Humming on Cloud Nine - Wildlife Photography Tour
Costa Rica, Central America Costa Rica, Central America Costa Rica, Central America Costa Rica, Central America Costa Rica, Central America

Costa Rica, Central America
11 to 22 February 2018


  • A comprehensive 11-night/12-day Tour to a Central American paradise
  • A truly well-rounded experience with a variety of animals to photograph
  • Incredibly productive photography of some of the world's most colourful birds
  • Extensive learning of and assistance in setup and multiple-flash photography
  • Discussion of the nuances of exposure, metering and other complexities of artificial lighting
  • Exhaustive assistance in tasteful use of flash for natural-looking images
  • Intensive focus training to help capture fast-flying birds with biting sharpness
  • Insightful pointers for creative composition and subtle lighting in daylight
  • Exquisite landscape photography opportunities of verdant cloud forests
  • A wealth of expertise to be gleaned from Skipper Jayanth Sharma

This is a Toehold Special

Hum along with the planet's most resplendent birds, laze around with the world's slowest mammals, hop about with marvellous frogs, and lose yourself in an imponderably beautiful sunset. Come to these cloud forests, and you'll see that such a thing as paradise does exist. And it's here in Costa Rica, offering vignettes of the superlative bounty that Central America has to offer.

How is it?

In one word: prosperous. In two words: preposterously prosperous.

Hosting a dizzying 500,000 species — that's more species per unit area than any other earthly country, by the way — Costa Rica stands as a sumptuous ecological tapestry draping the southern hemisphere. And when you consider that it houses 5% of Earth's biodiversity in just 0.1% of its landmass, its name, which literally means 'rich coast', suddenly seems like the byproduct of excessive subtlety.

But then, when have words been anything but a travesty of Nature's wonder? When have verbal eulogies been able to capture the magic of the birds rising to the clouds and the clouds descending to the treetops? Hence this Tour, so you may experience it firsthand.

What you will see and photograph:

If by the above synopsis you've inferred that you'll see and photograph a lot, you're absolutely accurate in your educated conjecture.

The Tour will begin on a fragrant note, with beautiful orchids and tropical flowers on offer at the hotel in San José. Just as well, because things get rather explosive thereafter.

We start in the Atlantic Lowland Rainforest range, photographing keel-billed and chestnut-mandibled toucans, and brown-hooded parrots; green, red-legged and shining honeycreepers; lowland hummingbird species such as crowned woodnymph, white-necked jacobin, green-breasted mango, and scaly-breasted hummingbird. Then, camping in a lodge nestled quaintly in a valley at 4,500 feet, we explore the cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range. And while its gurgling streams, cool zephyrs and orchid-decorated trees soothe your senses while you're at home in its idyllic premises taking a breather from all the action, your guest list may include black guan, silver-throated tanager, agouti and coatimundi.

Meanwhile, the forests will treat you to the sheer extravagance of scarlet and great green macaws. Imaginatively named species like violet sabrewing and green hermit will capture your imagination, while the eulogised ones like the purple-throated mountain gem and the green-crowned brilliant will cause you to rapturously add to the eulogies.

All this avian frenzy will be complemented by some truly exquisite landscape photography at a nearby 360-foot waterfall and the delightful cloud forest around it. But the bird photography hubbub will not slow down even here, as black-bellied hummingbird, coppery-headed emerald, green thorntail and white-bellied mountain gem do a most efficacious job of distracting you from your wide-angle lens.

Meanwhile, there will be detailed discussions, extensive demonstrations and execution of flash-based photography setup and camera techniques, particularly with the many-hued, magnificently nimble hummingbirds, the only birds to have a reverse gear in flight! So the experience is as sweet for you as it is for these diminutive birds sucking nectar off the exquisite flowers.

Later, in the Talamanca Range Cloud Forest, you'll be fully exposed to the wonders called golden-browed chlorophonia and long-tailed silky flycatcher, even as the delicious possibility of adding scintillant and green violet-ear hummingbirds to your already impressively long species list looms large.

But the flagship species here is without doubt the resplendent quetzal, which might as well have been named splendacious, for it dazzles with brilliance to yield exceptional delight. With a really long tail, a vivid front and a small beak, it's a big marvel, and a massive draw.

Adding the icing to the cake could be hairy and acorn woodpeckers, golden-hooded tanager, sooty robin and large-footed finch, so you can see just why this Tour is such a delicious prospect.

Important Information: Indian citizens need a valid visa to enter Costa Rica unless the traveller possesses a valid United States visa. A U.S. visa enables free entry into Costa Rica.



At Toehold, we are passionate about photography just as you are, which lets us understand your travails and needs perfectly. And we use this insight to specially design our Photography Tours so they give you a toehold to excel at the art and set you up for success.

The Toehold team at your disposal will keep you tuned and geared, so you come in empty-handed but go out with bagful of images and tales of an experience that is better lived than heard.

