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

Uganda Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: August 25, 2015

We were successful in our primary quest to see Chimpanzees, Shoebills, and Gorillas in the wild. We had fabulous encounters with all three of these iconic species. We found both a Leopard hunting at night and two prides of Lions; enjoyed Giraffe and Zebra amongst a variety and abundance of African hoofed mammals; observed all of the monkey species possible on this tour; and racked up an impressive 460 species of birds in this fantastic country. All of our logistics went smoothly, and we had n...

Grand Costa Rica


Jeri Langham: August 25, 2015

Each of the 23 Grand Costa Rica tours I have led in July has been unique. Although we visit the same areas, the species we encounter at each location vary somewhat, just as they do when one revisits favorite areas at home. We do take extra time to locate specialties like a male Three-wattled Bellbird, which is the bird on the cover of my personalized Checklist, and Resplendent Quetzals, which are on the back cover. About 90% of the birds on the yearly Field Lists are the same, but where we fi...

VENTflash #190


Victor Emanuel: August 19, 2015

Dear friends, As we approach the anniversary of our 40th year in business, I find myself reflecting on many of the great moments in VENT's remarkable history. Many of you probably have never heard about these events so I thought I would tell you about one of the greatest stories ever to come out of a VENT tour. Steller's Eider, Barrow, AK — Photo: Kevin Zimmer The date was June 27, 1993, and VENT tour leader Kevin Zimmer was in Barrow, Alaska at the tail-end of our Gra...

Avian Jewels of Arizona


Barry Zimmer: August 17, 2015

Once again, this year’s Avian Jewels tour proved why southeastern Arizona during the monsoon season is a must destination for any birder. Hummingbirds are the first things most people associate with summer in Arizona, and we had them in spades. We totaled an impressive eleven species during our trip, highlighted by male and female White-eared Hummingbirds in Miller Canyon and a hard-earned Plain-capped Starthroat (an accidental visitor from Mexico) near Portal. Throw in other such gems ...

Galapagos Islands Cruise aboard the M/V Evolution


Michael O'Brien: August 15, 2015

There are very few destinations where one can have as rich and complete a natural history experience as the Galápagos Islands. The rugged beauty of these volcanic islands is breathtaking, and the sheer abundance of wildlife is simply staggering and ripe with photographic opportunity. But there is so much more to the Galápagos. Just the thought of walking in the footsteps of Darwin, on the very islands that shaped his theory of natural selection and had such a profound influence ...

Tandayapa Pre-trip Galapagos Cruise


Paul Greenfield: August 15, 2015

I am always surprised (perhaps reassured) by just how many (cool!) bird species one can find on a relatively short outing out of Quito. Our Tandayapa Pre-trip to our Galapagos Cruise was originally designed to offer a sort of avian “snippet” of the full potential that the western Andean slopes possess. As with all encounters with nature, conditions are always varied, one never really knows what will happen, and birds actually do have their own minds and needs—and are not obl...

Northern Peru's Cloud Forest Endemics


Andrew Whittaker: August 12, 2015

Our 2015 tour to the mecca of Andean Cloud Forest birding did not let me down, beating last year’s high total and finishing with an incredible 362 species! Voted top bird of the trip, with repeated stunning views (after playback), was the huge and magnificent Crimson-bellied Woodpecker, certainly one of the world’s greatest woodpeckers. Its fiery crimson underparts contrasted with its black back and huge, flashy white wing patches as it glided through the forest and landed on a tr...

Greece and Turkey: from Athens to Istanbul


Victor Emanuel: August 12, 2015

In 2005, for the first time in our company’s history, VENT chartered the incomparable Sea Cloud for a Birds & History cruise from Athens to Istanbul. That trip proved so successful that I’ve longed to repeat it ever since. I never thought it would take ten years, but indeed it has, which is why I was so thrilled to offer this trip in 2015 after having waited so long. Our tour group assembled in Athens on the evening of June 19 for a trip welcome and introduction. Dinner that n...

VENTflash #189


Victor Emanuel: August 06, 2015

Dear friends, VENT is fortunate in having a superb team of tour leaders. Many of our leaders have been with us for over 20 years, and some even more than 30 years. In the last year, our staff was further bolstered by the addition of four terrific new leaders: Erik Bruhnke, Rafael Galvez, Machiel Valkenburg, and Rick Wright. Barry Zimmer Anyone who has taken a VENT tour knows how skilled our tour leaders are. I take great pleasure in reading the comments on the tour evaluatio...

Alaska: Barrow Extension


Kevin Zimmer: August 05, 2015

It seems as if I often begin Alaska trip reports with some variation of, “No two trips to Alaska are ever the same,” and this year’s Barrow Extension was a perfect example. We arrived in Barrow to pleasantly mild temperatures that were to persist throughout our stay. Our elation at the warmer-than-usual conditions was tempered by the realization that, for the first time in the nearly 30 years that I have been birding Barrow in late June, there was no ice within a few miles o...

