FEBRUARY 15, 2019
VENTFLASH #249: Spring and Summer Tour Opportunities
|Hooded Warbler. - Barry Zimmer
I thought you might like to know about a range of travel opportunities between March and late August for which spaces are still available. Some of these departures focus exclusively on birds and wildlife while others include elements of history and culture. I encourage you to check out this line-up of spring and summer offerings to see if any of these fine tours capture your fancy. While ample space is still available on some trips, many have only one or two spaces available.
In this issue:
NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA & ZAMBIA DISCOUNT OPPORTUNITY
UGANDA HIGHLIGHTS: GORILLAS, CHIMPANZEES & SHOEBILLS
2019 TOURS WITH SPACES STILL AVAILABLE
NAMIBIA, BOTSWANA & ZAMBIA DISCOUNT OPPORTUNITY
Namibia, Botswana & Zambia, August 24–September 10, 2019 with Geoff Lockwood; $16,495 in double occupancy from Walvis Bay (ends in Livingstone, Zambia; internal flights included). Limit 6.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience southern Africa as it was 50 years ago with its great mammal herds still intact. We'll see plenty of big game, herds of hoofed mammals, cats, and a profusion of easy-to-see birds. Few tours in our entire repertoire offer the diversity and grandeur of this one. This is a specialty tour limited to only six people.
Register by May 1, 2019, and receive a discount of $1,000.
UGANDA HIGHLIGHTS: GORILLAS, CHIMPANZEES & SHOEBILLS
|Shoebill - Dion Hobcroft
Uganda Highlights: Gorillas, Chimpanzees & Shoebills, July 2–21, 2019 with Dion Hobcroft & local leader; $11,495 in double occupancy from Entebbe. Limit 8.
A spectacular wildlife experience in one of the most bird-rich countries of Africa; Chimpanzees,
Mountain Gorillas, and the remarkable Shoebill, as well as hundreds of other special and exotic birds,
including possibilities for several Albertine Rift endemics, and numerous Palearctic migrants.
This tour is designed for people who would like a comfortable highlights package to this fascinating country. While the focus is on Gorillas, Chimpanzees, and the Shoebill, we will witness a huge diversity of birds and mammals. We have chances to see both Leopard and Lion, and we will encounter herds of African Elephant, Giraffe, Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalo, Zebra, and a tremendous diversity of hoofed mammals and primates. The birding is extraordinarily diverse with hornbills, parrots, kingfishers, bee-eaters, turacos, bustards, trogons, hornbills, and an array of dazzling sunbirds and weavers leading the charge.
2019 SPRING AND SUMMER TOURS WITH SPACES STILL AVAILABLE
Mexico: El Triunfo, March 7–17, 2019 with Brian Gibbons and Victor Emanuel; $3,895 in double occupancy from Tuxtla Gutierrez (ends in Tapachula).
An extraordinary wilderness experience in the greatest cloud forest reserve in Mexico. Enjoy
untrammeled wilderness, Horned Guans, and numerous other birds including the Resplendent Quetzal
and the localized Azure-rumped Tanager, while gaining total immersion in the natural riches of El
Triunfo. Numerous endemic species and spectacular scenery.
|Horned Guan, El Triunfo - Photo: Brian Gibbons
Yellowstone in Early Spring: Bears, Wolves & Birds, March 24–30, 2019 with Denver Holt & Robert
Ridgely; $2,495 in double occupancy from Bozeman. 2 spaces available.
Timeless Yellowstone National Park provides the setting for this early spring tour—a complete natural history experience featuring birds, mammals, and beautiful scenery. This tour will be led by Montana resident and naturalist extraordinaire Denver Holt. Supplementing our observations, Denver will provide expert interpretation on a variety of important topics covering the biology and ecology of the national park and its wildlife.
Spring in South Texas, March 31–April 9, 2019 with Barry Zimmer and Jacob Drucker; $3,495 in double occupancy from Corpus Christi (ends in Laredo). 2 spaces available.
