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

Thailand Highlights

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Dion Hobcroft: May 20, 2016

Muang Boran was our first official port of call on our annual Thailand tour. Like so much of the rest of the planet, Thailand was in the grip of a severe drought, and the amount of water in the fish ponds was far lower than usual. It led to the sighting of a few species I have rarely recorded here before, including a lovely pair of Greater Painted-Snipe, lots of Oriental Pratincoles, and a Chestnut Munia. More standard birds included lovely Cotton Pygmy-geese, Lesser Whistling-Duck, both Phea...


Panama: Bocas del Toro Archipelago

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Jeri Langham: May 17, 2016

Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge was built on Bastimentos Island adjacent to the large Parque Nacional Isla Bastimentos in Panama’s Bocas del Toro Archipelago. I scouted this location in January 2011 and immediately knew it was a fantastic location for VENT tours. Participants also have opportunities to snorkel, kayak, fish, or swim in the warm Caribbean waters.  An enticing example of what awaits visitors to this marvelous birding paradise can be found in excerpts taken from the ...


Cuba

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David Ascanio: May 14, 2016

Our Cuba tour started at the airline counter of the Miami airport with Cuban-Americans checking bags of all sizes, many covered with a protective blue plastic, flat screen TVs, electronic devices, tires, car parts, and much more. I reminded you to say goodbye to fresh lettuce and uncooked vegetables, and with an espresso coffee in hand we boarded the flight to Cuba. Shortly after 45 minutes in the air the plane tires screeched the tarmac of Santa Clara airport, and big hands were offered to t...


Amazon River Cruise

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David Ascanio: May 14, 2016

As our flight to Iquitos gained elevation, leaving arid Lima behind us, participants that had a window seat enjoyed the snow-capped peaks and glaciers as we passed through the Andes. As soon as we were on the eastern side of the Andes, we noticed that these mountains were dropping to an extensive green carpet, so big that the word “extensive” seemed insufficient. Approaching Iquitos we noticed windy rivers, flooded forest, and oxbow lakes. From the air this vegetation seemed homog...


Northern Tanzania

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Kevin Zimmer: May 09, 2016

As has become the routine, virtually the entire group arrived in Tanzania 1–2 days early to recover from the international flights and enjoy some relaxing birding on the lovely grounds of Ngare Sero Mountain Lodge, an old estate converted to an intimate tourist lodge. Here, amidst the spectacular gardens and remnant forest bordering a lily-covered pond and trout stream, we gained an introduction to African birds, including several species that we would not see elsewhere on the trip. Amo...


Northern Ecuador Hummingbird Extravaganza

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Paul Greenfield: May 05, 2016

Hummingbirds, hummingbirds, and more hummingbirds! That seems to be the “battle-cry” of our Hummingbird Extravaganza Tour, now in its fourth year. It’s pretty mind-boggling that we actually saw 66 species of these mesmerizing creatures this week, but that alone does not tell even half of the whole story of what we were able to observe and experience. Our itinerary took us to renowned sites on both slopes of Ecuador’s northern Andes mountain chain, exploring different e...


Panama: El Valle's Canopy Lodge Extension

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Tony Nunnery: April 22, 2016

The El Valle Extension is an exciting addition to the Canopy Tower tour. Upon arrival, the change of routine gets underway while watching various tropical birds visit the banana feeders just below the open-air dining area. We watched enthusiastically as Gray-headed Chachalaca, Rufous Motmot, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, and Thick-billed Euphonia frantically fed. From our strategically elevated perspective, we witnessed the brilliant colors o...


Panama's Canopy Tower

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Tony Nunnery: April 22, 2016

Largely because of Panama’s geographical position, this little land bridge country can boast of an exceptionally awesome list of avifauna. Consequently, the last two decades have seen a continuous increase in the number of visitors interested in the local birdlife. Victor Emanuel has been an insightful pioneer in this respect by early on introducing and offering birding tours to Panama. On the first morning of the tour we start the day from the top of the Canopy Tower. The excitement be...


Nebraska: Platte River, Sandhill Cranes & Prairie Grouse

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Rick Wright: April 21, 2016

Larry may have put it best on our final evening together as a group: The greatest surprise this tour has to offer is Nebraska itself, a state too easily dismissed as “flyover country,” but one that in fact contains a vast diversity of habitats and shelters a vast variety of birds—even beyond the world-famous spring concentrations of Sandhill Cranes and the equally moving spectacle of Sharp-tailed Grouse and Greater Prairie-Chickens on their grassland dancing grounds. The cra...


New Year at Panama's Canopy Tower

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Tony Nunnery: April 20, 2016

As I mentioned in the Canopy Lodge Pre-Trip report, it is always a pleasure to spend the Holiday Season in Panama guiding for VENT, which allows me to share some of this country’s spectacular natural beauty with others. As stated earlier, one of our main focuses is upon birds of which we have plenty of opportunities to witness. As in previous years, this Holiday Season in Panama Tour provided a variety of memorable moments. Following a very successful five days of birding on the Christm...


