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Catch up on the latest news from Victor Emanuel Nature Tours by reading the latest VENTflash.

Cloud Forests of Northern Peru Post-trip to the Amazon River Cruise


Andrew Whittaker: April 17, 2015

We experienced the ultimate in Andean Cloud Forest birding during an action-packed week of birdwatching. Our trip was filled with so many memorable moments and incredible highlights, ranging from the mega-rare White-faced Nunbird (voted top bird of the trip) to the lodge’s first ever White-throated Hawk. However, it’s impossible not to mention our amazing tanager overload, with 38 species covering every spectacular color combination imaginable, or our dazzling hummingbird show (if...

Amazon River Cruise


David Ascanio: April 16, 2015

Our second Amazon Cruise of 2015 was another magical trip, with a nice mix of quality birding, great group dynamics, and an unparalleled ship staff. Day by day, we learned about various topics from sedimentary river islands and oxbow lakes to Moriche palm stands or terra firme and riverine forest types. We also discussed the differences between varzea (riverine forest in white water rivers) and igapo (riverine forest in black water rivers) and appreciated the birdlife in each of these habitat...

Machu Picchu Extension Amazon River Cruise


Andrew Whittaker: April 16, 2015

Spellbound and awe-inspired on a remote Andean ridge in deepest Peru, sandwiched between two cloud-misted mountains, taking in the breathtaking view of Machu Picchu as the mist rose, was an unforgettable experience. Words can’t even begin to explain the phenomenal spiritual experience that occurs during a visit to one of the world’s most instantly recognizable landmarks. A center of the Inca Empire for nearly 100 years, Machu Picchu is today one of the most familiar icons and a mu...

Honduras: Copan Extension


Brian Gibbons: April 14, 2015

As we made our way west across the country of Honduras from the green-clad hills of Pico Bonito National Park, the countryside dried out. On the outskirts of San Pedro Sula we had a nice migrant flock of Swallow-tailed Kites making their way north to the swamps of the southeast US for summer. The southeastern edge of the Maya realm terminates in Western Honduras with the spectacular ruins in the Copan Valley. The drier valleys supported the Maya and their corn agriculture for hundreds of year...

Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito


Brian Gibbons: April 14, 2015

We enjoyed fine weather for the duration of our trip to the beautiful Lodge at Pico Bonito. Early arrivers had to settle for absolute downpour for their first couple of days in Honduras. We even lucked into a cloudy morning in the normally hot and dry Aguan Valley of the interior. Fruit trees of a variety of species were luring the Lovely Cotingas into view, and on our first morning we were overrun with these beautiful denizens of the forests of Pico Bonito National Park. Cruising the mangrov...

About Victor Emanuel

April 12, 2015

Michael Barnes, the Out & About Social Columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, has written a wonderful article about Victor Emanuel which appears in the Sunday, April 12, 2015 edition.  Read it here!

Belize: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


Michael O'Brien: April 08, 2015

The perfect winter getaway, this year’s Belize: Relaxed & Easy tour was a nice break from a long, harsh winter up north. Although most of this tour takes place around two delightful lodges, it’s always fun to kick off the tour right in Belize City. This year, the Cinnamon Hummingbirds performed well at the Biltmore Plaza Hotel, where we also had instructive comparisons of the very similar Tropical and Couch’s kingbirds, and our first looks at a host of other species such...



Brian Gibbons: April 07, 2015

Within this tiny island of Jamaica we found varied habitats and more than a hundred species of birds, including all the Jamaican endemics. The biggest prize was surely the Crested Quail-Dove that Brandon extracted from the haystack of jumbled, vine-tangled forest that is John Crow Mountains National Park. We visited the dry Acacia-covered limestone hills of Portland Ridge, the green forest of Cockpit Country, the pastures and forests of Marshall’s Pen, the Morass at Black River, the fam...

Short Costa Rica: Toucans to Quetzals


David Wolf: April 05, 2015

Costa Rica continues to amaze us, even after many trips over many years. There is such an astounding wealth of things for the naturalist to see and do in this small, efficient, bird-friendly country! Our 2015 Short Costa Rica tour took full advantage of this abundance for an action-packed week of birding, enjoying the spectacular scenery and fabulous vegetation almost as much as the birds themselves, as we explored three very different environments from the Caribbean lowlands to the high temp...

Best of Indonesia: Davao to Bali


Steve Hilty: April 03, 2015

Indonesia is a large and unusually complex country that consists of some 17,000 islands, by some counts. The title of this tour hints at an unusual and exotic route. There is little doubt that this route and the islands visited were selected in part because of absolutely superb snorkeling and diving opportunities virtually every day of the trip. There also were a remarkable number of remote and seldom-visited villages keyed into the itinerary so that anthropology buffs were treated to new and...

