Jansens Photo Expeditions – Costa Rica 2018 - May 2, 2018

We are proud to be working with Jansen Photo Expeditions on their latest trip to Costa Rica!  They are established photographers in their own right and we have been working closely with them to design the ultimate package for people wanting to expand their photography skills. Check out their blog post;

 

Join us for our Wildlife and Landscape Photography Workshop in Costa Rica, where we will be focusing on The Southern Zone and The Osa Peninsula, in our small group photography workshop.

Our 11 day/10 night Costa Rica photography expedition is meant for landscape photographers and nature lovers who desire to photographically explore the best of Costa Rica and its raw beauty in a small group environment. This workshop is led by two experienced landscape photographers and an escort/tour guide who has lived and traveled extensively in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Landscape Photography Workshops

Frog during our Costa Rica Photography Workshop

In this photography workshop, we work closely with you on your photography skills as we travel the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. In the evenings, we will provide image critique and Adobe Lightroom editing coaching when we are not out capturing the landscape.

Our groups average 8 – 10 participants, guaranteeing you a quality interactive learning experience
while photographing the incredible diversity of the wildlife and landscape of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Wildlife and Landscape Photography Workshop
December 7 – 17, 2018

$5455 Per Person Double Occupancy
+ $1000 for Single Supplement

 

Only 8 – 10 photographers on this all-inclusive small group workshop
Upon signup, we will send you an extensive camera gear and supply list.

Deposit $2000 per person to hold space for Workshop

SIGN UP FOR THE COSTA RICA PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP

Costa Rica Landscape photography Workshops
Landscape photography Workshops
Itinerary

Day 1 San Jose, Costa Rica

After arrival at the San Jose airport, we will transport you to the Alta Hotel de las Palomas, Escazu, San Jose. Nestled into the lush mountains of Escazú, a historic town just outside of San Jose, sits the lovely Alta Hotel. Alta Hotel has 23 beautiful rooms all with private balconies, overlooking the lush Mountains of Santa Ana and Escazú.

Welcome Reception Upon arrival. We would like to invite you for a welcome reception (cocktails and appetizers) at 6pm in the beautiful upstairs Vista room with outstanding city views.

Alta Hotel during our Costa Rica Photography Workshop

Vista Bellina Hotel during our Costa Rica Photography Workshop

Days 2 – 5
Vista Ballena Hotel

Vista Ballena Hotel, perched in the hills of Costa Rica’s wild southern coast, is more than a tropical resort. Here, in the world’s most ecologically diverse setting, you will discover nature’s hidden treasures and sustenance for the soul.
This 20 room hotel is set high among the mountainous jungles of Costa Ballena.

Enjoy exquisite views of the Whale’s Tail sandbar as it extends into the warm ocean waters and witness humpback whales cresting as they pass. Surrounded by lush rain forest and pristine coral-lined beaches, Vista Ballena is a place of solace and discovery in an otherwise untouched land. Paradise after all, is not just a destination, it is what stirs inside us when we set our eyes on the sublime wonders and wisdom of the natural world.

Days 6 – 7

El Castillo Hotel

When the land for El Castillo was purchased 10 years ago, it was the most sought after property in the South Pacific area of Costa Rica — the last, untouched, frontier.
 This luxury hotel was built like a fortress to withstand the test of time, taking a full year to complete construction. It is an icon in the area, especially to local ex-pats from around the world and native Costa Ricans who appreciate its stunning views.

El Castillo, or “the castle,” is heaven on earth with tastefully appointed rooms and impeccable service. It is located in Ojochal, a village in the southern zone of Costa Ballena, known for its world class cuisine and exotic jungles. There are no high rises, shopping malls, or traffic congestion in Ojochal. The area does have clean mountain air, world-class ocean waves, hundreds of square miles of diverse jungle, waterfalls and glorious beaches. It is the perfect home base to experience just about any adventure and to watch awe inspiring sunsets.

