Nature Photography tour Costa Rica

Day 1: arrival – Hotel Buena Vista

Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by an English-speaking representative of Aratinga Tours and transferred to Hotel Buena Vista, a nice and quiet hotel at 15 minutes from the airport in the middle of the coffee plantations with spectacular views of the Central Valley…

Day 2,3 +4: Laguna de Lagarto Lodge – La Paz Waterfall Gardens – King vulture hide

On the way to the Caribbean lowlands you will pass by beautiful cloudforest on the flanks of Poas Volcano and have a stop at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. This is a theme park around the biodiversity of Costa Rica. You will have access to a spacious aviary for bird photography of toucans, motmots and colorful tanagers. There is also a hummingbird garden where some spectacular species (Violet Sabrewing, Green-crowned Brilliant Coppery-headed Emerald,…) can be approached within one meter. Besides birds, other aspects of nature photography can be enjoyed at the butterfly garden,  frog garden with colorful Poisson Dart Frogs and Red-eyed Leaf Frogs and a trail parallel to a set spectacular waterfalls pounding down the cloudforest… the next day you will stay in the remote Laguna de Lagarto Lodge where you will have access to platforms especially designed for photographers with eye-level view of a feeding station where some of the most beautiful birds of Costa Rica can be photographed from close distance. We can almost guarantee Keel-billed Toucan, Montezuma Oropendola’s, Brown-hooded Parrots and several colorful tanagers and Woodpeckers. At night you will be invited to participate in a bat photogaphy workshop during which you can photograph feeding bats hovering in front a white flower.  Optionally you can make use of a unique hide from where King Vulture sometimes can be seen from close distance. This rare bird can be seen often soaring high in the sky, being within a few meters of this majestic vulture is an absolute once-in-a-lifetime experience…

Day 5, 6 + 7: Arenal Observatory Lodge – Danaus Ecocenter

You will continue your Costa Rica nature photography tour to the middle elevation rainforest around the active Arenal Volcano. In the remote Arenal Observatory Lodge you will have great views of the geometrically almost perfect cone of the Arenal volcano towering above the emerald rainforest. There are several great viewpoints on the hotelgrounds from where to take dramatic landscape pictures. Besides that you will be able to enjoy the bird photography at the the feeding stations near the restaurant with poassibilities for Great Currasow, Montezuma Oropendola, Passerini’s Tanager and Golden-hooded Tanager. On day 6 you will visit the small private reserve of Danaus. At a small pond in the middle of the reserve there is a breeding colony of Boat-billed Herons that are easy to approach. besides that Emerald Basilisks and Spectacled Caiman might be around…

Day 8 + 9: Cerro Lodge – Tarcoles River

You will leave the Caribbean lowlands and descend to the Central Pacific Coast, where you will stay in Cerro Lodge: a small remote lodge with panoramic views of the mangroves in front of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the with rainforest covered hills of Parque Nacional Carara on the other side. Cerro Lodge is the ideal place to observe and photograph the spectacular Scarlet Macaws. They are often seen flying overhead or with some luck at eye level in noisy couples in the early morning or late afternoon. Often they can also seen feeding on trees near the lodge. On day 9 you can enjoy two private boattours on the Tarcoles River where you can expect to be overwhelmed by a wide variety of water-related birds: several heron species, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Northern Jacana’s, Mangrove Black Hawks, Ospreys, Brown Pelicans, Magnificent Frigatbirds and up to 5 species of Kingfishers.  Besides that often large American Crocodiles can be seen and approached sunbathing on the sandy riverbanks. The boattours will be scheduled in the early morning and late afternoon with the soft light of the rising and setting sun respectively…

Day 10, 11 + 12: Quetzal Paradise Lodge – Cerro de la Muerte

You will continue up the slopes of the Cerro de la Muerte, with 3400 m one of Costa Rica’s highest mountain peaks. Gradually you will get into thick cloudforest. At the highest point you will be above the  treeline and at a clear day will be able to enjoy stunning landscapes all the way up to the Pacific Ocean…Your final destination is Quetzal Paradise Lodge, a small family run lodge at the edge of the cloudforest with great views of the surrounding dramatic mountain scene. Here you will have access to an exclusive feeding station where you can enjoy some spectacular bird photograhy of up to 5 species of hummingbirds including the spectacular Fiery-throated Hummingbird. You will be assisted by a local guide who will replace the feeders by a colorful flower so you can take pictures of hummingbirds hovering in front of the flower. Besides hummingbirds you can expect the pretty Flame-colored Tanager, Yellow-thighed Finch and Acorn Woodpecker at the corn feeders. On day 11 you will go on a private tour in search of the Respldent Quetzal. The male of this trogon is  iridescent red and green and has a tail of about 1 meters long. Some say this is the most beautiful birds of the American continent…

Day 13 + 14: Hotel Bougainvillea – Santo Domingo de Heredia

You will return to San José, where you will spent the last night in Hotel Bougainvillea, in a quiet neighborhood in the outskirts of San José. Here you can enjoy a beautiful botanical garden with many colorful birds and butterflies, where some interesting tropical plants are represented like gingers, heliconia’s, bromeliads and many orchids….The next day (day 14) you will be transferred to the airport. End of trip.

What is included ?:

  • All accomodations in double rooms with private bathrooms
  • 3 meals a day: from breakfast day 2 untill breakfast day 14
  • Activities / tours as described above
  • Rental car from day 2 untill (and including) day 13: Daihatsu Bego 4×4 + full cover insurance + mobile router that generates wifi signal + cell phone (with a credit of 60 min for local calls)
  • Entrance fees
  • Detailed  information package: practical information, background information, road map + birdchecklist.
  • Acces to English-speaking help-desk of Aratinga Tours during your Costa Rica tour. 7 days a week, during office hours

Extra costs

  • Personal expenses
  • International flight
  • Tips to local guides

Price (per person, with 2 persons participating,  staying in double rooms) : 

With access to King Vulture Hide:

  • 01/05 – 15/11/2017: 2600 usd
  • 16/11/2017 – 30/04/2018: 2775 usd
  • 01/05 – 15/11/2018: 2690 usd

Without access to King Vulture Hide: 

  • 01/05 – 15/11/2017: 2360 usd
  • 16/11/2017 – 30/04/2018: 2540 usd
  • 01/05 – 15/11/2018: 2450 usd