Timing for trip to Costa Rica

Old Apr 29th, 2011, 01:32 PM
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Timing for trip to Costa Rica

I'm in the initial stages of planning my first and probably only trip to Costa Rica either in September of this year or April of next. Aside the fact that I'm a certified old guy and tend not to buy green bananas, is there any benefit of choosing one choice over the other?

I may spend a day or two on the coast but the primary reason for my 10 day trip is wildlife and landscape photography so I value places for birds, animals, and scenery. I will also be travelling independently rather than with an organized tour.

Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 02:05 PM
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The Osa would be a great spot for you. I wouldn't go in September though - too rainy.
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 02:15 PM
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You may or may not find Costa Rica photogenic.

For me Arenal is a good spot for the photographer, and the Observatory Lodge a good spot to stay. I also enjoyed San Gerardo de Dota but was blessed with a beautiful clear day, then the clouds filtered in. You do not always get the clear part.

Dominical and Uvita are possibilities on the Pacific Coast, a bit easier to get to in green season (that means rain).
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 02:55 PM
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Monteverde is pretty as well - a cloud forest environment, so sometimes it can get foggy. Manuel Antonio has a beautiful beach inside the park and easy access to tame wildlife, but might not be too touristed for you.
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 03:05 PM
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I second osa great for wildlife
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 03:15 PM
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I would think if you don't find Costa Rica photogenic, there must be something wrong. There are great and beautiful photos everywhere you turn! Thank God for digital cameras!

I think that where you go would determine the best time of year. April is certainly drier, but many parts of the country are dried up and brown at this time of year -- this is just before the rainy season starts. September in some areas would be better.

One idea is a "loop" like this: SJO to Arenal, Arenal to Tortuguero, Tortuguero to Caribbean coast and back to SJO .

Another would be the SJO to Osa Peninsula, San Gerardo de Dota and back to SJO. Another great area to visit for wildlife and natural settings is Sarapiqui.

For the "northern" experience, SJO or LIR to Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja or Miravalles, Palo Verde National Park and Playa Carrillo near Samara.

Here are some helpful websites:
www.yourtravelmap.com
www.arenal.net
www.costarica-nationalparks.com
www.corcovadoguide.com]
www.costa-rica-guide.com - you can check here also for some good weather information
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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A few more -- www.nicoyapeninsula.com www.puertoviejosatellite.com www.tortuguerovillage.com
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 03:26 PM
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Agree - Costa Rica is beautiful - great photo ops abound - waterfalls, volcanoes, monkeys and other wildlife, beaches, etc.
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 04:23 PM
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Thank you all. This is a lot to digest.
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 05:15 PM
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We just got back and April was a great time. No rain!! Woo hoo. We just did a slide show and people were floored by our photographs and the amount of wildlife we saw. Just, if possible, avoid Easter week since Costa Ricans are off that week as well as every other school district in America!!

If I did not have young kids, Osa would be the place for me. But with 7 year olds, it felt too remote and not the right time.
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Old Apr 29th, 2011, 06:12 PM
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As far as timing goes, if birds are a primary target for you then April(esp. early April) might be better. In March and April you still have a number of migrants around and you have alot of nesting activity going on that will increase your chances of getting a shot of birds that are otherwise tough targets for photography.Since this is breeding season for alot of birds you also get them at their peak color and you will also find alot of trees heavy with fruit -and where you find the food you find the critters! Alot of good recommendations from others on places to see - would second the recs. on Sarapiqui, Monteverde, Arenal, San Gerardo de Dota, and the Osa- it's tough to choose! I would definitely try to go to at least one high altitude area though-alot of different species and a wonderful cool climate.You will find the thick jungle areas to be very challenging for photography- look for the "edges" and many times the grounds of your hotel itself will provide the best opportunities for pictures.If the Quetzal is a priority you might also look at Copey de Dota, a small town 1 1/2 hours south of San Jose where they usually nest right off a small local road. I think you will find lots of great opportunities for photography in Costa Rica!!
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Old Apr 30th, 2011, 04:22 AM
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weather2travel.com Climate Guide

Go in April for lots less rain

corcovado.org

lookout-inn.com

very best for wildlife

haciendabaru.com

eltoucanet.com birding

tortugeroinfo.com

leatherback.org in season for tortugas.

thebusschedule.com cheapest way to get around

fountainsguesthouse.com great guest house close to airport

in Escazu lots of very helpful expats/locals there good price.