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Please note: This Tour commences at San José on the morning of 11 February 2018, and ends at the same place after breakfast on 22 February. Flight fares are not included in the Tour fee.

Entry into Costa Rica requires a valid visa. Please get in touch with us well in advance to have your visa application for the Tour processed. This typically needs at least two weeks.

  •   DAY 1    11 February 2018, Sunday: Arrival in Costa Rica; Overnight in San José

    Upon your arrival in Costa Rica, you will be met by Tour Skipper Jayanth Sharma, and if you arrive early enough, you'll have the opportunity to photograph the orchids and other tropical flowers in the gardens of the hotel. Please note that meals are not included in the Tour fee on this day.


  •   DAY 2    12 February, Monday: Transfer to and Overnight in Atlantic Lowland Rainforest Range

    After an early breakfast, we check out and head to our first destination, a rainforest lodge where we photograph many birds at the feeders. Later, back at the lodge, we enjoy a highly enjoyable interactive session with Jayanth, prior to supper and retirement.
  •   DAYS 3 AND 4    13 and 14 February, Tuesday and Wednesday: All-Day Photography and Overnight at Atlantic Lowland Rainforest

    We will set out to photograph monkeys, crested guan, and collared aracaris around the lodge. Also, we will take time to photograph the numerous Montezuma oropendolas at the lodge feeders, where the staff will help us photograph colourful animals on natural stages that we will set up on site.


  •   DAY 5    15 February, Thursday: Transfer to and Overnight in Central Volcanic Range Cloud Forest

    Prior to an invigorating breakfast, we enjoy a spot of good bird photography before climbing higher to the cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range, where we'll check in to our next lodge. En route, we stop at a nearby farm for a delicious lunch and then photograph macaws in flight and on attractive perches. In the evening we'll enjoy a highly insightful session on flash-based setup photography by Jayanth.
  •   DAY 6    16 February, Friday: All-Day Photography and Overnight in Central Volcanic Range Cloud Forest

    After breakfast this day, we get straight down to the highly enjoyable task of photographing hummingbirds with our multiple-flash setups right on the lodge premises. The Skippers will run the setups and provide attractive native flowers to ensure that you capture some fantastic hummingbird images. When not on the setups, we can relax and download images, and photograph the other birds and mammals that frequent the premises. We can also explore the cloud forest trails for macro and landscape photography.
  •   DAY 7    17 February, Saturday: All-Day Photography and Overnight in Central Volcanic Range Cloud Forest

    After breakfast, we visit a nearby waterfall for a round of landscape photography of some lush tropical foliage. In addition, we'll have the opportunity to set up our multiple-flash 'studio' here to capture a few small hummingbird species. We'll shoot throughout the day, alternating our time between the setups, perched hummingbirds, and landscape photography, enjoying a picnic lunch at the waterfall.


  •   DAYS 8 TO 10    18 to 20 February, Sunday to Tuesday: Photography and Overnight in Talamanca Range Cloud Forest

    After an early breakfast this morning, we head up into the Talamanca Mountain Range en route to our last destination, the high cloud forests just on the Pacific side of the Continental Divide. We arrive at our hotel for lunch and spend the afternoon in pursuit of the resplendent quetzal, widely recognised as one the world's most beautiful birds, and quite clearly our chief target over these three days.

    Next morning we continue our search for the quetzal regardless of the previous evening's success, for you can never have enough of this magnificent bird. After lunch we visit a house where special bird feeders will very probably get us some new species.

    The third day at Talamanca will be spent visiting another property where bird feeders have been set up along with plants and bushes that attract some great birds. This afternoon, we'll keep an eye out for the quetzal again, while also focusing on photographing a few different hummingbird species right outside the hotel's restaurant.

  •   DAY 11    21 February, Wednesday: Transfer to and Overnight in San José

    After breakfast this morning, we'll take a last shot at photographing some birds on the lodge premises before checking out and being transferred back to San Jose, arrive at the capital for lunch. We'll spend the afternoon captioning and cataloguing images to ensure we get the species names right, and learn a bit of post-processing, before enjoying a farewell dinner in the hotel restaurant.

  •   DAY 12    22 February, Thursday: Transfer to Airport and Departure

    You are transferred to the international airport for your flight home, and the Tour ends after you've hopefully been introduced to the unbridled bounty of the American wild.

USD 5,270*
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
USD 10,240*
5% GST Extra
Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons
USD 5,130*
5% GST Extra
Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation
Toehold Patrons: Customers who have participated in at least three previous Toehold Photo Tours
Single occupancy upgrade: $900 per person
* Exchange rates listed here as on the date of payment will apply. Additional bank charges may be payable at actuals.

