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    Experience Costa Rica’s rainforest and its amazing wildlife together with professional photographer Sudhir Shivaram.

    wild bird


    Costa Rica is a nature photographer’s paradise – beautiful national parks, vast volumes of birds and other animals, rainforests, volcanoes as well as a vast biodiversity that transcends most other countries. Take this opportunity to accompany Sudhir Shivaram – India’s most well known wildlife photographer – on an unforgettable photo tour to this tropical paradise. During the trip, we will photograph everything from tiny insects, spiders, frogs and snakes to larger animals such as bears, deer and tapirs. We will capture the wildlife of Costa Rica’s incredible national parks, including the famous Tortuguero National Park.

    Join us on a journey to this incredible paradise for wildlife and nature photographers while learning more about why a thriving nature is essential for a stable future on Earth. If you want to experience some truly unique wildlife and nature, then this is the perfect photo tour for you.

    Why do this photography learning tour with SSP?

    • Experience many of the country’s best national parks.
    • Capture the Costa Rican rain forests and its amazing birdlife.
    • Night walks through the rainforest.
    • Crocodile photography on the Tarcoles River.
    • Visit to La Selva Biological Reserve.
    • Great accommodation connected to the national parks.
    • Participation and personal tutoring by Sudhir Shivaram.
    • Hands-on learning on field from Sudhir through out the trip and in the camp during our stay.
    • We will learn how to evaluate the practical challenges in field and how to overcome them.
    • On-field review of images and inputs to improve.

    Who should attend this tour?

    • If you are a beginner in photography and want to get started with wildlife photography, then SSP photography learning tours are the best.
    • All SSP tours are targeted at beginners as well as advanced users.
    • Equipment does not matter. You can attend the tour even with a simple entry level camera and basic kit lens like the 55-250mm.
    • If you are interested in capturing the wildlife and birds of Costa Rica up-close and personal – Then this is the tour for you.

    What can you expect from this tour?

    • Practical on-field learning from Sudhir
    • Understand the various challenges faced in wildlife and how to arrive at the correct camera setting for a particular situation.
    • Pre-visualising your images in the field and how to arrive at the camera setting for that.
    • We will have discussions back in the camp as well to ensure all doubts are cleared for your next field outing.
    • At the end of this tour, you will be in a situation to start using your camera / lens combination to it’s best potential.
    • You will be in a position to arrive at the correct camera settings, no matter what kind of lighting you have.
    • You will have a firm hold on the most complex part of photography – which is metering.
    • You will shift from taking images to making images.

    Beyond Learning

    While we are extremely serious about our photography, we never play down the importance of some good old-fashioned fun. And great food. Dinnertime is our designated “huddle time” where we share safari stories that continue well past bedtime. Last night of the workshop is official party night where we match steps with the local tribal folk over a celebratory dinner. So, what do we celebrate? Good times, great food, awesome friends. And of course, photography!!


    Arrive at San Jose, Costa Rica on day 1. Return flight will be from San Jose on last day of workshop.


    Please get in touch with us for your flight bookings.


    The tour is ex-San Jose. All internal transfers are included in the trip cost.


    We recommend to carry 2 camera bodies along with a combination of a zoom lens like the 70-200 or the 100-400. The second body can have a tele lens like the 500mm/600mm/800mm. The 150-600 range is also an excellent lens for a single body. You could also get a macro lens. A tripod with a good ball head is a must.


    10 nights/11 days @Various Locations in Costa Rica.


    As per itinerary - at various hotels/resorts.


    Most of the photography will be on foot.


    Max temp: 27°C and Min temp: 21°C.


    Our key subjects includes Insects, Spiders, Frogs, Snakes, Bear, Tapir and a lot of Bird species.


    You can get Camera-lens, binoculars, bird book, warm wear and essential medicines.


    Content (all images and text) courtesy: Zoom Photo Tours

    Costa Rica is a nature photographer’s paradise – beautiful national parks, vast volumes of birds and other animals, rainforests, volcanoes as well as a vast biodiversity that transcends most other countries. Take this opportunity to accompany Sudhir Shivaram – India’s most well known wildlife photographer – on an unforgettable photo tour to this tropical paradise. During the trip, we will photograph everything from tiny insects, spiders, frogs and snakes to larger animals such as bears, deer and tapirs. We will capture the wildlife of Costa Rica’s incredible national parks, including the famous Tortuguero National Park.

