An eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) by the Caribbean coast at Limon, Costa Rica. The yellow snake is also known as the Golden Eyelash Viper.


Central America is an outstanding destination if you enjoy travel photography. Whether you enjoy photographing landscapes, wildlife or street scenes you’ll have ample subject matter.

If you’re a regular traveller it makes sense to purchase a sturdy camera bag into which you can fit your equipment and protect it from knocks. Numerous companies—including Abonnyc, Lowepro, and Manfrotto—produce well-made backpacks in a variety of sizes.

Check you can alter the size and shape of the internal compartments to suit your kit. Comfort is important while you are walking and looking for memorable shots. Padded, adjustable straps help provide that. You may also want to carry a laptop plus reference material such as guidebooks and maps. Ensure the backpack you choose complies with airline baggage regulations (check online ahead of flying).

Costa Rica is home of five per cent of the planet’s biodiversity despite covering just 0.25 per cent of the world’s landmass. If you enjoy photographing birds and butterflies then you’re going to be busy. You can view more than 800 bird species.

A telezoom with an upper focal length of 400 to 500mm will prove useful for capturing images of the toucans and hummingbirds that prove so common around jungle clearings. A teleconverter—essentially an optical ring that you insert between your camera’s body and the lens—is a cost-effective means of expanding the range of your lens, though it may mean you have to focus manually rather than automatically.

Tree frog at Sarapiqui in Costa Rica. The animals are poisonous.

Tree frogs thrive in Central America’s jungles. Famously, tribespeople traditionally use secretions from the colourful frogs to poison arrows for hunting. Frogs no larger than a human thumb can prove deadly. A macro lens will enable you to capture details.

Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus) at Poas Volcano National Park, Costa Rica. Costa Rica is home to more than 900 species of birds.

Photographers working beneath the dense jungle canopy might be tempted to use a flash but naturalists warn against it, as the burst of bright light can detrimentally impact the amphibian’s vision.

A bird in a tree near Sarapiqui in Costa Rica.

Both El Salvador and Costa Rica are dotted with active, dormant and extinct volcanoes. If you get to the ridge of Poas Volcano on a clear day you’ll be lucky enough to look down into the broad crater that’s scarred from previous eruptions. An extreme wide-angle lens, of around 17mm, will allow you to show the scale and stratification of the volcano.

A greeen iguana (Iguana iguana) basking in a tree rainforest at Sarapiqui in Costa Rica. The creature is also known as the American iguana and the common iguana.

The small city of Suchitoto, in El Salvador, is a great place to explore at dusk. Murals on the walls of houses convey the history of the region and offer colourful backdrops for images. The blurred shapes of people moving can effectively convey how busy public squares are after nightfall.

A woman strolls on Uva Beach in Costa Rica. The golden sand of the beach is washed by the Caribbean Sea and fringed by palms.

You can’t be prepared for every eventuality all of the time, but a little pre-trip planning means you should be able to carry enough equipment to  capture a memorable array of images from your forthcoming travels.

Useful information

To find out more about Central America see the website. The and sites are also useful sources of information.

The crater of Poas Volcano in Parque Nacional Volcan Poas (Poas Volcano National Park) in Costa Rica. The 2,708-metre volcano is in the Cordillera Central Mountain Range and last erupted in 2011.

About the author

Stuart Forster is a professional photographer and features writer. He was named Journalist of the Year at the 2015 and 2016 Holland Press Awards, and shortlisted for the 2013 National Geographic Traveller Photographer of the Year award. He writes about travel on his personal blog, and a selection of his images can be viewed on He is the director of