge in the afternoon.  This is the best location to photograph the amazing Tody Motmot.  Heliconias Lodge

February 9th – We will spend the day photographing and looking for good birds around Heliconias Lodge.  This lodge is one of the best locations for two special hummingbirds, the Black-crested Coquette and the Snowcap. Hummingbird Feeders are good also for Violet Headed Hummingbird and Blue-throated Goldentail.  Heliconias Lodge. 

February 10th – After a bit of morning photography at the lodge we will make our way to Arenal Volcano, we will visit Bogarin Trail looking for Keel-billed Motmot, Broad billed Motmot, Barred Antshrike, White-throated Crake, Black-and-white Owl, Orange-chinned Parakeet and others.  The lakes around here can be good for Agami Heron.  Hotel: Roca Negra Del Arenal

February 11th – We will have a full day of photography at Arenal Observatory Lodge, which has a wonderful garden.  The fruiting trees here should have many great opportunities for fine species like Rufous winged Tanager, Black and Yellow Tanager and. Chestnut Headed Oropendola. If we find ants on any of the trails it can be a wonderful experience seeing all the antbird species at work such as Ocellated Antbird, Bicolored Antbird, Spotted Antbird, together with Red-throated Ant Tanager or Gray Headed Tanager, sometimes some woodcreepers join the show like Tawny-winged Woodcreeper. Hotel: Roca Negra Del Arenal

February 12th – After breakfast we will move through the central mountain range and stop at a garden for Coppery-headed Emerald(endemic) Crowned Woodnymph, Green Hermit and Violet Sabrewing.   We will visit a tanager feeding station where Speckled, Bay-headed and Emerald Tanagers are regular.  If the Bellbirds are displaying we will also stop to photograph them. We will arrive back at the Robledal in the late afternoon.  Hotel: El Robledal

February 13th – Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Javier Zurita

Javier Zurita

Javier Zurita is a full time nature photographer and tour leader from Quito, Ecuador. Javier has been leading tours in Ecuador and Colombia the past several years. He built the excellent photo blinds at Sachatamia Lodge in Ecuador. He is an excellent photographer who is using flash in innovative ways.

Charles

Charles Gangas

Charles Gangas is a full time nature photographer residing in Stowe, Vermont where he is a staff photographer for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Chuck’s images have been used in the popular IBird applications. He was an award winner in the 2019 NANPA photo contest. Chuck has traveled and photographed extensively throughout Asia and Latin America. Chuck uses Nikon.

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