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

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...

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...

Winter Southern Arizona


Barry Zimmer: January 27, 2017

Our Winter Southern Arizona tour is probably best known for three specific aspects—the potential for Mexican rarities, the presence of many species found only in Arizona in the winter (especially raptors and sparrows), and the year-round presence of many highly sought Arizona specialty birds. On all three fronts, this year’s trip excelled. This winter proved to be an exceptionally good year for Mexican rarities, so we had several options of birds to chase. The crown jewel was a St...

Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: January 12, 2017

Our second-of-the-year Costa Rica Relaxed & Easy tour was, once again, a great success. How different can it be when such a small country hosts an amazing mix of hummingbirds, tanagers, tyrant-flycatchers, toucans, and great people?  Fiery-throated Hummingbird— Photo: David Ascanio   We started the tour in the Hotel Bougainvillea, a unique place with an incredible set of gardens. There between flowering bushes, lilies, orchids, and bromeliads, we disco...

Madagascar Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 12, 2017

We enjoyed a particularly successful tour to Madagascar this year, although as usual, the order of the tour flip-flopped around due to the erratic scheduling of “Mad Air.” It was also unfortunate that three travelers were forced to cancel at the last minute due to personal circumstances: terribly sorry to have this happen to you. So our diminished group set out from Antananarivo on the 9th of November. Before leaving though, we took in the bird life at the wetlands that are on the...

New Zealand Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 11, 2017

Mark and I were back on the road in New Zealand in December 2016 for our annual tour of this fascinating and friendly South Pacific nation, a country that is always a delight to travel in. This year, just before the tour, a massive earthquake hit the coastal South Island town of Kaikoura, resulting in loss of life, closure of the highway, and extensive destruction in the town. To give an indication of the power of the earthquake, some houses had shifted more than eight yards! Kaikoura is one ...

Ornithology 101 in South Texas: A Learn-About-Birds Workshop


Denver Holt: January 11, 2017

We had a great time on our second Ornithology 101 Workshop. Our group size was smaller than in 2015 and, consequently, more manageable and focused.  After incorporating the suggestions from the 2015 workshop participants, we took the next step in developing a unique, educational workshop. We began each morning with a PowerPoint program and discussion on bird biology, ecology, and evolution. We then ventured into the field to discuss these topics as we identified birds. Co-leader Barry Ly...

Ecuador: The Northwestern Andean Slopes


Paul Greenfield: January 09, 2017

Northwest Ecuador is a wonderfully diverse and exciting region, no matter how you slice it. Our November 2016 Northwestern Andean Slopes tour ran into unseasonably rainless conditions, which obviously affected bird activity to some degree; it’s difficult to ascertain if this was caused by the general effects of global warming, a La Niña phenomenon (often occurring after an El Niño current incursion, which we suffered some effects of early this year), or by some fluke of na...

Ecuador: Tinalandia Pre-trip


Paul Greenfield: January 09, 2017

Our November 2016 Tinalandia Pre-Trip accomplished its mission as a “warmup and complement” to our Ecuador: Northwestern Andean Slopes tour, and we enjoyed many special avian species, along with some interesting reptiles and amphibians. We began with a first travel day down the western slopes of the Andes along the “old” Chiriboga Road, through humid temperate, subtropical, and foothill life-zones, the scenery and habitats changing as we descended. Much of the day was ...

Panama's Canal Zone: A Relaxed & Easy Tour


David Ascanio: January 04, 2017

Our first morning in Gamboa (Panamá) began with a bird feeder packed with honeycreepers, tanagers, and parakeets. As we were distracted by this mosaic of colored plumages, a flashy Whooping Motmot showed from a dark corner and landed at the feeder to take a piece of banana and fly away. Hosting warm and humid weather, Gamboa also welcomed us with a Blue-chested Hummingbird disputing a feeder with the territorial Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. What a unique welcome to Panama! B...

Northern Tanzania


David Wolf: January 03, 2017

There simply aren’t enough superlatives to describe VENT’s premier November tour to Northern Tanzania.  It was impressive throughout, mind-boggling at times, and always fascinating.  We experienced what is perhaps the greatest mammal show on earth, the migration in the Serengeti ecosystem, plus a wide array of wonderful birds and animals. Even after more than 50 trips to Africa, your leader came away exhilarated by all that we had seen and done!  Few destinations ha...

Galapagos Islands Cruise Aboard the M/V Evolution


Paul Greenfield: January 01, 2017

From the moment our plane touched down on that arid desert “slab” that is Baltra Island, in mid-Pacific Ocean, one could get the feeling that this was a “different” sort of place. As we descended to our landing site, we could see a scattering of distant islets jutting out of the deep blue water and could observe a handful of “seaworthy” vessels of all sizes anchored in a nearby bay. As we deplaned and walked to the somewhat small but neatly built airline te...

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...

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 ...