Costa Rica, Central America

Humming on Cloud Nine

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.


11 to 22 February 2019


Sachin Rai

Jayanth Sharma

Why go on a Toehold Tour?

Planned to maximise

photo opportunities

Led by ace


Over 100 years'

collective experience

Hands-on assistance

on and off the field

Image reviews

and presentations

Photography gear

on rent

Tour Highlights

  • 11-nights and 12 days in 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 multiple-flash photography
  • 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
  • Exquisite landscape photography opportunities of verdant cloud forests

How is it?

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

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What you will see and photograph?

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

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About your Skipper

Sachin Rai

An uncompromising reverence for nature and an unfailing eye for unique perspectives underline Sachin's journey as an ace naturalist and eminent wildlife photographer with over a decade's experience in excellence.

Jayanth Sharma

Jayanth Sharma is renowned as a prolific producer of consistently stunning imagery – the kind that is planned in a studio and executed outdoors.

Exploring the rainforested wilderness in Costa Rica on the Toehold Photo Tour was an exhilarating experience. Not only will I cherish the stunning moments I got to capture as photographs but will always treasure the very experience of being there. - Ruta Kalmankar, Mumbai
In this Central American country, apart from the countless breathtaking details of natural beauty, what stood out for me was watching this tiny little wonder, the humming bird, and making some interesting images of it. - Shaji Mohammed, Dubai
Costa Rica contains many a wonder that will lead us to sensory overload. I particularly enjoyed watching and photographing the majestic creature, quetzal. - Srihari Krishnamurthy, Bangalore
In a land far away from home, under the guidance of the Toehold Skipper, Jayanth Sharma, we had a great joy of exploring diverse wildlife and photographing them in their natural habitat. I hope to go back to Costa Rica again. - Rahul Pratti, Hyderabad

Please note: This Tour commences at San José on the morning of 11 February 2019, 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 2019, Monday: Arrival in Costa Rica; Overnight in San Jos

Upon your arrival in Costa Rica, you will be met by Tour Skipper Sachin Rai, 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, Tuesday: 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 Sachin Rai, prior to supper and retirement.

DAYS 3 AND 4   13 and 14 February, Wednesday and Thursday: 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, Friday: 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 Sachin Rai.

DAY 6   16 February, Saturday: 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, Sunday: 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, Monday to Wednesday: 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, Thursday: Transfer to and Overnight in San Jos

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, Friday: 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.

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.
USD 5,270 *
Couples ††
USD 10,240 *
Toehold Patrons
USD 5,130 *

* 5% GST Extra

Per Person on Twin Share Accommodation

†† Per Couple on Twin Share Accommodation

  • 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
  • USD 1000 booking amount (non-refundable)
  • USD 2000 before 30 September 2018
  • Remainder before 1 November 2018
  • All figures per person.
  • USD 1000 on or before 30 September 2018
  • 50% between 1 October and 30 November 2018
  • 75% between 1 December 2018 and 1 January 2019
  • 100% on or after 2 January 2019

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.
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