Fotoreise Costa Rica

Costa Rica – A paradise for nature lovers and photographers. About 900 bird species, 250 reptile and amphibian species, 200 mammal species, forests, active volcanoes, and friendly people are waiting to be photographed in their best light. A photo tour through Costa Rica will be a pure natural experience with endless designs.

Professional photographer Florian Kuster was born in 1982 in Switzerland. The love for photography has accompanied him since his early childhood. During his extensive travels, including a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and a one-year trip to South America, he acquired his skills.

Florian acquired theoretical knowledge at the prestigious Photography Institute in Zurich. Together with his Guatemalan wife and two children, he has lived and worked in Costa Rica since 2013. He has come to specialize in wildlife photography, especially birds. During the photo tour through Costa Rica, participants will learn tips and tricks to use in practice, well as theoretical knowledge in seminar blocks, and image-processing understanding.

This German guided photo tour is conducted with a maximum of 8 people. It takes 11 days and can be extended either to the Pacific or the Caribbean coast for 2 weeks. It is aimed at ambitious nature photographers with prior knowledge and proper equipment. The main focus is on bird photography, but it also includes photographing other animals, flowers, landscapes, and people. We will visit five regions of the country, known for their variety of birds.

San Gerardo de Dota, located at an altitude of about 2,200 meters above sea level and nestled in a valley in the mountains of the Talamanca mountain range, is surrounded by beautiful cloud forest with ancient oak trees. This is the home of the quetzal, often called the king bird of the Mayas. However, numerous hummingbird species can be photographed here as well. This little stunt pilot is only found on the American continent, and it requires some tricks to get a sharp picture of it. Florian will reveal the secret behind it.

Turrialba, at an altitude of around 700 meters above sea level is a small town in the center of the country, is located at the foot of the volcano with the same name. An enormous variety of birds attract observers and photographers from all over the world. The interesting Research Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CATIE) with a beautiful botanical garden can also be found here, and the Angostura reservoir attracts water birds. On mountain rivers, you will also find Sunbitterns. A photo of this rare bird with outstretched wings is almost a trophy.

Sarapiqui is located 100 meters above sea level on the edge of the largest contiguous forest reserve in the country, the Braulio Carillo National Park and La Selva, a biological station. Thanks to the sanctuary found here, nature lovers will encounter a huge variety of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. The humid and hot climate of the rainforest will accompany photographers here, but they will definitely be rewarded for their efforts.

Caño Negro is a wildlife refuge in the northern lowlands and consists of lakes and marshes formed by flooding. In the dry season, the lakes shrink to small lagoons, canals, and sand strips, which are inhabited by numerous birds, cattle egrets, storks, roseate spoonbills, and kingfishers. In addition, tortoises, alligators, and many species of fish, including the endangered billfish, find shelter in the reserve. Here, we will get on site on boats, for the best motives.

Country & people are of course also in the center of our interest. The open and friendly Ticos —as the Costa Ricans call themselves— live a happy and peaceful life. This can be felt with every step, and it often leads to spontaneous and authentic encounters.

Day by day, here is the entire itinerary:

Day 1: Arrival

Arrival at the international airport of San José and transfer to the hotel in a suburb of San José, with beautiful tropical gardens. Depending on your arrival time, you can test your equipment here.

Overnight: standard class Hotel Bougainvillea *** (*), standard rooms, garden view

Included today: Meals not included

Day 2: San José – San Gerardo de Dota

Early birds will have the opportunity to photograph some colorful birds here or let them be put in the mood by the beautiful plants. After breakfast, your tour guide and professional photographer Florian Kuster will arrive at the hotel. After a short introduction, we will discuss the course of the journey. Then, we will go to our photo adventure and drive three hours to our first destination, San Gerardo de Dota, which is about 2,200 meters above sea level. Despite the tropical location of Costa Rica, it can be pretty chilly up here, but it is an ideal climate for the quirky hummingbirds that you will meet in the afternoon. Perhaps, there even is enough time today for a first image of a quetzal. Dinner, socializing, and overnight stay will wait for you at the lodge.