El Castillo Hotel during our Costa Rica Photography Workshop

Days 7 – 10
Aguila de Osa Hotel

Thanks to the remote location of The Osa Peninsula, guests can view tropical wildlife such as giant iguanas, colorful birds, tapir, crocodile, coatis, and howler monkeys.

One of the last places in Costa Rica to be settled and still sparsely populated, the Osa is covered almost entirely in magnificent, virgin rain forest extending all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Separating it from the mainland is the Golfo Dulce – one of only four tropical fjords on the planet. The Golfo Dulce is, in fact, the only place on the globe where populations of both Northern and Southern Humpback whales meet to birth their young.

Aguila de Osa Hotel during our Costa Rica Photography Workshop

The Osa packs an unparalleled amount of land and marine species and diverse ecosystems in an incredibly small area. These incredible ecosystems provide invaluable services to the people who depend on them for clean air, drinking water, food, jobs, cultural resources and a stable climate – and so their conservation is critical.

Whales Tail on the Costa Rica Osa Peninsula during our photography workshop
Aguila de Osa Blue throated mountaingem Humming bird during our photography workshop in Costa Rica

The Osa Peninsula Includes:

The most significant wetland ecosystem and mangrove forests of Central America

• The largest remaining tract of lowland rainforest in Pacific Mesoamerica

• 2-3% of flora found nowhere else in the world

• 323 endemic species of plants and vertebrates

• More than 4,000 vascular plants

• The largest population of scarlet macaws in Central America

• More than 10,000 insects

• More than 700 species of trees (which is more than all the Northern temperate regions combined)

• 463 species of birds

• 140 mammals, including 25 species of dolphins and whales

• 4 species of sea turtles

Situated on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, close to the Panama border, is the small indigenous village of the Boruca Indians.  The reservation is within the province of Puntarenas which is the largest province in Costa Rica. There are several historical references to this Pre-Columbian tribe being called both Boruca, as well as ‘Brunka’. Either name is correct.

The Boruca are best known for their skills as craftsmen, using indigenous items to create beautiful artifacts. Using balsa and sometimes cedar wood; they carve masks, make bows, arrows, drums, knives, jewelry and other objects. Attractive baskets are woven with natural fabrics, colored with dyes of their own formulation.

The unspoiled jungles of Southern Costa Rica contain some of the most pristine and incredible natural attractions.
Cascada El Pavon and Playa Ventanas are just a couple of the highlights in this region.

Locations visited on this workshop include:

Escazu / Tarcoles Bridge / Dominical / Uvita – The Whales Tail / Ballena / Ojochal / Cascada El Pavon / Playa Ventanas / The Osa Peninsula – Corcovado and The Cano Island

Costa Rica Landscape Photography Workshops

Included in Workshop

• Quality one on one photographic instruction geared to your level of expertise
• Minimum 6 hours per day of in-field shooting experience and instruction
• Small class size, maximum of 8-10 students
• An interactive learning environment with three experienced instructors
• Photoshop and Lightroom editing optional sessions in the evenings as time allows
• All transportation from the start to the end of the workshop
• All meals are included in the price during the workshop.
• All lodging during the workshop. Lodging is in clean beautiful hotels throughout the country.
• Suitable hotels for the nights you would like to stay in Costa Rica outside of the workshop dates can be suggested at reasonable rates.
• Airport transfers are included in the price

• Air fare is not included in the price

 

Be ready for early mornings and late evenings. Sunrise in Costa Rica during our workshop is 5:30 am and sunset around 5:45 pm. The best light for a photography workshop is always early morning and late afternoon.

As this workshop is located on the Pacific coast, we will focus on sunsets in the evening after shooting for the majority of the day with a mid day break. Depending on the location and weather, sometimes a sunset shoot isn’t possible, so be flexible. In our workshop, if the weather or conditions are bad, we will offer instruction on photo editing programs or find another location as an alternative.

