Tour Itinerary and Daily Schedule

Explore the journey, from start to finish.

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Day 1 – San Jose

Arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica, at the Juan Santamaria International Airport by your own arrangements. A representative will transport you to our beautiful hotel just outside of the city. Plan on capturing images of the beautiful tropical gardens with orchids and other flowers local to Costa Rica at your leisure. The group will meet for dinner in the evening to discuss all the exciting adventures that await. Get a good night’s sleep as we will head to the tropical lowlands tomorrow morning

Day 2 – San Jose, Sarapiqui and Northern Costa Rica rainforest

After a nice breakfast, we head out today to our first photography stop in the Sarapiqui region, a local garden where the hosts have turned their large acreage into a welcoming habitat for wildlife. As we walk the trails looking for wildlife photography subjects, we hope to find the local colorful frogs, birds and reptiles that live in the habitat. In addition, the owners raise Blue Morpho and Owl butterflies which are great subjects.

Just some of the species we hope to photograph:

  • Red-eyed tree frogs
  • Blue jean frogs
  • Green Emerald Basilisk Lizards
  • Iguanas
  • Euphonia
  • White collared manakin
  • Helmet Headed lizards
  • Blue Morpho Butterflies
  • Owl butterflies
  • Honduran white bats
  • Spectacled caiman
  • Blue-gray tanagers
  • Passerini’s tanagers
  • American Pygmy Kingfishers
  • Long-tailed tyrants

We will spend most of the day in the gardens, enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by the family and in the afternoon, pack up and continue our journey to the Northern Costa Rican rainforest. As we continue North, you will see the vegetation dominate the landscape as the temperatures get warmer.

We arrive at our lodge for the next two nights, and setup for a little night photography with the Long-tonged bats at our reserved area in the forest. We will setup and explain how the radio trigger multi-flash system works producing 1/5,000 effective shutter speeds at night as these amazing creatures visit our flowers.

After a nice dinner on the deck, we will call it a night and relax in our rooms listing to peaceful sounds of the wildlife.

Day 3 – Northern Costa Rica rainforest

Today we have a full day to explore all the rainforest eco-lodge has to offer. We will start out at first light photographing the many species of birds that visit the perches and feeders. The decks and perches have been designed to be at eye-level with the wildlife, so your images will have that engagement you are looking for.
After breakfast, we will head over to a blind that was specifically designed for photographers in mind. Our target this morning is the stunning King Vulture with its white plumage. We will spend the morning in the blind as we photograph the King, Turkey and Black vultures perched and in flight from the below ground blind.

Photograph long tongued bats with our multi-flash systems.

Photograph long tongued bats with our multi-flash systems.

A short list of species available at the rainforest ecolodge:

  • Broad-billed motmot
  • Black-mandibled toucan
  • Central American pygmy owl
  • Mexican Long-tongued bats
  • Brown-hooded parrot
  • Black-cowled oriole
  • Great curassow
  • Blue-gray tanagers
  • Passerini’s tanager
  • Golden-hooded tanager
  • Palm tanager
  • Montezuma oropendola
  • Red-legged honeycreeper
  • Chestnut-colored woodpecker
  • Black-crowned tityra
  • White-nosed coati
  • Central American Agouti
  • Eyelash palm pit viper
  • King vulture
  • Black vulture
  • Turkey vulture

As the sun comes higher in the sky we will take a break for lunch and to discuss photography techniques before our next shooting opportunity. After a rest, we will continue shooting the colorful birds from the ecolodges grounds and decks with perches as they come to visit the feeders.
Once the sun sets, we will setup again for our night photography and photograph the fast-moving bats from the multi-flash setup in the forest.

Day 4 – Northern Costa Rica rainforest, Sarapiqui and Tortuguero National Park

Today is one of our busiest days of the trip. This morning, we will photograph the birds off the deck of the Northern Rainforest Ecolodge while sipping on fresh coffee. After breakfast we head over to the vulture blind to photograph the birds in the nice light and hope to have more images of the impressive King Vulture.

As the light begins to get harsh, we will head back to the lodge, pack up our gear, say goodbye to our kind hosts, as we head to our next photographic destination.

