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

Panama's Canopy Tower & El Valle's Canopy Lodge


Jeri Langham: March 13, 2018

My fabulous co-leader, Carlos Bethancourt, and everyone made it to the Canopy Tower's Observation Deck for a pre-breakfast morning of birding while sipping coffee or tea. Several Howler Monkey troops had already begun letting the other troops know they survived the night and were still defending their territories. As dawn approached we began to hear Barred, Slaty-backed, and Collared forest- falcons, plus both Rufous and Broad-billed motmots. As it got lighter, we started seeing birds on all ...

Southern India


Dion Hobcroft: March 12, 2018

We had yet another fantastic trip to South India—highly rated by all participants for great wildlife, food, and culture. The people everywhere were fantastic, and the trip ran seamlessly. Here is an account of our adventures in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. We met up in Bangalore where we were entertained by a magician at dinner. He was so convincing that I decided to take all the birds off my world list, as I could no longer believe my eyes! The next morning...

Colombia: Bogota, Eastern Andes & the Magdalena Vallley


Steve Hilty: March 09, 2018

Our birding route included several traditional sites in the Magdalena Valley and, for the second year in a row, also a circular loop down the eastern slope of the Eastern Andes to the bustling city of Villavicencio and a return to Bogotá via the picturesque little mountain city of Santa María. This route includes some terrific forest birding sites as well as access to the high páramo of Sumapaz National Park, which is the largest contiguous páramo in the world. Bot...

India: Tigers, Taj, & Birds Galore


Machiel Valkenburg: March 07, 2018

This tour, one of my favorites, starts in probably the busiest city in Asia, Delhi! In the afternoon we flew south towards the city of Raipur. In the morning we visited the Humayan’s Tomb and the Quitab Minar in Delhi; both of these UNESCO World Heritage Sites were outstanding, and we all enjoyed them immensely. Also, we picked up our first birds, a pair of Alexandrine Parakeets, a gorgeous White-throated Kingfisher, and lots of taxonomically interesting Black Kites, plus a few Yellow-f...

West Mexico: Thorn Forest to the Sierra Madre


Brian Gibbons: March 03, 2018

Western Mexico holds some amazing treasure, and I’m not talking about Sierra Madre gold! From the sunbaked beaches to the chilly recesses of the verdant canyons, we experienced many avian treasures; 272 species including more than 30 endemics made sure our West Mexico tour was a resounding success. Limonadas cooled us on warm afternoons, and coffee warmed us during the morning chill while the birds entertained us all day long. From our start in a weedy field in Nuevo Vallarta to the fin...

Northern Minnesota Winter Weekend


Brian Gibbons: March 01, 2018

Meeting our first afternoon in Duluth, we had no idea it would be the warmest temperature of the trip, a toasty 11° F. The next morning we would be shivering at -18° with a Black-backed Woodpecker in our sights. The remote Superior National Forest in Lake County would chill us most deeply at -27°; who knows what the windchill was! But it was all well worth it. With a good owl year and a few others, we had an excellent trip through the North Woods with amazing scenery, great food, ...

Baja California & the Sea of Cortez: Among the Great Whales


Michael O'Brien: February 27, 2018

Amazing natural beauty, delightful weather, and spectacular sunrises and sunsets were hallmarks of our 2018 Baja cruise aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird. With fascinating wildlife sightings at every turn, and an accomplished and friendly team of naturalists on board, our group had a fun-filled, relaxing, and educational vacation.  Humpback Whale— Photo: Michael O'Brien   Our adventure began among massive white sand dunes, mangrove thickets, and tran...

Sri Lanka: Blue Whale Extension


Machiel Valkenburg: February 22, 2018

After the Sri Lanka main tour, VENT offered the option of joining an extension to the extreme south side of the island to enjoy some of the Blue Whale congregations in the Indian Ocean. We moved south over the expressway, picking up some local birds like Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, and Brahminy Kite. We visited the Galle Fort, admiring this seventeenth century monument recognized by UNESCO located along the deep blue Indian Ocean. Blue Whale taking a deep dive— Photo: Ma...

Sri Lanka


Machiel Valkenburg: February 22, 2018

It has been over a decade since VENT’s last visit to Sri Lanka. We felt it was definitely time for a return, and the group and I were very happy we did. Sri Lanka is an amazing tropical destination located just south of India and offers some great birding in combination with some awesome wildlife opportunities. Our tour started in the busy city of Colombo, which we left on the first morning moving south towards Bundala and Yala national parks where we spent four days birding.  Both...

Japan in Winter


Steve Hilty: February 21, 2018

One of the top highlights mentioned by most members of the group was a Ural Owl sleeping in a large, picturesque tree hollow. It was, in fact, an image that could have been plucked straight from an illustrated book of fairy tales from the Middle Ages. A male Eurasian Bullfinch in beautiful morning light also garnered top honors and, surprisingly, so did the diminutive Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker. For several of us, a large flock of Rooks eluding repeated prey-capture attempts by a Peregrine Fal...

