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

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...

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...

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