Photo by: Cathy and Gordon Illg
Location: Savegre River Valley Costa Rica

Costa Rica Wildlife and Landscapes with Cathy & Gordon Illg

  • Guided by a Costa Rican naturalist and Professional Photo Leaders Cathy & Gordon Illg.
  • Photographic locations filled with hummingbirds, reptiles, and tropical blooms and breathless backgrounds such as Arenal Volcano.
  • All meals included in land cost. Tour limited to twelve participants.
  • Visit the La Selva Biological Station and Eco Observatory in Sarapiqui.
  • Accommodations known for their bird feeders, hummingbirds, and gardens.
  • Savegre region, renown by birders around the world in search of the
  • Resplendent Quetzal.
  • Amazing photo opportunities at hot springs, beautiful gardens, and a cloud
  • forest walk to capture one of the most gorgeous birds – the Resplendent Quetzal.

Latin America and Caribbean


Costa Rica


November 10-19, 2022


9 days


per person, double occupancy*

*U.S. dollars based upon minimum of 8 participants. There is a small group surcharge of $500 if 5-7 participants. 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 (subject to availability), or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, there is a single room surcharge of $695.

Tour Overview

Cathy and Gordon Illg return to Costa Rica to be by your side photographing Arenal Volcano and tropical landscapes, unique wildlife and exotic birds. There are also mammals, frogs, reptiles and butterflies. They invite photographers of all skill levels and anyone with a keen interest in seeking out the vast array of tropical birds in this amazing country. They have chosen your accommodations wisely, taking in to account your comfort, the setting and photographic opportunities at the lodges, as...

Cathy and Gordon Illg return to Costa Rica to be by your side photographing Arenal Volcano and tropical landscapes, unique wildlife and exotic birds. There are also mammals, frogs, reptiles and butterflies. They invite photographers of all skill levels and anyone with a keen interest in seeking out the vast array of tropical birds in this amazing country. They have chosen your accommodations wisely, taking in to account your comfort, the setting and photographic opportunities at the lodges, as well as being close to amazing landscapes, waterfalls, and closeness to your daily outings. Costa Rica has been a biological land bridge between North and South America, which has given it a unique natural history. 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 the size of West Virginia. Among its 237 species of mammals are three-toed sloths, four species of monkeys, giant anteaters, tapirs, peccaries, jaguars, and humpback whales. Reptiles and amphibians include the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, all five genera of sea turtles, the endangered American Crocodile, and the Basilisk Lizard, which can actually run across water. 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. 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.

FITNESS & HEALTH The trip will not be strenuous, but there will be walks each day, sometimes uphill in the heat, mud, or high altitude (7000 feet). Anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to participate in all scheduled walks, but if you have questions about how much activity is involved, please inquire further.

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.

Based on your advice I had everything I needed for the trip. Greetings upon arrival were great as well as all transportation, group size was also good. Local guide, Cathy & Gordon worked well as a team and were very laid back which I very much appreciated. Variety of locations was also great. We got useful tips on camera care and shooting for the environment.

— J. Chase

Cathy & Gordon are great tour leaders because they are uniquely qualified in nature and in photography. I highly recommend taking one of their tours IF you want to learn a lot and get some fine images for your collection. They really spent time with those of us on the tour to be sure we got the images we wanted. In my opinion, you can’t lose by taking one of the Adventure tours.

— L. Poe

Your naturalist guide was excellent as were Cathy and Gordon. The lodges etc. were well selected and put us in the correct location. Most had excellent food, and transfers worked like clock work. Well Planned, well organized and well done!!!