Israel: Birds, History & Culture in the Holy Land


Barry Lyon: February 12, 2018

Rife with natural history, human history, and cultural attractions, Israel possesses that rare ability to satisfy a diversity of interests at once. A significant spiritual center of the three Abrahamic religions, Israel is for so many people an irresistible source of fascination and interest, a place where ancient history is perpetually on display just as geo-political forces continue to shape the modern state. And at the center of an enormous migratory flyway, Israel hosts some of the planet...

Winter Southern Arizona


Barry Zimmer: February 06, 2018

Once again, our Winter Southern Arizona tour was a huge success. We scoured a variety of habitats from the oak-juniper woodlands of Madera Canyon to the riparian habitat along the Santa Cruz River, to the Sonoran desert around Green Valley, and to the agricultural fields and desert scrub of the Sulphur Springs Valley in search of southwestern residents, winter specialties, and Mexican rarities. On all counts our trip was wildly successful. Red-naped Sapsucker— Photo: Barry ...

Winter New Mexico


Barry Zimmer: February 03, 2018

As we pulled into the driveway of my house, we were greeted by an adult male Hooded Oriole on a front yard hummingbird feeder (before we could even get out of the van!). This species is quite rare here in winter, but I had four that had settled in for the season. We enjoyed great views of this orange and black beauty, and then headed to the upper deck patio to view the backyard. A rare female Broad-billed Hummingbird hovered practically in our faces before we could even get in place along the...

Ecuador: The Northwestern Andean Slopes


Paul Greenfield: February 03, 2018

Our Northwestern Andean Slopes tour explored the Pacific Andean slope from high temperate zone forest at Yanacocha Reserve, down through the lower temperate zone, subtropical forest, and through foothill cloudforest and humid lowland forest. Highlights were many, as we sampled so many distinct sites in this bird-rich land. Our first of many hummingbird experiences was at high-Andean Yanacocha Reserve, enjoying close looks at so many wonderful species—Tyrian Metaltail, Sapphire-vented an...

Madagascar Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 29, 2018

Those arriving early for the tour enjoyed the extensive gardens of the Aubois Vert Hotel. They offer the perfect introduction to many of the more eco-tolerant and successful species of birds on this massive island. Flocks of Red Fody come in to bathe, Madagascar Brush-Warblers skulk about, while noisy chattering Madagascan Bulbuls dominate the birdsong. More careful examination will reveal Madagascar Coucal building a nest, Madagascar Hoopoes probing the lawns, Madagascar Magpie-Robin feeding...

New Zealand Highlights


Dion Hobcroft: January 24, 2018

What a fantastic country is New Zealand. The friendly and stout-hearted folks of this South Pacific nation do so much so well. It is always a pleasure to visit. Teaming up with my good friend Mark Ayre, this is the way we saw the tour. Quickly amongst the birds, our group convened efficiently and had the scopes out on the wetlands of Mangere. Our first surprise of the tour was a pen Mute Swan, rare in New Zealand and starkly contrasting with the abundant Black Swans. This is a great spot to s...

Santiago-Humboldt Extension


Andrew Whittaker: January 19, 2018

Upon our arrival in the bustling capital of Santiago, we rested up after a fine meal. This year all of the participants on our “Wild Patagonia & Central Chile” tour joined us for this exciting extension. Rested up and raring to go, early the next morning we headed east towards the rich coastline with the famously rich Humboldt Current, our destination the Miapo Estuary. The place was simply brimming with migrant shorebirds, waterfowl, terns, gulls, skimmers and, of course, a h...

Wild Patagonia & Central Chile


Andrew Whittaker: January 19, 2018

Wondrous Chile came up trumps again! We enjoyed a sensational second spring with a non stop array of exciting, easy birding (200 species) with a backdrop of stupendous world-class scenery, great mammals (16 species), and an amazing abundance of gorgeous wildflowers combined with super weather and scrumptious Chilean food! Life cannot get much better! We cleaned up on all the fantastic endemics and specialties and enjoyed yet another fabulous year of Pumas galore (last year 7 cats, this year 8...

Ecuador: Tinalandia Pre-trip


Paul Greenfield: January 17, 2018

Our Tinalandia Pre-trip began with a twist; Ecuador’s classic pioneer birding hot-spot was unable to accommodate our group, or any group for that matter. Sadly, it will be closing its doors to avitourism, after well over 50 years, due mainly to collateral damage it endured during a recent earthquake that shook Ecuador’s northern coast…indeed, this is a sad day for this country’s rich birding history. Accordingly, we made Plan-B arrangements to stay at nearby Hoster&ia...

Fall Hawaii


Brennan Mulrooney: January 08, 2018

Our Fall Hawaii tour visited three of the four main Hawaiian islands. We spent time exploring Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii, in that order. Each island had its own distinct character, and each island offered unique birds for us to pursue. In addition to the wonderful birds of the islands, we were treated to an unending succession of amazing views and scenes: stark lava cliffs meeting tumultuous seas, forest-clad mountains rising up into the clouds, waterfalls cascading into incred...