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

Autumn Grand Manan


Barry Zimmer: October 02, 2015

We departed from Seal Cove on our full-day pelagic tour filled with excitement and anticipation of what was to come. Based on my build-up, expectations for a good day were high. Great Black-backed Gulls by the dozens adorned the rocks of the jetty as we pulled out of the harbor, and quickly we began seeing numbers of Black Guillemots foraging in the near shore waters. Fifteen minutes into our journey, the mate spotted an adult Razorbill with a chick in tow. We were able to pull up right next ...

Papua New Guinea: West New Britain


Dion Hobcroft: October 02, 2015

An unexpected flight schedule change saw us narrowly connect with our plane trip from Port Moresby via Lae to Hoskins, the largest town in West New Britain. Fortunately it all worked out well; just lucky we arrived at the airport early! After settling in to the comfortable Walindi Dive Resort, we headed out for an afternoon of birding at the relatively close site of Kulu River. Again the big dry was obvious. Max, owner of the resort who has kept rainfall records for 45 years, stated that this...

Papua New Guinea Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: October 02, 2015

Our annual tour of Papua New Guinea was the usual adventure in a fascinating country. This year a severe El Nino resulted in a widespread drought. The dry conditions made birding even more difficult in this country than is typical. Despite the remarkably dry conditions, we still enjoyed considerable success with the birds. Papuan Frogmouth— Photo: Dion Hobcroft We arrived into Port Moresby right on schedule (despite the printed e-ticket kafuffle) and found ourselves quickly...



David Wolf: September 30, 2015

Borneo! The very name conjures images of steaming jungles and towering trees, odd and wonderful wildlife found nowhere else on earth, strange carnivorous plants, and exotic and unfamiliar birds. Our 2015 tour experienced all of this and much more on our visit to this unique island, the world’s third largest. We ranged from the cool and wet heights of Kinabalu, the highest mountain between New Guinea and the Himalayas, to the primeval rainforests of the Danum Valley. In between were othe...

Western Turkey: Birds & History


Bob Sundstrom: September 30, 2015

Many images helped define VENT’s 2015 Western Turkey: Birds & History tour. None likely captured the overall theme of the tour better than a moment, midday, on September 2. We sat outside, on a rooftop terrace of the Arcadia Blue Hotel, many stories above the heart of the vast city of Istanbul. From our vantage point, we looked directly out toward the most prominent, most renowned structures in Old Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, the immense domed edifice that was once, as a Byzantine churc...

Brazil: Pantanal Safari (Birds & Jaguars) and Chapada Dos Guimaraes


Andrew Whittaker: September 25, 2015

Once again we found the fabled Pantanal simply brimming with wildlife, offering non-stop highlights and living up to its well-deserved reputation as one of the premier wildlife spectacles in the world. Not surprisingly, the Pantanal is often favorably compared to an African Safari, especially with each year’s incredible JAGUAR spectacles! This massive cat is certainly the most wanted of South America’s top five mammals and once again dominated our boat trips along the picturesque ...

Brazil: Alta Floresta's Cristalino Jungle Lodge


Andrew Whittaker: September 24, 2015

The paradise that is Cristalino Jungle Lodge never fails to live up to and beyond one’s already high expectations. This year’s tour again came up trumps with a total of 325 bird species, countless memorable birding moments, wonderful sunsets, clouds of colorful butterflies, and excellent mammal sightings, with no less than 19 species! The highlight for me was observing six huge male Amazonian Umbrellabirds displaying and calling at their lek. With the sun enhancing their iridescen...

Grand California


Jeri Langham: September 24, 2015

Whenever someone asks if I get tired of leading VENT’s Grand California tour, I laugh and say, "Picture San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore, Bodega Bay, the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake, the White Mountains, Yosemite National Park, Monterey, and the Big Sur coastline. Now tell me you could ever get tired of the scenery, not to mention the array of possible birds, plants, and other animals." Our endemic Yellow-billed Magpie is much more difficult to see due to decimation...

Namibia, Botswana & Zambia


Geoff Lockwood: September 22, 2015

The coastal pre-tour gave us the usual spectacular sightings of thousands of Greater and Lesser flamingos, as well as a number of endemic and near-endemic cormorants, oystercatchers, larks, and chats. For the first time on these pre-tours, we visited the spectacular coastal wetlands at Sandwich Harbour, involving a drive along the shoreline followed by a breathtaking drive back over the dunes. The trip provided the first record of an Augur Buzzard for the Kuiseb Delta, and also great views of...

VENTflash #191: 2016 Alaska Tour Discounts & Spitsbergen


Victor Emanuel: September 03, 2015

Dear friends, The summer of 2015 will long be remembered as one of our best Alaska tour years ever. This year we offered five tours to Alaska, all of which either were full or almost full. As always, our tours were filled with great sightings of birds and mammals, and replete with scenic wonders. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska — Photo: Barry Zimmer Although we still have not reached the end of summer, I'm informing you that our 2016 schedule of Alaska tours ha...

