Planning: There was extensive pre-trip planning involved. We discussed what we liked, what we wanted to see, and how intense we wanted the trip to be (more on this below). Scott clearly has his tour pre-planned as you can see on the website. But even in that, there are (difficult) choices to make – you only have so much time in a day! We made some decisions up front, and left others to be made ‘live’ during the trip itself. Scott provided an extensive ideal equipment list, suggested clothing and shoes (bring water shoes!!), and then provided a detailed itinerary that included locations, travel times, sunrise/sunset times, and more! We felt very well prepared when we arrived.
Hotels: All of the hotels were excellent! They were clean, spacious, and luxurious. Note that they were not 7* hotels but rather 4-5*. Considering how much time we spent in them, that was perfect for us. There were pools for those interested, and one of them had their own hot springs!
Food: The food was so fresh, delicious, and as importantly, authentic! I ate Ceviche every day, ordered every Salsa Picante I could get my hands on, and fell in love with Patacones (fried plantains). The range of food included fresh seafood to rice and beans and everything in between! They were able to accommodate food allergies without much difficulty. We came home thinking we were going to be 15lbs heavier, but good thing we had a lot of hiking!
The Photography: This is truly a beautiful country. There is so much to see and photograph. We came home with over 3300 photos. You are welcome to see the fruits of the trip at my website here: www.cutyerheartout.com. Scott’s knowledge of the locations helped us get somewhere and start shooting almost immediately – he knew the falls, knew the angles, and was not afraid to push my photography along. It wasn’t overbearing, and it was certainly not hand-holding (though I imagine if you wanted that he would). The first time I got in the water waist deep with my camera and tripod, I’ll admit, I needed a little encouragement! We would actively discuss composition, lighting, use of HDR, and more. He would periodically suggest changing lenses to capture a different perspective. He also has his camera and tripod in tow, so it was also fun having someone to shoot with.
Intensity: When you are chasing waterfalls, as we were most of the tour, you have to be prepared for hiking. Most of our hikes began at the top and we had to hike down to the base of the waterfall. Some of the hikes were paved with beautiful stairs, and others were dense jungle with stairs made of rock, wood, spare tires, and mud. Regardless, we did a lot of climbing every day. That can be tough with a fully loaded camera bag and tripod. Fortunately or unfortunately, I used every lens I brought (trinity, 105 macro, 35 prime, TC2.0), and had no regrets despite what my back was telling me. I would highly recommend you do some training prior to arrival as it will pay off (hiking with your pack, stair machine, etc). Also, the mosquitos/bugs are brutal, if you have that predilection. We pre-treated all our clothes and wore bug repellant over our sunscreen. Despite that, my legs looked awful. At one point, there was blood running down my legs from bites (one of my funniest quotes from the week: “Why am I bleeding?? – this sent Scott into stitches!).
Jason: Scott has worked with Jason for many years. Jason is a local (Tico) who is a tour guide, nature guide, and driver extraordinaire. The driving was not trivial (in time) and had its own intensity (lots of poorly maintained roads). Jason would also pull over at any time he saw something interesting (a bird, a sloth, etc). While on hikes, he would point out interesting plants, pull out his spotting scope for wildlife, help us get up or down difficult terrain, and help navigate the rivers when we were photographing in the water. And on top of that, he is a great guy and we loved getting to know him!
Regrets: We could honestly have spent more than an additional week there. We didn’t cover the areas we visited fully, and did not even get to 2/3 of the rest of the country! I wish I had taken Jason up on the offer to do a night tour, but was hesitant due to mosquitos…I wish we had more time on the coast getting seascapes…I wish we had more time at the volcanoes…we really just needed more time!
Conclusions: Our Costa Rica tour was an incredible experience, produced great photos, and was an adventure for sure. We are not typically repeat visitors to a country (there is still so much of the world to see), but if we have a chance, we may join Scott and Jason on a tour again!~ Nahush & Sunita M. | Ohio "I toured Olympic National Park with Scott and it was an incredible experience. We hit all the major attractions, as well as some unknown gems, and the food and accommodations were simply wonderful. We explored the world-famous Hoh and lesser-known Quinault rainforests and their gorgeous mossy trees and ferns, and captured stunning sea stacks and sensational sunsets along the Pacific Coast, at crystal clear Lake Crescent, and near the beautiful, snowcapped Olympic Mountains. We hiked to Sol Duc and Marymere Falls, both of which are fantastic waterfalls in spectacular old-growth forests, and photographed rushing rivers, gently cascading streams, a bit of wildlife, and colorful wildflowers, too.