Best of Belize: Crooked Tree & Chan Chich Lodge


Barry Zimmer: April 02, 2015

From the pine/oak savannah and open lagoons of Crooked Tree to the vast, protected rain forest surrounding Chan Chich Lodge, our Best of Belize tour was chock-full of highlights. We began with a day of land birding around the village of Crooked Tree. Our breakfast at Bird’s Eye View Lodge was full of interruptions. Brilliant Vermilion Flycatchers hawked insects from every direction we looked. Northern Jacanas strolled about the lawns like so many chickens. Overhead, White-fronted Parrot...

India: Royal Rajasthan Train Journey


Dion Hobcroft: March 24, 2015

Our birding was off to a solid start in Sultanpur National Park. Sultanpur is a fabulous, quite small wetland park fringed by Acacia woodlands. It practically heaves with birdlife, and in our 300-meter foray we recorded over 70 species. The two standout birds were a pair of Sind Sparrows and a Brook’s Leaf-Warbler. The sparrow has only recently colonized this part of India from Pakistan and is a scarce South Asian endemic. Likewise, the leaf-warbler is another scarce endemic. Other grea...

Kaziranga National Park


Dion Hobcroft: March 23, 2015

Our flight from Delhi to Guwahati went smoothly, and after lunch at a nearby airport restaurant we commenced the four-hour drive to Wild Grass Lodge, our base for exploring Kaziranga National Park. On the outskirts of the city we made a stop at the rubbish tip to see the rather grim spectacle of the gathering of the critically endangered Greater Adjutant Storks picking for scraps amongst the Black Kites, House Crows, and people.   Great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros— Ph...

Spring Hawaii


Bob Sundstrom: March 20, 2015

Our 2015 Spring Hawaii tour was crowded with highlights, but the morning we birded Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge took top honors. Located at about 6,000 ft. elevation on the rain forest face of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii, Hakalau offers the best forest birding anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands. Here, among the native Ohia and Koa trees and shrub understory of native raspberry and many other plants, we were on a quest to find seven native Hawaiian birds that would be new to our...

India: Tigers, Taj & Birds Galore


Dion Hobcroft: March 19, 2015

Our group met up for breakfast in our delightful Delhi hotel, and before we headed out on our city tour we spent an hour birding in the gardens. Here we found our first widespread Indian bird species like Purple Sunbird, Hume’s Warbler, Indian Peafowl, Rose-ringed Parakeet, both Red-whiskered and Red-vented bulbuls, and a Common Tailorbird that showed well. At the eleventh century ruins of Qutub Minar dominated by a superb tower and iron pillar, we picked up more birds including numerou...

VENTflash #185


Victor Emanuel: March 18, 2015

Dear friends, Two weeks ago, Barry Lyon and I represented VENT at the San Diego Birding Festival, presented by San Diego Audubon Society. Situated on Mission Bay just north of downtown San Diego, this was a wonderful event with great weather, terrific birding, and an opportunity to touch base with old friends and acquaintances, including many VENT travelers. Tricolored Blackbird — Photo: Barry Zimmer We had the privilege of co-leading two field trips. The first wa...

Ecuador: A Hummingbird Extravaganza


Paul Greenfield: March 17, 2015

Is it at all possible to have too many hummingbirds? This is a question that precious few humans will ever have to ask themselves, but which rolled around in our heads at least a few times during this February’s weeklong Hummingbird Extravaganza tour. Our 64 hummer species list may have had something to do with this, but it really was more about the constant whirl of blurred wings at a few birding sites that made us stop to wonder. Two of the east slope sites we visited proved to be rel...

Rockport, Texas: A Birding Workshop


Michael O'Brien: March 13, 2015

When selecting regions to hold our VENT birding workshops, key elements we consider are a high abundance and diversity of birds, as well as a good number of locations that offer opportunities for close and prolonged study. The Central Texas Coast fits the bill in every way, and this year’s program, based in Rockport, was both delightfully pleasant birding and a great learning experience for everyone. Western Meadowlark— Photo: Michael O'Brien On our first morning, we ...

Venezuela: Casa Maria and Hato Pinero: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: March 12, 2015

Our Casa Maria and Hato Piñero tour provided an incomparable mix of birds, mammals, and habitats unique to the Neotropics. This year we started in a different way: with views of Blue-and-yellow and Chestnut-fronted macaws flying over the valley of Caracas. We also enjoyed Orange-winged and Yellow-crowned parrots in flight, as well as the Rose-ringed Parakeet (introduced from Asia) commuting to the roosting site. Yellow-knobbed Curassow— Photo: David Ascanio After a m...

Venezuela: New Year in the Llanos


David Ascanio: March 06, 2015

Our New Year tour to the Venezuelan Llanos was what I would consider a typical Latin American journey: great birds, flight schedule changes, flat tires, beautiful sunsets, missing a domestic flight, wonderful people, lots of vehicles near the cities, and most important: amazing and unique wildlife. Scarlet Macaw— Photo: David Ascanio Hato Piñero welcomed us with Scarlet Macaws in flight, and from the ground a Sunbittern gave its soft melody from the edge of a pond co...