— R. Zimmermann

Tour Itinerary

November 10: Home – San José

Your Costa Rican adventure begins today as you board your flight to San José, the country’s capital city. Everyone will be transferred from the airport to the hotel up on arrival. This will be your first opportunity to see tropical flowers and birds on the hotel grounds. Enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation meeting. Overnight San Jose (D)

November 11-12: Savegre

Make your way through the Cerro de la Muerte area, stopping along stunning mountain roads to photograph birds and local sights. Your destination today is at a charming, a Costa Rican owned property hidden away in the picturesque San Gerardo de Dota Valley of Costa Rica’s southern Talamanca Mountain range. The misty and beautiful surroundings provide a unique opportunity to enjoy the views and sounds of the cloud forest, as well as discover the wonders of Costa Rica’s unspoiled ecology. In this virtually undiscovered location, we will get comfortable in our new mountain environs, and then photograph the lovely tropical gardens, clear mountain stream, and forest landscape. We will have another relaxing day, taking opportunities to discover this unique lodge, looking for great shots of the Resplendent Quetzals, hummingbirds, and many others. Overnight Savegre (B, L, D) both days

November 13-14: Turrialba Area

The destination for the next two evenings is the Turriabla region. Rancho Naturalista, is located in the Tuis Valley, at the northern limit of Costa Rica’s Talamanca Mountains. At 900 meters elevation on the Atlantic slope of the country, Rancho’s forests, farmlands, and surrounding area offer an impressive 300 species of birds – many of which are difficult or impossible to see in other parts of the country. The ranch lies on 125 acres in pre-mountain rain forest. You will be impressed with the famous hummingbird pools where Snowcap and Purple-crowned Fairy are regular bathers. The numerous hummingbird feeders offer a wonderful opportunity to photograph White-necked Jacobin, Green Violet-ear, and Green-crowned Brilliant species. The beautiful old tree off the veranda that is covered with bananas, attracts Fiery-billed Aracari, Passerini Tanager, and other topical birds.

The Rancho itself is somewhat eclectic, an attractive combination of main house – in bed and breakfast style – plus additional hotel-style rooms in separate but nearby buildings. Balanced, nutritious meals are prepared in the newly remodeled kitchen and served family-style in the cozy dining room. Overnight Turrialba (B, L, D) both days.

November 15: Sarapiqui Region

On the way to the Sarapiqui region, there will be a photography stop at a lovely hummingbird garden, with feeders attracting several different species of birds.

Sarapiqui region is one of the most exuberant and luscious 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. Stay at an eco-lodge this evening, photographing and appreciating the beautiful gardens on the property. Visit the La Selva Biological Station, a rainforest reserve and research station. 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.  Overnight Sarapiqui (B, L, D)

November 16-17: Arenal Volcano

Depart early this morning to visit a lovely nature park. Sarapiqui Eco-Observatory consists of three covered open-air observation decks for world-class photography and bird watching. 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.

Continue on to the Arenal Volcano Area. Arenal, a spectacular, cone-shaped volcano rises out of the flat San Carlos Plains. It is the most active volcano in the country. The next day enjoy a visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges. Located in primary forest there are 15 bridges to enjoy with a rain forest circuit of trails connecting them. The imposing vistas of the Volcano from the hanging bridges over the forest make a perfect combination for an unforgettable experience. In the afternoon visit the Hidalgo Family Hot Springs, an exclusive retreat for those looking for a relaxing respite in natural springs heated by Arenal Volcano. Overnight Arenal (B, L, D) both days

November 18: San Jose

After breakfast photograph at the Danaus private ecological reserve where programs for conservation, training, environmental education and sustainable production are developed. As you walk the trails you can observe and photograph animals in their natural habitat, there are also a wide variety of plants and a butterfly farm. They also support the conservation and rescue of the indigenous culture Malek, who exhibit their crafts and provide information to visitors.

Return to San Jose and overnight about fifteen minutes away from San José airport. The hotel is located amid coffee plantations, orchards, and is surrounded by colorful gardens. The rooms feature native woods, tiled bathrooms, and balconies offering marvelous views of the mountains or the city skyline. Enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel. Overnight San Jose (B,L,D).

November 19: San Jose - Departure for Home

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