Happy Planning
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Old Apr 30th, 2011, 06:52 AM
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artiejay, who definitely knows something about photography, hits the nail on the head with the issues in photographing CR wildlife and jungle. You'll run into significant exposure and color balance issues in the forests, and when your birdies are jumping around makes it tough with a point and shoot digitial. One of the reasons I liked San Gerardo was that the cloud forest isn't so solidly green and the mist helps add a bit of depth. The quetzal is there too, if you're lucky it will be in the avocado tree where the lady charges a small admission (than you to Marino Chacon).

I did get some interesting shots down near the Whale Tale at Uvita when the tide came in, people were fishing and there were some ominous storm clouds in the distance. So bad weather time isn't necessarily bad photo time.

BTW there is nothing wrong with me, I've had a number of photos published full page in the Fodors Guides and was honorable mention in one of their photo contests. Photo buffs do not equate natural beauty with being photogenic. There are just so many beach, green jungle, and sunset shots that a person wants to take in their lifetime.
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Old Apr 30th, 2011, 08:18 AM
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Again, thanks to everyone for all the information. I especially appreciate the photgraphic information. I am a semi-professional wildlife photographer so I understand the problems inherent in shooting live animals, especially birds. That's one of the reasons I'm making this a ten day trip as that gives me time to have the patience for the stalk.

As to equipment, I shoot two Canon DSLR's. On one, I mount a 18-275 zoom and on the other, a 200-500 zoom and have a 1.4 teleconverter that I can combine on either of them. The smaller lens I usually handhold but the larger one almost always requires a tripod for sufficient sharpness.

The tripod I have, a Bogan 055XB, is one of my dilemmas. It is several years old, very sturdy, but also very heavy. It is especially so when it has the Bogan gimbal head mounted which is almost a necessity for birds and other wildlife. Does anyone have any suggestions for a tripod/head combination suitable for wildlife that would be light but still handle the heavy lens?
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Old Apr 30th, 2011, 10:10 AM
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While not as sturdy as your setup,I have used an inexpensive Sunpack 6600PG tripod with a pistol grip ballhead that is very light and easy to break down and fit into a suitcase for travel- how it will handle your 200-500 beast is the question. Frankly I get the most use out of my Canon monopod that I use for hiking excursions-lugging around a tripod and then getting it set before my quarry departs has been an issue that has caused me to miss alot of shots. With the monopod I keep it collapsed down and use it to mainly brace against my body and then extend it if my target is kind enough to stick around-it might not be suitable for your large lens but would be ideal for your 18-275 zoom.
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Old Apr 30th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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Thank you. I neglected to mention I also carry a cheap monopod and use it as you described as well as an extension when I have a handy rock or some other elevated feature to balance on. O'll look inyo the Sunpack.
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 01:15 PM
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I would agree with April over September, generally speaking, for less chance of rain. However, iff you could make it Tortuguero I highly recommend it. You can get some amazing shots on the canals because of how the water reflects the rainforest. Osa is incredible...I can't imagine you being disappointed there.
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Old May 2nd, 2011, 01:23 PM
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http://www.bosquedelcabo.com/home/index.html is a link to a video - it will give you an idea of what the Osa is like.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 02:41 PM
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I think, based on advice here and from other sources, I going to do about 12 days in mid-April of next year. Except for the drive from and to San Jose, I'm going to concentrate on the Osa Peninsula in extreme southern Costa Rica. Thanks for all the help. Any suggestions based on this plan will still be appreciated.
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Old May 7th, 2011, 06:32 PM
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I think you should spend a night at San Gerardo de Dota at Savegre Lodge on the way down and book a tour with Marino Chacon for all the endemics up there. Plus of course the quetzal.
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