Wildside Weekender

CALIFORNIA: Salton Sea Bird Photography Weekender

Snow geese, Salton Sea, CA


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2024 :: October 25 - October 27
2024 :: November 22 - November 24
2025 :: January 3 - January 5



From: $1,575 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from San Diego, CA (SAN)


4-6 Participants






This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of CALIFORNIA: Salton Sea Bird Photography Weekender

  • Pacific Flyway stopover for migrating birds
  • Birding hotspots of the Imperial Valley
  • Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR birding
  • Sandy’s favorite evening birding spot
  • Ideal time and temperatures to photograph in Southern California
  • Hands-on instruction from professional wildlife photographer Sandy Zelasko

Description of CALIFORNIA: Salton Sea Bird Photography Weekender

The Salton Sea is in transition. Once, abundant birds visited its shoreline on their Pacific Flyway migration routes, which, in turn, brought birders and photographers from around the world. Today, species seen, and their numbers, are changing do to environmental and political issues. However, the Salton Sea is not dead!

Join Sandy on this eye-opening journey to photograph at California’s largest inland lake and experience the culture, bird life and restoration projects which surround it. Sandy will share stories of the area’s history, conservation efforts in progress and other surprising and unique photo subjects.

This photo workshop will provide participants an opportunity to photograph at the popular southern section of the Salton Sink and the well-known Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR along with other iconic birding hotspots the area is known for. Sandy has been leading photo workshops in the area for 10+ years.

This workshop welcomes all photography skill levels. Photographic instruction, along with individual attention is included. An understanding of basic photography principles is recommended. Get ready for this action packed weekender adventure!

Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 – Fly into San Diego, CA and travel to Westmorland, CA / Evening photography location TBD

Day 2 – Morning / Afternoon / Evening photograph Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR and other birding hotspots in the Imperial Valley

Day 3 – Morning / Afternoon photograph Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR and other birding hotspots in the Imperial Valley – Workshop ends at 1 PM

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Fliights should be planned to give participants time to pick up transportation and travel approximately two hours to Westmorland, CA hotel to check into our hotel at 3 PM.

We will meet this evening and proceed to our shooting location for sunset photography at a birding hotspot.

Day 2 – Depart hotel early AM for Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR and other birding hotspots in the Imperial Valley.

Continue throughout the day at birding hotspots with a break for lunch.

Our evening location will be at another popular birding location and we will end the day with a group dinner.

Day 3 – Depart hotel early AM for Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR and other birding hotspots in the Imperial Valley.

Continue throughout the day at birding hotspots and a break for lunch. Workshop ends at 1 PM.


Cost is $1,575 per person, based upon double occupancy, from San Diego, CA (Airport code SAN.
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code ).

NOTE: Participants must travel to the Salton Sea by vehicle on their own. The price of the tour begins with arrival at Westmoreland.


Single Supplement

If a single hotel room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $160 will be assessed.

NOTE: For boat-based tours, see pricing options for single cabins. Single cabin cost includes the single hotel cost above.


Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.


Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

This trip includes standard hotels.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Most of the photography is done from the road. Short hikes are optional.

Tripods for our sunrise and sunset shoots. Camera and camera manual, longest, fastest lens for bird photography. Binoculars are a plus. Bird field guide can be helpful. Clothing for comfortable desert conditions but have layers available including a light rain coat and/or wind jacket. Sturdy footwear.

  • Mirrroless or DSLR Camera Body – We highly recommend having a backup body on every workshop.
  • At least one super telephoto lens over 400mm+ (600mm+ would be better)
  • Depending upon which lens you have: M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter (MC-14) or M.Zuiko Digital 2.0x Teleconverter (MC-20)


  • Multiple Batteries and Memory Cards
  • Highly Recommend a laptop for downloading images and working on post-processing images
  • Lens cleaning kit

Non-Camera Gear

  • Rain Gear
  • Long-brimmed hat, long-sleeves to keep sun off the skin
  • Insect Repellent (may or may not be needed)
  • Good shoes for shoreline


Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to help cover your investment, for covered reasons. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

Location Map