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

VENTflash #216


Victor Emanuel: March 21, 2017

Dear friends: For over 20 years, VENT has operated an annual trip for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Chairman's Council, an organization composed of the Lab's strongest supporters. The Chairman's Council likes to visit a new place every year, and this year's departure was to Panama, a trip I co-led last month with my colleague Barry Lyon. Chairman's Council 2017 — Photo: Raul Arias de Para Of all the Chairman's Council trips we've operated, this one was the best ever. I s...



Barry Zimmer: March 21, 2017

The first morning at the famed Asa Wright Nature Centre is always a memorable one. We gathered on the veranda a little before 6 AM and waited for the sky to lighten enough to see birds. A Cocoa Thrush sang from the forest below, and soon the chips and buzzes of hummingbirds could be heard in the garden. A Rufous-breasted Hermit was first to be seen, and was followed quickly by a White-chested Emerald. A pair of Silver-beaked Tanagers appeared in a small tree behind the bank of feeders. Someon...

India: Tigers, Taj, & Birds Galore


Machiel Valkenburg: March 18, 2017

All participants arrived early before the start of the tour, which is a very wise thing to do after such a long flight from the US. For those interested, we organized some pre-tour cultural excursions on the spot and visited the Raj Ghat memorial dedicated to Mahatma Ghandi, marking the spot where the good man was cremated. We visited a lovely park where our birding began with regular birds such as Rose-ringed Parakeet, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Common Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, ...

Machu Picchu Extension Amazon River Cruise


Doris Valencia: March 18, 2017

The Machu Picchu Extension to our Amazon River Cruise includes a wealth of natural and cultural attractions along the gorgeous Urubamba Valley, the high mountains of the Urubamba range, and the fabulous World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu, ending in the capital city of the Incas, Cusco. Our first stop was the Wetlands of Huacarpay. Located 45 minutes from the airport, this site has been declared a RAMSAR site since 2006 and protects habitats for both local birds and migrants (boreal and austr...

Santiago-Humboldt Extension


Andrew Whittaker: March 16, 2017

Upon our arrival in the bustling capital of Santiago, and after saying a fond farewell to those who were unable to spend more time in wondrous Chile, we welcomed Bob, who joined us on this exciting extension. Rested up and raring to go, early the next morning we began to climb into picturesque Andean foothills filled with spectacular arrays of colorful spring blooms, neat cactus, and exotic bromeliads such as that incredible turquoise puya spike. Turquoise Puya bromeliad— P...

Wild Patagonia & Central Chile


Andrew Whittaker: March 15, 2017

Our 2016 Wild Patagonia & Central Chile tour was sensational! We were blown away by world-class scenery, Pumas galore, a wonderful King Penguin colony, a profusion of colorful and confiding tapaculos, killer views of the astounding Magellanic Woodpecker, immense Andean Condors, and much more.  It’s well worth visiting this almost European country just to experience the incomparable scenery at either the 8th Wonder of the World or the famous Torres del Paine National Park, or to...



Brian Gibbons: March 09, 2017

We arrived in Camaguey to find a parched landscape; the arid regions of Cuba were well into their dry season. Breezing through Immigration and Customs, we stepped outside to breathe in Cuban air, admire our first American classic cars, and be amazed by the plethora of horse carts. In downtown we found narrow streets crowded with bicycles, carts, buses, and belching diesel trucks, all whizzing past crumbling colonial architecture. We had just a few minutes in the evening to roam the streets of...

Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands


Brian Gibbons: March 09, 2017

Our January 2017 Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands cruise began in a steamy Buenos Aires, where we soaked up the warmth as we observed more than 100 species, most of which we wouldn’t see again as we headed south to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, and beyond. The Falklands and South Georgia provided unrivaled wildlife spectacles only after we enjoyed fantastic pelagic birding and a few cetaceans along the way. Elephant Seals, thousands of penguins, Shag Rocks, and point-bla...

Panama: El Valle's Canopy Lodge


Kevin Zimmer: March 03, 2017

As always, the El Valle area treated us to some great birds, beautiful accommodations, and some unexpected surprises.  It started, as it always does, upon our arrival at the Canopy Lodge, with the daily lodge feeder show.  At peak times, it can be nearly impossible to tear a group away from the lodge feeders to go anywhere else!  The activity at the feeders is often frenetic, and the diversity of tanagers, honeycreepers, and euphonias attracted is truly remarkable.  To see...

Japan in Winter


Bob Sundstrom: March 03, 2017

The Japan in Winter tour is subtitled “A Crane and Sea-Eagle Spectacle,” a billing it truly lives up to. The tour has been designed by Japanese birding tour leader, Kaz Shinoda, and traverses the three main—and distinctively different—islands of Honshu, Kyushu, and Hokkaido. About a third of the tour is devoted to each island. From south to north, that’s a span of over 1,600 miles, from the mild weather and green tea plantations of Kyushu to the snowy rim of the ...

Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp


Kevin Zimmer: March 03, 2017

The undisputed highlight of this year’s tour was our successful mini-expedition into Darién National Park, in quest of seeing a Harpy Eagle at an active nest.  What had seemed like a slam-dunk, just days before our trip, turned out to be anything but when I received the sad news that the Harpy nest that we planned to visit had just been depredated.  Fortunately, the folks at the Canopy Camp had a “Plan B” (and “C”), and when the first option was ...

Panama's Canopy Tower & El Valle's Canopy Lodge


Jeri Langham: March 02, 2017

Myriads of magazine articles have touted Panama’s incredible Canopy Tower, a former U.S. military radar tower transformed by Raúl Arias de Para when the U.S. relinquished control of the Panama Canal Zone. It sits atop 900-foot Semaphore Hill overlooking Soberania National Park. While its rooms are rather spartan, the food is excellent, and the opportunity to view birds at dawn from the 360º rooftop Observation Deck above the treetops is outstanding. Twenty minutes away is th...

Amazon River Cruise


Steve Hilty: February 26, 2017

During our January 2017 Amazon River Cruise on the Río Amazon, Río Ucayali, Río Marañon, and various tributaries of these rivers, we had generally good weather, but some rain a couple of times and rain for much of the day on Friday, which was to be our day off-ship to visit the high ground forest (terra firme). River water levels were high but about normal for this time of year, and it is to our advantage to have high water so that we can explore small tributaries,...

Cloud Forests of Northern Peru Pre-trip Amazon River Cruise


Steve Hilty: February 26, 2017

This was my sixth visit to this beautiful area, and despite persistently inclement weather, we saw many beautiful birds including an impressive lineup of tanagers and hummingbirds. In fact, we may have set a personal best (for me at least) for the most number of Tangara tanagers seen in a single day (12 species). And there were Andean Cock-of-the-rocks, Vermilion Tanagers, and oh, those hummingbirds—over 30 species, including a wonderful morning with Marvelous Spatuletails at a reserve ...

Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes


Paul Greenfield: February 18, 2017

Ecuador boasts incredible diversity within its tiny geography and its wildlife inhabitants, and we lived that claim during our week-long Eastern Slope of the Andes tour. The transect we traversed took us from the Amazonian lowlands into the foothills, up through the Subtropical and Temperate forest zones, and into elfin forest and the tundra-like Paramo Zone to 14,000 feet above sea-level. At every turn, at each area we visited, we were confronted with new challenges, a new environment, a dif...

Ecuador: Amazonia at Napo Wildlife Center


Paul Greenfield: February 17, 2017

This January’s amazing week-long Amazonia at Napo Wildlife Center tour offered the ultimate Amazon experience, complete with mystical sunrises and dramatic sunsets; taking in the myriad of sounds that emanated from the magical rainforest as our canoe slid in silence along shady blackwater streams; firsthand encounters with the most complex and diverse wildlife on earth in total immersion within this ecosystem, along jungle trails (even bushwacking off-trail) to seek out the exotic and t...

Bolivia: Endemic Macaws & More Part II


Andrew Whittaker: February 06, 2017

Bolivia’s natural riches were showcased again during Part II of our 2016 Bolivia tour, with wondrous untouched habitats, from the towering snow-capped Andes; the crystal-clear air of the vast Altiplano and its magical brackish lakes filled with gorgeous flamingoes; famous Lake Titicaca (and its flightless grebe); to avian-rich cloud forest stretching as far as the eye could see. All of this combined with an overdose of scenery to die for and exploration of all the exciting different mic...

Bolivia: Endemic Macaws & More Part I


Andrew Whittaker: February 06, 2017

Part I of our 2016 tour to Bolivia provided sensational birding, with no less than 434 species of birds and 13 mammals. This magical country is truly a well-kept secret, even though it’s a birder’s paradise! Combined with the 275 bird species seen on Bolivia Part II (with little overlap) people on both Bolivia tours saw an incredible total of 635 bird species and 15 mammals!  We enjoyed spectacular studies of both rare endemic macaws—the truly gorgeous Red-fronted and t...

VENTflash #215: Fiji to Tahiti Cruise - Free Webinar!


Victor Emanuel: February 03, 2017

Dear friends: Next Wednesday, February 8, my colleague, Barry Lyon, and I will host a free webinar in which we'll discuss VENT's upcoming fall cruise to the South Pacific: Faces of Polynesia: Fiji to Tahiti, October 22–November 7, 2017. For this special trip, we'll travel aboard the beautiful Caledonian Sky, voyaging through remote Central Polynesia, island-hopping our way through a tropical paradise filled with volcanic islands, spectacular reefs, coral atolls, picture-perfect beaches,...

Winter New Mexico


Barry Zimmer: February 03, 2017

We arrived at Percha Dam State Park around 10 AM having already had a stellar morning. The drive from Las Cruces had produced several good birds including wonderful scope studies of Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon, fields of Sandhill Cranes, and a close Greater Roadrunner among others. We had barely made it out of the cars when a Red-naped Sapsucker was spotted working some nearby pines. While enjoying prolonged scope studies of the sapsucker, a Phainopepla flew in overhead, and several W...

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