Part of a great photography workshop is instructors who will not only help you with the basic settings on your camera but will also help you with creative concepts and help you create intentions for your shot. Only experienced photography workshop leaders like ours can give you that type of instruction.

Pacuare Rafting – The most beautiful river in Costa Rica? - September 7, 2017

After rafting my way round the country for the last few years I had saved the best till last!  The Pacuare is regarded as one of the top 5 rafting rivers in the world. It is beautiful in its biodiversity and remote location whilst offering some adrenaline inducing class IV rapids! 

An early meet in San Jose and an hour and a half spent sleeping on the bus we arrived at Rios Tropicales HQ.  After a great local breakfast and a few cups of coffee we were ready to go!

Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

Our river guide Roy was very entertaining, keeping us on our toes but at the same time keeping us safe and passing on his own personal knowledge of the sport and this business that has been in his family since he was a child

Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

We arrived at the Lodge where we would be exploring the area for a couple of hours and also canopy zip-lining over the river!  That was a first for me and a different experience to your average canopy tour!

Arriving at the Rios Tropicales Lodge on the Pacuare River Costa RicaCanopy tours are run by the Rios Tropicales lodge
Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica
Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

We hiked over the bridge where there was a beautiful waterfall you could relax in and watch the river flow past.

Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

Lunch is served! Jungle chicken was cooked by the guides – a speciality of theirs that they have cooked for years and comes with my personal recommendation. The food is sourced from local indigenous communities and Rios Tropicales has a strong bond with these local villages supporting them in many ways. The temptation was there to have another plate however I wanted to retain some buoyancy as the harder class IV rapids were to follow! 

Lunch served at Rios Tropicales Lodge

We spoke with Rafa Gallo, Co-Founder and President of Rio Tropicales who told us about the projects they have in the area that allow people to enjoy the river and surroundings without loosing touch with their strong conservation values.  The Lodge itself embodies all they stand for with rustic designs that blend into the surrounding forests like it belongs there.  The rooms are very comfortable and the rustic simplicity and natural decorations gives the rooms tonnes of charm.  Most importantly a very comfortable bed to rest on after a day rafting / hiking / horse-riding /  canopy zip-lining / canyoning!

 
After some hammock time it was back to the rafts and adventure ensued. Best rafting in the country? YES! The rapids that followed were testing and required a lot of technical paddling.  Roy had helped build our skill and confidence level throughout the day and with his help we were able to navigate through some of the harder class IV rapids. 
Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica
After the final stretch we came to a slow part of the river with high canyon walls each side it was time to jump out the raft and lye back and appreciate the view – Pura Vida!
Pico Blanco Hike – Rewarding views of San Jose and beyond! - July 26, 2017

At 2,271 meters Pico Blanco – White Peak gets its name from the exposed rock you can see from the surrounding area (no snow here). This 4 and a half hour hike is tough at times but the views are so rewarding! 

This is the view looking back over San Jose as you hike!

Pico Blanco Costa Rica HikeThese thorny plants are as large as a person – straight out of Jurassic Park.Pico Blanco Costa Rica HikeWe saw a hummingbird fly out of this nest on a way down – the eggs were fingernail size!
Pico Blanco Costa Rica Hike View1Once you hit the highest point of the hike a totally new view awaits.  You can see as far as Arenal Volcano and the Puntarenas coast!  I managed a photo through my binoculars.

Arenal from Pico Blanco Costa Rica Hike

Arenal is 120km away as the crow flies – you can just make it out.

Pico Blanco Costa Rica Hike Arenal View1

This panorama gives you a good idea at what you are surrounded by 🙂

Pico Blanco Costa Rica Hike

Pura Vida!

Top 3 places to see wildlife in Costa Rica and where to stay! - July 11, 2017

Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering Costa Rica in the 1500’s and gave Costa Rica its name – directly translated this means rich coast but this country’s riches were not within the metals he was searching for.  500,000 species of animal make this country one of the most bio-rich places on the planet.  With 900 species of bird including the large Macaws, 212 Mammals, 70 lizards, 4 types of monkey and 2 types of sloth! Not to mention all the weird and wonderful flora, insects and butterflies you will see here.