Grand Alaska Part II: Anchorage, Denali Highway & Kenai Peninsula


Kevin Zimmer: August 05, 2015

We hit the ground running on the first day, with the long drive to Tangle River. Our drive up the Glenn and Richardson highways to Paxson encompassed so much of what interior Alaska is all about, as the road alternately ascended alpine slopes overlooking glacier-fed, braided river valleys, and then descended into vast areas of taiga forest dotted with muskeg bogs and kettle lakes and ponds. From views of the receding but still impressive Matanuska Glacier to a spectacular panorama of the Alas...

Grand Alaska Part I: Nome & the Pribilofs


Kevin Zimmer: August 05, 2015

Our 2015 Grand Alaska Part I tour began, as always, in Nome, my favorite place to bird in all of North America. There is something indescribably special about the area surrounding this old gold rush town. The mix of special breeding birds on the tundra and large numbers of migrants staging at Safety Lagoon and other points along the coast, coupled with the very real chance of finding some rare stray from eastern Asia always makes for exhilarating birding. When you throw in a full complement o...

Grand Alaska: Gambell/Nome


Kevin Zimmer: August 05, 2015

No two spring visits to Alaska’s Bering Sea outposts are ever the same, mainly because the migratory pulses of breeders and Asiatic vagrants alike are dictated by weather patterns that, in these high latitudes, can be simultaneously extreme and ephemeral.  Groups that preceded us to Gambell this spring reported persistent strong (35–50 mph) north winds and few birds, with almost nothing in the way of Palearctic vagrants or even regular North American migrants in the several d...

Alaska Highlights


Barry Zimmer: July 28, 2015

An argument could be made that this was our most successful Alaska Highlights trip ever! We saw nearly every target bird, added in some nice rarities, had wonderful mammal displays, and enjoyed about the best weather possible. Bluethroat— Photo: Barry Zimmer   We started in Nome, where we were greeted with blue skies and temperatures that reached an incredible 80 degrees! Right out of the gate, we stopped at a new breeding colony of Aleutian Terns adjacent to t...

Minnesota & North Dakota


Erik Bruhnke: July 27, 2015

Birding throughout the upper Midwest can be thrilling, and our nine-day Minnesota & North Dakota tour left us with great memories of a rich array of ecosystems. There is something to be said about getting out of the vehicle at night and hearing a Yellow Rail vocalize, and hiking through native prairie and seeing Chestnut-collared Longspurs displaying all around us. There is something about witnessing a Black-billed Cuckoo vocalizing atop aspen trees in the early morning light as the tour ...

Cuba, March 25-April 4, 2015


David Ascanio: July 26, 2015

Our second Cuba tour of 2015 began with shocking views of Zapata Sparrow, as well as Cuban Tody, Cuban Gnatcatcher, Cuban Vireo, Cuban Martin, Cuban Green Woodpecker, Cuban Emerald, Oriente Warbler, and Cuban Blackbird. What a cocktail of Cuban endemics to start the tour! Zapata Sparrow— Photo: David Ascanio   In Cayo Coco we nailed white morph individuals of both Reddish Egret and Great Blue Heron. Additionally, several Caribbean specialties and near-endemic s...

The Nature of Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito


Michael O'Brien: July 25, 2015

Although it may be self-evident, it’s always worth remembering that the more you look, the more you see, and VENT’s Nature of Honduras tour exemplifies this sentiment. Our home base, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, hosts astounding riches, so we didn’t need to travel far to see amazing birds, mammals, frogs, butterflies, moths, and more. And to cap things off, the lodge itself ranks among the finest of jungle lodges, with very comfortable cabins, a wonderful swimming pool (with ac...

Colombia: The Central & Western Andes


David Wolf: July 24, 2015

Colombia, so little-known in recent decades and yet with so much going for it!  With the largest bird list known from any country in the world, plus a well-developed infrastructure, birders are once again turning their sights to this complex country that is home to the greatest montane avifauna anywhere.  On this very successful trip, our 6th run of this itinerary, we took full advantage of what Colombia has to offer, emphasizing the unique Western Andes and nearby slopes of the Cen...

VENTflash #188


Victor Emanuel: July 23, 2015

Dear friends, Ten years ago VENT chartered the Sea Cloud for a marvelous Birds & History cruise from Athens to Istanbul. I am thrilled to report that we've recently completed a repeat of that epic trip, and that this one was just as wonderful. This departure, unique among our various cruise and tour repertoire, offers a wonderful combination of history, culture, birds, and other aspects of nature. This was our fifth Birds & History cruise to the eastern Mediterranean since 2...

Southern Britain: Birds & History


Andrew Whittaker: July 16, 2015

Springtime magic in Kent, the “Garden of England,” offered a daily mix of exciting birding and delving back into the enthralling history of the UK (from Roman times to the present). This combination resulted in a tremendously successful tour! Running this tour in spring ensured we hit England at its best. Migration was in full swing; the birds were in smart breeding plumage, singing and displaying; the hedgerows were a blaze of color; and the woodlands were carpeted with bluebells...