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Digital Photography in Nature: Capturing the Best of Costa Rica

Program Number: 15114RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/23/2015 - 1/31/2015; 2/9/2015 - 2/17/2015; 2/21/2015 - 3/1/2015; 3/16/2015 - 3/24/2015;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: Costa Rica
Price starting at: $1,925.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Photography
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

The rugged orange bloom of the Heliconia looks even more exotic as you zoom in for a shot in the Caribbean lowland rainforest. Accompanied by a photography instructor and naturalist, learn to capture brilliant photographs in the dynamic Costa Rican environment. Lectures and field instruction help you to create digital images using professional techniques, while presentations and excursions introduce Costa Rica’s flora and fauna, as well as its human heritage.




Highlights

• Capture the beauty of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens near Poás Volcano.
• Interactive sessions include management of light, exposure and composition, as well as macro, landscape and wildlife photography techniques.
• Biological details from expert naturalists offer another angle on your images of the rainforest.



Activity Particulars

Walking up to 1.5 hours a day over uneven trails in hot and humid conditions. Elevations up to 11,000 feet.



Participants should have their own digital camera (preferably with multiple lenses or adapters), tripods, chargers and digital media storage devices.



Itinerary Summary

Arrivals San Jose, 1 night; coach to Sarapiqui, 3 nights; coach to San Gerardo de Dota, 3 nights; coach to San Jose, 1 night; departures.



Arrival San Jose
1 night
Coach to Sarapiqui
3 nights

Outside the capital, spend your morning bird watching or exploring the hotel grounds through the lens of your camera. Then learn to photograph birds and wildlife in hands-on sessions focusing on macro photography, telephoto lenses and techniques to capture your animated subjects. A lecture by a local biologist on “Tropical Rainforest Ecology” offers context for your final images.



Coach to San Gerardo de Dota 3 nights

Learn to apply filters and shutter speeds to capture memorable landscapes in and around the San Gerardo Valley. Meet Chacon family members and learn their secrets of tracking the Resplendent Quetzal in hopes of photographing this elusive bird. Interactive sessions highlight techniques for photographing hummingbirds.
On the Central Pacific Coast, visit Cerro de la Muerte for a special session in photographing plants and flowers, then learn how to photograph subjects in low light. Try out new techniques at Lankester Botanical Gardens and in macros of native flora at a botanical garden.



Coach to San Jose
1 night
Departure

Depart for the Central Valley for en route photo opportunities; cultural interaction, street scenes and landscapes.






Costa Rica

Hugged by two bodies of water and sandwiched between Nicaragua and Panama, Costa Rica’s topography, climate and geographical position are more than mere facts: they define this tiny country. Cloud rainforests, valleys of coffee and volcanic mountain peaks fill the land between Caribbean and Pacific beaches. This ecological Eden protects its natural treasures in acres of preserved land, and is the only country in the world without a standing army.



Accommodations
San Jose: Four-star hotels. Sarapiqui: Lodge on the banks of the Sarapiqui River. San Gerado de Dota: Lodge in a private cloud forest reserve.
Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
  San Jose, Costa Rica 1 night
   Selva Verde Lodge
  Sarapiqui, Costa Rica 3 nights
   Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
  San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica 3 nights
   Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property)
  San Jose, Costa Rica 1 night
 Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The Radisson Hotel San José is conveniently situated in the commercial district near San José's historic center.
  Contact info: Calle Central y Tercera Av. 15, P.O. Box 538-2120, Calle Blancos
San José,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-20106000
web: www.radisson.com
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, alarm lock radio, Sleep Number® beds, hair dryer, Wi-Fi, in-room safe, iPod dock, mini bar/refrigerator, flat screen TV and cable channels, and two telephone lines.
  Facility amenities: Business center, Wi-Fi, fitness center, whirlpool and pool, executive lounge, on-site casino, spacious meeting rooms and two on-site restaurants. The hotel is able to offer airport shuttle services for an additional charge. This service must be booked in advance directly through the hotel.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com for questions about room availability and prices. Room types and rates are subject to availability.

