Costa Rica - Dec. 2-11th, 2017

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It is said that good things come in small packages and Costa Rica is a prime example. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea the country is only twenty thousand square miles, about one quarter the size of Washington State. Costa Rica may represent only .03% of the world’s land mass but compacted into this small country is 5% of the world’s existing biodiversity. To protect this magnificent biodiversity, over 25% of the country is preserved as protected area. To the serious photographer this means wildlife everywhere!  This small country is one of the world’s premier destinations for wildlife photographers.

Toucans, macaws and hundreds of species of birds soar overhead and perch in the tropical forests. In the low altitude rain forests, you can hear their calls throughout the day. Some of the world’s most beautiful and unique birds live in these forests. A wide variety of frogs, lizards, amphibians and snakes peer at you from trees and fallen logs providing exceptional photographic opportunities. White-faced capuchin and howler monkeys swing overhead from tree to tree and iridescent butterflies flit amid the luscious tropical flowers. The three-toed sloth, anteaters, peccaries and large troops of inquisitive coatimudi live here as well.  Along the rivers crocodiles and caimans are a common sight.

The night brings the arrival of another entire cast of wildlife to the forests.  Coral Snakes, Boa Constrictors, Tarantulas, Spiders, Red Eye Frogs, Poison Dart Frogs, Owls and thousands of other species of animals and insects create yet another incredible opportunity for wildlife photography. There is rarely a time of day when there is not something to shoot.  

Our 2016 workshop in Costa Rica was fantastic. I am a very slow and conservative shooter, probably a habit from so many years of shooting film, yet I came home with nearly a terabyte of images. After Tanzania, I find that Costa Rica has the most concentrated and diversified amount of wildlife photography opportunities. This is why we are going back again this year to two different and unique destinations; Carara National Park, famed for its high concentration of scarlet macaws and Corcovado National Park, home to one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on the planet and crown jewel of Costa Rica’s national park system.

We arrive in San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica, where we will spend the night. The next day we set-off to our first destination, the Carara National Park.  We will be staying in the highly-rated, beautiful Cerro Lodge (http://hotelcerrolodge.com) located on a remote hillside just outside the park. Our location allows us to explore Carara National Park, float down the Tarcoles River (famed for its crocodile population), and. We will not only have access to miles of trails through the forest but will also be able to set-up and photograph birds at feeding stations on the grounds of the hotel. The night brings out another world of wildlife, so we will be doing a night walk as well.

We’ll next move south to spend the day exploring Manuel Antonio National Park. This is one of Costa Rica’s most biologically diverse parks. We’ll do a wildlife hike in the morning  than in the afternoon a boat trip on Damas Island Estuary. There are over 350 species of birds here as well as all four of Costa Rica’s monkey. To save travel time we will spend the night at the the newly re-modeled La Forest Resort (http://www.laforestaresort.com).

Our next destination takes us down the Sierrpe River, out to the Pacific Ocean and La Paloma Lodge (www.lapalomalodge.com) one of the best and most beautiful nature lodges in Costa Rica. With La Paloma Lodge as our base we will explore Cocorovado National Park, considered by many the best of Costa Rica’s National Parks.  Accompanied by a local naturalist, we will be exploring and photographing the extensive wildlife around the La Sirena Ranger Station, San Pedrillo Ranger Station and Sierpe Mangrove area. They are among the most diverse and best wildlife areas in Costa Rica.  La Sirena is one of the few dependable places to photograph Tapir’s. We will also do a night walk and photo shoot with well-known insect naturalist Tracie “The Bug Lady” Stice.  

At the end of our Cocorovado stay we will be taking a charter plane back to San Juan International airport and flights home.  With us we will have many gigabytes of incredible photography and amazing memories.

