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

Tandayapa Pre-Trip Galapagos Cruise


Paul Greenfield: January 01, 2017

Our Tandayapa Pre-trip to our Galapagos Islands Cruise always offers a pretty impressive sampling of what the rich biodiverse country of Ecuador has to offer in preparation for a unique basis for comparison with the relatively austere and limited, but fascinating biodiversity found on the Galapagos Archipelago. As always, the results of this two-and-a-half day adventure brought many surprises and even some thrills! We departed from the Hotel Quito after a leisurely buffet breakfast and headed...

VENTflash #211: The American Tropics: So Near. So Wonderful


Victor Emanuel: December 15, 2016

Dear friends, Much of the country is now experiencing harsh winter weather, with frigid temperatures, heavy snow, and ice prevailing from coast to coast. Although getting outdoors and into nature can indeed bring rewarding winter birding, the lack of avian diversity (in most places) and the uncomfortable conditions of the season are enough to keep many of us indoors much of the time. Violet-bellied Hummingbird, Panama — Photo: Barry Zimmer It is for this very reason that VE...

Grand Australia: Tasmania Extension


David James: December 12, 2016

On this magnificent tour of Tasmania’s finest wildlife and scenic locations, everyone saw all of the endemic birds of Tasmania and a selection of highly sought-after southern Australian specialties as well. With a relaxed and leisurely itinerary, we had ample time to enjoy spectacular scenery and partake in Tasmania’s famously fine dining. Challenging weather conditions frustrated our birding on occasions and, in the end, amazing encounters with Tasmania’s bizarre and charmi...

Grand Australia Part II


Dion Hobcroft: November 30, 2016

Our arrival into Brisbane went smoothly, as we bade farewell to three folks and said hello to three folks. The next morning we were off to O’Reillys with Duncan, and we had a stunning spring day with which to kick off proceedings. Birding was good with 94 species recorded for the day, with plenty of new ones like Latham’s Snipe, beautiful Pale-headed Rosellas, emerald-green Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, well-camouflaged Little Lorikeets, the scarce Speckled Warbler and, as we approach...

Grand Australia Part I


Dion Hobcroft: November 29, 2016

Australia is a fickle continent, and rarely do you get an average start to a tour. Last year we started with a heat wave; this year we started with a gale wave. Our first afternoon saw us dodging through strong gusts of wind, and the spot for my Powerful Owls had a fallen tree through the glade and no sign of my hitherto faithful owl family with two chicks. We had some good birds though, including Australian Brush-Turkey at a mound, the lovely Superb Fairywren and, later in the session, a bea...

Polar Bears of Churchill


Bob Sundstrom: November 29, 2016

The Polar Bears of Churchill tour surely rates as one of the truly exceptional wildlife viewing experiences. Our group rendezvoused in Winnipeg and early the next morning flew north to Churchill in northern Manitoba, at the southwest corner of Hudson Bay. Within minutes after arriving in Churchill, the first Polar Bear of the tour had been spotted ambling along the edge of the tarmac—a remarkably quick first bear sighting. With most of a day to explore the Churchill vicinity from a van ...

Italy: Birds & Art in Venice & the Po Delta


Rick Wright: November 28, 2016

There could hardly be a more rewarding landscape than northern Italy’s Adriatic coast for an exploration of nature, culture, and their intersection over centuries of human history. It isn’t just that the visitor can alternate—birds, art, birds, art—but that the two are so closely intertwined at so many of the sites we visited: I suspect that our congenial and fun-loving group had a much deeper experience of that first approach to Venice than did the ferry passengers wh...

Panama: Fall at El Valle's Canopy Lodge


Barry Zimmer: November 23, 2016

Every week at the Canopy Lodge is a week in birders’ paradise, and this year’s trip was certainly no exception. From the spectacular birding right on the lodge grounds to the misty foothill slopes of Altos del Maria to the dry Pacific lowlands, this tour offered up an amazing variety, matched with epic quality, of Panamanian birds. Crimson-backed Tanager— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We began our tour with a short, pre-breakfast walk around our hotel groun...

VENTflash #210; Extraordinary Harpy Eagle Opportunity!


Victor Emanuel: November 22, 2016

Dear friends, From Panama, via my close friend, Raúl Arias de Para, comes the electrifying news of the discovery of a Harpy Eagle nest in close proximity to the Canopy Camp in the Darien lowlands of eastern Panama. Equally thrilling, I recently heard from VENT leader Barry Zimmer who reported that his tour to the Canopy Camp last month enjoyed amazing, close views of an adult bird at the nest! Harpy Eagle; Darien, Panama; October 2016 — Photo: Barry Zimmer Throughout...

Indonesia Highlights: Bali Extension


Dion Hobcroft: November 21, 2016

“The islands of Bali and Lombock, situated at the eastern end of Java, are particularly interesting. They are the only islands of the whole Archipelago in which the Hindu religion still maintains itself- and they form the extreme points of the two great zoological divisions of the eastern hemisphere, for although so similar in external appearance and in all physical features, they differ greatly in their natural productions.” Alfred Russel Wallace, 1869. Green Junglef...

