Costa Rica - Sarapiqui, Arenal Volcano & Monteverde

Tour Intro

Group tours can be organized to Costa Rica - Sample Itinerary shown - Contact Strabo Tours to discuss options.

Costa Rica is a natural treasure with an incredibly rich and diverse array of plant and animal life. It has long been a biological land bridge between the Americas with more than a dozen life zones within its borders. Join us to explore the volcanoes, cloud forests, and rainforests of this remarkable land. Bordered by the Caribbean and the Pacific, its coastline rises abruptly to volcanic mountains that run the length of the country. The sheer variety is amazing for a country of just 20,000 square miles. Within its borders are more than a dozen life zones. In the same day, you can experience 12,000-foot mountains, cloud forests, lowland rain forests, mangrove swamps, palm-lined beaches, dry tropical forest, and savannah. This diversity is reflected in its rich plant and animal life. There are more species of birds here than in all of North America, over 800 in a country only four times the size of Connecticut. There are more butterflies in Costa Rica than on the entire continent of Africa. The plant life is spectacular; there are more than 12,000 species of plants, including a dazzling variety of trees and orchids.

All of this is being wisely protected in an excellent system of national parks and reserves that has won praise from conservationists around the world. The government has set aside thirteen national parks, eight biological reserves, three wildlife refuges, and other areas that now comprise one fourth of the country’s land area. These far-sighted efforts have placed Costa Rica at the forefront of conservation, especially among tropical countries, where deforestation is proceeding at an alarming rate.

Tour Highlights

• All meals included in land cost. Limited to twelve participants.
• Guided by a Costa Rican naturalist and photographer.
• Visit Arenal Volcano area, providing incredible biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes.
• Overnight at the serene accommodations located in the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, for evening wildlife photography.
• Monteverde, trails access some of the most beautiful cloud forest
• Sarapiquis Eco-Observatory/Nature Pavilion with three open-air observation decks for world-class photography.

Tour Itinerary

November 4: Home - San Jose
Savegre River

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Savegre River, Costa Rica

Your Costa Rican adventure begins today as you board your flight to San José, the country's capital city. Stay overnight at the Bougainvillea Hotel, about twenty minutes from the airport. This quaint hotel is located in a scenic neighborhood of San Jose, surrounded by gardens and designed with nature in mind, offering a warm welcome to our photographers. We will have a Welcome Dinner and Orientation. Overnight Bougainvillea Hotel. (D)

November 5: La Paz
Flying Leaf Frog

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Costa Rica

Travel to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, directly after breakfast. The hummingbird garden and feeders attract several different species of birds we can photograph along with the beautiful orchids and flowers. A nearby frog house and reptile display offers optional opportunities to photograph red-eyed tree frog and several snakes that visitors rarely encounter in the wild. We overnight here to watch the wildlife come to life as the evening begins. This is an amazing boutique lodge, in which you will be immersed in the splendors of traditional Costa Rican cloud forest and soothing waterfalls. Please note there are several flights of steps on the property, to enjoy the property to its fullest you should be physically fit to do so. Overnight La Paz Waterfall Gardens. (B, L, D)

November 6-7: Sarapiqui

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Costa Rica

Enjoy early morning photography as the the wildlife begins another day. After breakfast depart for the Sarapiqui area, this region is one of the most exuberant and lush places in Costa Rica, especially with respect to the rainforest. It is named after a river and rests at the base of the Central Volcanic Mountain Range. This afternoon visit the La Selva Biological Station, a rainforest reserve and research station owned by a consortium of U.S. Universities and the University of Costa Rica known as OTS (Organization of Tropical Studies). It is one of the most prestigious research stations on tropical rainforest anywhere in the world, and it forms part of a much larger protected area, which includes Braulio Carrillo National Park. The trails are very easy to negotiate, ranging from paved to hard-packed earth. Enjoy lunch at the hotel, as you photograph the beautiful grounds.

Early the next morning you will visit the Sarapiqui Eco-Observatory/ Nature Pavilion, consisting of three covered open-air observation decks for world-class photography. Enjoy a spectacular display of beautifully colored Costa Rica birds as they perch just feet away. Over 215 bird species exist here including the Keel-billed Toucan, Crimson-collard Tanager, and the White-necked Jacobin. After a three-hour photo session here, enjoy lunch on these lovely grounds. Overnight both nights Sueno Azul (B, L, D)

November 8-9: Arenal Volcano
Arenal Volcano

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

After breakfast make your way to the Arenal Volcano Area. Along the way visit the Danaus Eco Center, a centerpiece of primary and secondary forest, featuring plants for their importance in medicinal, indigenous and cultural uses. Your naturalist guide will devote their full attention to our small group. The Garden has facilities for horticultural, botanical and scientific exhibits.
Continue on to Arenal, a spectacular, cone-shaped volcano rising out of the flat San Carlos Plains. It is the most active volcano in the country. The next photography in the town of Fortuna, followed by an afternoon visit to the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs, an exclusive retreat for those looking for a relaxing respite in natural springs heated by Arenal Volcano. Family owned and operated, the springs are surrounded by tropical foliage and set near an authentic ranch house complete with Costa Rican curiosities. The four pools are landscaped with large, smooth river rock taken from the area and are large enough to offer plenty of room to spread out and find a private corner to relax among peaceful environs. The hot springs are not open to the public. Overnight both nights Arenal Observatory Lodge (B, L, D)