 Our itinerary is organized to give you the best opportunities for the best wildlife photography. On all of our adventures we will be accompanied by experienced local naturalists who will help us find the best wildlife.  This will include walks through the forest, bird photography, night walk(s), a wildlife boat trips, and canopy walks along the suspended bridges and trails of the Rainmaker Reserve near Cerro Lodge. With whatever time in the day is left, you can explore the forest trails around the lodges on your own and take as much time as you need to set-up that perfect shot.

As with all our workshops this one is organized for photographers by experienced professional photographers.  We take groups of no more than 6 so we can spend individual time with each of our participants.  Between our activities and photography we will do photo reviews and critiques as well as presentations on wildlife photography.  

Take a look at the detailed itinerary below to get an idea of how extensive the opportunities for fantastic wildlife photography will be.  Our 2016 trip was incredible and this one will be even better.  Please join us.

Detailed Itinerary for Costa Rica 2017

Day 1 / Dec 2 - Airport Greet & Transfer, Villa San Ignacio and Welcome Dinner
After clearing immigrations and customs, and exiting the terminal, each party/flight will be met at the airport by a private van and driver for the ride to Villa San Ignacio. The drive should take around 10-15 minutes.  

Upon arrival, you will check in to Villa San Ignacio for 1 night. Villa San Ignacio is a charming, recently remodeled boutique hotel on expansive grounds just outside the city of Alajuela. There are lush gardens and trails on the property, as well as a small pool, and excellent restaurant. Each participant or couple will have a Deluxe room, with two Queen beds.

We will convene at 6:30pm for a welcome dinner. Dinner (and all subsequent meals are included.  

Day 2 / Dec 3 - Arrival Cerro Lodge and Carara National Park

At 9am, a private mini-bus will meet the group for the ride to Cerro Lodge. The drive time is around 1 hour. We will have both a driver and bilingual guide accompanying us on the trip.
Upon arrival, we will check in to Cerro Lodge (http://hotelcerrolodge.com) for 4 nights. This is a small remote lodge on a hillside just outside the Carara National Park area. There is great bird watching right at the hotel, and Scarlet Macaws are common here. We will be staying in private or duplex bungalows.

After settling in and after lunch, we will head to nearby Carara National Park for a 3-hour guided hike of the trails here. Carara is a lush area of transitional lowland rain forest, with amazing wildlife and one of the highest concentrations in Costa Rica of nesting Scarlet Macaws. The trails here are broad, well-tended, and mostly flat.

Day 3 / Dec 4 Carara National Park -  

Morning  - Taracoles River Tour  - After breakfast, we  will be driven for about 15 minutes to the embarkation point for boat trips on the Tarcoles river. From here we will enjoy a 3-hour cruise in a covered boat along the Tarcoles river and through its estuary and mangrove forest. We will have the opportunity to photograph all forms of wildlife here, including numerous waterfowl and tropical bird species, large iguanas, Basilik lizards, turtles and more. The main attraction, however, is the hundreds (if not thousands) of crocodiles that inhabit these waters. Lunch will be served in a simple, local restaurant on the banks of the river.
Afternoon - Pura Vida Botanical Gardens.  In the afternoon, the group will head to Pura Vida Botanical Gardens. Located on a high, flat mountaintop overlooking a stunning waterfall, Carara National Park and the Pacific Ocean, these extensive botanical gardens attract all forms of nectar and fruit feeding birds.

Day 4 / Dec 5  Carara National Park - Rainmaker Reserve

Located in the mountainous rainforests above the coastal plain between Jaco and Manuel Antonio, Rainmaker is a 1500 acre private reserve with a beautiful network of trails and suspension bridges. Wildlife here is abundant. Lunch will be served at Rainmaker.

After lunch, the group will head back to Carara National Park for further exploration and shooting.  In the evening we will be doing a night walk in the forest.

Day 5 / Dec 6  Manuel Antonio Nation Park & La Foresta lodge

The group will be checking out of Cerro Lodge in the morning, and checking in to a new hotel at the end of the day, for 1 night.  At approximately 7am, the group will depart for Manuel Antonio National Park, which is located about 1 hour south of Cerro Lodge. Manuel Antonio is one of the most celebrated and biologically rich national parks in Costa Rica. It is home to all four of Costa Rica’s monkey species, as well as 350 bird species.

