Photo Explorer Tours:
Custom Tours for Independent Photo Explorers

Explore Costa Rica & Nicaragua
With Greg Basco & Monica Quesada

*Please note that modifications of this tour or other itineraries in Costa Rica and/or Nicaragua are available.

Costa Rica Photographs © Gregory Basco/

A photographic kaleidoscope of Costa Rica's natural features and wildlife, plus the culture, landscapes, and architecture of Nicaragua.

Costa Rica's stunning scenic heritage unfolds in an ever changing panorama of steaming volcanoes, forested mountains, dramatic skies, and pastoral countryside. Dark lowland jungles give way to rolling savannas, and Pacific surf crashes against rocky headlands, in sharp contrast to the tranquility of palm-fringed Caribbean beaches.

In an area of only 51,100 square kilometers, Costa Rica harbors 12 major life zones, with an astounding amount of plant and animal life to photograph. And while it covers a mere 0.03% of the planet's surface, with an area comparable Wales or West Virginia, the nation is endowed with over 5% of all life forms on earth, including 210 species of bromeilias; 1000 fern species; 182 amphibian species; 1400 orchid species; 111 palm species; 42 cacti species; 243 mammals and 857 bird species. There is an amazing number of photo ops for everyone.

Price for this tour will be determined by the size of the group and will include accommodations in hotels or lodges as specified; all meals daily; all land transportation; admission fees, tourist card and immigration fee for Nicaragua; and services of a bilingual photo/nature/culture guide throughout, and photo guide assistance with workshops and informal instruction (see detailed list following itinerary). GROUP SIZE LIMITED TO 12 PARTICIPANTS

Costa Rica & Nicaragua Explorer will be guided by documentary photography specialist Monica Quesada with a special workshop in Costa Rica by nature photographer Greg Basco, a specialist in the natural history of the rainforest and co-founder of Foto Verde Tours. Greg will be available during the Costa Rica portion of the tour to work with participants on a group and individual basis to get the most out of your camera so that you can take home stunning images in both color and black & white.

Costa Rica Photographs © Gregory Basco/

Explore Costa Rica & Nicaragua Photo Tour Itinerary

Day 1 - San Jose, Costa Rica

Arrival to Costa Rica. Meet our representative at the Juan SantamarÌa International Airport and transfer to your hotel near the capital city of San Jose, where Foto Verde Tours' Greg Basco and Monica Quesada will be awaiting your arrival and will discuss the tour arrangements with you over dinner. The hotel has free wireless Internet available in the lobby and bar area. Hotel Condesa overnight.

Day 2 - Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

After breakfast, we have an orientation to our trip and photographic goals and then travel to the Arenal Volcano area. Arenal is the countryís most active volcano, with continuous emissions of lava and incandescent pyroclastic flows since the beginning of the present active cycle in 1968. On clear nights, the views of incandescent avalanches are breathtaking! After a quick lunch in the town of La Fortuna, we arrive to the Arenal Observatory Lodge in late afternoon and, after check-in, photograph the sunset over Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano with stars and pyroclastic flows. The Arenal Observatory Lodge affords some of the areaís best photographic views of the famous Arenal volcano and offers fantastic sunset views over Lake Arenal and the surrounding hills. If the volcano is clear, we will continue working with long exposures of the active volcano and star trails. Hotel Buena Vista or Casa Conde, lunch en route, Arenal Observatory Lodge overnight.

Day 3 - Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

We dedicate the early morning to photographing Montezuma oropendolas, Passeriniís tanager, green honeycreepers, red-legged honeycreepers, and emerald tanagers at the lodge feeders, which Greg and Monica will have set up with attractive perches. Mid-morning, we depart for the Snake Zoo in nearby El Castillo. The Snake Zoo is run by Greg's friend Victor Quesada, and Victor and his staff will help us to photograph numerous color forms of the amazing eyelash vipers, parrot snakes, vine snakes, and even red-eyed tree frogs, and poison frogs in Victorís collection. We will photograph all of these animals on natural stages that we will set up on site. This is a great opportunity to photograph a number of species that are very difficult to find in the wild and also to work on using flash for pleasing macro lighting. We will enjoy a home-cooked lunch as well as refreshments and coffee throughout the day. We return to the Arenal Observatory Lodge in late afternoon to photograph the sunset and the Arenal Volcano. Arenal Observatory Lodge overnight.

Day 4 - Beach, Costa Rica

After a leisurely breakfast this morning, we depart for our next desintation, the tropical dry forests and beaches around Playa Ocotal in Guanacaste Province. We will take our time on the drive, stopping for photos and a bite to eat. Upon arrival at Ocotal Beach Resort, we check-in and then set up for late afternoon and sunset photos at the beach. Ocotal Beach Resort overnight.

Day 5 - Ocotal Beach, Costa Rica

After breakfast, we enjoy a wildlife boat ride on the Tempisque River to photograph spoonbills, anhingas, kingfishers, and herons. After the boat ride, we have lunch and an opportunity to photograph the traditional pottery making in Guatil town. We return to the hotel in late afternoon for free time on the beach and sunset photo opportunities. Ocotal Beach Resort overnight.

