Tour Dates: February 16th – March 2nd 2021. Booking now open.
Costa Rica is a vibrant destination that is perfect for photographers. I fell in love with the country, and now I want to share the wonderful locations and exotic wildlife that I found there with you.
This 14 day/15 night tour will be a photographic holiday full of fantastic experiences. Superb picture making opportunities, and a chance to share good times with like minded people.
Up to 8 people
16th February – 2nd March 2021
£3,050 / pp double occupancy
£3,750 / pp single occupancy
If you are travelling on your own and would like to be paired up with another participant of the same gender in order to receive the lower rate, please let me know.
To secure your place I am asking for a deposit of £500.00. This may be paid by PayPal or bank transfer. Subsequent payments must be paid by bank transfer.
- 15 nights accommodation with breakfast
- Land transfers between destinations in a private minibus
- Boat transfers to Arenal and Tortuguero (These will be shared)
- All meals for 3 days, plus 1 lunch and 1 dinner
- Activities and entrance fees outlined in the itinerary
- Photographic tuition as required.
What’s Not Included
- Flights and transfers to the start/finish points in San José
- Meals & Drinks not stated above.
This Costa Rica Photography Tour is a 15 night, 14 day road trip that will journey through amazingly diverse landscapes. We will see incredible locations and will come away with wonderful photographs. Our land journeys will be in comfortable air conditioned mini buses dedicated for our group only. All the vehicles used for private transportation are well-maintained, and driven by reliable and punctual Costa Rican professionals. Some transfers take several hours to get to our next destination, but the benefit of having our own dedicated transport is that we can break up the journeys with stops when we see a photographic opportunity.
We will be visiting five different regions to take in a variety of what Costa Rica has to offer, whilst keeping days spent travelling to a minimum. Some free time is built into our schedule on the trip giving you the chance to download and edit your images, learn some photography or Lightroom editing tips from me, take optional other tours, or to completely relax.
Arrival Day. (16th February) Arrive and overnight in San José.
Day 1. Transfer to Monteverde after breakfast. Driving time excluding stops is approximately 4 hours. Set on top of the spine of Costa Rica’s continental divide, the scenery in this region is almost Alpine in places – huge hills and deep valleys, grazing cows, occasional houses, very lush and green, and wildflowers growing in the fields.
Our destination is a peaceful, quiet sanctuary in Monteverde, situated on about 70 acres of primary and secondary forest and alive with the chorus of birds and howler monkeys. The afternoon is free to walk along the miles of trails around the lodge or spend a lazy afternoon. Indulge in the impressive view of the cloud forest from the bar and your table in the restaurant which serves typical Costa Rican food.
Day 2. We spend 3 hours this morning exploring the enchanted Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve with a set of expert eyes on a guided hike. Guides are equipped with a spotting telescope as well as binoculars and several informational guidebooks. There are several trails to wander in search of birds and mammals to photograph, and our guide will explain about the amazing diversity of plants. It is in Monteverde that we will be on the lookout for the magnificent Quetzal. This stunning bird is elusive but with the help of our guide and spotting telescope we may well be lucky.
The afternoon is free to spend further exploring at our lodge, relaxing, or on an optional additional excursion. If you are feeling adventurous you can enjoy the Sky Tram and SkyTrek Canopy Tour. (Approx + £80). The Sky Tram ascends along a beautiful cloud forest ridge and allows for stops along the way to observe plant and animal life and learn from an experienced guide. You will then descend via The Sky Trek which is a series of 9 zip lines. Maximum weight allowed for Sky Trek is 225 lbs.
Day 3. Transfer to Arenal after breakfast. Transfer time excluding stops is approximately 4 hours and part of our journey will be a scenic cruise across the tranquil Lake Arenal where you will experience beautiful views of the majestic volcano and the forested Tilaran Mountain Range. You will also have the chance to see a variety of wetland birds such as kingfishers, fly catchers, waders and other exotic species on the lake shore.
We will stay in a small and cozy hotel situated at the foot of the towering Volcano. The nearby town of La Fortuna offers a variety of restaurants, open space, beautiful views and shops, while the area surrounding the town is a great place to experience the day to day life of the locals. Lush, rolling hills and mountainsides and complete tranquility are what attract so many nature buffs and eco-tourists to this little piece of heaven. It was in this area that I was excited to see my first sloth and toucan.
After lunch we can stretch our legs, as included in the price is either a self-guided or guided tour of Místico Park’s carefully preserved forest. Along the way you’ll want to stop and photograph some of the 700 species of plants and 350 species of birds that can be found here. There are expansive views from 6 hanging bridges and you can visit the Rufous Garden to see exotic flowers and hummingbirds. Crank that shutter speed right up though and put your camera on continuous high speed – those tiny birds are gone in the blink of an eye! There’s also the Morpho Waterfall, named after the bright blue butterfly that flits around this part of Costa Rica.
