Birding and Big Game
November 10 – 24, 2017
Tanzania, in East Africa, supports one of the largest diversity of birds species in Africa with over 1000 species recorded. On this Ventures tour, we'll start the trip in Arusha and visit Tarangire National Park, where we can do a walking safari outside the park, Lake Manyara (home of the tree climbing lions!) and Serengeti National Park including the famous and incomparable Ngorongoro Crater, searching for such birds as Magpie Shrike, Southern Ground-Hornbill, D'Arnaud's Barbet, Nubian Woodpecker, Two-banded Courser, Hildebrandt's Starling and such Tanzanian endemics as Rufous-tailed Weaver, Ashy Starling and Yellow-collared Lovebird. We will add a little diversity to our trip when we spend a couple of nights on the shore of Lake Victoria. Here we will see Nile Crocodiles, Hippo and a whole selection of birds not likely to be seen on any parts of our tour.
Western Mountains, Zapata Peninsula, Atlantic Archipelago, and Havana
December 4 - 15, 2017
Leader: Aaron Steed
& One Local Guide
We have partnered with Caribbean Conservation Trust, Inc. (CCT) to bring you this exclusive birding program to Cuba, the Caribbean's largest and most ecologically diverse island nation. Long closed to travelers coming from the United States, Cuba and its wealth of natural riches (including 27 endemic bird species) are now reachable via flights from numerous US cities. This itinerary has been designed to take you to Cuba's most beautiful national parks, biosphere reserves, and unique natural areas in search of Cuba's endemic birds, and will provide insights into fascinating aspects of Cuban culture, history, and daily living. In addition to birding, we will learn about the ecology and history of regions we visit and we'll interact with local scientists and naturalists who work in research and conservation, including Orlando Garrido, senior author to the Field Guide of the Birds of Cuba.
With nearly 2000 bird species recorded within its borders, Colombia is home to the highest diversity of bird species on the planet. The country contains several endemic bird areas, one of which is the Santa Marta Mountains, the focus of this tour. Our main targets will be all 21 of the Santa Marta endemics plus many more birds of the Northern Caribbean coast.
There are several ecosystems within the local area and during our time at this “birder's dream” of a lodge we should see everything from the Magnificent Frigatebird along the coast to the endemic and declining Honduran Emerald in the nearby dry forest. Motmots are very well represented in the area and we stand the chance of seeing Blue-crowned, Turquoise-browed, Tody and the rare Keel-billed Motmot. There are three multi-story canopy observation towers offer maximum viewing and photographic opportunities.
"Rhinos, Tigers and Laughingthrushes"
February 1-14, 2018
NE India is the land of the rising sun for the entire subcontinent. Breath-taking hills & mountains with snow-capped peaks to dense rain forests; from fast moving hill streams to wide rivers; all-encompassing a spectacular variety of life that brings a unique identity to this hilly terrain. Arunachal also has a wealth of cultural diversity and monuments to man's past but it is its exceptional richness in avian diversity that attracts birders from far and wide.
Ecuador is the size of the state of Georgia, yet 1,540 species of birds have been recorded in the country. Of these 133 are hummingbirds. On this Venture we'll travel across the Andes, seeing a dazzling display of tanagers, flycatchers and hummingbirds; over high, windswept pass to relict patches of polylepis forest for the endemic Black-breasted Puffleg; through Chocó cloudforest, where we hope to find such regional hummingbird endemics as Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet; and lower elevation tropical rainforest near Silanche looking for Choco endemics such as Purple-chested and Blue-chested Hummingbirds. Our accommodation will be comfortable and convenient to the best birding spots across the Ecuadorian Andes.
Chan Chich & Lamanai
March 18–25, 2018
This quick, week-long Venture is a perfect introduction to birding in the New World tropics, combining 2 of Belize's best birding areas & Yucatan endemics with an exploration of nearby Mayan ruins.
We explore Belize's natural habitats on foot and by boat through rainforests, swamps, lagoons and marshes, all from two excellent bases. The first is the renowned and supremely comfortable Chan Chich Lodge, a wonderful and secluded place to observe wildlife but with many of the comforts of home. Here we will be able to explore on our own, join the group for scheduled activities, or just relax (there is a pool)! Located in the lower plaza of a Mayan archeological site and surrounded by jungle, Chan Chich offers the chance to see an excellent variety of Middle American animal and bird life. The bird list has representatives of many neotropical bird families without being overwhelming, so this is a great destination for birders new to the tropics.