    – Participation and personal tutoring by Sudhir Shivaram.
    – Experience many of the country’s best national parks.
    – Capture the Costa Rican rain forests and its amazing birdlife.
    – Night walks through the rainforest.
    – Crocodile photography on the Tarcoles River.
    – Visit to La Selva Biological Reserve.
    – Great accommodation connected to the national parks.
    – Workshops and lectures by Sudhir Shivaram during the entire trip.


    Costa Rica is located in Central America and adjoins Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. In the capital of San José, approximately one third of the country’s 4.2 million inhabitants live. The climate in Costa Rica is subtropical, and tropical in the lowlands, but somewhat colder in the central highlands. The country has two seasons; rain and dry seasons. The rainy season lasts from May to November and the dry season usually lasts between December and April. Costa Rica is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Although the country occupies only 0.1% of the world’s total land mass, biodiversity amounts to 5% of the world’s animals and plants, equivalent to between 500,000 and one million species. Including 50,000 different species of insects, 208 different species, 850 bird species and a little more than 200 reptiles, of which about half are snakes. Over 27% of Costa Rica’s surface is dedicated to national parks, nature reserves and nature conservation areas.


    Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), Las Tablas Protected Zone, Costa Rica
    Los Quetzales National Park was established in 2006 and extends over 5,000 hectares, comprising three types of rainforest and 14 ecosystems. The park’s terrain varies greatly from mountains to lakes, rivers and rainforest. Exotic flowers add splashes of color to the otherwise dense green rainforest. In this ecosystem you will find a large number of species of flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the area.


    The park has a unique location between the Amazon and Mesoamerican and houses different flora and fauna from the respective habitat. The name of the park means crocodile, which you understand when traveling on Tarcoles River, inhabited by large amounts of crocodiles. The park is a paradise for bird photographers ranging from colorful parrots such as macaws and several species of toucan to king fishers and herons.


    Braulio Carrillo National Park is the largest national park in central Costa Rica with an area of ​​476 square kilometers. The park consists of dense rainforest and is home to nearly 6,000 species of plants. The highest point in the park is the inactive Barva volcano which, with its 2,906 meters, rises high above the rainforest. Among the over 500 bird species in the park are beautiful quetzals, toucans and different eagles. About 150 mammals also live in the park including jaguars, wild boar, black bear, deer, tapir and bats.


    The name Tortuguero can be translated into “Land of Turtles” and this national park is home to spider monkeys, howler monkeys as well as capuchin monkeys and the three toed sloth. It also houses over 320 bird species and a vast variety of reptiles. Tortugeuero offers incredible diversity, such as rainforests, swamps, lagoons, beaches and rivers, all set in a beautiful tropical climate. The deep jungle spreads out like a vast canal landscape and opens into the Caribbean Sea. The giant turtles, however, are the park’s major attraction. On the beaches around Tortuguero, four different species of turtles lay their eggs each year.

    During the trip, Sudhir will often have talks and share his knowledge and experience with the group. Many evenings will consist of working on image processing of the photos we’ve been taking during the day.


    Before the Workshop
    We will ask you for:
    – some basic information about your equipment
    – your photos/portfolio
    – your expectations from the workshop

    Based on this, Sudhir will chart out best practices for your set of equipment. He will review the images and judge the areas that need working on.

    Communicating your expectations beforehand will ensure that Sudhir addresses them during individual interactions with you.

    During the Workshop
    – Sudhir will demonstrate the best way to approach and shoot the subjects and give deeper insights on their behavioural aspects.
    – He will introduce the advanced custom function settings of your camera. A firm understanding of these settings will be your first step toward shooting like a pro.
    – In the park, he will continually guide you based on the field conditions and subjects.
    – Knowledge sharing and image review will continue through the evenings as Sudhir interacts with you with focused inputs to reinforce the day’s learning.
    – You will have assignments to complete, giving you ample scope to assimilate and apply all that you have learnt.

    *For a detailed list of the topics covered, please scroll down.

    After the Workshop
    Your pursuit of photography knowledge doesn’t end with the workshop. The SSP Community is your gateway to continued learning and interaction, apart from being the ideal platform to showcase your best images. In addition to image review and critique by Sudhir and his team, you also gain the perfect peer group interaction to grow as a photographer. Theme-based assignments, healthy discussions, candid feedback, equipment reviews and resale are the other great perks of being part of this community.

    *The below topics will be covered and the participants will learn how to apply these concepts in wildlife photography.