Experience the best of the Lone Star State with migrants and Whooping Cranes along the coast, a King Ranch visit, Rio Grande Valley specialties, and a Hill Country Extension with birds, bats, and wildflower displays!
We also have a few spaces available on the Hill Country Extension, April 9-13!
|American Avocets - Michael O'Brien
High Island Migration, April 18–24, 2019 with Erik Bruhnke and Jacob Drucker; $2,245 in double occupancy from Houston. 4 spaces available.
Experience one of the finest and best-known spectacles of spring songbird migration in North America, with dozens of warblers and other songbird species, plus loads of shorebirds, marsh birds, and Southeast pine wood specialties like Red-cockaded Woodpecker.
Montana Owl Workshop, April 19–24, 2019 with Denver Holt & Matt Larson; $2,045 in double occupancy from Missoula. 4 spaces available.
A fascinating short tour emphasizing identification, biology, and habitats of owls; good chances for many owl species including Long-eared, Pygmy, and Boreal. Spectacular scenery! Our group will observe researchers of the Owl Research Institute who are conducting a long-term study of Long-eared Owls. They will capture, band, weigh, measure, and record other biological data. We will also search, collect, and dissect owl pellets in the field.
Bolivar Beach House: Migration on the Upper Texas Coast, April 23–30, 2019 with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis; $2,695 in double occupancy from Houston, with a new opportunity for guaranteed single rooms!
The Upper Texas Coast is legendary among birders as being among the most exciting places to witness spring migration in all of North America. Each spring, millions of songbirds wintering in Central America take off from the Yucatan Peninsula and strike out across the Gulf of Mexico on their journey back to
North American breeding grounds. Our activities will be based out of a lovely beach house right on the Gulf of Mexico.
Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan, April 24–May 16, 2019 with Machiel Valkenburg; $7,995 in double occupancy from Tashkent (ends in Astana). 3 spaces available.
|White-browed Tit-Warbler - Machiel Valkenburg
An exciting and special journey into the heart of Central Asia’s vast and unspoiled landscapes of steppe, desert, and mountains. Encounter a whole suite of birds found nowhere else, and combine it with the most exquisitely ornate and exotic historical sites of the Silk Road—a winning and spectacular combination. New for 2019, our tour includes Uzbekistan, home to the famous historical site of Samarkand and a suite of birds we'll not see elsewhere. VENT tour leader Machiel Valkenburg lived in Kazakhstan for years and is intimately familiar with the country, its people, and its birdlife.
Spring Birding in Spain, April 28–May 15, 2019 with Santiago Villa and Brian Gibbons; $6,395 in double occupancy from Sevilla (ends in Madrid). 4 spaces available.
In the opinion of many, Spain is the single-greatest country for birding in Europe. From the Mediterranean to the Pyrenees, diversity is a theme—diversity of scenery and landscapes matched by a diversity of birdlife. Shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds of all types are assured. Moreover, local guide Santi Villa is a wonderful ambassador to his country, where participants will receive broad exposure to Spanish culture, architecture, and cuisine. This is a remarkable tour.
|Charles Darwin house - Andrew Whittaker
Southern England: Birds & History, May 2–12, 2019 with Phil Jones & second leader to be announced; $3,595 in double occupancy from London.
A delightful, relaxed, and easy mix of exciting and varied birding plus world-class historical sites in the best area of Britain for both. Combines migration hot spots with splendid castles, palaces, exquisite gardens, and Darwin’s charming house, with a very flexible and adaptable well-planned program.
Japan in Spring, May 7–20, 2019 with Kaz Shinoda & second leader to be announced; $7,995 from Tokyo. 2 spaces available.
Early May is a terrific time to see Japan’s birds at the peak of their spring migration and to search out special birds unique to this ancient nation of many islands. The tour also offers an opportunity to visit and bird in rural Japan, away from urban centers, to experience a more traditional Japan that few tourists see.
