Leaders & Staff: Tour Leaders

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Doris Valencia

Doris Valencia, a naturalist born in Cuzco, Peru, began her study of the Manu wilderness at a young age. She has served as a volunteer park ranger in Manu National Park, and has been working as a naturalist tour guide for about twelve years. She is an avid student of the flora and fauna of Manu and has a special interest in birds. Doris is an excellent birder and leads birding groups throughout Peru including Paracas National Marine Reserve, Bajuaha-Sonene National Park, Tambopata-Candam...


Machiel Valkenburg

Machiel Valkenburg was born in 1982 in a southern province in the Netherlands where, encouraged by his parents, he began birding at an early age. During his teens he studied landscape ecology and began performing bird surveys with the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology. During this period he started traveling outside of Holland, first to Greece, Hungary, Romania, Scotland, and Morocco. Later, his birding travels took him extensively outside of Europe into Western Africa and further east to Ru...


Marco Valtriani

Marco Valtriani holds a degree in biology with an ornithology major from the University Pisa; his thesis was on the ecology of the Dunlin in the Mediterranean basin. A passionate hiker, birder, and field researcher, Marco has spent years exploring wild areas around the world, from France to Nepal, Syria, and Venezuela. He is a licensed private guide and tour planner, creating and leading itineraries for international conservation organizations, schools, and private travelers. Marco specialize...


Arne van Lamoen

Arne van Lamoen was born in The Hague in the Netherlands in 1984, and although both his parents are Dutch, he would soon go on to see much of the world as the expat life took him from the Netherlands to Oman, Norway, Russia, the United States, and finally Japan, where he now resides with his (Japanese) wife. A keen naturalist and budding birder from a young age, Arne follows in his father’s footsteps, whose great passion for birds serves as an inspiration to seek the outdoors whenever p...


Santiago Villa

Santiago Villa has operated his own birding tour company, Spainbirds Nature Tours, since 1999. He has also led tours for some of the well-known UK tour companies, as well the American Birding Association and several RSPB local groups. Santi has participated as an ecotourism expert at meetings and conferences in different localities of Spain such as Madrid, Cádiz, Trujillo, Monfragüe, and Doñana, as well as Lisbon (Portugal). Santi has guided tours in Chile, Argentina, Ecuad...


Milan Vogrin

Milan Vogrin is an overall naturalist and bird and reptile lover with a great knowledge of the fauna and flora of his homeland, Slovenia, and neighboring countries. He has a degree in ecology, specializing in birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Milan has led and successfully finished more than 30 ecology projects in Slovenia. He is the author and co-author of more than 500 articles in various scientific journals at home and abroad, as well as in popular journals. He has been a professional advis...


Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker, a senior member of the VENT staff, has led VENT tours since 1993 throughout Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe, and Antarctica. An avid birder from an early age (thanks to his father), he later became a licensed bander/ringer. Andy immensely enjoys sharing his fascination and deep knowledge of birds, animals, and all aspects of nature in a really fun way. Since 1982 Andy has worked on birds around the world, studying migration at bi...


David Wolf

David Wolf is a senior member of the VENT staff and one of our most experienced tour leaders. After birding the U.S. and Mexico for over a decade, an interest in the wildlife of Africa led him to East Africa in 1975, where he spent over a year studying the birds and other wildlife of the African continent. Soon after his return to Texas he began leading Rockport Wildlife Weekends for VENT, at that time a new company, and he hasn't stopped leading tours since. In addition to Africa, David has ...


Mimi Wolf

Mimi Wolf is an accomplished birder, artist, horse breeder, and mother who lives in Nacogdoches, Texas. She has illustrated a number of bird books, including Steve Hilty's Birds of Tropical America and Roland Wauer's A Birder's West Indies, and her pen-and-ink sketches have appeared in many other publications. She has also exhibited her paintings, watercolors, prints, and other art in numerous shows. She is especially proud of her home-raised Supreme Champion Pinto Arabian stallion, Oshquah, ...


Larry Wolff

Larry Wolff is the Silver Professor of European History at New York University and Director of the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at NYU. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Stanford. With particular interests in Eastern Europe and Mediterranean Europe, his books, which have been widely translated into foreign languages, include Inventing Eastern Europe (1994), Venice and the Slavs: The Discovery of Dalmatia in the Age of Enlightenment (2001), and Paolina's Inn...


Paul Woodruff

Paul Woodruff is an experienced guide to the intellectual landscape of ancient Greece. He has published translations of works by the philosopher Plato, the historian Thucydides, and the playwrights Sophocles and Euripides. He has written three books that present ancient Greek ideas for modern use—Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (2001), First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea (2005), and The Ajax Dilemma: Justice and Fairness in Rewards. His latest manuscript, on educati...


Rick Wright

Rick Wright, a native of southeast Nebraska, studied French, German, philosophy, and life sciences at the University of Nebraska, where he worked in the bird collections of the State Museum and served as teaching assistant to Paul Johnsgard. After a detour to Harvard Law School, Rick took the M.A. and Ph.D. in German at Princeton University. His years as an academic included appointments as assistant professor of German at the University of Illinois, reader/scholar at Princeton University&rsq...


Louise Zemaitis

Louise Zemaitis is an artist and naturalist living in Cape May, New Jersey where she is a popular field trip leader teaching birding workshops as an Associate Naturalist with New Jersey Audubon's Cape May Bird Observatory. She also enjoys leading birding groups and lecturing at birding festivals and is known for her enthusiasm for all natural history subjects. Louise and her husband, Michael O'Brien, have been guiding young birders at birding events and conferences for many years. In addition...


Peter Zika

Peter Zika is a field biologist from Seattle, investigating and describing new species of plants from western North America. Working at the herbarium of the University of Washington, he is writing several chapters for new books on the plants of California, the Pacific Northwest, and the flora of North America, as well as conducting biological inventories of National Parks and Nature Conservancy preserves, studying interactions between noxious weeds and native wildlife, and researching the die...


Barry Zimmer

Barry Zimmer has been birding since the age of eight. His main areas of expertise lie in North and Central America, but his travels have taken him throughout much of the world, including such exotic locales as Japan, Russia, Madagascar, Africa, and New Zealand. Barry is a longtime member of the New Mexico Bird Records Committee, and served on the Texas Bird Records Committee for 12 years. He has coauthored three books: Birds of the Trans-Pecos, A Birder's Guide to the Rio Grande Valley, and B...


Kevin Zimmer

Kevin Zimmer has authored three books and numerous papers dealing with field identification and bird-finding in North America. His book, Birding in the American West: A Handbook, deals with finding and identifying birds in the western United States. Living in Alaska contributed to his affection for the Far North, where he has anchored VENT’s tour program since 1986. For the past 25+ years he has concentrated his attention on the Neotropics, particularly on Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Pe...