November 10-11: Monteverde
Respledent quetzal

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Costa Rica

Departure this morning after breakfast as you make your way to Monteverde. To enter the cloud forest we travel by boat across Arenal Lake, with our coach and luggage meeting us on the other side. Monteverde, located in the Tilaran Mountain Range. This famous reserve offers well- developed and easily negotiable trails and access one of the most beautiful cloud forest, anywhere. Often shrouded in cloud blown in from the Atlantic Ocean, the forests of Monteverde are laden with epiphytic growth such as mosses, lichens, ferns, bromeliads, orchids-even small trees! Famous for its populations of Resplendent Quetzal, Monteverde has almost become synonymous with this legendary bird. Other cloud forest denizens include the Black-faced Solitaire, Golden-browed Chlorophonia and Black Guan.

The Skywalk is a series of suspension bridges spanning forested valleys in the cloud forest. Accessible to almost everyone Skywalk gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of this spectacular habitat. Trails along the forest floor to each bridge complete the panorama. Fascinating in its own right, the Skywalk is also a shining example of community- based ecotourism, inspired, designed, built by hand and operated by just a few, dedicated local people. Overnight Montana Monteverde (B, L, D)

November 12: Monteverde - San Jose'
Green & Black Poison Dart Frog

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Costa Rica

After breakfast at the lodge, visit the Monteverde Hummingbird Garden and Butterfly Farm. These gardens focus on education and research of species native to the Monteverde area. There are more than fourteen species of hummingbirds and twenty species of butterflies, all with bright lively colors, waiting to be photographed. back to San Jose, with explorations along the way for additional photography. Arrive back at your hotel, enjoying a delicious farewell dinner. Overnight Alta Hotel. (B, L, D)

November 13: Departure for Home
Green Breasted Mango Hummingbird

Photo By: Kathy Adams Clark

Photo Location: Costa Rica

After breakfast at the hotel transfer to Juan Santamaria International Airport to take your flight home. (B)

Tour Notes: Some variations to the published itinerary may be made based upon weather conditions or other opportunities or situations. Animal and bird sightings mentioned are likely but not guaranteed. Several places provide hiking trails therefore you should have sturdy shoes/boots and be in adequate physical condition to take advantage of the trail systems.

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 0 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.


I really enjoyed Brenda's style of talking as we were on the bus. Very informative without being too formal. Lots of chances to learn as we took photos as well - in early morning or in evening. Got some great tips from Jed as I was photographing on various occasions. Very responsive to our questions with NO judgement about our skill levels. I have told many people that this was the best or one of the two best trips I have ever been on. The leaders great, group jelled fabulously and for me, traveling with all photographers was amazing.


Nancy Hauserman

What was the highlight of your trip? Brenda - she was great. Efficient, knowledgeable, friendly, continually involved with all of us.

R. Pool

Brenda is a wonderful teacher and leader, and I have never traveled with anyone who is more capable or inspiring as a leader, photographer, and instructor.   And a completely lovely and fun person, as well.


Hi Brenda, I want to let you know how much I enjoyed photographing Cuba with you. The Cuba experience was phenomenal. Cubans are such wonderful, open and caring people that I couldn't help falling in love with them. And it seemed that there was another photo op around every corner. Shooting side by side with you really enhanced the experience. You helped me see the shot and afterwards I could look over your shoulder at your composition. That process really helped me see alternative compositions in other scenes. Again, thanks for all the help and attention you gave me during our time in Cuba. I'm looking forward to another photo tour with you sometime in the future.

Ron Alvig

I am pulling together some amazing prints to show to friends this Saturday at a breakfast get-togther about our trip. I just want to comment on how your guidance from the start about what lenses to bring, your comments about camera settings the first few days in the boats, and your leadership every step of the way led to my bringing home just awesome photos. I know I took them, but you had a hand in this and I continue to learn from you. Thank you and bravo!!



Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.


Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.


The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.


Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.


Accommodations are clean, comfortable and pleasant, but not luxurious. When visiting parks and reserves, expect cabin-like accommodations with private baths.

Food & Drink

Costa Rican food is not spicy. Menus are usually simple, but the food is always good and plentiful. Breakfast menus are much like those in North America. Rice, meat, beans, and vegetables are usually served at lunch and dinners. Local cheeses are quite good. Delicious fruits and juices are in abundant supply. Food is generally safe to eat everywhere in the country. Water is safe to drink in San José, and generally through out the country, your local guide can offer guidance if you have concerns. Although malaria has probably been eradicated from areas we'll be visiting, you should consult your doctor about precautionary measures. Full details will be sent upon enrollment.

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