Venezuela: Hato Piñero New Year: Dec 27, 2007—Jan 04, 2008

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Price: $3,145
Departs: Caracas
Tour Limit: 8
Download Itinerary: PDF (89 KB)

Tour Leaders


Jeri Langham

Jeri M. Langham has a Ph.D. in plant ecology from Washington State University, and afte...

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Agami Heron

Agami Heron — Photo: Goodell/Barrack

Enjoy great biodiversity where many threatened bird species are easy to see due to decades of conservation efforts. Large tracts of tropical dry forest, grasslands, and amazing concentrations of waterbirds. Good chance for many Neotropical mammals.

Hato Piñero is a 200,000-acre working cattle ranch in the high Llanos of northern Venezuela. It is a world-class example of how conservation and cattle ranching can work hand in hand. Hunting has been forbidden on the ranch for more than 60 years and, as a result, wildlife is remarkably abundant and easy to view. Piñero provides a wonderful blend of waterbird spectacle and woodland birding, including Jabirú, seven species of ibis, Scarlet Macaws, Capped and Whistling herons, huge Horned Screamers, Black-collared Hawk, Red-billed Scythebill, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Pale-tipped Tyrannulet, Venezuelan Troupial, Orinocan Saltator, Rufous-tailed and Pale-headed jacamars, and the increasingly rare Yellow-knobbed Curassow. A boat trip along Caño San Jerónimo reveals dozens of bizarre Hoatzins, five kingfisher species, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Sunbitterns, colorful Masked Cardinals and, hopefully, the spectacular Agami Heron.

Comfortable accommodations with air-conditioning and excellent home-cooked meals create a "private guest" atmosphere that allows us to enjoy this natural paradise to the fullest. Our days here will consist of full mornings of birding, followed by a return to the ranch house for lunch and a siesta during the hottest part of the day. Later, in mid-afternoon, we will return to the field to catch the last hours of daytime activity. We then work our way back to the ranch house after dark, spotlighting birds, reptiles, and mammals en route. These night drives are a perennial favorite, and routinely produce Common and Great potoos, numerous owls, crab-eating zorros, nightjars, ocelot, and occasionally Brazilian tapir, giant anteater, cougar, and jaguarundi. Birds are remarkably easy to see, and most of the over 200 species that we see here will be seen repeatedly, allowing us to soak up their field marks and behaviors.

Good accommodations; all nights at one location; morning, afternoon, and evening outings in a safari truck; easy non-strenuous terrain; midday breaks; warm climate.