Costa Rica Photography Tours

Bird Photography Tour

Discover Costa Rica's Avian Wonders with our immersive, 100% photography-focused Bird Photography Tour

Expedition overview

Welcome to the ultimate Costa Rica Bird Photography Tour, where your passion for bird photography meets the stunning biodiversity of Costa Rica. Whether you’re a professional photographer or an avid amateur, our tour is designed to provide you with unparalleled opportunities to capture the vibrant avian life in their natural habitats.

Costa Rica, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich biodiversity, is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. According to eBird, Costa Rica is home to over 900 species of birds. This small Central American gem offers an array of environments, from lush rainforests and misty cloud forests to coastal mangroves and serene wetlands. Witness the resplendent quetzal, colorful toucans, elusive motmots, and many more exotic species that make Costa Rica a premier destination for bird photography.

A Photography Tour Like No Other

At Physis Photo Tours, we understand the unique needs of bird photographers. Our Costa Rica Bird Photography Tour is meticulously crafted by photographers for photographers, ensuring you have the best possible experience. Our local experts will guide you to prime bird-watching spots, helping you capture stunning images of these feathered wonders. 

Our all-in-one packages are designed to offer immersive experiences, allowing you to focus entirely on your photography while we handle the rest. 

Gallery

Photography sessions

  • 2 Hummingbirds and birds sessions (San Gerardo de Dota)
  • Quetzal tour (San Gerardo de Dota)
  • 3 bird photography sessions (Sarapiqui)
  • Hummingbird multiflash photo session (Boca Tapada)
  • King Vulture photo session (Boca Tapada)
  • Boat tour (Boca Tapada)
  • Other activities and stops 

Itinerary

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Welcome to Costa Rica!

Upon your arrival at San Jose International Airport, your private guide will be there to greet you and escort you to the charming Hotel Bougainvillea.

After checking in, take some time to explore the hotel’s stunning gardens. In the evening, gather with your group for a delightful welcome dinner.

Lodging in Heredia City

After breakfast today, we’ll embark on a journey of about 3 hours from the Central Valley to the foothills of the Talamanca Mountains and the picturesque town of San Gerardo de Dota, with the exact travel time depending on the number of birding stops you make along the way.

As you travel, you’ll pass through farmlands and rolling green hills, gradually gaining elevation. Keep a sweater or fleece handy, as the temperature will drop as you ascend above the paramo and into the mountains.

San Gerardo de Dota is a serene mountain village located in a lush valley along the Savegre River. Known for its stunning natural beauty and rich biodiversity, it is a haven for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.

The area is particularly famous for the Resplendent Quetzal, which can often be spotted in the nearby cloud forests. With its cool, crisp mountain air and tranquil ambiance, San Gerardo de Dota offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Upon our arrival, we’ll begin our first bird photography session in the beautiful gardens of the hotel.

Lodging in San Gerardo de Dota

Today, we have two exciting sessions planned.

Morning

In the morning, we’ll have a hummingbird photo session. These small birds are truly a sight to behold with their brightly colored feathers. You’ll see them flitting from flower to flower, drinking nectar and foraging for food. Their delicate nature makes it seem like they could vanish in an instant, which is why capturing them in a photo session is such a special experience. In San Gerardo de Dota, you can photograph a variety of hummingbird species, including the Lesser Violetear, the Green-crowned Brilliant, the Magnificent Hummingbird, and the Volcano Hummingbird.

Afternoon

After lunch, we’ll search for the Resplendent Quetzal. This bird is one of the most iconic species in Costa Rica and the world. A member of the trogon family, the Resplendent Quetzal is renowned for its vividly colored plumage and long tail feathers. Males are especially striking, with their iridescent green and red feathers and tail streamers that can be up to three feet long. The quetzal inhabits cloud forests and is considered a symbol of freedom and wealth in various Mesoamerican cultures. Their diet primarily consists of fruits, particularly wild avocados, supplemented by insects and small vertebrates.

Photographing the Resplendent Quetzal is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. These birds are elusive and require patience and a bit of luck to spot. The experience of capturing their beauty on camera amidst the lush, green backdrop of the cloud forest makes this afternoon session truly unforgettable.

Lodging in San Gerardo de Dota

In the morning, we will visit Feathers Gardens, a meticulously designed bird garden that attracts some of the most beautiful birds native to and migrating through the Cordillera de Talamanca. Here, you can photograph a variety of species such as tanagers, orioles, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. Notable birds you might encounter include the Talamanca Hummingbird, Green Violetear, Scintillant Hummingbird, Volcano Hummingbird, White-throated Mountain Gem, Gray Tanager, and Blue-gray Tanager.

