Journey to the Heart of Creativity in the Costa Rican Rainforest

Draw, Paint, & Photograph to Energize the Artist Within
February 16- 25, 2024

Central Valley, Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

We had a fabulous trip to Costa Rica in 2023 and are looking forward to 2024~ Make sure you register by September 1, 2023 to receive the early bird discount of $250!!! We SOLD OUT in 2023.......

Are you are an artist who loves nature and cares about the environment?
Do you want to gain new techniques in drawing, painting and photography to further enhance the accuracy and beauty of nature?

Come with me for a journey of a lifetime to nurture and develop your personal artistic soul in the rainforest of Costa Rica.

Find yourself slowly walking along a path through the lush pristine rainforest in Costa Rica. You are entering the home for some of the most exotic and protected flora and fauna in the world. Each step promises new surprises for your artistic development as you discover the rich variety of species known as biodiversity.

Imagine finding orchids, bromeliads and tropical flowers along the way, just waiting to be drawn, painted and photographed. The colors, unusual shapes and variations are calling you to put pencil to paper.

Be inspired as a Keel-billed Toucan pops from the shadow of the rainforest canopy to greet you at breakfast. He loves fresh papaya too!

Walk through the ancestral path of an organic cacao plantation. See the leaves, smell the flowers and crack open the cacao pod and taste it’s unusual flavor. Taste the decadent handmade chocolates that melt in your mouth with ingredients of indigenous spices. YUM!

Interact with a conservation center as you watch baby sloths climbing in the trees as part of their rehabilitation workout as they get ready to be released into the wild.

As the evening seems to come to an end you hear the musical sound of frogs. You grab your camera only to discover that the comical red eyed tree frog has just jumped onto your camera. You giggle and can’t wait to try your hand at painting this awesome little fellow.

Your journey has only begun!

Why Join Us?

  • Imagine traveling in a small group of nature loving artists, just like yourself. Together with your new friends exchange and collect precious research materials for your next art creations.
  • Imagine gaining confidence in your observation skills through creating sketches, color notes, journaling, and taking photo references.
  • There is magic in the rainforest and experiencing it first hand enriches your understanding of form and function which feeds your artistic soul.
  • Journey off the beaten path to awaken your senses and get you accurately identifying birds, insects, amphibians, mammals, and plant life, while closely observing their behaviors and characteristics.
  • Get in touch with your inner “techie”. Relish in your new found knowledge of how technology can bring your experience and ideas home to your studio. CREATE YOUR BEST ART EVER!

Costa Rica looks incredible!


The Central Valley of Costa Rica is home to one of the largest environmentally protected areas, Braulio Carrillo National Park. On the outskirts lies The Bougainvillea Hotel offering you a unique and outstanding botanical garden. You will be captivated by the opportunities its garden offers, as orchids literally drip from the trees. Stroll through the beautifully sculpted pathways with your sketchbook and camera in hand.

Climb the observation tower to soak in the panoramic view of the mountain range and possibly catch a glimpse of the illusive Blue Crowned Mott-Mott as she flies past your binoculars. This small hotel is the perfect location to start and end your artistic adventure travels.

Video courtesy of Holbrook Travel, owners of Selva Verde Lodge.
Journey to the Sarapiqui Region in comfort with our private driver. As he passes over the Continental Divide view the breathtaking scenery of the protected cloud forest. Traveling with you is a naturalist guide, Pedro Bosque. Along the way he gives an overview of the rich natural history of Costa Rica. Onward to the Selva Verde Lodge you arrive at a premiere 500 acre property nestled within a primary and secondary rainforest. Travel along a covered boardwalk made of gorgeous teak wood to your bungalow. The sound of the river off in the distance will lull you to sleep. Continue with Pedro, as he guides you across the river on a spectacular suspension bridge. He is eager to tell you the stories and show you the secrets hidden within.


Pineapples, Papaya, & Mangos, OH MY! There is nothing like wiping your mouth and licking your sticky fingers after biting into organic tropical fruits and veggies. Picked fresh daily for you… how about trying some lesser known exotic fruits such as Passion, Star, Cas, and Guanabana.

Not only are they pleasing on the tastebuds but they make great subjects for your sketch book practice! Dark rich gallo pinto, a Costa Rican dish, is certain to fill your belly and get you ready for each day’s adventure. Assorted fishes, meats and vegan meals are prepared daily to keep you full of energy.

Are you Drooling Yet?

The Delights

Hundreds of rainforest animals are waiting for your visit. How good would it feel to witness the care given to injured animals who have been rescued, rehabilitated and are hoping to be released into the wild? Spending time with a toucan, sloth, parrot, ocelot, margay, kinkajo, or griffin gains you an in-depth opportunity to study their anatomy, movements and behaviors while drawing, painting and using your camera.

Meet a spider monkey named Izzy as she shows you her amazing ability to fly through the air. Let Emma, a river otter, delight your inner child as she playfully dips and splashes through the water.

