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

Morocco

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Machiel Valkenburg: April 19, 2018

Our Morocco tour started out in the historical city of Marrakech, but we left the city on the very first morning, to come back for a detailed exploration of the region by the end of the tour. We headed for the coastal city of Agadir; unfortunately for us we were teased by the weather gods with a lot of rainfall during the drive southwest. For two full days we toured the coast and some very interesting wetlands and orchards—this time the gods behaved! As this area of Morocco receives mor...


Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes

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Paul Greenfield: April 17, 2018

The Andes Cordillera is far more than just a gigantic South American mountain range. The massive ‘wall’ that makes up the Andes forms an incredible mega-rich mosaic of diverse life-zones, ecosystems, habitats, and niches that are home to a mind-boggling concentration of living organisms. It was this concentration, with a special focus on its diverse birdlife, that we set out to explore and experience during our weeklong Ecuador: Eastern Slope of the Andes tour. Sparkl...


Ecuador: The Best of Amazonia

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Paul Greenfield: April 17, 2018

The Amazon holds the most complex and species-rich ecosystem on earth, and our Ecuador: The Best of Amazonia tour, at Yasuni Kichwa Cultural Lodge and Napo Wildlife Center, afforded us a rich sample of that reality. We initiated our incursion into this spectacular realm with what could be described as a veritable time-travel experience as we left civilization behind in the bustling Andean capital city of Quito, traveled back a century to the frontier 'oil' town of Coca, and were transported v...


Winter Southern California

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Brennan Mulrooney: April 09, 2018

Sunny and 75 degrees…just like the San Diego Tourism Authority advertises. While the East Coast has been getting hammered all winter with Aidens, Benjis, Graysons, and who knows what other named winter storms, the southwest has been experiencing unusually warm and dry conditions. That’s exactly what we encountered on our Winter Southern California tour this year. No snow in the mountains, no rain on the coast, warm daily high temperatures, and an unusual number of wintering rare ...


Uganda Highlights

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Kevin Zimmer: April 06, 2018

This was the inaugural January departure of our increasingly popular Uganda Highlights tour, and it proved an unqualified success in delivering up-close-and-personal observations of wild Mountain Gorillas, wild Chimpanzees, and multiple bizarre Shoebills.  Beyond these iconic creatures, we racked up over 450 species of birds and had fabulous encounters with Lion, Leopard, Hippopotamus, African Elephant, Rothschild’s Giraffe, and an amazing total of 11 species of primates.  The...


Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falkland Islands

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Andrew Whittaker: April 04, 2018

Antarctica is, without doubt, the ultimate birding and wildlife experience on our planet, truly unique, like nowhere else on earth, and this year’s unsurpassable Antarctic cruise was no exception! The final frontier—Antarctica, the Falklands, & South Georgia (the icing on the cake)—was as dramatic as ever, from immense tabular icebergs, towering ice-covered mountains, and stunning glaciers to beaches absolutely teeming with wildlife. Daily, during our amazing land-based ...


Ornithology 101 in South Texas: A Learn-About-Birds Workshop

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Denver Holt: April 01, 2018

Our previous Ornithology 101 workshops were held in November. We moved our 2018 workshop to February to avoid the extremely hot temperatures of November. We got our wish, as it was cold and rainy the first day, and then just cool with sprinkles for the rest of the class. At our opening get-acquainted dinner we discussed the workshop and its objectives. At our first lecture the next morning we reviewed the fossil record of birds and their evolution, as indicated from morphology and more recent...


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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...


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