Overnight: standard class Hotel Savegre ***, standard rooms

Included today: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: San Gerardo de Dota

Before breakfast, we will get on our way looking for the king bird of the Mayas. Only the chief of the tribe was allowed to wear the long tail feathers of this bird as jewelry. After breakfast, you and Florian will explore the set-up photography with a focus on colorful birds and woodpeckers. In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to deepen our first experiences with hummingbirds. With 40-50 wing beats per second, and flight speeds of up to 100 kilometers an hour, we can speak of luck when this nimble flyer holds still, at least for short time of floating. It requires certain techniques and tricks to capture these moments and Florian will share his secrets.

These exercises are always held personally, and while two photographers work on their setup, the other participants can explore flora and fauna on countless forest trails. This day, it will be about image editing with Lightroom and how to get the most out of photos. Florian has in-depth knowledge of Adobe Lightroom 5 and will guide you step by step. Of course, we will project the first day results of the participants on a canvas and will comment on these results.

Overnight: standard class Hotel Savegre ***, standard room

Included today: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: San Gerardo de Dota – Turrialba

After breakfast, we will leave this sleepy area and drive around 2 hours to Turrialba, at the foot of the volcano with the same name. If we are lucky with the weather, from a safe distance we can spot the gas cloud that evaporates from the crater. It is warmer and the climate is ideal for the famous Costa Rican highlands coffee that grows beautifully here. Sugar cane and macadamia nuts are also raised in this place. Here, we will be housed in a hotel with beautiful gardens, and you can start capturing flora and fauna after arrival. The nimble butterflies in the garden are great practice objects and will help photographers become one with their cameras.

In the afternoon, a visit to the botanical garden of the tropical agricultural institute CATIE is on the program. This Agricultural University was founded in 1973 and is a major world research center for tropical agriculture. 1000 hectares house collections of plants, nurseries, and research areas for cocoa, macadamia, coffee, mango, avocado, citrus, ornamental, and medicinal plants. Of course, these plantations also attract numerous birds and other animals, and we will indulge in our passion for photography again.

Back at the hotel, you can try the fine cuisine of the hotel. Dinner will not be included this day, and you can choose it according to the menu and depending on your mood. Then, Florian will start the second seminar block, which will deal with design possibilities, backgrounds, pixels, colors, cropping, and proportions. The motto is: going a step further and analyzing before taking pictures.

Overnight at first-class hotel, Casa Turire ****, standard rooms

Included today: breakfast, lunch

Day 5: Turrialba

The theory of the previous evening will have to be put into practice. Near the hotel, you will take your bird photos with Florian’s support and advice. We will enjoy lunch at the hotel before going to a mountain river in the rainforest. Hopefully, we will find the rare Sunbittern. For photographers, they are mainly interesting because of the great ornament on their wings, which resemble eyes. However, it is a challenge to catch the bird with its wings outstretched. Back at the hotel, you will have a free time to either select your recent photos or to end the day with a drink in the Jacuzzi.

Overnight at first-class hotel, Casa Turire ****, standard rooms

Included today: breakfast, lunch

Day 6: Turrialba – Sarapiquí

After breakfast, we will cross the last mountain ranges and reach the northern lowlands of Costa Rica by Siquirres. The goal for the day will be Sarapiqui, which is located on the edge of a huge forest reserve, close to the Biological Station La Selva. Our Lodge will be located next to the Sarapiqui River, which forms a border between civilization and the rainforest. The tropical gardens will invite for photo sessions, and the nature-loving staff will be very helpful in the search for motifs. After lunch, you can visit the observation pavilion and take exciting nature photos under the guidance of Florian.

After having dinner at the lodge, the third seminar block will be ready. The task will be to deepen the contents of the previous seminars and learn how to keep track of hundreds of images.

Overnight: standard class, Selva Verde Lodge ***, river, rooms

Included today: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Sarapiquí

On a boat trip on the Rio Sarapiquí we focus our attention today on crocodiles, caimans, iguanas, monkeys and sloths. There is no lack of bird life, and today we focus on water birds. While the boat operator with his trained eye has the task to find the often well-camouflaged animals, you will be busy with the challenge of photography from a boat. This is not always easy, but with the help of the tips and tricks from Florian you will certainly master it.

The afternoon there will be even more exciting and adventurous. It’s about set-up photography of frogs and snakes that we are tracking with the help of the Lodge staff. The evening is at leisure and you can process the impressions either in the lodge or in the village of Sarapiqui.