France: Birds & Art in Provence: A Birds, Nature & Culture Tour, May 20–28, 2019 with Rick Wright and Alison Beringer; $3,695 in double occupancy from Arles. 1 space available.
The captivating Provence region of France is the setting for a week-long tour that combines the joys of birding, art, and cuisine. This tour is consistently among our most popular of our multi-themed tours.
|The Alaska Range, as viewed from the Denali Highway - Kevin J. Zimmer
Grand Alaska: Nome & Gambell, May 29–June 8, 2019 with Kevin Zimmer & Brian Gibbons; $6,695 in double occupancy from Anchorage. 4 spaces available.
Exciting birding from Bering Sea specialties and Siberian vagrants at two of western Alaska's outposts. Breeding Bluethroats, ptarmigan, Bristle-thighed Curlew, Gyrfalcon, and others, with Musk Ox, Grizzly, and Moose all possible at Nome. Witness spectacular daily movements of seabirds, along with excellent changes of Asiatic vagrants at Gambell.
A few spaces are also available on:
Grand Alaska: Pribilofs & Anchorage Pre-Trip, May 23–29, 2019
Grand Alaska Part I: Nome & Barrow, June 7-16, 2019
Grand Alaska: Nome Pre-Trip, June 11–16, 2019
Grand Alaska Part II: Anchorage, Denali & Kenai Peninsula, June 16-24, 2019
Birding Across America by Train, May 27–June 9, 2019 with Michael O'Brien and Louise Zemaitis; $7,695 in double occupancy from Albany (ends in Seattle). 3 spaces available.
This tour is unlike any other we know of. Experience three distinct regions of North America—the Adirondacks of New York, the prairies of North Dakota, and Puget Sound of Washington state—while riding a train across the country from upstate New York to the Pacific coast. Participants on this trip will see well over 200 species of birds.
Spring in the Washington Cascades: A Relaxed & Easy Tour, June 2–8, 2019 with Bob Sundstrom and a second leader to be announced; $2,595 in double occupancy from Seattle.
Perhaps no place in the country is lovelier in early June than Washington state, and perhaps no place offers more appealing birding and scenery than the majestic Cascades. Join veteran tour leader Bob Sundstrom in pursuit of western specialty birds and other flora and fauna.
Brazil: Amazonia on the Rio Roosevelt, June 14–24, 2019 with Andrew Whittaker; $9,095 in double occupancy from Porto Velho.
|Manicore Warbling-Antbird (recently described) - Andrew Whittaker
The legendary Rio Roosevelt is the venue for a trip that seeks widespread species and specialty birds in the heart of Brazil. Good accommodations and meals complement superb birding. This is a specialty trip led by longtime VENT leader and Brazil resident, Andrew Whittaker.
Costa Rica: A Relaxed & Easy Tour, June 15–23, 2019 with David Ascanio; $3,595 in double occupancy from San Jose.
Experience two of the best areas of Costa Rica, with a remarkable cross-section of tropical birds and habitats; comfortable accommodations and good food throughout; and good birding right around each lodge. This is an excellent introduction to Neotropical birding, plus many regional endemics.
Borneo, July 11–29, 2019 with Machiel Valkenburg and a local leader; $8,995 in double occupancy from Kota Kinabalu. 4 spaces available.
Home to a broad suite of special birds, mammals, and reptiles, Borneo is unquestionably one of the world's great wildlife viewing destinations. Orangutans, primates, Bornean Pygmy Elephants, pheasants, hornbills, and the Bornean Bristlehead are all standout species we'll seek. Additionally, a stay at the
Danum Valley Lodge is not to be missed.
Slovenia & Austria: Birds & Music from Ljubljana to Vienna: A Birds, Nature & Culture Tour, June 16–July 1, 2019 with a local leader and Rafael Galvez; $7,995 in double occupancy from Ljubljana (ends in Vienna).
