Pura Vida Costa Rica

by Scott Setterberg January 14, 2024

Pura Vida Costa Rica

Only a couple weeks remain to register for the April 2024 Pura Vida Costa Rica Photo Tour, so I thought I'd write about this incredible photo workshop that explores Costa Rica's Gold Coast, the province of Guanacaste, and the Northern Zone. 

First of all, I titled this Costa Rica photography tour "Pura Vida" because that is a very popular expression used by Ticos (Costa Ricans).  Pura vida has several meanings including hello, goodbye, everything is good, and thank you, and you will hear it often in Costa Rica.  Now that the title makes sense, let's get into the details!

This all-inclusive photography workshop features stunning seascapes, jaw-dropping waterfalls, Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park, the mysterious turquoise water of Rio Celeste, outstanding locations in La Fortuna, and breathtaking sunsets at Playa Hermosa and Lake Arenal.  Unlike my other Costa Rica photography tours that start in San Jose, this tour begins in Liberia, close to the beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean. 

We spend days one and two in Playa Hermosa at a fantastic hotel that sits right on the beach.  From here, we explore and get a taste of typical Costa Rica culture and cuisine, and photograph gorgeous tropical sunsets. 

Playa Hermosa, Costa RicaPlaya Hermosa is also just an hour away from one of the elite waterfalls in Costa Rica.  I first discovered Llanos de Cortez in 2012 on my first trip to Costa Rica, and this stunning cascade will always be special to me.  Standing sixty feet in height, the waterfall is nearly as wide as it is tall, and the golden green pool beneath the falls provides relief from the high heat of the region.

Llanos de Cortez, Costa Rica

After shooting Llanos de Cortez, we will return to Playa Hermosa for an excellent lunch and have time for post processing instruction, editing images, relaxing on the beach, swimming in the pool, and enjoying a fresh cocktail.  When the sun begins to drop, we'll walk out to the shoreline and capture a colorful sunset, then have an incredible dinner.

After Playa Hermosa, we will travel to Rincon de la Vieja Volcano National Park which features an active volcano, great hiking trails, and several waterfalls.  First up is Las Chorreras, a unique cascade with two streams falling gently into a vivid swimming hole, that again offers relief from the high temperatures.  

Las Chorreras, Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica
After shooting, we'll hike back to Hacienda Guachepelin for another tasty lunch, and get checked into our award-winning hotel.  In the afternoon, we will head out to Oropendola, a towering 80' tall single plume that drops into and flows through a colorful canyon.  This location has a hanging bridge that leads to a nice viewing platform with stairs going into the refreshing water.  

Oropendola, Costa Rica
After Oropendola, we will drive to Rio Negro and take a volcanic mud bath and relax in natural hot springs.  This location showcases ten different pools of varying temperatures and is a nice way to end the day.  When finished, we'll return to the hotel and enjoy another wonderful dinner.

After breakfast the following day, we will travel to the Northern Zone and a completely different climate.  First stop is Rio Celeste, one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica.  This rainforest location features spectacular jungle scenes, the famous turquoise river, a bit of wildlife, and one of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica.

Rio Celeste, Costa Rica
Rio Celeste, Costa Rica
After hiking and shooting for a few hours at Rio Celeste, we will enjoy a gourmet lunch at a fantastic restaurant, then continue towards La Fortuna.  Along the way, we will stop for sunset and hope to capture something magical like the image below.

Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
La Fortuna is a bustling small town and top tourist destination located at the base of iconic, cone shaped Arenal Volcano.  La Fortuna features lots of activities, excellent restaurants, and great hotels, one of which is ours.  We begin our first day in La Fortuna at the waterfall of the same name.  This magnificent 230' tall rainforest waterfall offers wonderful landscape photography opportunities and we will get wet capturing them.

Catarata La Fortuna, Costa Rica
After shooting Catarata La Fortuna and another wonderful lunch, we will explore a private farm featuring mossy sloths, tiny poison darts frogs, and hanging bridges.  

Poison Dart Frog, Costa Rica
Sloth, Costa Rica After the private farm, we will photograph a couple lush jungle streams before ending the day at Lake Arenal for another tropical sunset.  After shooting, we will return to our hotel, get cleaned up, and enjoy another delicious dinner.

El Castillo Stream, Costa Rica
Lake Arenal Sunset, Costa Rica

On the final day, we will travel to Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose.  During the three-hour drive, we'll stop and shoot a cool suspension bridge and dramatic meadow lake to wrap up the tour.

Jungle Bridge, Costa Rica
Meadow Lake, Costa Rica

Joining us on this landscape photography workshop is my good friend and professional Costa Rican nature guide, Jason Torres.  He's registered with the Institute of Tourism, speaks perfect English, and brings 15+ years of experience.  He will teach you about Costa Rica's unique ecosystems, unmatched biodiversity, flora and fauna, and history of the country.

Of course, I will be there sharing my 30+ years of landscape photography experience, helping you improve your compositions, use different filters and exposure techniques, and create an editing system that advances your digital workflow. 

That's a pretty thorough summary of one of the best photography tours in Costa Rica.  One other thing, although I didn't indicate it each day, you'll enjoy three excellent meals every day that are all included in the tour price. 

Click the button below for more photos, dates, details, and booking information.  I'm looking forward to exploring Costa Rica with you!  Pura vida! 

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FLICKR: flickr.com/photos/scott-setterberg

Scott Setterberg
Scott Setterberg