After breakfast and check-out, we will drive to the Caribbean Lowlands. Along the way, we will pass through authentic and beautiful Costa Rican towns such as Turrialba and Juan Viñas.

The Sarapiquí area, located in the heart of Costa Rica, is a captivating destination for photographers from around the world who have an affinity for nature, bird, landscape, and wildlife photography. With its remarkable biodiversity, breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and favorable weather conditions, Sarapiquí offers unparalleled opportunities for photographers to capture stunning images that showcase the wonders of nature.

Lodging in Sarapiqui area

Near Guápiles, we will visit a special location where we can photograph a variety of bird species.

In addition to bird photography, we will embark on a hike through the rainforest to capture images of bats, owls, sloths, and other animals.

We can expect to photograph an array of bird species, including the Red-legged Honeycreeper, Great Green Macaw, Keel-billed Toucan, Crowned Woodnymph, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Purple-crowned Fairy, White-tipped Sicklebill, Bay-headed Tanager, and Snowcap Hummingbird. This location is renowned for its exceptional birdwatching opportunities, with fruit and hummingbird feeders attracting a wide variety of species. The area also features a natural pond and several hiking trails that offer excellent opportunities to observe and photograph wildlife in their natural habitat.

Lodging in Sarapiqui area

Our day begins with a bird photo session at Trogon Birding Lodge in Sarapiquí. This place is an excellent spot for bird watching and photography, nestled in the rich biodiversity of Costa Rica.

Some of the birds you may photograph at Trogon Birding Lodge include the Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Green Honeycreeper, Montezuma Oropendola, Snowy Cotinga, Purple-crowned Fairy, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Collared Aracari, and the Slaty-tailed Trogon. These species, among many others, highlight the diverse and vibrant avian life that Sarapiquí has to offer, providing ample opportunities to capture stunning images of these beautiful birds.

Free afternoon

Lodging in Sarapiqui area

Breakfast and check-out

In the morning, we will visit Tico Rainforest, a prime location for bird watching and photography. This place is home to over 30 species of birds, making it an excellent spot for a bird photo session. Some of the birds you can expect to photograph include the Rufous-winged Woodpecker, Clay-colored Thrush, Crimson-colored Tanager, Dusky-faced Tanager, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Keel-billed Toucan, Yellow-throated Toucan, Blue-gray Tanager, and many more. This session will provide ample opportunities to capture stunning images of these diverse species.

Then we will drive for about 1.5 hours to the beautiful and wild region of Boca Tapada, near the border with Nicaragua.

In the afternoon, we will have a photo session focused on capturing the beauty of two toucan species: the Keel-billed Toucan and the Yellow-throated Toucan. This bird photo session will provide an excellent opportunity to photograph these iconic birds, known for their vibrant colors and distinctive bills. Additionally, we will encounter and photograph various other bird species, enhancing the diversity and excitement of the session. This dedicated time will allow participants to capture stunning images of these remarkable birds in their natural habitat.

Free night

Lodging in Boca Tapada area

Morning: King Vulture

After breakfast, we dedicate this photo session to the King Vulture.

The King Vulture, notable for its vibrant coloration, is one of the largest New World vultures, growing up to 2.5 feet tall and weighing around 8 pounds. This bird possesses one of the strongest beaks among American vultures, enabling it to open carcasses that others can’t, often eating first at a feeding site.

Afternoon: Hummingbird Multiflash session

This innovative technique allows photographers to capture the intricate details and vibrant colors of hummingbirds in flight, offering a unique and exciting photography experience. Boca Tapada, located in the Maquenque Wildlife Refuge, is an ideal location for bird watching and photography due to its diverse ecosystems, which attract a wide variety of bird species.

In addition to the hummingbirds, you can also photograph other bird species in the area, such as the Great Green Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Green Honeycreeper, Montezuma Oropendola, Snowy Cotinga, Purple-crowned Fairy, and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. These species, among many others, highlight the vibrant and diverse avian life that Boca Tapada has to offer, providing ample opportunities to capture stunning images of these beautiful birds​

Lodging in Boca Tapada area

Breakfast at the hotel

Check-out

Our final photo shoot! Join us for a boat tour of the San Carlos River and Tres Amigos River, where you’ll capture stunning images of crocodiles, howler monkeys, and a variety of birds including the tiger heron, great blue heron, and kingfisher. The natural vistas here are truly mesmerizing.

We will embark on a scenic 2-hour drive to the Cinchona area, near the Poás Volcano.

Enjoy lunch at a renowned local restaurant, with opportunities to photograph the abundant birdlife, the stunning La Paz and San Fernando waterfalls, and the beautiful landscapes of the area.

