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

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 ...

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...

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...

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