Osa Peninsula;

What is referred to by national geographic as the most bio-diverse place on the planet, this is any serious nature lovers 1st stop.  It crams 2.5% of the planet’s biodiversity into just 0.001% of its surface area. And, this being Costa Rica, 80% of it is protected, mostly by the Corcovado national park. Due to the remoteness of this most southern peninsula of Costa Rica, it is normally best accessed by boat or plane.  Drakes Bay (named after England’s famous Privateer) is a favourite place to stay.  Small Eco lodges dotted along the rain-forest covered coast providing a range of experiences from ‘eco-lux’ to rustic, all focusing on living harmoniously with their surroundings.   Clients have seen the illusive large cats that roam this area along with Tapirs, both species of sloth and plenty of moneys and scarlet Macaws.

Where to stay?

Aguila De Osa is a rustic eco lodge nestled amidst the jungle-covered hillsides overlooking the tranquil waters of Drake Bay.  This exquisite rain-forest and marine adventure hotel has its own dock for guests arriving via boat. Aguila de Osa is committed to sustainable hospitality, so you can travel well and travel right when exploring the region.  As you are so remote all meals are included at the hotel, along with tapas and music so you can swap stories & sightings with other travellers.

Enter Aguila De Osa by boat!

Copa De Arbol Beach and Rainforest Resort is a luxury beachfront eco- resort set among 70 acres of pristine rainforest reserve.  Their 4 tier pool and Bali style lodgings make this one of the best hotels in Costa Rica! Copa are committed to the conservation and preservation of the Osa Peninsula, its surrounding waters, and the local communities.  Due to remoteness all meals are included at this hotel.

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Southern Caribbean Coast;

The east coast of Costa Rica is a road less travelled by tourists, but has been gaining traction over the last few years.  You will not find any large hotels or high rises in this part of the country and its evident Caribbean vibe means you get some ‘one love’ mixed with your ‘pura vida’.

As the rain-forest still remains fairly intact there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife in this region.  I have never seen so many sloths in a single day than I have in this part of the country! The beach town of Cahuita has a national park that runs parallel to the beach.  It is common to see many birds, sloths, monkeys just from the main path as well as caimans and eyelash pit vipers! At certain times of year you can see the raptor migration, where billions of birds travel south for warmer climates and fill the sky!

Where to stay?

Private Villas between Cocles and Punta Uva or Banana Azul on Playa Negra.

There are so many affordable rentals along this side of the country – normally tucked back up into the hill side they are slightly cooler than properties on the beach provide great views. Just let us know the size of your group and we can send over some options.

Banana Azul boasts 14 beautiful guest rooms of the main hotel, built from local hardwoods, are unique.  The hotel grounds are equally impressive, surrounded by tropical gardens, a beautiful pool and an ocean view.  You can cycle into the town of Puerto Viejo in minutes and carry all the way down the coast to Manzanillo National Park!

For a different (and very immersive experience) you can sleep at a Hammock tent retreat in the mountains behind Cahuita.  Terra Prima offers all-inclusive camping packages and is reserved for adventurers as it requires a horseback ride or hike to get there, although there is a shortcut available.  Enjoy their secret waterfall and do the sunrise hike for great views and chances of spotting some local animals!

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Monteverde;

Being a cloud forest this unique eco-system is a birder’s wild-life enthusiast’s haven!  A day walking through the network of trails over hanging bridges is a great way to see wildlife from a different perspective. This is also where wildlife will stay very active – in the tree canopy amongst the clouds.  The Resplendent Quetzal – one of the most beautiful birds in the world is regularly seen here along with 400 other species. Amongst this mega diversity of wildlife are 2,500 species of plants tens of thousands of insects and near to 5,000 species of moths.  Santa Elena is the closest town and it packs tons of charm with rustic Eco-hotels to match.

Where to stay?