Arriving at our next photography location, a local farm where the colorful Scarlet and Great green macaws are common, we will setup and photograph these beautiful birds as they perch in the trees and fly around. If we are fortunate a group of monkeys (White-faced capuchins) will pay a visit to the trees of the farm offering many opportunities. The White-headed capuchins are a very small, yet aggressive monkey common to the area. These adorable little creatures are highly social and very photogenic, and are very curious. Please keep your camera gear close and out of their reach. No monkey selfies on this trip!

Costa Rica Photo Workshop

An Eyelash palm pit viper from one of our macro sessions

Some of the friendly wildlife at this local Costa Rican farm:

  • White-headed capuchin monkeys
  • Scarlet macaws
  • Great green macaws
  • Yellow-naped parrots
  • Crimson-fronted parakeet

As the afternoon comes we will say our farewells, have lunch at a local Costa Rican restaurant and continue North on our journey to beautiful Tortugero National Park.

Arriving at the boat landing we will be met by our boat captain for transport to the remote national park. We will wind down the river until we join the fresh water canals that make Tortugero National Park famous for its wildlife.
Once we arrive at our lodge for the next 3 nights, we will check into our cabanas, have a nice dinner and relax after a full day of photography.

Day 5 and Day 6 – Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park, a true highlight of the trip, boasts over 77,000 acres with no roads into the park, thus getting here is part of the adventure.

Each full day we will have two boat charters to explore the fresh water canals and biodiverse wildlife that hugs the river banks. We will leave at first light in the mornings and return for brunch. During the mid-day hours, we will work on macro images including the colorful Costa Rican frogs and take much needed siesta. In the afternoon we will head back out in the boats with our captain and photograph until evening, returning in time for a hearty meal.

We have reserved large 24 passenger boats with a captain to ensure everyone has plenty of room to get great shots of this stunning area.

Costa Rica Photography Workshop

The remote wilderness of the Tortuguero fresh water lagoons and our access to our luxury lodge.

Wildlife is everywhere in Tortugero National Park. Here is a sample of the species we hope to photograph:

  • Spider monkeys
  • Howler monkeys
  • White-faced capuchin monkey
  • Black-mandibled toucan
  • Slaty-tailed trogon
  • Black-throated trogon
  • Spectacled caiman
  • Green basilisk lizard
  • Green Iguana
  • Red-eyed tree frog
  • Red-webbed tree frog
  • Strawberry poison-dart frog
  • Lesser long-nosed bats
  • Keel-billed toucan
  • Snowy egret
  • Greater potoo
  • Bare-throated tiger heron
  • Yellow-crowned night heron
  • Green heron
  • Little blue heron
  • Sunbird
  • American Pygmy kingfisher
  • Amazon kingfisher
  • Ringed kingfisher
  • Mangrove swallow
  • Anhinga
  • Northern jacana
  • Sunbittern
  • Purple gallinule
  • Central American river otter
  • Mealy parrot
  • Green ibis
  • Great kiskadee
  • Red-lored amazon
  • Passerini’s tanager
  • Montezuma oropendola
  • Double-toothed kite
  • Tiny hawk

Day 7 – Tortuguero National Park


A room at one of the lodges. Enjoy the views after a full day of shooting.

Today on the Costa Rica Tropical Lowlands photography workshop, we will start off the morning with another boat trip at first light exploring the fresh water canals for more photo opportunities. We will return to the lodge for brunch and then pack up our gear, say goodbye to our hosts as we meet our captain for our scenic trip back to the South.

We will then meet our driver and continue climbing to our highest point of the trip, 8,100 feet in elevation. We will be staying at a lodge in the cloud forest run by a local family who has created a wonderful location for photography, and works with the local farmers in the area to protect the stunning Resplendent Quetzal. Our next few days will be spent photographing the Resplendent Quetzal, hummingbirds utilizing multi-flash, and other colorful birds

Costa Rica Photo Workshop

Bare-throated tiger heron from Tortuguero National Park

Tonight, we will enjoy a delicious meal in the cozy restaurant next to the fire as the temperatures have dipped a bit as we have climbed high in the mountains.

Day 8 and Day 9

This morning we start our day with a guided Resplendent Quetzal tour by a local expert to assist us in our goal to capture images of one of the most beautiful birds in the world. After the tour, we will enjoy breakfast, and then spend the rest of the day in the private covered hummingbird setup with fantastic options for flash and natural light photography. This is the best of both worlds. In addition to the hummingbird photography, there are moss covered branches and fruit feeders that attract up to 150 species of birds in the area to add to your portfolio.

