Read the VENTFLASH and catch up on the latest news from VENT!

March 19, 2019

VENTFLASH #251: Spotlight on Uganda and Borneo

Dear friends:

African elephants - Victor Emanuel

When I founded this company in 1976, it was not incidental that I chose the name “Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT)” rather than “Victor Emanuel Birding Tours,” or something similar. Although I dearly love birds and birding, I have always had a keen interest in all aspects of nature, and at the time I was organizing VENT, I wanted a name for the business that would impart a holistic approach to the natural world. In turn, this perspective would allow the company to cater to all types of nature enthusiast, from the dedicated birder to those who seek the complete natural history experience in their travels.

Many of our tours are indeed bird-oriented while others emphasize observation of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and botany, in addition to the birding. I am a fan of all of our tours. It goes without saying that a tour wouldn’t be a tour unless it offered a great experience in nature. Yet after 43 years of tour leading, I can say that I am most drawn to those trips that offer nature in its greatest diversity.

In this edition of VENTFLASH, I shine our spotlight on two destinations that have it all—birds, mammals, botany and more: Uganda and Borneo. VENT has regularly offered tours to Uganda for the last five or so years, while Borneo has for decades been an essential component of our Asia program of tours. Each of these destinations offers tremendous birding opportunities while hosting some of the world’s most remarkable mammals, including members of the “Great Apes” group of primates.

If you’ve not yet made your summer travel plans, and have a desire to experience one of the world’s top destinations for birds and wildlife, I highly recommend our Uganda Highlights and Borneo tours. Each of these tours is limited to only 8 participants and each has a few spaces still available.

In this issue:

UGANDA HIGHLIGHTS WITH DION HOBCROFT AND KEVIN ZIMMER
BORNEO WITH MACHIEL VALKENBURG

UGANDA HIGHLIGHTS WITH DION HOBCROFT AND KEVIN ZIMMER

For decades, it was widely understood that ecotourism in East Africa meant Kenya and Tanzania. 
While these countries are world-renowned for their excellent birding and “big game” viewing opportunities, Uganda, starting about five years ago, entered the scene as a major destination in its own right. Uganda has always possessed wildlife attributes of equal caliber to those of Kenya and Tanzania, but years of political unrest, poor infrastructure, and an array of other factors prevented this East African nation from rising to the forefront of international wildlife-based tourism. No more. Uganda has been discovered!

Eastern Gorilla - Dion Hobcroft

In recent years, Uganda has blossomed as a wonderful place to visit. It is safe and delightfully friendly. Infrastructure improvements to the roads and lodges and development programs for the local guides have made wildlife touring in Uganda one of the best experiences possible in the natural history world.

Our Uganda Highlights tour is designed for people who would like a comfortable highlights package to this fascinating country. While the focus is on “Great Apes” (Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees) and the Shoebill, we will witness a huge diversity of birds and other 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. Additionally, our itinerary includes visits to Lake Victoria and 
the famous national parks: Murchison Falls, Bwindi, and Queen Elizabeth.

Our Uganda Highlights tours are led by Dion Hobcroft and Kevin Zimmer, who together possess years of experience leading tours to Uganda. VENT will operate two tours to this amazing destination in the next nine months. Our next departure is in July, with Dion Hobcroft, while our ensuing departure is in January 2020 with Kevin Zimmer.

Uganda Highlights: Gorillas, Chimpanzees & Shoebills, July 2–21, 2019 with Dion Hobcroft and a local leader; $11,495 in double occupancy from Entebbe. Limit 8. 4 spaces available.

Uganda Highlights: Gorillas, Chimpanzees & Shoebills, January 11–30, 2020 with Kevin Zimmer and a local leader; price to be announced in double occupancy from Entebbe. Limit 8. 3 spaces available.

BORNEO WITH MACHIEL VALKENBURG

Wrinkled Hornbill - Machiel Valkenburg

In the eyes of many, Borneo is among the world’s premier birding and wildlife destinations. The birds are plentiful, exotic, rare, and colorful, and the spectacular megafauna includes Orangutans, Bornean Pygmy Elephants, Proboscis Monkeys, and a profusion of "flying" animals—flying squirrels, gliding frogs, geckoes, lizards, and even an airborne snake.

This year, VENT’s Borneo tour, July 11–29, 2019, will be led by Machiel Valkenburg and a highly skilled local leader and will visit the most important birding and wildlife viewing sites on the island: Mount Kinabalu, Sepilok Reserve, the Kinabatangan River, and Danum Valley.

The cool montane forests that drape the slopes of Mount Kinabalu and the surrounding Crocker Ranges are home to most of Borneo's endemic species. By contrast, the meandering Kinabatangan River feeds the low-lying swamp forests that harbor troops of Proboscis Monkeys, herds of gentle Borneo Pygmy Elephants, and a vast array of wonderful birds including eight species of hornbills and the strange Bornean Bristlehead. Meanwhile, the lowland forests containing the Sepilok Reserve are home to some of the world’s greatest biodiversity outside of the Amazon Basin. To round out the experience, we’ll travel to the remote Danum Valley to visit one of the largest remaining stands of primary forest in Borneo where exists a dazzling cast of pittas, babblers, trogons, barbets, and broadbills.

Mount Kinabalu Overlook - Machiel Valkenburg

In addition to the island’s amazing birdlife, mammals, and strange reptiles, Borneo is famous as a haven for butterflies and for hosting the world's largest collection of carnivorous pitcher plants.

I can’t recommend this trip highly enough. Visit our website to view the field report from our 2018 tour.

Borneo, July 11–29, 2019 with Machiel Valkenburg and a local leader; $8,995 in double occupancy from Kota Kinabalu. Limit 8. 4 spaces available.

Best wishes,

Victor Emanuel

victor@ventbird.com
https://ventbird.com

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Victor Emanuel Nature Tours
2525 Wallingwood Drive, Suite 1003
Austin, TX 78746
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