Imagine standing on a suspension bridge looking down at the beautiful Sarapiqui River. Birds are abundant in this area as you are soon to discover. Upon arrival look, listen and feel the strength of the 300 year old Almendro Tree as your naturalist guide weaves the tale of it’s relationship to the endangered Great Green Macaw.

Are you ready to experience the Food of the Gods? We are talking Chocolate! Cacao trees must be grown as an understory within a forest of taller trees. Understand the process of growing and harvesting cacao as you draw the life cycle of tree, leaves, flowers and cacao pods.

How fun would it be to participate in the production of chocolate as it was done in ancient cultures? Join us to taste the results!

Imagine the wondrous sight of watching a flock of Scarlet and Great Green Macaws flying free in the wild. A Costa Rican dairy farmer welcomes you onto to his property and shares with you his conservation message to the local people. Most farmers fear and destroy big cats like jaguars, but not this man. Understand and witness how local people are dealing with growing pains as humans and animals collide.

How about a leisurely float down the Sarapiqui River on a pontoon boat? Your naturalist guide can’t wait to point out the water birds, caiman, iguanas, and river otters from the river bank and tell you all about them so you have an understanding their natural history.

How would you like demonstrations and tips of the trade to get you drawing, painting and photographing all this cool stuff! Mindy is with you throughout your journey to individually guide you and share her secrets. She is here to help make your dreams come alive on paper.

Of course we have saved precious time to relax and soak in all this information to give you time to try these techniques with Mindy available for instruction and support.

The Benefits

The New Artist Within… Are you ready to get back into YOUR STUDIO and CREATE YOUR BEST ART EVER?

Your 10 days into the Heart of the Rainforest, is just the beginning! Here’s what you can expect to take home to continue to make YOUR UNIQUE and INSPIRATIONAL ART.

  • What would you do with an abundance of accurate sketches, drawings, and painting techniques to apply to finished works of art? When I get home I do a “happy dance” and hit the pavement running!
  • How would it feel to have an organized wealth of reference photographs to help you fill in the gaps and details necessary to create accurate drawings and paintings? I bet you can’t wait!
  • And what would a new understanding of technology do for your confidence to incorporate your journey with your studio time? The possibilities are so exciting!
  • Let’s continue the energy with a concrete next step plan on how to start, further research and implement YOUR NEXT CREATION to completion.

My art supplies and camera are packed...

What’s Included

  • 10 days of Coaching, Demonstrations and Instruction with Mindy Lighthipe
  • All Accommodations- Price based on Double Occupancy (Single Supplement available for extra cost)
  • 3 delicious meals a day
  • Entrance fees and ALL activities
  • Transportation to and from the airport on February 21 and March 1, 2020 (designated times as per your flights)
  • Private air-conditioned vehicle transportation to all destinations
  • Full-time Naturalist guide for duration of program.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages with meals, bottled water on the bus
  • Carbon offset. Together we will help reduce waste for the planet!
  • Worry–free Travel – Emergency Assistance 365/24/7

What’s Not Included

  • Gratuities
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Laundry Services
  • Art or Photography Supplies
  • Personal Items
  • International airfare (Holbrook can assist with your flight arrangements if desired.)
  • Personal, medical or trip cancellation insurance (Optional Trip cancellation and other insurance is available details through Holbrook.)
* For your comfort and well-being I am partnering with Holbrook Travel. Your registration and payment go through Holbrook Travel.
In January of 2019 I had the most incredible artistic adventure to Costa Rica. Mindy was the most amazing guide, teacher, and friend. The locations were off the beaten path from what a normal tourist would see. The plants, butterflies, frogs, monkeys, birds, insects, cats, bats, toucans, iguanas, lizards, snakes, sloths, hummingbirds, caimans, coatis… all had stunning and amazing colors. The number of species we saw from all aspects of nature was UNBELIEVABLE.

I was fortunate to travel with a a group of wonderful artists of all ages and walks of life. Each and every one of them was nurturing, caring and sharing. It added so much to this wonderful trip to travel with like-minded people.

Pedro, our naturalist guide, shared his wealth of knowledge about Costa Rica. He enlightened us about its environmental progress, nature and history. The hotel and lodge we stayed in were breathtaking. Hearing Howler monkeys in the trees at night was incredible. Starting the morning with a walk in the garden and seeing the most wonderful birds and plants started the day in such a peaceful way.

Mindy’s lectures and advice on drawing, sketchbooks, watercolor, photography, bird anatomy etc were very educational, helpful and enjoyable. I will definitely take this trip again and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves nature and wants to draw or photograph the rainforest. I came home with so much renewed energy and inspiration. I have so many ideas for new paintings and look forward to creating art from this trip.