Birds and music are combined on this multi-themed tour to two of Europe's most beautiful countries. Austria speaks for itself: historic, architecturally rich, and stunningly scenic; but Slovenia, though less known to many tourists, is a traveler's dream. Featuring the lofty peaks of the Julian Alps, marvelous lakes and forests, and rich montane birdlife, many people regard Slovenia as Europe's best-kept secret.
|Marvelous Spatuletail - Steve Hilty
Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics: Mythical Owlet & Stupendous Spatuletail, August 12–23, 2019 with Andrew Whittaker; $5,145 in double occupancy from Lima.
Join Andrew Whittaker for a trip to the cloud forests of northern Peru, a wonderland of tanagers, hummingbirds, and other extraordinary tropical birds. Seeing the Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird is one highlight among many. This trip is one of our most popular South American tours.
Ecuador: Best of Amazonia, June 29–July 5, 2019 with Paul Greenfield; $3,595 in double occupancy from Quito.
The exciting and comfortable Napo Wildlife Center, in the Rio Napo lowlands of northeastern Ecuador, lies within the most diverse avifaunal zone in the world, the vast rainforests of upper Amazonia. The lowland rainforests of Amazonia, superficially so uniform in appearance, are marvelously complex in reality. They are home to a web of species inhabiting every imaginable niche, and almost 600 species of birds have been recorded from Napo Wildlife Center and its surroundings.
Colombia: Endemics of the Choco-Pacific Lowlands, July 7–17, 2019 with Steve Hilty & local leader; $6,195 in double occupancy from Medellin. 4 Spaces available.
Long regarded as one of the most endemic-rich avifaunas in the world, the Chocó-Pacific is known for its high rainfall, beautiful green mountains, spectacular waterfalls, ever-changing panoramas of cloud-filled valleys, and unparalleled tanager diversity. Expect exciting birding, a number of endemic or near-
endemic species, and a few previously seen by few others. This trip is designed as an introduction to one of the most endemic-rich regions in the New World—the
Chocó-Pacific lowlands of western Colombia. In Colombia the Andes split into three distinct cordilleras, each offering a distinctive array of localized birds.
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One of the great pleasures of being a VENT tour leader is the opportunity to share birds and nature with the wonderful people who join our trips.
Over the years we have tried to correct some mistaken impressions about our tours. Some potential clients have told me they are not “expert enough” to go on a VENT tour. In response, I explain that on a “typical” tour we have participants who have been birding for many years, as well as others who are new to birding. I tell them that one does not need to be an expert birder, but rather needs only to possess a passion for birds and nature. Because everyone on a tour shares this passion, regardless of skill level, our tours are infused with terrific group spirit. This shared enthusiasm is contagious. Our tour leaders and tour participants alike love all birds, including the common ones. Some of our travelers keep in touch with people they’ve met on our tours and make plans to travel together on a future trip. Additionally, young birders in our camps have become professional leaders, pioneers in the field, and life-long friends to the birding community. Other mistaken impressions are that our tours are either too intense or the opposite, too relaxed. In actuality, our tours run the gamut in terms of “intensity.” A few of our tours are indeed more intense, with long days in the field and greater physical demands. Examples include our hiking tour to El Triunfo, Mexico, and our annual Gambell/Nome tour in Alaska, which are some of the most intense and physically demanding trips offered by any company. At the other end of the scale, we also offer “easier” tours, such as those encompassed in our program of Relaxed & Easy tours, as well as many of our birding and natural history cruises. These departures are for those who want to enjoy birds and nature at a low-intensity pace, with fewer hours in the field and lighter physical demands. However, most of our tours are of moderate intensity, with full days in the field complemented by afternoon breaks. I have led all types of tours and love them all. I hope you will join us on a VENT tour soon! Regardless of the level of your birding skills or depth of passion for birding and nature, VENT’s diversity of tour offerings ensures that we have a trip type or specific departure that best suits you. Feel free to contact our tour operations managers or me about the nature of any tour that interests you. We can be reached by phone (800-328-8368 or 512-328-5221) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I hope you will join a VENT tour in 2019!