Photo Safari Itinerary
(starts Sept. 4th 2013)
Day 01: Arrival San José, Costa Rica (No meals) (TG)
Arrive at Juan Santamaria International Airport. After passing through Immigration you will see a Costa Rica Expeditions representative who will greet you and give you a sticker to facilitate clearing customs. Also, when you are exiting the building, you'll see a Costa Rica Expeditions guide, who will take you to your hotel.
You'll recognize your guide by their bright orange or yellow shirt. Also, he'll be holding a sign with your name on it. You can count on their being there -- even if your flight arrives early, or arrives quite late -- no matter how late. After all, it's our first chance make a great impression and get your trip off to a great start. He or she will take you to your hotel.
Overnight at: Hotel Bougainvillea.
Day 02: Volcano and Culture
San Jose / Rancho Naturalista (B,L,D) NG
Today meet you'll meet your photography guide (Gene Tewksbury) and your Private Bilingual Naturalist Guide. They will be with you for the next 10 days.
Depart before dawn with a pack breakfast to the Irazu Volcano, panoramic photo opportunities en route to the top of the volcano.
At 3,432 km ( 11,260 ft. ) above sea level, Irazu Volcano is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful national parks. Still an active volcano, Irazu Volcano has a long history of eruptions, dating back to the Spanish colonies (1563). The most recent period of activity occurred during 1963 and 1965. This volcano's activity has been characterized by the emission of large clouds of steam, ash and cinders, often accompanied by small local or regional earth tremors, subterranean noises and rumblings, and showers of small and large rocks which usually fall near the rim of the crater. Irazu's summit has four craters: the main or western crater, the "Diego de la Haya," and two small craters, one southeast and the other northwest of the main crater.
After getting our fill of photos from the volcano we will explore the city of Cartago, the Costa Rican capital city until 1823 where the Los Angeles Basilica is located and home to the Costa Rica patriot saint, and the Orosi Valley with its colonial church.
Overnight at: Rancho Naturalista.
Day 03 & Day 04: Birds Birds Birds
Rancho Naturalista (B,L,D) NG
Two full days in Rancho Naturalista to explore the photo opportunities within their private jungle reserve. We will also be exploring off location to areas like Guayabo Monument, the Tuis Valley or La Mina road.
Is located in La Suiza de Turrialba, with an elevation of 3,000 feet on the Caribbean slope allowing for mild temperatures in the day and perfect sleeping conditions at night.
Over 450 species of birds have been recorded in the area of Rancho Naturalista. These birds may be observed from this comfortable lodge and of course during our hikes into the jungle. The Rancho Naturalista kitchen is famous for its excellent food, welcoming hospitality and stunning volcano views.
Some of Rancho Naturalista birds species include the Snowcap, Tawny-chested Flycatcher, Green-breasted Mango, White-necked Jacobin, White-crowned Manakin, White-throated Flycatcher, Dull-mantled Antbird, Black-throated Wren, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Red-throated Ant-tanager, Thrushlike Schiffornis, Sunbittern.
Guayabo National Monument
This monument is one of the most important archeoligical areas discover in the country. Protected archeological structures like mounds, bridges, aqueduct, will make for unique cultural photo opportunities. Guayabo was the third pre-Columbian settlement in Latin America to receive a World Heritage distinction, after Peru's Machu Picchu buildings and Tipon.
Day 05: Rain forest
Turrialba / Puerto Viejo (B,L,D) NG
Travel to Puerto Viejo en route visit Veragua rainforest.
Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park
Veragua Research Park sits on an 4000 acre private reserve surrounded by Rainforest. The park is a buffer zone for La Amistad International Park (“Friendship International Park”), which is shared by Costa Rica and Panamá. The park includes among other attractions, the largest indoor nocturnal frog exhibit in the world, a butterfly garden, reptile vivarium, hummingbird garden, a tram ride through the rainforest canopy, walking trails through primary rainforest and a waterfall; all surrounded by panoramic views of La Amistad International Park.
Overnight at: Hotel Villas Del Caribe.
Day 06 & 07: Beach Time!
Puerto Viejo (B,L,D) NG
Two full days in Puerto Viejo for the beach photo experience. These two days are going to be a bit of a rest. A place to just enjoy a perfect beach with fun nighttime entertainment. However Gene will still be leading photo shoots for morning sunrises and jungle walks for anyone who wants to join. If you're up for some surfing or snorkling that's available as well.
Visit the beaches of Cahuita, Punta Uva, Cocles and Manzanillo, also, there will be some rainforest and wildlife opportunities.
Day 08: Puerto Viejo / Tortuguero (B,L,D) NG
After breakfast Travel to Limon where a boat will be waiting to take you along the Caribbean coast north to Tortuguero, sailing along the Caribbean coast is complimented by the region's magnificent scenery.