Monteverde Lodge and Gardens.

This rustic lodge has a very warm welcome with an open fire place and a laid-back atmosphere.  The staff are all very helpful with an informal but caring service style.

The high-ceilinged rooms are complemented by hardwood floors, and expansive windows. All have private bathrooms with solar heated hot water, a sitting area, coffee maker and hairdryer. Bed options include both double and king size beds. Certain rooms have two floors, a balcony, and a glass-enclosed shower.

The food is what a Costa Rican grandmother would cook if she was also a creative and a contemporary professional chef.

Just beyond the restaurant and bar are lush gardens, replete with a stream, pond and small waterfall.

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Of course these are just a few of the many options you have in Costa Rica to see wildlife.  The best results you will have is by identifying when you can travel.  When you have a time frame we can help identify what wildlife is most active during those times and if the weather will be kind to you or not!

My favourite hotel in La Fortuna, Costa Rica – Arenal Kioro! - June 1, 2017

It is hard to stand out at one of the most trodden paths in Costa Rica but Kioro manages more than  just that!

Situated 10 km from the town of La Fortuna, this hotel is perched on a hill well above the main road – elevating you high enough to allow breath-taking views of the perfectly shaped Arenal volcano.

The drive up to this beautiful boutique hotel sets the standard as you wind up the hill through their beautiful gardens.  The warmest of welcomes awaits with a cold cocktail and a friendly smile from the reception staff. We had the pleasure of meeting Victor who showed us around the property giving us some of the interesting history of the hotel.  Owned and built by a family has allowed it to retain certain charms whilst organically growing over the years.  When the plot of land was originally purchased people were unsure if the location would be suitable for a hotel – however they were to be proven wrong.  It seems almost every room in this hotel looks at the volcano but the 360 degree surroundings of greenery and nature are of equal beauty!

All 53 suites are very airy and spacious fitting so much in one room!  There is a day bed – handy if you are travelling as a group of 3 (or have lots of luggage!), a coffee table and chairs just inside from the Juliet balcony, 2 queens or 1 king, double vanity bathroom and a Jacuzzi that has enough space for 4 people! All the other amenities follow suit and will not leave you disappointed! Even though being in the adventure capital of Costa Rica you can see why some people don’t tend to leave the hotel room!
Arenal Kioro is not just known for its lodging and hot springs – Its world class restaurant offers a variety of cuisines and still boast one of the best buffet breakfasts in the area.  Having stayed at this property a few years ago this breakfast had really stuck in my memory – so this time I was prepared.  I got up a little after sunrise a jogged through the gardens to the gym (that has that great volcano view that you seem to get from every single area in this hotel) and worked up a good appetite!  After a quick shower and a dip in the pool I went to enjoy the buffet breakfast that was just as good as I remembered it from years ago.  If I could offer one bit of advice it would be to enjoy a coffee on the platform just off the restaurant facing away from the volcano.   From here you have the best 360 views the hotel offers.

The Neidin Spa is situated a short walk through the beautifully kept gardens and have a wide range of services.  Not being familiar with Spas or the treatments they offer I thought it was about time that I take the plunge and went for a volcanic mud facial! I was shown to a private room with ‘that’ volcano view.  A cool scented towel was placed over my eyes, soft music was played and my facial massage started and ZZZzzzzz Whilst my treatment was only 30 mins, I was told I was asleep for about 20 of that!  To top it off whilst exiting the Spa one of the members of staff pointed out a sloth sleeping high in the tree above us – an animal I could very much relate to after my Spa experience.

There is so much else I want to include – the beautiful art & furniture throughout the hotel, the conservation efforts earning 5 leaves, the 2 pools, the bars (especially the one serving sunset cocktails) and much more.

One thing that I will never forget is the simplest – sitting in my room with a glass of wine looking out to the volcano (photo below)

I cannot say enough good things about this place – thanks again Kioro! Hopefully I will stay with you again very, very soon!

Pura Vida!

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