    Fundamental and Advanced Concepts of Photography:
    – Manual and autofocus (focusing points, autofocus lock, single or continuous focus, Focusing Sensors, AF cases, Advanced AF settings of camera)
    – Manual exposure (ISO, shutter speed, Aperture)
    – Metering modes (evaluative, matrix, spot metering)
    – Depth of field (shallow, deep, hyper focal distance)
    – Motion (freezing, blurring and panning)
    – Picture styles / picture control (colour, black and white, sepia etc…)
    – Aperture priority, shutter speed priority and program modes
    – Understanding exposure – the 18% concept
    – White balance (pre-set and custom)
    – The temperature of light (natural and artificial colour cast)
    – Composition (framing)
    – Elements of design (seeing v/s looking)
    – Lenses and perspective (the right choice of focal length)
    – Pre-visualization
    – Completing the story
    – Camera settings related to Wildlife Photography.
    – Understanding Subject Behavioral aspects.
    – Understanding your camera and shooting techniques.

    During the course of the workshop, you will be taken through the fundamentals of image processing and the following topics will be covered:

    – Colour management policies (colour settings, working space, ICC profiles etc.)
    – Working with RAW files
    – Cropping and image editing
    – Levels, curves, contrast, saturation adjustments (All through layers and masking)
    – Image sharpening, cloning, dodge and burn
    – Noise reduction.
    – Saving for web/ printing

    During the Field Outing:
    During the field outing, your mentor Sudhir Shivaram will help you make memorable images. Inputs provided on the field will enable you make the most of the opportunity.

    The teaching and learning will not stop after the workshop. In fact this is just the starting point. You will be part of the SSP community of the SSP website where your learning and interactions with fellow photographers continues.


