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

Panama's Canopy Tower: Birds & Butterflies


Michael O'Brien: September 15, 2014

This year’s Birds & Butterflies trip to the Canopy Tower was another fun tour, full of amazing butterflies, birds, mammals, and much more. It was also a particular privilege to be here on the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal’s opening! As expected this time of year, it rained every day, but we managed to dodge the rain most of the time, and enjoyed mild temperatures that are typical of the green season. And when we did get caught in the rain on Pipeline Road, everyone agr...

Namibia, Botswana & Zambia


Geoff Lockwood: September 12, 2014

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 larks and chats. Migratory shorebirds were starting to arrive, and the most unusual sighting of the tour was of a party of three Broad-billed Sandpipers feeding in the Walvis Bay Saltworks. This species is a regional rarity in southern Africa—and this was the first time we have recorded it on these tours. Another unusual record was of...

Brazil: Pantanal Photo Safari (Birds & Jaguars)


David Ascanio: September 11, 2014

It is difficult to summarize the wonderful bird and mammal experiences from our Pantanal Photo Safari in a brief report such as this, simply because there were so many! Every day we were awakened by a cacophony of notes from Gray-necked Wood-Rails, Limpkins, and Chaco Chachalacas. They were indeed our alarm clock! Then came a golden sunrise, a fresh morning breeze, and the sweet notes of the Sunbittern. With the first hint of light, we experienced a massive explosion of life: Toco Toucans cam...

Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the M/V Evolution


Paul Greenfield: September 08, 2014

Cruising the Galapagos Islands is a truly multidimensional experience—both in time and space—on land and sea, and under the sea. It may well be the closest one will ever come to experiencing time travel, being transported back to earth’s earliest development, at times feeling like being caught in a sort of limbo within an evolutionary timeframe between two end-points…how else can those crazy Flightless Cormorants with their apparently useless, disheveled wings be expl...

Galapagos Cruise: Tandayapa Pre-Trip


Paul Greenfield: September 08, 2014

The Ecuador: Tandayapa Pre-trip was originally designed as an opportunity to experience a “snapshot” sample of the avian riches of this extremely biodiverse South American country as a setting for comparison with the relatively austere ecosystem of the Galapagos Archipelago. It should go without saying that nature can be very unpredictable and, in reality, there is no way to actually predict what this brief 48-hour itinerary will bring. I, for one, am always surprised! This July&r...

Wild Alaska with the Aleutian Islands


Brian Gibbons: September 04, 2014

The Caledonian Sky provided an excellent platform from which to explore the wonders of Alaska, the Bering Sea, and the North Pacific Ocean. We witnessed glacier calving in Kenai Fjords National Park, swarms of seabirds at massive colonies in the Aleutians, clam-digging bears at Geographic Harbor, remote fishing villages—most still inhabited, and Sea Otters, all with the backdrop of spectacular scenery that is Wild Alaska. We cruised the Alaska Peninsula, the whole of the 1,100 miles of ...

Eastern Venezuela: Tepui Endemics & the Orinoco River Delta


David Ascanio: September 03, 2014

Our 2014 Eastern Venezuela tour began near the southern bank of the Orinoco River in Cachamay Park. Here, after much searching, we saw the beautiful Orinocan Saltator, our first target species. Exploring the edge of the dry and riverine forests, we added to our list several species that are common in the northern part of the country.   Roraiman Barbtail— Photo: David Ascanio     Continuing south, we drove to one of my favorite birding areas: Sierra ...

Grand Costa Rica


Jeri Langham: August 18, 2014

Each of the 22 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 find the...

Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics


Andrew Whittaker: August 15, 2014

Our 2014 tour to this mecca of Andean cloudforest birding surpassed my wildest dreams, beating last year’s total by 11, coming in at an incredible 359 species! As to be expected, the birding highlights were many: an amazing 41 colorful species of tanagers covering every spectacular color combination imaginable, to hummingbirds (if you love them as much as I do, this is the trip for you), with 37 dazzling species producing a non-stop kaleidoscope of colors at the feeders. The holy grail ...

Lima's Coastal Marshes and Humboldt Seabird Colonies


Andrew Whittaker: August 15, 2014

We had a great day of birding at the Pantanos de Villa reserve beach area and, after traveling south through the Atacama Desert, at the delightful seaside resort and harbor at Pucasana. The marshes were full of birds including an estimated 1,000 Gray Gulls (interesting, as they are absent other times of the year); these are unique amongst gulls, as they nest in the desert! Inca Terns— Photo: Andrew Whittaker We were able to study our waterbirds well, with a backdrop of huge...