Hummingbirds that visit this Costa Rican location:

  • Violet sabrewing hummingbird (Campylopterus hemileucurus)
  • Lesser violetear hummingbird (Colibri thalassinus)
  • Fiery-throated hummingbird (Panterpe insignis)
  • Purple-throated mountaingem hummingbird (Lampornis calolaemus)
  • White-throated mountaingem hummingbird (Lampornis cinereicauda) also known as Grey-tailed mountaingem
  • Green-crowned brilliant hummingbird (Heliodoxa jacula)
  • Talamanca (Magnificent) hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens)
  • Volcano hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)

More information about the Resplendent Quetzal

Day 10
Today we start our day again with another guided Quetzal tour and more multi-flash hummingbird photography and time at the feeders to capture more images of these beautiful birds.

As afternoon approaches we say farewell to our kind hosts and continue down the valley back to our first hotel on the outskirts of San Jose.

Tonight we enjoy the gardens and our final dinner tonight, sharing our experience of Costa Rica.

Day 11 (San Jose)
Our last day of the Costa Rica photography workshop, we will have breakfast and say farewell. If you are flying out this day or heading to your next adventure in Costa Rica, the hotel can assist in arranging transportation.

Those guests who are doing the Costa Rica photography workshop with a focus on hummingbirds, we will start with dinner tonight.

(Tour schedules are subject to change due to changes in weather or other unforeseen events.)

Red-Eyed tree frogs have yellow and blue vertical stripes on their sides. They have sticky pads on their toes to help them hold on and balance on trees and limbs.


The cost of the Costa Rica Photography Workshop includes all the following amenities:

  • 8 nights accommodation at premier lodges. Double occupancy (Single occupancy available)
  • 2 nights accommodation at hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. Double occupancy (Single occupancy available)
  • Transportation from San Jose, Costa Rica at the Juan Santamaria International Airport
  • Transportation to San Jose hotel at the end of the workshop
  • Transportation between lodges
  • All meals are provided during the workshop. Expect to gain a couple of pounds on the trip.
  • Tortuguero National Park entrance fees
  • Tortuguero National Park boat charters
  • Ground level blind fees
  • The use of multi-flash setups containing flashes, radio triggers, light stands and backgrounds.
  • Instruction in the field with your photographer guide, with a maximum of 5 photographers per guide
  • Photography instruction on photo editing techniques
  • A planning package that includes recommendations on the proper camera gear and clothing
  • We take care of all the trip logistics once guests reach San Jose, so the only thing you should concentrate on is having a fantastic time and capturing stunning images of Birds, Hummingbirds, Quetzals, Monkeys, Frogs, Sloths and much more.
  • Prior to embarking on your journey, we are happy to provide a free phone consultation with your trip leader, who will give you guidance on what equipment to bring, answer questions about the locale, and give general photography advice to make sure you are ready to capture your dream image.
  • All lodges have free Wi-Fi
  • Photo blind at our Northern Rainforest ecolodge.

    Photo blind at one of our King Vulture sites


  • Transportation to/from San Jose, Costa Rica
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Costa Rica Export Tax of $29
  • Travel/Cancellation/Emergency evacuation insurance
  • Personal Items
  • Local Guide and driver tips
  • Transportation from San Jose Hotel to the Juan Santamaria International Airport


Read our 2019 Costa Rica Lowlands Photography Workshop Trip Report.

A keel-billed toucan smiles, showing off its serrated teeth.


You will need to walk about 300 feet on cobbled path with your camera gear and comfortable getting into and out of the boats at Tortuguero National Park. Our shooting takes place close to the lodges in most cases.

Those planing on joining the guided Resplendent Quetzal photography does require a bit more walking as we photograph the Quetzal. A typical morning, we could walk up to a mile on improved trails with camera gear.

For those who enjoy hiking, there are numerous trails at each lodge to explore.

If you are concerned about the physical demands of this trip, please contact us and we would be glad to discuss the typical day and options for your needs.


We welcome any and all photographers from beginners to professionals.