    Day 1
    We check in at Hotel Sleep Inn located close to the airport in the afternoon. Here you are welcomed by photographer Sudhir Shivaram and a tour leader from Zoom. As many flights arrive late in the afternoon or in the evening and considering the time change, we will only have a simple gathering at the hotel bar for those who wish to.
    Day 2
    After an early breakfast we depart to San Gerardo de Dota, about a three-hour bus ride from San Jose. When we arrive, we check in for two nights at Trogon Lodge, beautifully located in a narrow valley and surrounded by lush rainforest. Before we get out on our first photo session, lunch is served at the hotel. In the afternoon we follow one of the many hiking trails through the dense forest vegetation as we explore and photograph the local wildlife. The area around San Gerardo de Dota is a paradise for bird photographers and we will have some great opportunities to spot the rare and beautiful Quetzal. (B, L, D)
    Day 3
    We continue to explore more of Los Quetzales National Park and with help of our local expert guides in search of more birds and animals. One of our main goals of this day is to be able to photograph the picturesque Quetzal. In Los Quetzales National Park We have our best chance of observing this rare and timid bird at Los Quetzales National Park in all of Costa Rica. (B, L, D)
    Day 4
    We depart early in the morning for Tarcoles, a journey of about 5-6 hours. Along the way we will go for a walk in the Tarcoles River Delta located very close to Carara National Park. Here we can find a large variety of mammals, birds and reptiles. This is also a breeding ground for the colorful macaws as well as the large Costa Rican crocodiles – some up to seven feet in length. The area is home to 250 bird species, such as tyrant flycatchers, trogons, orioles and hummingbirds. During the period from October to April, you can also spot osprey, terns, pelicans and frigate birds. Upon arrival at Tarcoles we check in at Macaw Lodge where we will stay for two nights. (B, L, D)
    Day 5
    We will enter Carara National Park during the day. This park is an absolute paradise for bird photographers with its dense rainforest and mangrove swamps. Here you can capture everything from colorful parrots and toucans to kingfishers and heron. Other animals in the park include various species of wild boar, monkeys, poison dart frogs, snakes and crocodiles. (B, L, D)
    Day 6
    After breakfast and check-out, it’s time to head towards Boca Tapada de San Carlos. We will experience the Arenal Hanging Bridges located in a wonderful 600-acre large nature reserve. During a three kilometer walk into the rainforest, we will cross over approximately 15 bridges, six of them are hanging bridges high up in the tree canopies. One of the bridges is called The Waterfall Bridge and runs 60 meters above the ground, another is called The Tyra Bridge and is almost 100 meters long. Here you will have the opportunity to really experience and photograph the rainforest from above. In this natural paradise, there are over 250 species of birds as well as many different reptiles like the boa constrictor, common basilisk and poison dart frog. In the park there are also thousands of beautiful insects and colorful butterflies. Late in the afternoon we check into our lodge, La Laguna del Lagarto, beautifully located around the corner from the rainforest. Here you will experience toucans, aracaris and other small birds at about a 5-10m distance. In the ponds that are located close to the lodge you can find a massive amount of caimans, the largest is about 2.5-3m long and is called “Agressivo” which means aggressive in Spanish. If you dare you can take the chance to borrow a canoe to get even closer… (B, L, D)
    Day 7
    In the morning we will enjoy a hearty breakfast outside on the large balcony of the lodge as the birds welcome us to the new day. In the garden of the lodge you can find both owls and various types of woodpeckers nesting. During the day we will be photographing and exploring the rainforest and its abundant wildlife with the help of our local nature guides. We will hike on the trails through the forest as well as padd canoes on the nearby waterways. The area is a bird paradise, so the lodge has made a list of all the birds in the area, how easy they are to spot and during what times of the year you can see them. In addition to birds, there are also snakes, spiders, frogs, monkeys and many other exotic animals all within reach from our lodge. If you feel like it, you can also rent a hide ($ 75 per person) to get the opportunity to photograph the beautiful king vulture. We will also do a night walk in the rainforest to experience the forest and its animals after dark. If you walk down to the ponds located close to the lodge, you can also see the red eyes of the caimans shining in the water. (B, L, D)
    Day 8
    After check-out, our journey continues to Sarapiqui and Selva Verde Lodge, where we check in for the two upcoming nights. In the afternoon we will embark on a photo walk into the dense and lush rainforest of La Selva Biological Reserve. This reserve was created in 1554, originally for scientific purposes, and has since become a leading research center for Costa Rica ecology. In the park there are some of the most immaculate primary tropical areas of rainforest throughout Costa Rica. There are about 1,000 species of trees in the park, as well as 420 documented bird species, including the near extinct great green macaw. You can observe about half of the mammal species found in Costa Rica and the majority of the country’s various butterflies in this vast biological reserve. If we are really lucky we will also have the chance to photograph jaguars, ocelot and its close relative, margay. In the park there are also 55 species of snakes as well as many species of frogs. (B, L, D)
    Day 9
    In the morning immediately after check-out, we will board a boat and head out on the canals towards Tortuguero National Park, whose main attraction is the giant sea turtles laying their eggs on the beaches. Upon arrival at Aninga Lodge, lunch isfollowed by a visit to the Caribbean Conservation Center. This center was established in 1959 by Dr. Archie Carr at the University of Florida for the purpose of studying and protecting sea turtles. Two years later he started tagging sea turtles, which still continues today. (B, L, D)
    Day 10
    Early in the morning we take a boat trip along the canals of Tortuguero National Park to experience the sunrise on the water. A late breakfast is served at the lodge when we come back and afterwards there will betime for some image processing and a relaxing break by the swimming pool. In the afternoon, we will further explore Tortuguero’s beautiful canals. The park has a large biodiversity, with no less than 11 biological environments including rainforest, mangrove forests, swamp, beaches and lagoons. As the park is located in a tropical climate with no less than 6 400 mm of rain per year, the humidity is very high. Tortuguero is home to many different species of spiders and monkeys as well as sloths, jaguars, caimans, 320 bird species and a variety of reptiles. The evening will be spent with a nice final dinner together where Sudhir also will announce the best photo of the trip. The photo will go on to the finals in our contest Photo of the year 2019 (B, L, D)
    Day 11
    After an early morning trip on the canals we will have a great breakfast before checking out and eventually begin our return to San Jose and transfer to the airport. (B, L)



    This elegant first-class hotel is located in San Jose’s city center and offers 85 spacious and modernly furnished rooms. All rooms are equipped with satellite TV, minibar, private balcony and laptop cabinets. They also include coffee / tea makers, refrigerators and microwaves as well as private bathrooms. The hotel also has a restaurant, a cocktail bar and a casino. Free Wi-Fi in public areas.


    Trogon Lodge is beautifully located far in a narrow valley and surrounded by lush rainforest. It offers a very good accommodation in a different environment. The lodge has 22 rooms all equipped with bathroom, fireplace and dressing room. At the lodge there is a bar as well as a restaurant with outstanding views of the valley. Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas.


    Macaw Lodge is located near Cararas National Park in a lush area, surrounded by ponds, waterfalls and rainforest. The lodge has 12 guest rooms, equipped with modern facilities and free Wi-Fi. From the lodge’s terrace and garden you have a great view of the beautiful surrounding nature. The lodge also has a nice restaurant and a bar.