Pam Mielke


Day 1

As you step off the plane you find yourself leaving the airport and immediately being greeted by a private driver to whisk you away to the Bougainvillea Hotel. A pre-dinner meet and greet with other artists starts the journey followed by a welcome dinner!

Day 2

Wake up to the sounds of tropical birds. As you look out onto the garden from your veranda the morning light dances the lush colors of the tropical paradise.

Get acquainted with your art supplies and camera equipment as we head out to the Toucan Rescue Ranch.

Meet and spend time with Leslie Howle, owner and founder of this special location. Witness the process of caring for injured birds and mammals as they are nurtured for release back into the wild.

Spend time with your favorite owl, sloth, toucan or monkey and capture their behavior and essence on paper and camera.

Day 3

A delicious breakfast gets you up and ready to spend time drawing, photography and painting the fantastic orchids, heliconias and flowering vines another jewels of the rainforest. We will head out to a NEW location this year: La Catalina Jardin Botanical!

Get ready to focus on taking color notes, sketching details and experimenting with paint, pencil and camera. Learn about growing orchids in the tropics!!!!

Personal attention and ample time gets you well on your way to spark your artistic creativity and gain confidence in drawing from life.

Day 4

Are you ready to continue your adventure? Next stop on your journey is the magnificent Selva Verde Lodge..

Your journey continues to the heart of the rainforest. Settle into your bungalow at the Selva Lodge and take a hike with Naturalist guide Pedro Bosque. He introduces you to this amazing rainforest which is home to 350 species of birds!

After lunch spend time drawing and painting the fabulous heliconia flowers with Mindy. In the evening…. All About Birds of the Central Valley Region.

Day 5

Wake up with the birds and have your personal naturalist guide Pedro introduce you to the sights and sounds of the rainforest before breakfast. Not awake yet? We have a cup of Costa Rican coffee ready for you to get you going.Be amazed at the variations in color of the cacao pods and have your drawing pads ready to sketch the gorgeous colors.

Who? Who?……… You! Hop on the bus as we venture to a privately owned art studio. Meet a Costa Rican artist as he shares his art, home and sanctuary for tropical owls.

Try your hand at painting a feather and work out some compositions for those great paintings you are planning! Time to ponder, experiment and practice those new skills you just learned.  




Day 6

Butterflies! Are you ready to learn all about how to raise butterflies? Kristal & Willam of Pierella Garden have reclaimed the rainforest by raising butterflies! Immerse yourself in their paradise as we focus on butterfly anatomy. Get out your paints and have a fabulous time painting these tiny jewels on sight.


Day 7

Time to hit the trail running after lunch. It is time for CHOCOLATE. Journey through a cocoa plantation as you learn to hand grind cacao beans into chocolate.

During the visit, learn about the artisanal process where the cacao fruit is transformed into chocolate, starting with harvest, fermentation, and drying, and ending with the grinding of the dried seeds into cocoa powder.

Day 8

Your river boat awaits you. Gently glide along the Sarapiqui River and see the abundant wildlife that thrives at the waters edge. Witness iguanas and Howler monkeys hanging out in the tree canopy as caimans bask on the shore, while a river otter playfully darts in and out to the water hunting for fish.

La Finca is waiting for you after lunch. Water Buffalos greet you as you enter onto the privately owned farm. 40 or more wild Scarlet and Green Macaws miraculously appear to give you a thrill of a life time as you capture their breathtaking flights amongst the trees. Capuchin monkeys scurry amongst the palm trees in hopes of making some mischief.

Energized and full of wonder you are anxious to download your photos and get to some serious drawing.

Day 9

Can Chocolate get any better? George and Julio of Sibu are waiting for you as they indulge you in a chocolate tasting extravaganza. With each bite of chocolate you awaken your taste buds as to the unusual combinations of flavors such as lime, basil, chile, cardamon and more.

Arriving back at the Bougainvillea you have more time to get those last minute photos and sketches to bring home to your art studio.

As you gather one more time to enjoy a farewell dinner, share your art, ideas and adventures with your new found friends.

Day 10
Filled with more than ideas that could possibly fit into your suitcase you are headed home for the next journey. It is time to take all you have learned and use the inspiration to create YOUR BEST ART ever!

Trip Leader

Mindy Lighthipe is known for her amazing ability to put her passion to paper depicting the beauty of the natural world. Since 1999 she has taught hundreds of budding artists through The New York Botanical Garden, The University of Florida and numerous specialty courses throughout the USA, Europe and Central America.

She is best known for thinking outside the box in her teaching. She teaches you the classical rules and foundations and then boldly shows you how to break the rules. In her Book, “The Art of Botanical and Bird Illustration”, she demonstrates multiple techniques which artists find inspiring and creative.

Mindy is passionate about teaching and traveling with fellow artists. It is her goal to introduce you to the wonders of nature and have it capture the heart of your creativity.

Contact Mindy

Have questions on this amazing journey? Contact Mindy today…

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