Weather in Costa Rica is very comfortable. It ranges from 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit at our lodges.

Costa Rica Photo Workshop

A pair of white-faced capuchin put on a show for the photographers


Matt Shetzer – Matt has been leading photographing trips since 2009, and loves being outside watching these amazing creatures of Costa Rica.

Sharing this beauty with our guests is always a highlight of the year. To read more about Matt, click HERE.


  • Instruction on how to photograph in natural light
  • Proper exposure for the scene
  • Getting the most out of the histogram
  • Achieving the best composition
  • Motion blur to add movement to your images
  • Learn how to set up and configure a multi-flash setup to achieve high quality natural looking bat images and freeze the high-speed action of these amazing creatures.
  • Mastering the modes (When to shoot Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priorities)
  • Image workup techniques with Photoshop and Lightroom. At each workshop, we demonstrate how to work up attendees’ images from scratch, displaying our nondestructive techniques to produce the highest quality image.
  • Best Plugins to use
  • Color Correction
  • Layers and Masks (Masks are targeted adjustments)
  • Noise reduction and sharpening techniques
  • Lightroom and portfolio management
  • Photography discussions – We’ll review select images and discuss which images work and why to expand your skills and move to the next level


  • A telephoto lens from 200 to 400mm (500-600mm can be used as well but not necessary)
  • A wide-angle lens from 24-100 for landscapes
  • A macro lens from 100-200mm
  • Tripod with Gimbaled or Ball Head
  • Remote Trigger\Cable release
  • Lots of memory cards. We typically shoot about 1,000 images a day so bring plenty of memory cards.

If you need assistance selecting gear to meet your photography goals just let us know. All guests will receive a detailed planning package to assist in the process prior to the trip and optional phone consultation.


Costa Rican lodges providing a spectacular experience for anyone involved on the photography tour. Non-photographers are welcome to join us in the field and join in on all activities with a discount of $250.00.


Read what our fantastic guests are saying out our workshops. Client Comments

A Talamanca hummingbird sips nectar while two fiery-throated hummingbirds wait for their turn.


We strongly recommend all participants purchase trip insurance purchased from a third-party operator to protect your travel investment against medical emergencies, participant trip cancellations, trip interruption and delay, weather delays, missed connections, baggage loss or delay, emergency evacuation and repatriation or simply ‘Cancel for any reason coverage’.

Because Shetzers Photography must pay fees for reservations and leases of accommodations and transportation needs of the group far in advance of the workshop, all paid tour fees are non-refundable, non-transferable and cannot be applied to a future workshop. Shetzers Photography runs small group workshops and wants to ensure the workshops are not canceled due to participant cancellations thus impacting the participants who do not cancel. All tour cancellations must be submitted in writing and will result in loss of deposit and all fees paid.

Please review our Workshop Terms and Conditions.

COVID-19 and Variants Policy

If regulatory restrictions in the hosting location prevent the workshop from running as scheduled, the workshop will be rescheduled to a future date. All participants must meet hosting country vaccination requirements. No refunds or rescheduling will be allowed due to guest cancellations when the workshop is able to run following all host location regulatory restrictions.

A Volcano hummingbird feeding on purple Colibris


Over the last few years all of our trips have sold out. We start to fill up about a year before the workshop and keep the website updated with the current workshop availability. If a workshop is full\sold out you can add your name to the waitlist. If a spot becomes available we will contact the guests immediately on the waitlist in the order they signed up. We tend to have the most cancellations 90-180 days before a trip starts so being on the waitlist can help you get on a sold out trip. We require no deposit to be on the waitlist.


The cost for the tour is $6,995.00 per person. We do offer single accommodations for an additional $650.00 per person. To reserve a spot on this tour, we require a $1,000.00 deposit per person that is paid by credit card at the time of registration. Full tour payments must be completed 90 days prior to the start of the tour and are paid by check or bank transfer.

Once the final trip payment has been received, the detailed trip planning documents will be sent to each guest to assist in planning for the photography workshop.

Our workshops are based upon a first come, first serve basis. Workshop availability will be updated on this page.

If you have any additional questions or would like to speak to one of us, please contact us at 303-888-2710 and we would be happy to answer your questions.

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Costa Rica Tropical Lowlands Details was last modified: April 10th, 2024 by Matt Shetzer