The day here will be divided between a hike through the National Park in the, and a boat trip through the Damas Island estuary.  The boat trip is entirely dependent upon the high tide, so the timing of the break down will be dependent upon the specific high tide time on the day of the visit. Lunch will be served in the home of a local guide.

At the end of the day of shooting, the group will check in to La Foresta Resort (www.laforestaresort.com). Participants will be staying in Deluxe rooms. La Foresta is located on expansive grounds, surrounded by rain forest, with lush gardens, a pool, and excellent restaurant. La Foresta Resort has been totally remodeled and will re-opened in May 1, 2017.

Day 6 / Dec 7 Transfer to Drake Bay - La Paloma Lodge    

At 6am, a private driver and van will pick us up at your hotel for the ride to Sierpe. The drive should take around 3.5 hours.  We will stop for breakfast en route to Sierpe. In the port village of Sierpe we will meet La Paloma’s water taxi for the 90 minute boat ride down the Sierpe River and out into the Pacific Ocean.

La Paloma Lodge (www.lapalomalodge.com) is one of the best and most beautiful nature lodges in Costa Rica.  Participants will be housed in Superior rooms, with air-conditioning and a private balcony with sweeping view over the gardens, rainforest and out on to the Pacific Ocean, with Caño Island in the distance.

Day 6 / Dec 8  La Sirena Station - Corcovado National Park

 After breakfast, we will depart via motor boat for the Sirena Ranger Station.  This boat ride is 1 hour from the lodge.  Our local naturalist guide will share his knowledge and help you find a wide range of species as you hike the park trails. A picnic lunch will be served at the park.  This is a full-day tour.  You will return between 2-3 pm.

Corcovado National Park is home to one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet.  And the central, coastal La Sirena Station is the crown jewel of the park. In addition to the amazing collection of wildlife common to Corcovado National Park, this is one of the most dependable spots in the country to spot and photograph Baird’s Tapir.

Day 8  / Dec 9 Corcovado National Park  - Sierpe Mangrove Tour

Today’s tour will feature an extensive exploration of the massive Sierpe mangrove system.  Covering more than 22,000 hectares, the Terraba-Sierpe wetlands are one of the largest and biologically important mangrove forests in Latin America. All manner of mammal, reptile, amphibian and aquatic species use this area as a nesting, breeding and feeding ground.    

After dinner this evening, we will be met in the La Paloma lobby area for our night tour with Tracie “The Bug Lady” Stice. This is a fascinating exploration of the vibrant nocturnal world of the tropical rain forest.

Day 9 / Dec 10  Corcovado National Park - San Pedrillo Station    

After breakfast, we will depart via motor boat for the San Pedrillo Ranger Station.  This boat ride is only 30 minutes or so from the lodge.  Our local naturalist guide will share his knowledge and help us find a wide range of species while we hike the park trails. A picnic lunch will be served at the park. This is a full-day tour. We will return between 2-3 pm.

While Tapirs are less common here than in Sirena, they can still be spotted, as can troops of wild pig boar (zaino), agouti paca, coatimundi, anteaters and other mammals, including four monkey species.

Day 10 / Dec 11  Departure for Home

In the morning, after breakfast, and dependent upon the groups specific departure flight times, the folks at La Paloma will bring everyone over to the Drake Bay airstrip for a charter flight back to San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO), The flight should take around 50 minutes. You can plan a flight home for later in afternoon or take an optional extra day in San Jose.

COST: $3950 Double occupancy / $4495 Single occupancy Required Deposit: $1000

Included:  Accomadations, food, Costa Rica internal travel, guides, tours, park fees

Not Included: Beverages, Alcoholic Beverages, Travel Insurance, Airfare to Costa Rica, Tips

$1,000.00
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