Day 6 - Granada, Nicaragua

After breakfast today, we check out and then head to the PeÒas Blancas border crossing. After disembarking and passing through customs, we will be met on the Nicaraguan side by our new tour bus and local Nicaraguan guide. Greg returns to San JosÈ with our Costa Rican driver, while MÛnica continues on with you to share her photographic knowledge of Nicaragua. On the way, we stop for lunch at the lake port of San Jorge with good views of Ometepe Island and the twin volcanoes ConcepciÛn and Maderas. We arrive to our hotel, the renovated colonial La Gran Francia, in mid-afternoon with time to check-in and explore the surrounding area for sunsets over the colonial buildings. La Gran Francia overnight.

Day 7 - Granada, Nicaragua

Today we spend the entire day exploring the churches, streets, and markets of the colonial town of Granada. Highlights include a visit to the historic center of the city to photograph the Bishops house and the Convento San Francisco as well the main produce market. In the afternoon, we enjoy a horse coach ride and boat excursion to some of the more than 300 islets in Lake Nicaragua. La Gran Francia overnight.

Day 8 - Masaya, Nicaragua

Today we spend the entire day in town of Masaya and surrounding areas. In the morning, we enjoy a trip to the white villagesÝSan Juan de Oriente (ceramic cooperatives) and Catarina (beautiful view of the volcanic lagoon Apoyo). These villages also are known for their indigenous healers and mystics. In the afternoon, we have a visit to the typical handicraft market in Masaya, famous for its hammocks and other handmade articles. We end the day with a late afternoon tour of the active Masaya volcano and then return to the Gran Francia hotel for dinner and a well-deserved rest! La Gran Francia overnight.

Day 9 - Leon, Nicaragua

After breakfast, we travel to our next destination, the progressive city of LeÛn. On the way, we stop at the village of La Paz Centro, known for its artisan cheeses. After check-in and lunch at our hotel, we visit the colonial university city, home to the cathedral of LeÛn, the third largest in Latin America. From the roof of the cathedral we have a fantastic late afternoon view over the colonial city and the volcano line of Nicaragua. El Convento Hotel.

Day 10 - Cerro Negro Volcano/Managua, Nicaragua

Early in the morning, we visit the Cerro Negro volcano, known for its black lava fields which are streaked with yellow, red, green, black, and every color in between. All of the color is produced by the constant escape of sulfuric gases. Walking along the crater border, we come to a crest that gives us a stunning view over the local landscape. Cerro Negro volcano is 600 meters high and spawned two baby volcanoes during an eruption in 1999. After lunch at our hotel, we have time to visit a couple of nearby colonial churches and then check out for our drive to Managua, Nicaragua's capital city. El Camino Real overnight. (

Day 11 - Managua Airport, Nicaragua

Tour ends after breakfast with private transfer to the airport for your flight home.


Lodging as specified

All meals as specified

Private transfers to and from airports and hotels on first and last days

Professional driver and private transportation in spacious, air-conditioned Mitsubishi Rosa tour bus

Professional bilingual photo/nature/culture guide

Photo guide assistance with workshops and informal photo learning

Photo guide assistance with caption and ID info for your images

Entrances and fees for all described activities

Tourist card and immigration fee for Nicaragua

Taxes on all services listed above

Biodegradable plastic water bottle for each participant


Airfare (note that passengers should arrive to Juan Santamaria International Airport in Costa Rica and depart from Augusto Sandino International Airport in Nicaragua)

Departure taxes

Alcoholic Drinks


Non-meal time snacks

Non-meal time soft drinks and bottled water



Digital SLR or advanced point and shoot bodies with long exposure capabilities

Wide angle fixed or zoom lens (e.g., 20 mm, 16-35 mm, 24-70 mm)

Medium telephoto zoom lens (e.g, 70-200 mm)

Fast normal lens for portraits (e.g., 50 mm, 85 mm)

Macro lens or closeup diopters

1.4x teleconverter for medium telephoto zoom lens

Circular polarizing filter for wide angle lens

Cable release, essential to allow for exposures longer than 30 seconds, which we will want for the volcano and at various times throughout the trip

Lightweight but sturdy tripod

Hotshoe flash (e.g., Sony HVL-F32X or F58AM, Canon 580 or 430, Nikon SB-600 or SB-800) with diffuser or bounce mechanism

Plastic bags to cover camera gear quickly in case of rain shower

Image storage/backup (e.g., a laptop or hard drive viewer such as the Epson or Wolverines)

See for more on clothing, rain gear, electrical outlets, etc.

Costa Rica Photographs © Gregory Basco/


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2506 Country Village, Ann Arbor MI 48103-6500 USA

Phone 800-315-4462 or 734-996-1440


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May all your journeys be care free,

And may all your days be filled with wonder. 

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