Camp Chiricahua


Michael O'Brien: September 01, 2015

This year’s young birder camp was packed with excitement, great birds, and amazing wildlife sightings. The Chiri2015 crew of campers will forever be known as the snake group. They were particularly good at finding snakes and turned up an amazing seven rattlesnakes of three species (all viewed from safe distances)! As in the past few years, it was another strong monsoon season, which meant lots of birdsong in the grasslands and high breeding success for a number of species. In particular...

Uganda Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: August 25, 2015

We were successful in our primary quest to see Chimpanzees, Shoebills, and Gorillas in the wild. We had fabulous encounters with all three of these iconic species. We found both a Leopard hunting at night and two prides of Lions; enjoyed Giraffe and Zebra amongst a variety and abundance of African hoofed mammals; observed all of the monkey species possible on this tour; and racked up an impressive 460 species of birds in this fantastic country. All of our logistics went smoothly, and we had n...

Grand Costa Rica


Jeri Langham: August 25, 2015

Each of the 23 Grand Costa Rica tours I have led in July has been unique. Although we visit the same areas, the species we encounter at each location vary somewhat, just as they do when one revisits favorite areas at home. We do take extra time to locate specialties like a male Three-wattled Bellbird, which is the bird on the cover of my personalized Checklist, and Resplendent Quetzals, which are on the back cover. About 90% of the birds on the yearly Field Lists are the same, but where we fi...

VENTflash #190


Victor Emanuel: August 19, 2015

Dear friends, As we approach the anniversary of our 40th year in business, I find myself reflecting on many of the great moments in VENT's remarkable history. Many of you probably have never heard about these events so I thought I would tell you about one of the greatest stories ever to come out of a VENT tour. Steller's Eider, Barrow, AK — Photo: Kevin Zimmer The date was June 27, 1993, and VENT tour leader Kevin Zimmer was in Barrow, Alaska at the tail-end of our Gra...

Avian Jewels of Arizona


Barry Zimmer: August 17, 2015

Once again, this year’s Avian Jewels tour proved why southeastern Arizona during the monsoon season is a must destination for any birder. Hummingbirds are the first things most people associate with summer in Arizona, and we had them in spades. We totaled an impressive eleven species during our trip, highlighted by male and female White-eared Hummingbirds in Miller Canyon and a hard-earned Plain-capped Starthroat (an accidental visitor from Mexico) near Portal. Throw in other such gems ...

Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the M/V Evolution


Michael O'Brien: August 15, 2015

There are very few destinations where one can have as rich and complete a natural history experience as the Galápagos Islands. The rugged beauty of these volcanic islands is breathtaking, and the sheer abundance of wildlife is simply staggering and ripe with photographic opportunity. But there is so much more to the Galápagos. Just the thought of walking in the footsteps of Darwin, on the very islands that shaped his theory of natural selection and had such a profound influence ...

Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise


Paul Greenfield: August 15, 2015

I am always surprised (perhaps reassured) by just how many (cool!) bird species one can find on a relatively short outing out of Quito. Our Tandayapa Pre-trip to our Galapagos Cruise was originally designed to offer a sort of avian “snippet” of the full potential that the western Andean slopes possess. As with all encounters with nature, conditions are always varied, one never really knows what will happen, and birds actually do have their own minds and needs—and are not obl...

Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics


Andrew Whittaker: August 12, 2015

Our 2015 tour to the mecca of Andean Cloud Forest birding did not let me down, beating last year’s high total and finishing with an incredible 362 species! Voted top bird of the trip, with repeated stunning views (after playback), was the huge and magnificent Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, certainly one of the world’s greatest woodpeckers. Its fiery crimson underparts contrasted with its black back and huge, flashy white wing patches as it glided through the forest and landed on a tr...

Greece and Turkey: from Athens to Istanbul


Victor Emanuel: August 12, 2015

In 2005, for the first time in our company’s history, VENT chartered the incomparable Sea Cloud for a Birds & History cruise from Athens to Istanbul. That trip proved so successful that I’ve longed to repeat it ever since. I never thought it would take ten years, but indeed it has, which is why I was so thrilled to offer this trip in 2015 after having waited so long. Our tour group assembled in Athens on the evening of June 19 for a trip welcome and introduction. Dinner that n...

VENTflash #189


Victor Emanuel: August 06, 2015

Dear friends, VENT is fortunate in having a superb team of tour leaders. Many of our leaders have been with us for over 20 years, and some even more than 30 years. In the last year, our staff was further bolstered by the addition of four terrific new leaders: Erik Bruhnke, Rafael Galvez, Machiel Valkenburg, and Rick Wright. Barry Zimmer Anyone who has taken a VENT tour knows how skilled our tour leaders are. I take great pleasure in reading the comments on the tour evaluatio...