Day 4. A free morning, then afternoon and evening at Mirador Trails and Thermal Springs. The first part of this trip will be a guided hike of the Mirador Reserve. There are plenty of photographic opportunities here, and in addition to spotting any sloths and other wildlife that we may otherwise miss, our guide will teach us about the flora and fauna of the reserve as well as the natural history of the Arenal Volcano. The second part of the trip today will be relaxation time. There are various busy thermal springs in this area, but we will be visiting a quieter family-run operation. Set in the middle of a forest next to a river of refreshing crystal clear water and surrounded by nature, the 4 pools vary in temperature. One of the pools has a cascading waterfall and reviews say that there are generally no crowds in this natural peaceful haven as numbers are strictly limited to 100 people at a time. If you don’t fancy a dip there is time to wander at leisure with your camera.
Dinner is included tonight.
Day 5. You have options today; A day of relaxation around the lodge, visiting La Fortuna, or the more adventurous in our group can have an adrenaline rush and exhilarating day traversing the Balsa River and its Class II and Class III white water. (Approx + £130) I did this the last time I was here and was so glad I did. It didn’t take long to conquer my initial terror and I thoroughly enjoyed the day!
A third option is a much more gentle float along the Peñas Blancas River and a visit to the La Fortuna Waterfall. (+ Approx £130)
Finally you could spend 3 hours horse riding through forests and fields with stunning views of the Arenal Volcano. (+ Approx £65) This tour offers the unique experience of riding along the slopes of the Arenal Volcano, through primary and secondary forests and cattle fields. You’ll enjoy wonderful views of the majestic Arenal Volcano and its beautiful surroundings. Halfway through the tour, you’ll stop at a local restaurant that overlooks a valley and has wonderful views of the Arenal area. At the restaurant you’ll enjoy either organic juice or a cup of coffee, as well as tortillas paired with freshly grated, locally produced cheese. This snack is tasty and a welcome break at the midpoint of the tour.
Day 6. Transfer to Tortuguero. Total time = Approximately 3 hours by road and 1.5 hours by river. Our hotel is on a strip of land between a canal and the ocean, with a short walk between them. Tortuguero is a network of lakes and canals and is accessible only by boat or air.
Because of its remote isolation, this hotel offers an exclusive look at a tropical environment that serves as an important nesting ground for sea turtles. Nestled in the lush rainforest, this is the ideal hideaway for nature lovers with its 15-acre beachfront property. We spend 3 nights here and whilst the beach isn’t safe for swimming, it does make a beautiful place to take a walk or nap in a hammock.
Days 7&8. Included whilst staying here is a canal tour in the Tortuguero National Park to discover the wonderful biodiversity in this area. If you’d like to explore colourful Tortuguero, the town takes 10 to 15 minutes to reach on foot and can be done on a guided tour if desired. The hotel can also arrange boat transportation if you prefer not to walk.
The hotel grounds include “Mawamba Park”, a private facility that features two butterfly farms, a frog garden, and river turtles area. A naturalist guide shows hotel guests around this area and you are also able to spend time on your own there which is great for photographing the tiny coloured frogs and butterflies. In complete contrast to the small wildlife, you may encounter one of the biggest iguanas I’ve ever seen strolling around the hotel grounds. Kayaking or fishing trips are also optional extras whilst here.
Day 9. Transfer to the coast – Puerto Viejo de Limon. Approximately 5 hours. In the vicinity of the easygoing village towns of Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, our lodge offers tranquility whilst surrounded by the natural beauty on the doorstep of Cocles Beach. We also stand a chance of seeing more sloths and if we’re lucky, one may come down out of its tree to say hello.
Days 10, 11, 12. Included here is a guided hike to explore the Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge, a natural, Caribbean coast jungle setting filled with remarkable plants and wildlife. The professional tour guides are experts at spotting animals in their natural habitat. This tour provides the opportunity to photograph white-faced monkeys and howler monkeys, sloths, iguanas, snakes, poisonous frogs, and many other rain forest creatures. The Gandoca-Manzanillo Refuge is also home to 384 species of birds including hummingbirds, tanagers, owls, and toucans.
Other additional options include snorkelling and scuba diving tours, dolphin watching tours, exploring Cahuita National Park or Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, canopy tours, horse riding, quad adventures, encountering the Talamanca Indigenous culture, a trip to Bocas del Toro in Panamá, rafting, kayaking and going on a fishing tour. (Please enquire for further details and costs of any particular trips)
As this is near the end of our trip, you may of course choose to just spend some relaxation time putting your feet up and doing very little!
Day 13. Transfer to San José. Approximately 5 hours. We will stay in a hotel ‘down town’ so that we can explore a little of the area.
Day 14. Our final day of activities, so why settle for one adventure when you can go on three? Explore Costa Rica’s central valley in beautiful Alajuela. We’ll be out all day and will visit Poás Volcano National Park, Doka Coffee Estate, and La Paz Waterfall. Outdoor adventure, a treat for the palate, and the beauty of nature — this tour has it all.