Originally intended to protect a major nesting beach of the Atlantic green sea turtle, Tortuguero National Park now protects 77,032 acres or 30,812 hectares, one of the last large areas of tropical rain forest in Central America. Eleven habitats are found in the park. Three species of monkeys (Spider, Howler, and White-faced), Three-toed sloths, and River otters are frequently seen along the natural inland waterways and canals. Caiman, iguanas, River turtles, Basilisk lizards, and Poison dart (Dendrobates) frogs inhabit the area, along with more than 320 species of birds including all 6 species of kingfishers found in the new world, 3 species of toucans, 8 species of parrots, and other neotropical species such as the Slaty-tailed trogon, White-collared manakin, Purple-throated fruitcrow, and White-fronted nunbird and many more species
Overnight at: Tortuga Lodge and Gardens.
Day 09 & Day 10: Turtles, Birds, Jungle Boat Trips
Tortuguero (B,L,D) NG
Two full days in Tortuguero to explore the park by boat, at dawn and dusk, there will also be the option of kayaking in the small creeks which make their way deep into the jungle.
Dawn Boat Trip
You will be in the rainforest when it wakes. Rise at the crack of dawn for coffee and a light snack before boarding a boat with your Guides for a visit to Tortuguero National Park. Eleven habitats are found in the park. Three species of monkeys (Spider, Howler, and White-faced), Three-toed sloths, and River otters are frequently seen along the natural inland waterways and canals. Caiman, iguanas, River turtles, Basilisk lizards, and Poison dart (Dendrobates) frogs inhabit the area, along with more than 320 species of birds including all 6 species of kingfishers found in the new world, 3 species of toucans, 8 species of parrots, and other neotropical species such.
Afternoon Boat Trip
You will often find that in the early afternoon the foraging is quite intense, but as the afternoon sun starts to go down, many creatures begin to think about bedding down for the night and others are just beginning their night time activity. If you’re lucky you might even get to see a mixed flock of Egrets coming into their rookery for the night or a pair of Tiger herons having a discussion about whose turn it is to sit on the nest. The White Faced Capuchins, ever mischievous may be the last to bed down, but as the afternoon light dims, the cacophony of the forest comes to a climax and then as if on cue… quiet.
Kayaking, a New Perspective of the Rainforest
Leave the lodge by boat with your Guides and your kayaks to the entrance of Caño Chiquero or Caño Mora. These creeks are designated for non-motorized boats only. Kayaking gives you a whole new perspective of the rainforest, from this position you become the river, look up to see what the rainforest canopy looks like if you’re a river otter swimming in the creek, scan the under story of the forest and get ready for photographic opportunities you'll never get from a motorized expedition. Close your eyes and listen to the sun dried seed pod of the Gavilan tree burst making a gunshot sound and dispersing its seeds, the call of the Chestnut Mandibled toucan in the distance and the sound of Spider monkeys crashing through the trees. There is no need to have previous kayaking experience, your Naturalist Guide will give you a full safety briefing and paddling instruction before your tour begins
Baby Turtle Hatching (mornings)
Escorted by your Naturalist Guide, you will walk the beach either in the early morning hours or just before sunset in search of a nest that has begun to hatch. Baby turtles dig their way out of the nest and then make their way to the water. Assuming that they can avoid the predators waiting for them both on land and in the ocean 25 to 30 years from now they will return to this very beach and the life-cycle will begin anew. This is a photographic opportunity that few people will ever get. These photos are sure to make your friends back home green with jealously.
NOTE: Cameras and Video are permitted for the hatching (morning), but NOT permitted for nesting (nighttime)
Standard Night Time Turtle Nesting (nighttime)
You will actually stand a few feet from a 300 pound Green Sea Turtle while she lays 80-100 eggs, covers up her nest, perhaps digs a false nest to throw off predators, and, finally, after more than an hour, returns to the sea. Escorted by the best Tortuguero Guides available, you will have the opportunity to see a major nesting beach for the Atlantic Green Sea Turtle up close. There are two, 2-hour tours per night. One leaves at about 8:00 p.m. and the other at 10:00 p.m. Start times are by lottery run by the Park Service and cannot be guaranteed. Groups of up to 10 people gather at a dispatching point within 15 minutes of the hotel, and wait their turn for a tracker who is on the beach with a radio to report a turtle. Then up to five groups (of up to 10 per group) are dispatched per turtle.
Private Turtle Nesting Expedition with Picnic Dinner
NOTE: No cameras or video cameras are permitted by Costa Rican law, So we will just have to photograph this moment in our heads.
Day 11: Tortuguero / San Jose (B,L,D) NG
This morning departure by boat with your Naturalist Guide for the 1 ½ to 2 hours boat trip to Caño Blanco river port. Upon arrival the Costa Rica Expeditions van will meet you again for the drive back to San Jose. The first hour is on a bumpy gravel road passing farmland and banana plantations. The main highway will cross through Braulio Carrillo National Park. All these sites have photography opportunities.
Arrive in San José mid to late afternoon on time for photography in hotel gardens
Overnight at: Hotel Bougainvillea.
Day 12: Departure
Transfer to the International Airport at least three hours prior to the departure time for your flight out of the country.