About the Tours

Photography tours and workshops vary across the board, whether it's destination, trip duration, photography subject or even the intensity of photo instruction. We hope to outline the general structure and philosophy of our tour below, in order to give you a better sense of what to expect. If you are interested in the tour specifics—itinerary and prices—please click here.

Something for Everyone

Leaf-cutter ants
Leaf-cutter ants!
When photographer Max Waugh began planning tours with the folks at Costa Rica Expeditions, the goal was to come up with a unique Costa Rica photo tour experience that would appeal to a broad base of clients. In order to set this venture apart from other Costa Rica tours, Max wanted to bring visitors to one of his favorite places: Sirena Research Station in Corcovado National Park. While not exactly luxury living, a stay at Sirena offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in what National Geographic called, "the most biologically intense place on Earth." Sirena is offered as an extension with most of our trips. It is not part of the main tour because it's admittedly not for everyone. Read more about Sirena here.

The extension to Corcovado and Sirena can serve as something of a "grand finale" to the trip, but the main tour is designed to present you with some excellent wildlife photography opportunities. The locations we visit during the main tour are targeted in order to expose our clients to a wide variety of species, whether it's beautiful birds in the highlands, aquatic birds in the Pacific or Caribbean lowlands, mammals of the coastal forest or frogs, snakes and other creepy crawlies found during fun night walks.

Some tours target a specific subject or locale. Our focus: wildlife. Yup, that's a pretty broad subject. We hope this tour will offer something appealing to everyone, whether you're a seasoned photographer, just a casual shooter or completely new to photography. Whether you're interested in birds, mammals or maybe just the creepy crawlies, we hope to cover all the bases. View the photo gallery to get a taste of some of the wildlife you may see on the tour.

Photography: Tour vs. Workshop

These truly are photo tours, not workshops. Many workshops offer daily "classroom" instruction and dedicated learning sessions, but that's not the case here. In some ways it's logistically impossible to sit down and enjoy slideshows every night due to where we're going (Sirena in particular), but we also wanted to emphasize the fun and adventure that comes with exploration in the field rather than intense training.

rainforest hike
Get away from the lodge and into the jungle!
During the tours, we'll cover basic rainforest photography techniques to help you get comfortable in a difficult shooting environment, including exposure compensation, fill flash and macro photography. More importantly, Max will be there to advise and shoot alongside you in the field as we explore some of his favorite rainforest haunts.

If you are hoping to dedicate all of your time working exclusively with certain subjects (e.g., hummingbirds) or working intensely on advanced technical skills like perfecting your multi-flash technique, this may not be the tour for you. We do not spend hours on end at feeders and "setups" waiting for animals to come in (some lodges we visit may have feeders we can take advantage of, but this is not the emphasis of our tours). If you're up for a photo adventure that gives you unique access to some premier wildlife destinations, led by the country's top local guides who bring you face-to-face with truly spectacular wildlife, you're in the right place!

The tours are limited to a maximum of 6 guests. Shooting in a rainforest can often mean dealing with tight spaces and limited lines of sight given the thick canopy and dense brush. A smaller group will make for better photo opportunities, and a more intimate setting in which you can work with your fellow participants and guides in the field.

A Challenging Environment

The rainforest is a difficult place to photograph, but the environment can pose other challenges as well. We'll commonly deal with high temperatures and humidity, but even in the "dry season" it can still get wet! It's important to be prepared with proper rain gear just in case.

It will undoubtedly be hot and humid along the Pacific lowlands and in Corcovado—sometimes as high as 90F/32C and 80% humidity—so it's important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun. Since we are always looking for subjects to photograph, walks feature frequent stops. However, it is highly recommended that you only bring the gear you feel comfortable carrying over longer walks and hikes (though generally flat, some trails near Sirena may cover a couple of kilometers). Clients should be in reasonable shape. After all, you will sometimes be carrying your photo equipment over forest trails in a harsh environment. Those opting for the Corcovado extension should also remember that Sirena Station features basic lodging (no AC or ceiling fans!). Read more about staying at Sirena here.

For participants in the Quetzals to Corcovado tour, the cloud forests at Savegre are different from the tropical lowland rainforest. Not only will we be at high elevations (over 7000 feet), but temps can be much cooler with a higher chance of precipitation. Make sure you're prepared! Check out the Recommended Gear page for more tips on how to prepare for your Costa Rica trip.

Custom Tours & Extensions

We have found that an intense week of hardcore wildlife photography in the tropics is not for everyone. Or in some cases, the extension to the Sirena Research Station is a bit too rugged for some clients. To those who wish to plan a personalized itinerary, or perhaps a different extension that features a little "R & R," we have great news!

With the help of our partners at Costa Rica Expeditions (one of the world's top tour outfitters), we can help you plan your personalized Costa Rica itinerary or extension. Whether you'd like to join Max on a private photo tour, or simply want a more relaxing, fun adventure that doesn't involve the camera, we can help! Costa Rica is great for more than just wildlife. From beach and resort stays to river rafting and ziplining, from the cloud forests of Monteverde and volcanic slopes of Arenal to the wetlands of Tortuguero, there's something for everyone.

To inquire about a customized tour or extension, please note your interest in the "Comments/Questions" box on our Contact Form.

Tour Itinerary & Prices

Recommended Gear