Panama: Christmas at El Valle's Canopy Lodge Pre-trip

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Tony Nunnery: April 20, 2016

It is always a pleasure to spend the holiday season in Panama guiding for VENT, which allows me to share some of this country’s spectacular natural beauty with others. Of course, one of our main focuses is upon birds, of which we have plenty of opportunities to witness, and as in previous years, this holiday season provided a variety of memorable moments. The Christmas at El Valle’s Canopy Lodge Pre-trip began at the shores of the Panama Canal where we overnighted in the Country I...


Easy Philippines

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Dion Hobcroft: April 06, 2016

It was a great pleasure to co-lead this tour of the Philippines with my good birding friend Adrian Constantino. Somewhat unconvinced by the term “Easy,” our trusty band of participants agreed to the necessary 4:30 am departure, to escape the vice-like grip of the Manila traffic, from our comfortable hotel on our first morning. It was a good move, as we were in position at Candaba marshes, a small but outstanding protected area, close to first light. Our big reward was a stunning m...


Cuba

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Brian Gibbons: April 05, 2016

Cuba has an allure for Americans more than any other New World country. The forbidden fruit of Cuban Cigars, Havana nightclubs, Hemingway’s playground—both the bars and the sea, and endemic birds all lured us down to Castro’s Cuba. Finally permitted to enjoy this neighborhood playground, we made haste observing more than 20 Cuban endemics and many exciting Caribbean birds, as well as meeting many friendly Cubans as bird guides, potters, and tobacco and coffee farmers who all...


Belize: A Relaxed & Easy Tour

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Michael O'Brien: April 01, 2016

For the naturalist wishing to have a quick winter getaway, Belize offers some of the most delightful environments, friendly people, and pleasant birding in the Neotropics, all within a quick flight from the U.S. In this bird-rich region, this year’s tour proved to be one of our most productive, with some amazing wildlife sightings and an excellent list of hard-to-see species. Beginning at our hotel on the outskirts of Belize City, we immediately found an abundance of wintering Neotropic...


El Triunfo

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Brian Gibbons: March 31, 2016

From the arid lower reaches of Sumidero Canyon to the moss-draped realm of the Horned Guan in the cloud forest, this year’s El Triunfo tour scored great birds, scenery, and adventure in Chiapas. We started in the hotel parking lot in Tuxtla Gutierrez, where White-fronted Parrots were feasting on green mangoes and flowers. The quick drive to Sumidero Canyon National Park took us to the wild edge of this burgeoning city of a million. In the dry thorn forest of the lower slopes we found Ba...


Colombia: Santa Marta Mountains Extension

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Steve Hilty: March 30, 2016

This trip, which follows the Bogotá-Magdalena Valley tour, provides an entirely different suite of birds and a different environment, culture, and work ethic. Our trip began with an early morning flight from Bogotá to Santa Marta and a visit to a scrub and plantation area south of the airport. Despite being hot and late in the morning, we found several of the commoner dry forest and mixed scrub species including Yellow-headed Caracara, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Panama Flycatche...


Colombia: Bogota, Eastern Andes & the Magdalena Valley

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Steve Hilty: March 30, 2016

For the first few days it seemed as if the trip would be more about traffic in Bogotá (and how to get in and out of the city) than birds, but our days afield soon dispelled that notion. On our first day, at Chingaza National Park, we found the mountain slopes alive with hummingbirds and an abundance of flowering plants and, although some hummers seldom seemed to sit still, others did, such as the gorgeous Purple-backed Thornbill. And, any memories of hummingbird frustration were quickl...


Spring Hawaii

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Bob Sundstrom: March 29, 2016

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


Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes

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Paul Greenfield: March 22, 2016

The long uphill transect that lay before us beckoned with untold promise as we headed westward from the Amazonian lowlands at the town of “Coca” (Francisco de Orellana) at the beginning of this year’s Eastern Slope of the Andes tour. It was clear, though, from the start that at least for now the same uncharacteristically hot and rainless weather conditions we faced during our week at Napo Wildlife Center would accompany us a bit longer—we had dealt with it already and ...


Trinidad

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Barry Zimmer: March 17, 2016

Fewer than two hundred are believed to exist in the world. Aware of its drastic decline in recent decades and also of the lack of sightings on recent tours, I felt we had little, if any, chance of seeing the Trinidad Piping-Guan, one of the world’s rarest birds. Our local guide had informed me, however, of recent sightings of one bird seen on and off for the last few weeks at a particular location high up on the Blanchisseuse Road. We departed Asa Wright Nature Centre early that morning...


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