 Selva Verde Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Nature Lodge built along the banks of the Sarapiqui River. Room modules are built on elevated platforms, surrounded by tropical vegetation. A large tract of private primary and secondary rainforest is accessible via a hanging bridge.
  Contact info: Chilamate
Sarapiqui,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-2-27611800
web: www.selvaverde.com
  Room amenities: Safety boxes, ceiling fans, phones, screened windows, and hair dryers.
  Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, restaurant, bar, and private rainforest reserve with trails.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Type: Lodge
  Description: The Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve and Spa is located in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. The hotel is at an elevation of approximately 7,220 ft and is situated in a private cloud forest reserve that borders the Los Quetzales National Park. Its private reserve has earned a reputation for being one of the best places to spot the elusive Resplendent Quetzal--one of the country's most colorful birds. To reach this attractive highland property it is necessary to travel on switchbacks and narrow mountain roads reaching elevations of up to 11,000 ft at Cerro de la Muerte.
  Contact info: San Gerardo de Dota.
San Gerardo de Dota,  00000 Costa Rica
phone: +506-27401028
web: www.savegre.com
  Room amenities: Rooms have private baths and heating system or fireplace. No air conditioning is necessary since the hotel is located in a mountainous region (approximately 7,220 ft above sea level) known for its clean and crisp air.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, spa services, gardens, nature reserve, trails, and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property)
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel and Convention Center has 229 spacious rooms with modern conveniences and a long list of amenities that are meant to accommodate business travelers as well as vacationing families. It is conveniently located a short distance from San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport. The hotel has earned a Level 3 Certification for Sustainable Tourism by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.
  Contact info: Across from General Cañas Highway, 5km south of the Juan Santamaria International Airport.
San José,   Costa Rica
phone: +506-22099800
web: http://www.wyndham.com/hotels/costa-rica/san-jose/wyndham-san-jose-herradura-hotel-convention-center/hotel-overview
  Room amenities: The spacious, air conditioned rooms have private baths, hair dryers, satellite TVs, direct-dial phones, mini refrigerators, coffee makers, safety deposit boxes, and internet access.
  Facility amenities: Hotel amenities include: complimentary Wi-Fi, three restaurants, three swimming pools, a wet bar, Jacuzzis, casino, fitness center, spa services, laundry service, souvenir shop, beauty salon, business center, conference center, money exchange, Internet access, travel agency, and a souvenir shop. Wheelchair acessible elevators and public areas. Free airport shuttle service from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Free hotel shuttle service to San José attractions.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Subject to availability. Rates and room types are subject to availability. Please contact your program provider at 1-800-866-7111 or roadscholarprograms@holbrooktravel.com if you need assistance with booking additional hotel nights.


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All-day arrivals at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Juan Santamaria International Airport in San José, Costa Rica. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property) the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Proof of vaccination is required from travelers arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic. It is always best to renew your passport before it reaches the six month validity date—especially if you plan on doing future travel. For more information about entry requirements please contact the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC at tel: (202) 234-2945/46 or visit www.costarica-embassy.org.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Jose
  Nearest airport:  Juan Santamaria, San Jose
  Transportation to site: There are two types of taxi services available at the Juan Santamaria International Airport. The most reliable one is the Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto--the official airport taxi service. A Taxis Unidos kiosk is located at the airport exit. The drivers wear company uniforms and the orange taxis have the Taxis Unidos logo emblazoned on the driver's door and passenger's door. The taxis are metered and fares can be paid in dollars or colones. www.taxiaeropuerto.com There are also regular metered taxis available outside the airport exit. These are typically red with medallions (yellow triangles containing numbers) painted on the side. Although these are usually a cheaper option, we suggest using the official taxis for the sake of safety and reliable fares.
  From End of Program
  Location: San Jose
  Transportation from site: Taxi services are available from the hotel to the airport.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Elevation Note: Elevations of up to 11,000 feet (at Cerro de la Muerte).

Equipment Requirements: Our workshops are designed for photographers with a digital SLR camera with interchangeable lenses (e.g., the Canon Digital Rebel, 10D, 20D, 30D, 5D, 1Ds, etc.; Nikon D70, D100, D200, D2x, etc.; Pentax *stD series). Nonetheless, if you have a non-SLR digital camera, there are also a number of concepts and techniques both in camera and on the computer that will help you to improve your photos by leaps and bounds. Suggested lenses or adapters; a wide-angle or wide-angle zoom lens, a macro or mid-range zoom or fixed lens with closeup filters, and a telephoto or telephoto zoom. An external flash is also very helpful. A circular polarizing filter will help you to deepen blue skies and saturate green rainforest foliage. A tripod will help you to obtain sharper pictures and to improve your composition. And be sure to bring the instruction manual for your camera so that we can help you to get the most out of your equipment! Laptop suggested for media storage.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrive to San José.
(Monday, February 9)
   
 Arrive To: Arrive in San José's Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. Please use the exit door on the right. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights). Transfer to the hotel and check-in, followed by time at leisure.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no meals or program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3PM.
   