Continue our journey with a 1-hour drive to the city of San José.

Farewell dinner in San José.

Accommodation – Lodging in Heredia city

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Check-out
  • End of services

Bird lists

Here are the birds you can expect to photograph in each of the three regions during a bird photography tour in Costa Rica

These lists provide a glimpse into the diverse birdlife you can encounter in each region, making each location a prime spot for bird photography. The information has been compiled and validated using eBird data​

  • Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)
  • Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris)
  • Black Guan (Chamaepetes unicolor)
  • Mountain Elaenia (Elaenia frantzii)
  • Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis)
  • Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
  • Spotted Wood-Quail (Odontophorus guttatus)
  • Yellow-thighed Finch (Pselliophorus tibialis)
  • Silvery-throated Jay (Cyanolyca argentigula)
  • Volcano Junco (Junco vulcani)
  • Black-capped Flycatcher (Empidonax atriceps)
  • Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher (Phainoptila melanoxantha)
  • Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguus)
  • Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)
  • Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)
  • Black-cowled Oriole (Icterus prosthemelas)
  • Red-throated Ant-Tanager (Habia fuscicauda)
  • Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)
  • Chestnut-colored Woodpecker (Celeus castaneus)
  • White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei)
  • Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)
  • Pied Puffbird (Notharchus tectus)
  • Snowy Cotinga (Carpodectes nitidus)
  • Slaty-breasted Tinamou (Crypturellus boucardi)
  • Great Curassow (Crax rubra)
  • Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
  • Black-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)
  • Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias)
  • Rufous Motmot (Baryphthengus martii)
  • Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)
  • Long-tailed Tyrant (Colonia colonus)
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis)
  • Olive-backed Euphonia (Euphonia gouldi)
  • Gray-headed Kite (Leptodon cayanensis)
  • King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)
  • Green Shrike-Vireo (Vireolanius pulchellus)

Services

  • +10 photography sessions, photoshoots, and activities.
  • 9 nights of lodging
  • Physis’s certified hotels and lodges
  • Standard room (double or single occupancy)
  • Private bathroom
  • Daily breakfasts at the hotel
  • Professional photographer and expedition leader with years of experience
  • Experienced driver
  • Comfortable and modern van
  • Experienced, certified, and area-specific guides for birds, wildlife, and nature photography
  • Transfer-in
  • Transfer-out
  • Welcome dinner
  • Farewell dinner
  • All entrance fees (National parks, reserves, refuges, etc)
  • Lodging for guide
  • Loading for driver
  • Daily meals for the guide
  • All local insurances
  • All local taxes
  • Airfare to/from Costa Rica
  • Lunches
  • Dinners
  • Visa (If it’s required)
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips and gratuities (local guides, driver, and expedition leader)
  • Alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, cocktails, etc) and beverages not included on the menu.
  • Hotel services (laundry, room service, etc)
  • Personal services (spa, massage, etc)

I, Andy, will be right there with you as your expedition leader and tour guide. With years of experience and a profound love for Costa Rica’s nature, I am eager to share my knowledge, photography tips, and fascinating stories to enrich your adventure.

In each destination, our local guides enhance the experience with their deep local knowledge.

Together, we will ensure that your time here is not just a trip, but a journey filled with learning, discovery, and moments that will stay with you forever.

Physis Photo Tours - Costa Rica |

Expedition leader

What to expect

This trip is rated light to moderate and caters to a variety of interests and abilities. Guests should be in good health and comfortable with extended periods of walking and sitting.

Please note that minor changes to the daily itinerary may occur based on wildlife locations.

During the expedition, you’ll stay in comfortable hotels and lodges. These accommodations have been selected for their excellent locations, allowing you to explore the incredible natural wonders of each area.

Your trip will be accompanied by a professional photographer, an expedition leader, and an experienced driver.

Local guides will also join you at various points along the way.

Transportation

All your transportation needs during your stay in Costa Rica, as specified in your trip itinerary, have been arranged.

Dates and prices

Prices are per person and based on double or single occupancy unless otherwise specified.

Airfare to and from your destination is not included.

All prices and fares are quoted in US dollars and are subject to change.

  • Minimum number of photographers: 4
  • Maximum number of photographers: 6

Costa Rica Bird Photography Tour 2024

August 3 – 12, 2024

  • US$4755 per person


November 16 – 25, 2024

  • US$4755 per person

 

Costa Rica Bird Photography Tour 2025

April 5–14, 2025

  • US$4936

Private bird photography tour

Can’t travel these days? Looking to extend your trip? Interested in exploring different destinations? Craving a private and exclusive tour? Prefer traveling only with family or friends?

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