Overnight: standard class, Selva Verde Lodge ***, river, rooms

Today: breakfast, lunch

Day 8: Sarapiquí – Caño Negro

Today we will continue to one of the world’s most important wetlands, the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. During the rainy season, the area is flooded, forming a large lake, but in the dry season, smaller lagoons, canals and sand strips are formed, with many different species. Numerous water birds can be found here, like the endangered Jabiru, as well as reptiles and turtles that can be observed and photographed. After having lunch in the village, we will drive to our hotel, where you can spend the afternoon building your sets in the garden and transferring what you have learned into your own ideas.

After having dinner, you will attend the fourth block of seminars with the following topics: output formats for different uses, backup, posting on platforms, selling to libraries, rights, and contests.

Overnight: standard class, Hotel de Campo Caño Negro ***, standard rooms

Included today: breakfast, lunch

Day 9: Caño Negro

In the morning, we will take a ride into the Caño Negro Reserve, on boats specially designed for photographers. Thanks to swivel chairs, you can turn around, which will simplify photography. The extraordinary biodiversity is impressive. Among the native species of birds in the winter months you will find migratory birds from the north mingling, as well as three species of monkeys, sloths, iguanas, crocodiles, caimans, and turtles that will be our subjects that morning.

After having lunch, we will try to shoot the best photos in the butterfly garden. Whether Brimstone or Blue Morpho, when it comes to shapes and colors, the lightweight insects of Costa Rica are hard to beat.

The evening will be at your leisure to sort out the photos. Slowly, the tour will come to an end and it will be time to opt for your favorite picture and hand it to Florian, who will decide in the photo contest.

Overnight: standard class, Hotel de Campo Caño Negro ***, standard rooms

Today: breakfast, lunch

Day 10: Caño Negro – San José

On a new boat, you will have the last chance to shoot your “mega image” for the competition. Then, we will drive back to San José and cross the Central Volcanic Mountain Range.

The dinner at the hotel will follow the fifth and final seminar block about rating and commenting on the entire contestant submitted photos for the contest. Again, there will be a lot to learn. The award ceremony will be at the end, and then, unfortunately, it will be time to say goodbye. An eventful and informative photographic journey will have come to an end.

Overnight: standard class, Hotel Bougainvillea *** (*), standard rooms, garden, view

Included today: breakfast, lunch on the way, farewell, dinner

Day 11: Transfer to the airport or extension program

We will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the international airport for your return flight. We recommend an extension program and will advise you in making the right choice.

Included today: breakfast

 

Minimum number of participants: 4 people

Maximum number of participants: 8 people

 

Included Not included
  • Transfers and transportation in air-conditioned buses with Spanish-speaking drivers.
  • Accommodation in the mentioned hotels in rooms with shower / WC
  • Meals as per description including 1 non-alcoholic drink, typical of the country, usually a fruit juice
  • Support by German-speaking professional photographer and tour guide Florian Kuster, days 2-10
  • German-speaking tour guide upon arrival at the airport
  • Informative travel documentation
    • Flight
    • Voluntary gratuities
    • Airport departure tax when leaving, USD 29 per person
    • Optional activities
    • Personal expenses
    • Personal travel insurance (illness, accident)
    • Insurance on photographic equipment

Änderungen im Programmablauf bleiben vorbehalten

 

Dates on request

 

Equipment and Tips:

Everyone should have the following:

-Digital SLR Camera

-Replacement battery plus charger

-Ample supply of memory cards, better two smaller ones, than a very large memory card

-Telephoto lenses starting at 300 millimeters, and zoom lenses are convenient for several purposes

-Teleconverters are very helpful.

-Stable tripod, which can easily support camera + telephoto lens

-A clip-on or pop-up flash

Optionally, increasing the fun factor (but also your baggage):

-Macro lens

-Wide angle lens

-Laptop

-Remote control

-Filter (Polaroid / grey filter)

To help Florian Kuster prepare, participants are asked to report before the travel: brand, model of camera, and telephoto lens. If additional lenses are to be carried, please indicate this. On a voluntary basis, the serial number of both units can be transmitted to avoid confusion.

The following disciplines will be completed:

-Classic set-ups at the bird feeder (feeding station)

-Discovery journey on jungle paths, hotel gardens, and waterways

-Set-Ups for Reptiles

-Humming birds in flight and sitting still

-Macros of plants and animals

-Country and people, still life

For further information and booking: sales@aratours.com, www.aratours.com

Phone +506 2232 04 00