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel San José - Costa Rica

Day 2: Sarapiqui -
Rainforest Wildlife Photography

(Tuesday, February 10)

Note: The drive from San José to Sarapiqui, in the Caribbean lowlands, takes approximately 2 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Orientation meeting with Coordinator and guide.

Get to know your group leader and fellow Road Scholar participants during a welcome and introduction session at the hotel. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Interactive learning session - "Getting to know your camera and capabilities."
- The three main variables: controlling light, setting your digital ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
- Using light and color to create pleasing images.
- Composition.

Checkout & departure for Varablanca area.
 Lunch: Lunch at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
 Afternoon: Afternoon time for photography at La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens is an ecological park located near the Poás Volcano, in a verdant, misty area where cloud and rain forests meet. The park has five beautiful waterfalls that can be admired from various view points through a network of stairways and viewing platforms. Other attractions include a serpentarium, hummingbird garden, frog exhibit, walking trails, and one of the largest butterfly observatories in the world. A walk inside the over sized butterfly observatory reveals a large flowering garden with thousands of fluttering butterflies belonging to more than 25 different species. Some resident favorites include the Blue Morpho, Monarch, Blue-banded Purplewing, Salome Yellow, and Banded Orange. The hummingbird garden attracts as many as 26 different hummingbird species from around Costa Rica; visitors can view these colorful birds just inches away while they buzz among the tropical plants and feeders.

Depart for Sarapiqui.

Arrive to lodge and check-in.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Photo review and feedback with group leader.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Sarapiqui -
Sarapiqui River Boat Ride/Nocturnal Photography.

(Wednesday, February 11)
   
 Breakfast: Optional early morning walk for photographic opportunities around the lodge.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Interactive learning session - "Macro photography & Nature." - Composition in macro. - Color elements, how to use them. - Distracting elements, how to avoid them. - Macro flash use.

This interactive learning session will take place in and around the Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve.
 Lunch: Lunch at a the lodge.
 Afternoon: Boating field trip on the Sarapiqui River.

Float down the Saripiqui River through past forested and agricultural lands full of wildlife. As we depart from the lively Puerto Viejo dock you will you have the chance to experience some of the hustle and bustle of rural life in Costa Rica. Our local guides are among the best at spotting wildlife along the river, so be ready to capture some unique shots.

Lecture: Tropical Rainforest Ecology.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Interactive learning session – Night walk using flash techniques for nocturnal photography.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Sarapiqui -
Rainforest Wildlife Photography.

(Thursday, February 12)
   
 Breakfast: Early morning photo opportunities around lodge.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Morning visit to Macaw Farm for photo session.

 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Guided walk in Selva Verde for photography.

Interactive learning session - "Photographing Birds and Wildlife."
- Use of tripod and telephoto lenses.
- Use of fill-flash to add life to your bird photos.
- Controlling background to emphasize your subject.
- Getting close to wildlife.
This interactive learning session will take place in and around the Selva Verde Rainforest Reserve.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Photo review and feedback with group leader.
   
Accommodations: Selva Verde Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: San Gerardo de Dota
Bird Photography/Lankester Gardens/Introduction to the Savegre Valley.

(Friday, February 13)

Note: Bus drive from Sarapiqui to San Gerardo de Dota takes approximately 5 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Optional early morning walk for photographic opportunities around lodge.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Depart for San Gerardo de Dota.

En route visit to Lankester Botanical Gardens for photography of exotic flowers.

The Lankester Botanical Gardens were originally created as a private garden by British orchid enthusiast Charles H. Lankester in the 1940s. After his death, the American Orchid Society and the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust worked to have the gardens preserved, and in 1973, the garden was donated to the University of Costa Rica. The garden sits on 27.2 acres and is home to over 3000 species of plants, principally epiphytes, including orchids and bromeliads.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Arrive to lodge and settle in.

Lecture: History of the Savegre Valley & Chacon Family.

The few families that inhabit the valley are mostly dedicated to the production of trout, apples and peaches, which grow well in the cool, moist elevations of the Talamanca Range. Pioneers in many aspects, the Chacon family was the first to settle in this area. They built the first hotel (Cabinas Chacon, now named Savegre Mountain Hotel) and the first to set out to conserve the magnificent high elevation and oak forests that covered the entire valley. The patriarch of the family, don Efrain Chacon, has transmitted his love for this land to his children and grandchildren. They now share his passion and devotion for the preservation of the pristine forests.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
 Evening: Photo review and feedback with group leader.
   