    Beautifully situated on a slope and overlooking a lush rainforest lies Laguna del Lagarto Lodge. Around the lodge is more than 15 kilometers of hiking trails in the dense rainforest. The lodge has 20 modern rooms all equipped with their own bathroom and balcony. For dinner and lunch you can eat under the sky in the nice restaurant.


    Selva Verde Lodge is a modern first class lodge located by the Sarapiqui River. In addition to modern rooms, this eco lodge offers two restaurants, a nice bar, communal lounges and a garden with a large outdoor pool. The lodge has 47 elegant rooms that are equipped with all the convenience that a first-class lodge will offer.


    Aninga Lodge is strategically located just off the river and only five minutes from Tortuguero National Park. The lodge, surrounded by dense lush vegetation, has 35 modern and spacious rooms each with bathroom and ceiling fan. At the lodge there is also a restaurant serving large buffet meals, a bar, an outdoor pool and a SPA facility.


    Price per person: USD $3995
    INR 2,71,660 – For INR calculation we have considered 1USD = INR 68. The final pricing will be calculated based on the exchange rates at the time of final payment to vendors.

    – All ground transfers according to the itinerary.
    – Accommodation in shared double room in featured hotels.
    – Meals according to itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
    – Bus and boat transport according to program.
    – Entrance fees for national parks.
    – Participation and personal tutoring by Sudhir Shivaram during the entire tour.
    – Workshops by Sudhir Shivaram during the tour.
    – A professional local guide.
    – A tour leader from Zoom Photo Tours.
    – One of Costa Rica’s best natural guides participates throughout the entire tour.
    – Participation by professional local guides in the national parks.
    – Hotel taxes and other local fees.
    – Travel documents and other travel information.

    – Single room supplement: USD 450
    – 5% GST
    – Return flights to Costa Rica.
    – All expenses of personal nature like drinks, laundry etc.
    – Tips to the local guides. Approximately USD 10 / day.
    – Any other item not mentioned as included.

    International airfare to Costa Rica is not included in the price. But if you wish, we are more than happy to help you arrange all your flights. Just send an email to and we will respond with flight suggestions and prices.

    Group Size:
    In order to for you to get personal photo guidance and the best experience with our photographer our groups are always small. On this tour the minimum and maximum number of guests are 8 / 14.

    Photo Gear:
    – A DSLR Camera.
    – Telephoto lenses up to a 500mm.
    – Wide-angle lens, like a 24-70mm.
    – Tripod.
    – A Laptop computer with any of the Photoshop or Lightroom software.
    – Extra batteries, chargers etc.

    Tour Leader:
    Apart from an award-winning photographer, a tour leader from Zoom Photo Tours will accompany you to handle all logistics and general matters and make sure you’re having the best possible experience in the wild.


    We understand that sometimes you unfortunately have to cancel a tour. Therefore, the following are the cancellation policies for our tours:

    – 25% deposit is non refundable booking fee.
    – Balance 75% to be paid 60 days prior to departure date.
    – even though initial 25% booking fee will be non-refundable, in event of tour getting cancelled (for whatever reasons), we will refund full amount charged from the clients.

    The below refund policy will be applicable to amount outside of the 25% deposit amount.
    90-60 days before departure, 50% of above mentioned tour cost will be refunded.
    59-31 days before departure, 25% of above mentioned tour cost will be refunded.
    30 days or less before departure, no refund.

    This policy also applies to pre- and post-trip extensions. Any airline tickets issued are subject to the carrier’s refund policy. Leaving a tour in progress will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portions of a tour.

    All cancellation notices must be received in writing and emailed to


    We reserve the right to cancel the tour due to few guests that have signed up for the tour, strikes, war, natural disasters or other unforeseen circumstances that make the tour inappropriate. If a tour is canceled prior to departure, you will be fully refunded.

    We are not responsible for any refund for non-refundable airline tickets or for any airline tickets purchased by the passenger directly from an airline or travel agent.

    In the event of the photo leader being unable to attend due to illness or other circumstances beyond our control, a photo leader of the same standard will be provided.


    Our tours are based on different currencies and exchange rates. The currency and rate used for calculating are listed under the “Cost” sections of the tour page. In terms of fluctuations in exchange rates a surcharge will be invoiced. Notification will be given at the time of final invoicing.

    The prices are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as increase in fuel prices, government surcharges and other increases beyond our control. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, if it is necessary to levy a surcharge, we reserve the right to do so, and notification will be given at the time of final invoicing.


    What our students say about Sudhir Shivaram.