  • Twin-sharing accommodation in comfortable lodges
  • All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and hot beverages (coffee and tea) except on day one (please see itinerary)
  • All transfers within Costa Rica in a tour bus
  • Guide and Photography Skipper services
  • Entrance fees for all listed activities (please see itinerary)
  • Multiple-flash photography setup to photograph hummingbirds
  • Visa invitation and registration
  • All airfare
  • Airport departure tax (USD 29)
  • Any extra accommodation availed of (e.g. extra night's stay in San José)
  • Meals on day one
  • Any kind of personal expenses or optional tours, extra meals and beverages ordered
  • Insurance, laundry and phone calls
  • Bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages
  • Vaccination, visa and insurance expenses
  • All applicable taxes
  • Anything that is not included in the inclusions list

Payment Terms
  • USD 1000 booking amount (non-refundable)
  • USD 2000 before 30 September 2017
  • Remainder before 1 November 2017

  • All figures per person.
Cancellation Fees
  • USD 1000 on or before 30 September 2017
  • 50% between 1 October and 30 November 2017
  • 75% between 1 December 2017 and 1 January 2018
  • 100% on or after 2 January 2018

Please note: The date of written (email) communication of intent to cancel is the date considered for calculation of the cancellation fees.

Terms and Conditions

  1. Participants who have a medical history of blood pressure, heart-related problems or asthma are advised to seek medical advice before enrolling for this Tour.
  2. Fitness to complete the Tour is the only criterion for participation.
  3. Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt Ltd. shall not be responsible for injuries, damages, or losses caused to any traveller in connection with terrorist activities, social or labour unrest, mechanical or construction failures or difficulties, diseases, local laws, climatic conditions, abnormal conditions or developments, or any other actions, omissions, or conditions outside the travel partner's control.
  4. All clients travelling with Toehold Travel & Photography Pvt Ltd. must complete and sign a reservation form and the "Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk & Arbitration Agreement" form.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the requisites to participate in this Tour?

    Apart from interest, a valid visa and related documents, and a minimum level of fitness are essential. Visa assistance will be provided.
  • I am a newbie in nature photography. Am I eligible?

    Absolutely! This Tour is meant for fledgling as well as experienced photographers. Beginners get all the advantages of learning on and off the field from Toehold's eminent Skippers. In fact if you are a newbie, you should jump on this terrific learning opportunity and sign up right away! However, in order to make the most of the Tour photographically, we recommend that you be familiar with photography fundamentals. If you're not, we suggest you join a Art and Science of Photography Workshop before the Tour.

  • By what mode or modes will we explore Costa Rica?

    We will travel between the destinations by road, but almost all the photography will be done on foot, or stationed in one place, in the case of setup multiple-flash photography sessions.
  • How sure are you about photographing wildlife on this Tour?

    Considering the meticulous attention to timing we pay while scheduling Tours and the local expertise we leverage, we believe that it would be extremely unfortunate if our sightings and photography were unsatisfactory. Costa Rica is a country blessed with the greatest biodiversity, and the destinations we'll be visiting are teeming with wildlife, particularly birds, but since we will be in an uncontrolled environment, we do not claim that sightings of specific species are guaranteed.
  • What equipment do you suggest on this Tour?

    For birds, a lens with a focal length of around 400mm is essential. For mammals, a telephoto zoom lens in the range of 100 to 400mm works very well, but a longer lens is fine too. A wide-angle or normal zoom to capture landscapes or creative perspectives of wildlife is a must, along with a macro lens for closeup flora work. A tripod, with a gimbal head (such as the Wimberley II) or ball head is necessary, and so is an external flash unit with preferably a Better Beamer flash extender. However, if you do not have appropriate equipment, there is no need to fret. Toehold offers an exhaustive array of cameras, lenses and accessories for hire, so you can always hire what you need. Click here to see what we offer.
  • How different are your Photo Tours from ordinary tours?

    Unlike travel agents who plan your holiday from a remote destination to places they sometimes haven't experienced themselves, Photo Tours offer a comprehensive toehold to experience a place through the guidance of a professional photographer. The common ingredients in all our Photo Tours are fun and a lot of learning and knowledge-sharing. Besides, most or all of our Tour participants are photography enthusiasts, which keeps the group in harmony and helps make your experience focussed.

© - All Text, Photographs, Videos and Narrations are properties of Toehold Travel & Photography Private Limited.


Costa Rica, Central America


  • Date: 11 to 22 February 2018

  • Tour Cost:
    USD 5,270 + 5% GST
    Per person

    USD 10,240 + 5% GST
    Per couple

    Toehold Patrons
    USD 5,130 + 5% GST
    Per person

    Single Occupancy
    USD 860 + 5% GST
    Additional per person

    All fares excluding flights

  • Skippers: Jayanth Sharma


Did you know? Photography enthusiasts joining this Tour and every other Toehold Photography Tour are eligible for a nett discount of 10% on all equipment rentals. Talk to us to avail of this offer!


We accept all major credit and debit cards.


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