Indonesia Highlights: Sulawesi, Java & Komodo


Dion Hobcroft: November 16, 2016

 “The little town of Menado is one of the prettiest in the East. It has the appearance of a large garden containing rows of rustic villas…with a succession of pretty cottages, neat gardens, and thriving plantations, interspersed with wildernesses of fruit trees.” Alfred Russel Wallace, 1869 And so it was we arrived in Manado on the Minahassa Peninsula on the northern extremity of Sulawesi to start our Indonesian Highlights tour. It was great to read Wallace’s cla...

Hungary & the Czech Republic


Rafael Galvez: November 14, 2016

Framed by the elegance of Budapest and the beauty of Prague, this year’s Hungary & The Czech Republic: Birds and Music tour granted us some of the best birding Europe can offer along vast stretches of wetlands, steppe, and forests, interspersed with visits to historical attractions, excellent food, and unforgettable music. As part of this singular European program, we stayed at hotels that offered close proximity to easy and ample birding opportunities to see the staple European spe...

Panama's Darien Lowlands: Canopy Camp


Barry Zimmer: November 02, 2016

As we approached the forests of the Aligandi region, we noticed activity in a tall tree to the right of the road. A female Blue Cotinga was quickly spotted perched up near the top of the tree. This species was one of our targets for the morning, and while we were hoping for a male, we were nonetheless excited to see the subtly beautiful female. Several Masked Tityras darted in and out of the same fruit-laden tree. Wanting to reach the forest trail as early as possible, we loaded up our open-a...

Fall Hawaii


Bob Sundstrom: November 01, 2016

The Fall Hawaii tour makes the most of the natural history of three main Hawaiian islands—Hawaii, Kauai, and Oahu: superb seabirds, rare one-of-a-kind forest birds in beautiful tropical forests, lovely seacoasts and interior mountain ridges, and massive volcanoes. Hawaii also offers the most accessible volcanic realm in the world, balmy weather, and wonderful dining. Lodging is nice too, and three of the four hotels we stay at back right up to the ocean shoreline. Our 2016 Fall Hawaii t...

Cape May: A Birding Workshop


Louise Zemaitis: November 01, 2016

Bird migration is driven by food and weather. Birds move from one abundant food source to another. Weather patterns and events can help or hinder them on their journeys. Our 2016 Cape May fall migration workshop studied birds and other wildlife in different habitats, experienced some interesting weather, and sampled some wonderful food along the way. American Kestrel— Photo: Michael O'Brien   The weather prediction for our first day in the field was for cloudy ...

Manaus, Brazil: Amazon Rainforest & River Islands


Andrew Whittaker: October 31, 2016

Manaus, Brazil yet again proved to us why it is the greatest gateway for exploring its mystical and vast Amazonian rainforest, immense waterways, and multiple exciting habitat types simply exploding with a mega avian diversity. At fruiting trees we delighted to a feast of colorful cotingas, parrots, macaws, aracaris, manakins, and barbets, while our exciting night excursions produced the much wanted and mythical Rufous and White-winged potoos. As we have become accustomed, this year’s M...

Germany: Birds & Art in Berlin & Brandenburg


Rick Wright: October 31, 2016

To anyone whose impressions are still colored by grainy photographs or grainier memories from the days of the Wall, twenty-first-century Berlin is absolutely unrecognizable. The city is lively, bright, and bustling, full of cultural, historical, culinary, and natural highlights that are once again open to all. On this inaugural tour, we took advantage of as many of Berlin’s offerings as possible—and most of us, I’m sure, left wanting even more. Our comfortable hotel, right a...

VENTflash #209: Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands: Space Newly Available!


Victor Emanuel: October 27, 2016

Dear friends, VENT will kick off the new year with our annual cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands, January 5–26, 2017. Looking ahead to this voyage, I have some important news to share: first, owing to a fantastic turnout of participants, VENT leader Rafael Galvez will join Brian Gibbons as co-leader for this trip; and second, I am excited to announce that space on board the ship has become newly available to VENT travelers! Southern Elephant Seal &am...

Washington: September Migration in the Pacific Northwest


Bob Sundstrom: October 27, 2016

The ongoing migration of September concentrates birds along Washington and southern British Columbia’s mountain ridges, forest edges, coastal shorelines, and along the ocean’s near waters. Our September Migration in the Pacific Northwest tour takes full advantage of nature’s timing to go in search of shorebirds, seabirds, and songbirds in the midst of southward migration. Participants on our 2016 tour enjoyed superb weather, an admirable list of birds, plus great food and a ...

Brazil: Iguacu Falls Extension


Kevin Zimmer: October 25, 2016

This short extension was centered on three days of birding in Iguaçu Falls National Park (Paraná state, Brazil), where the spectacle of the world’s greatest waterfalls provided the backdrop for some great birding. Our hikes along the river from our lovely hotel were highlighted by close encounters with Toco Toucans, mobs of elegant Plush-crested Jays, restless pairs of kaleidoscopic Green-headed Tanagers, and, for those who stayed out until near dusk, hordes of Great Dusky...

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