Accommodations: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: San Gerardo de Dota –
Searching for the Resplendent Quetzal/Hummingbird Photography.

(Saturday, February 14)
   
 Breakfast: Optional early morning walk for photographic opportunities around lodge.

Breakfast at the lodge.
 Morning: Walking on lodge trails in search of the Resplendent Quetzal.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Arrive to the hotel and check-in.

Time at leisure to explore the hotel grounds or to rest before your next program activity.

Interactive session: Hummingbird Photography.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Photo review and feedback with group leader.
   
Accommodations: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: San Gerardo de Dota -
Photographing Landscapes and Moving Water

(Sunday, February 15)
   
 Breakfast: Optional early morning walk around the lodge grounds.

Breakfast at lodge.
 Morning: Depart for Cerro de la Muerte in Los Quetzales Nat. Park.

Photographic session around the Cerro de la Muerte area, including sub-alpine paramo habitat, highland peaks, macro plants and flowers.

Interactive learning session: "Landscapes" - Depth of Field - Shutter speeds - Use of polarizing filters - Composition: foreground, middle ground and background - Moving objects and water

Cerro de la Muerte is the highest point in the Costa Rican section of the Inter-American Highway. Its name means "Mountain of Death," since in the past crossing the mountains from the Valle Central meant a three or four day journey, on foot or on horseback and many ill-prepared travelers succumbed to the cold and rain. However, the peak is now easily accessible since the highway runs close by.
 Lunch: Lunch at the lodge.
 Afternoon: Interactive Session: Moving water photography.

Clouds and sunset photo opportunities (weather permitting).
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Photo review and feedback with group leader.
   
Accommodations: Savegre Hotel Nature Reserve & Spa (formerly Savegre Mountain Hotel)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Transfer to San José -
Cultural Interaction Photography, Street Scenes and Landscapes.

(Monday, February 16)

Note: Bus drive from San Gerardo de Dota to San José takes approximately 3 hours.



   
 Breakfast: Morning bird walk.

Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Depart for Central Valley.

En route photo opportunities--cultural interaction, street scenes, and landscapes.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Free time. Spend your last evening in Costa Rica with your new Road Scholar friends, finish your packing, or get a good night's sleep in preparation for international departures tomorrow before rejoining the group for dinner.

Meeting with coordinator and final briefing.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner and photographic presentation at the hotel.
 Evening: Photo review and feedback with group leader.
   
Accommodations: Wyndham San José Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (formerly a Ramada property)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Depart from San José. -
Arrive to USA.

(Tuesday, February 17)
   
 Depart From: Transfer to the Juan Santamaria International Airport for flight to U.S.

This concludes the program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.

Note: Participants with independent travel arrangements and/or scheduled on later flights can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel (depending on flight time).
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide


Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer


Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.



National Geographic Ultimate Field Guide to Travel Photography


Author: Scott Stuckey


Description: This concise, practical guide to taking better travel photos covers equipment, technique and digital photography, with suggestions and how-to's from experts.



Culture Smart! Costa Rica


Author: Jane Koutnik


Description: A guide to local customs, etiquette and culture.



Insight Guide Costa Rica


Author: Paul Murphy


Description: Thoroughly illustrated, this sturdy and informative guide features short essays on the natural history, culture and attractions of Costa Rica, hundreds of photographs and excellent local maps.



Lonely Planet Costa Rican Spanish


Author: Lonely Planet


Description: A pocket guide to understanding idioms, slang and Spanish as it is spoken by the Ticos.



National Geographic Costa Rica


Author: Christopher P. Baker


Description: This stylish, informative and up-to-date travel resource features 200 photographs, many maps and good information on the country's history, nature and culture.



The Ticos


Author: Richard Biesanz


Description: This insightful, fact-filled portrait of the Costa Rican people accessibly explores their culture, history and society.



The Wildlife of Costa Rica, A Field Guide


Author: Fiona Reid, Twan Leenders, Jim Zook, Robert Dean


Description: Designed to take along on a walk in the forest, this latest compact Zona Tropical guide includes 450 of the most common, interesting and charismatic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods that you are likely to encounter in the field. Each gets an exquisite full color illustration.





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