Taking great shots of hummingbirds in which you freeze their wings is very difficult -- unless you know how to do it. Once you understand the technique, this will be the easiest bird photography you've ever done. You sit in a chair (with a drink in hand if you want!), and snap the shutter. Jim and our local guide, Jose, set up the light stands, the flash units, and the background, and all you do is take incredible pictures. Costa Rica has some of the world's most beautiful hummers, and it's an exciting experience to capture them with tack sharp clarity.
This photo tour include more than hummingbirds, though. In addition, one day is spent photographing tropical amphibians and reptiles native to Costa Rica. Frogs, snakes, basilisks, iguanas and more will make this experience an unforgettable one. Past participants have told me this was one of the highlights of the trip.
We also go to very special places in Costa Rica known for toucans as well as the resplendent quetzal. These species of tropical birds are simply incredible in their beauty, their dazzling color, and their graceful flights. Jim will explain how to capture birds in flight, and you'll be completely captivated by this very challenging, but very gratifying, aspect of nature photography.
The lodges we use have beautiful gardens where you can do macro work, and many species of birds and butterflies are constantly present. Expect to see and photograph between 70 and 120 species of birds. Costa Rica is truly astonishing. It is a nature photographer's dream come true.
Limited to 9 people
Day 1, Saturday, Nov. 25: Depart from home and arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica (airport code: SJO). You will be met at the airport after clearing customs and immigration by a local representative with your name on a placard and transferred to our hotel where you can spend the afternoon photographing the beautiful botanical garden on the grounds of the hotel. In the late afternoon or early evening, Jim will go over the technical and artistic aspects of hummingbird photography as well as photographing birds in flight. Enjoy a group dinner and then overnight at Hotel Bougainvillea, San Jose, Costa Rica.
Days 2 - 3, Sunday, Monday, Nov. 26, 27: After an early breakfast, we depart at 7:30am for our first eco-lodge, Laguna del Lagarto. It is a six hour drive, but we stop enroute in the Vara Blanca zone to take some pictures of the emerald toucanet and the red-headed barbet (among other species), two stunning Costa Rican birds. We arrive at our lodge for lunch, and then we spend the next two days photographing hummingbirds (like the violet-crowned woodnyph, green-breasted mango, and steely-vented hummingbird) as well as other species like the green heron, broad-winged hawk, northern jacana, little blue heron, collared aracari toucan, green kingfisher, collared kingfisher, chestnut mandibled toucan, and osprey. Overnight Laguna del Lagarto.
Day 4 - 6, Tuesday - Thursday, Nov. 28 - 30: After early morning photography and breakfast, we drive toward Mt. Arenal. Enroute we stop and have lunch at an amazing place where you can photograph dozens of wild green iguanas in the trees, on the ground, and up close and personal. We then arrive at our lodge at the base of the sometimes-active Mt. Arenal, a volcanic cone-shaped mountain that rises dramatically above the rainforest. From the terrace of the hotel, and on the hotel property, you will be able to photograph many species of birds such as the blue-gray tanager, Montezuma oropendola, social flycatcher, and green honey creeper. A short distance from the hotel is a reptile zoo, and here we'll have the opportunity to take several of the exotic, tropical reptiles and amphibians onto the terrace and photograph them in natural backgrounds and in natural light. Overnight Arenal Observatory Lodge.
Day 7 - 9, Friday - Sunday, Dec. 1 - 3: Following early morning photography from the terrace of the lodge, we head toward our next location. We have lunch enroute and arrive at Paraizo de Quetzales, a beautiful lodge famous as the best place to photograph the exquisite resplendent quetzal. There are so many other species of birds as well including many hummingbirds. The number of species is truly dazzling -- about 400. Violaceous trogons, sparrow hawks, emerald toucanets, collared-restarts, bare-shanked screech owl, fiery-throated hummingbirds, and volcano hummingbirds. In addition, butterflies are everywhere including the neon-blue Morpho. Mammals such as the coati, armadillo, and margay can also be seen. We have plenty of time to take award-winning images of some of the most beautiful animals in Central America. Overnight Paraizo de Quetzales.
Day 10, Monday, Dec. 4: We the spend the morning photographing, and then we head back to San Jose arriving at the airport about 2:00pm to connect with your late afternoon flight home.
Tour cost: $4850. Includes all hotels based on double occupancy, all meals beginning with the welcome dinner on Nov. 25 and ending with lunch on Dec. 4, services of a local English speaking guide, all ground transportation, multiple flash setups for hummingbirds, all entrance fees, photo instruction, and critiques on demand.
Single supplement: $750
Not included: International airfare, trip cancellation insurance, items of a personal nature, alcohol, and departure tax.