Northern Peru's Tumbes & Maranon Endemics


Andrew Whittaker: August 14, 2014

VENT’s return to this spectacular corner of Northern Peru, which is full of Tumbes and Marañon endemics and unique habitats, was a fantastic success! We were blessed with great weather, superb birding, and wonderful field breakfasts and lunches. Imagine, as dawn breaks, sitting down at a large table with hot coffee, steaming hot fried eggs or pancakes, fresh fruit, yogurt, and fruit juice, and always with a stunning panoramic view. Thanks to our professional cook, Aurelio, this w...

The Pacific Northwest: An Introductory Birding Tour


Bob Sundstrom: August 13, 2014

Late July is a great time to take in the natural beauty of Washington’s tremendously scenic Olympic Peninsula. The high meadows of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains are carpeted in wildflowers and set off by deep blue saltwater bays and dark green conifer forests. It’s also an excellent time to search out the region’s diverse birdlife: from puffins and oystercatchers to grouse, dippers, warblers, and endangered murrelets—definitely an eye-catching array of birds to bri...

Avian Jewels of Arizona


Barry Zimmer: August 11, 2014

Our 2014 Avian Jewels of Arizona tour was arguably our best ever. It seemed as if every bird we looked for appeared magically, in short time, and then allowed spectacular views. In discussing any summer tour to Arizona, you must start with hummingbirds. We had an impressive 12 species on our trip, highlighted by the Plain-capped Starthroat in Madera Canyon that visited the Santa Rita Lodge feeders about every ten minutes while we were there. This accidental visitor from Mexico is certainly on...

Grand Alaska Part II: Anchorage, Denali Highway & Kenai Peninsula


David Wolf: August 08, 2014

Spectacular scenery and the vast Alaskan wilderness define Part II of the Grand Alaska tour. This year we kicked-off with a relaxed “flex day” around Anchorage, with some folks from both Parts I & II joining up for a pleasant day of birding south to Girdwood and back, and then we all met for a get-acquainted dinner. Our adventure began the next morning, as we traveled under gorgeous sunny skies from the Anchorage area to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Trumpeter Swan&m...

Grand Alaska Part I: Nome & the Pribilofs


David Wolf: August 08, 2014

Grand Alaska Part I got off to a roaring start, with the group arriving in Nome on schedule on a beautiful sunny morning. There is something indescribably special about the area surrounding this old gold rush town. The mix of special breeding birds on the tundras and large numbers of migrants staging at Safety Sound and other points along the coast, coupled with the very real chance of finding some rare stray from Asia, always makes for exhilarating birding. When you throw in a full complemen...

Grand Alaska: Gambell/Nome Pre-trip


David Wolf: August 08, 2014

A trip to Gambell village on remote St. Lawrence Island is always an adventure—and thus quite unpredictable. We began our 2014 trip with an early morning arrival in Nome, only to learn that there was widespread fog and low visibility over the entire region, putting our flight to Gambell on hold. We waited and waited, taking short strolls in the vicinity of the Bering Air terminal and finding our first 25 species of birds, but as the hours ticked away we were definitely restless and a bi...

The Nature of Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito


Michael O'Brien: July 31, 2014

Our summer visit to Pico Bonito was a wonderful getaway to this remarkably rich country. On this tour, which has a more general natural history focus than our other Honduras offerings, we took the time to enjoy a host of reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths, and other interesting critters, in addition to a marvelous array of bird species. Our home base, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, ranks among the finest jungle lodges we’ve ever visited. Very comfortable cabins, a wonderful swimming po...

Alaska: Barrow Extension


Barry Zimmer: July 23, 2014

Shortly after our arrival in Barrow we headed out onto the Gaswell Road. It was difficult to make much progress, as we made frequent stops for dapper Long-tailed Ducks, stunning Red Phalaropes, and displaying Pectoral Sandpipers, all of which were wonderfully numerous. A parade of other birds caught our attention as well, including the likes of Greater White-fronted Goose, Tundra Swan, spiffy Dunlins, Pomarine and Parasitic jaegers, Lapland Longspurs, and brilliant Snow Buntings. Eventua...

Alaska Mainland


Barry Zimmer: July 23, 2014

Easing out of the boat harbor in Seward, it was hard not to marvel at the spectacular scenery that surrounded Resurrection Bay: three hundred and sixty degrees of jaw-dropping beauty that would accompany us throughout the day. Of course we had birds on the mind, and almost immediately our attention was drawn from the scenery to passing Arctic Terns, a Northwestern Crow, a playful sea otter, and an adult Bald Eagle perched on a channel marker. Some of the stunning scenery around Sewar...

Birding Across America by Train


Michael O'Brien: July 11, 2014

The heart and soul of this unique tour lies in the excitement and adventure of traveling cross-country. The fact that our journey takes us across three completely different physiographic regions, and an amazing diversity of species, is almost secondary. And the train itself has a special allure, mystique, and history that make for an exciting element of the tour. This year, some unfortunate train delays tarnished some of that excitement, but the silver lining was expanded sightseeing opportun...