Lunch is included today.
Day 15. (3rd March) Sadly our tour has come to an end. It’s time for hugs, goodbyes, and ‘see you next time’.
Who Will Enjoy This Tour?
Anyone who relishes a bit of adventure and who isn’t upset if things change or are different due to circumstances out of our control. The wild animals and birds may have disappeared out of sight, we may have rain, or the clouds might hide the views, but if you’re able to shrug your shoulders and accept that, then you’ll love this trip! The small group size invariably means that friendships flourish and continue even after the tour.
Do I need to be an expert photographer?
Not at all. This Costa Rica photography holiday is open to anyone – photographer or not, as there are so many sights to simply take in and enjoy. However, if you are just starting out in photography and have no idea what those settings on your camera actually do, or are lacking in confidence, I will be more than happy to teach and continually guide you as you take your camera off ‘auto’ and start to take full control. This new found freedom will enable you to make creative choices. Don’t worry if you consider yourself to be ‘non-technical’, avoid jargon or talking about cameras though – that’s me to a T.
How fit do I need to be?
There are trips built in to this tour that involve being on foot for up to 3 hours or so, sometimes walking over uneven terrain. It is not strenuous but if you are very unfit, have mobility problems or are unable to walk far, you will struggle to participate in everything. Please contact me to discuss this if applicable.
Why go on a photography holiday?
Photographers who have been on my dedicated photography holidays rather than joining regular tourist trips have agreed that it’s worth every penny, cent, euro, etc, due to the fact that everyone wants to stop and spend time taking photographs without being rushed. The chance to chat, exchange ideas and tips and learn something new is invaluable too, and friendships made on these small group trips last long after the trip has ended.
Behind The Scenes
I first went to Costa Rica in 2017 and I have fine tuned my itinerary to deliver an amazingly diverse experience. Great things happen when extensive preparation meets fabulous opportunities!
Take a look at the reviews of previous photography trips. Reviews & Testimonials
Tour Leader: Julie Lovegrove
Who is Julie Lovegrove?
This is what she says about herself:
“I didn’t ever know what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’, so for pretty much all of my adult life I’ve fallen into jobs, which have mostly been fine, but that’s all – just fine. I’ve always had a hankering to travel to exotic and far flung places, and ‘do something’ with wild animals. I used to dream of being brave and adventurous like Joy Adamson, Jane Goodall or Diane Fossey, and it was the film ‘Born Free’ that grabbed my imagination all those years ago. Ever since then I wanted to go to Africa and sit on that rock. (you know, the one where Elsa sits with her cubs at the end of the film.) In December 2010 after seeing the film again on television and talking animatedly about it, my son said “so go and do something with lions”, so we went on the internet, and found a Gap Year volunteer programme where I could actually do just that. So I went. In my 50s. All on my own. Not knowing anybody. And I LOVED IT.
So many people describe something that happens to them as ‘life changing’, but in reality for most people it only changes something in their life for a very short period of time. This really did change mine, as over the years I’ve done more and more volunteering and traveling on my own, to the extent of leaving my family to fend for themselves and working in South Africa teaching photography for several months at a time. Seeing and photographing different countries is now a huge passion and I travel as often as I can!”
This is what has been said about Julie:
“Julie is first and foremost modest. She is strong, brave, sensible and clear thinking. Julie knows what she likes and is true to herself. She has developed a keen eye for detail and composition in her photography, a skill honed on the 400 or so fabulous weddings she shot, the numerous portrait commissions she has done as a full time professional photographer, and through her many trips to photograph the African wildlife. Julie has a true passion for travel and it runs through her veins, so it’s probably a good thing that she has a great sense of adventure. Julie is firm but fair, and extremely patient and calm. The best tour leader anyone could have.”
Any questions? send a message.
The Small Print
I reserve the right to change some details if circumstances are out of my control. A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required to secure your place and can be paid via PayPal. The remaining balance must be paid by bank transfer only.
Due to some remote destinations visited on this tour, participants are required to purchase emergency evacuation insurance. In the unlikely event of you sustaining an injury, or becoming ill, Lovegrove Photography Ltd reserves the right to continue the tour for the benefit of other participants. Lovegrove Photography Ltd will make every effort to assist you, while at the same time trying to minimise interruption to the others.
As my fixed costs remain the same regardless of how many participants there are, like any pre-booked tickets for the theatre, concert, flights etc, I am unable to give a full refund in the event of non-attendance, regardless of the circumstances. The exception to this is the Covid-19 policy below.If you have to cancel for any other reason and I have prior notice, am able to put a cancellation place back online AND your place is resold. In this event I will of course make a full refund or credit to you, less any fees that we have incurred. I recommend that you take out travel insurance as soon as you book this trip, and ensure that it will cover you for cancellation in the event of illness.
If your country advises against foreign travel due to the Covid virus I will offer you a new tour date or full refund. No quibbles.