"Northern Lights and Winter Birding"
March 22-29, 2018
As well as enjoying the Northern Lights, we will be looking for many of Iceland's wintering birds. If we are lucky we may get a few early migrants as well. Waterfowl, such as Whooper Swan, Harlequin Duck, Common Eider and Barrow's Goldeneye all spend most or part of the winter in Iceland. We will also search for any wintering King Eiders, always an exciting bird to find. As well as waterfowl we will look for Iceland's National bird, the Gyrfalcon, so will keep an eye open around large concentrations of ducks. Landbirds are few, but could include Snow Bunting, Redpoll and Redwing (a beautiful European thrush).
"Atlantic Coast, Deserts and High Atlas Mountains"
April 1 - 14, 2018
Morocco: this North African country conjures up images of high snow-capped mountains, snake charmers in the Souk in Marrakech and long Atlantic beaches battered by Atlantic waves. All of this is true, but one can also add estuaries thronged with gulls and shorebirds, red dunes in the southeastern deserts teeming with dozens of cryptically-colored larks and Cream-colored Coursers and enjoying a deliciously-spiced Tajeen meal in a traditional Moroccan restaurant.
Tien Shan Mountains, Central Asian Steppes
June 1 – 20, 2018
From the stony deserts near the former capital of Almaty (Alma-Ata), to the Tien Shan Mountains close to the Chinese border, the variety of landscapes is sure to amaze and the birding is nothing short of spectacular. Even the species names evoke the rugged landscape and remote mystery associated with this part of the world. Many of the birds we will be seeing are little known and indeed, very rare vagrants to Western Europe. Birding tours are still relatively new in Kazakhstan, and though it is one of our favorite birding destinations, we only offer this trip once every few years. Accommodations will be comfortable yet simple, and meals are comprised mostly of locally prepared foods.
“Bowerbirds and Birds-of-Paradise”
Special Exploratory Tour to the Arfak Mountains & Lowland Forest
June 18 - 26, 2018
This tour offers a wonderful opportunity before our main Ventures Birding trip to Borneo to see some of the fourteen elusive Arfak endemics that can be found in the Arfak mountains of Western Papua. The Arfak Mountains are one of the most critical birding hotspots in Western Papua, Indonesia and belong to the Vogelkop Montane Rain Forest Ecoregion.
"Endemics and Orangutans"
June 28-July 11, 2018
Borneo is home to around 222 mammals (including the Orangutan and the Borneo Pygmy Elephant), 420 birds (of which 37 are endemic), 100 amphibians and 394 fish (19 are endemic). Among the endemic birds of Borneo, the Bristlehead is one of the strangest birds on the planet. Borneo's tropical rainforests, amongst the oldest, most complex and richest on earth, harbor most of the island's bird, plant, mammal, insect and plant diversity. Between 1995 and 2010 over 600 species new to science were discovered - which amounts to three new species every month.
Carara, San Gerardo de Dota & La Selva
July 8-18, 2018
Costa Rica has long had a reputation of being a 'birders paradise,' and for good reason - life abounds here! Both beginning and experienced birders alike can enjoy tropical birding at its very best in Costa Rica, which boasts an abundance of habitats packed into a relatively tiny geographic area. Our exploration of 3 very different regions should provide an excellent variety of birds, mammals, butterflies, frogs and snakes, as well as a nice taste of some colorful Tico culture!
Extremadura, Coto Doñana, & the Straits of Gibraltar
August 28 – September 10, 2018
Leader: Aaron Steed
& One Local Guide
An excellent 2-week Venture to Central & Southern Spain, combining some of Europe's best autumn migration birding with world famous Spanish gastronomy & wine. This tour includes 3 different wine tastings, delicious food, comfortable accommodations in small towns & villages, a walking cultural tour of Trujillo (birthplace of conquistador Francisco Pizarro), a boat trip in the Straits, and a whole lot more!
Needless to say – this Venture has it all! Between the delicious food & wine, lovely villages chocked full of cultural delights, and the incredible birding, you may never want to leave – and we wouldn't blame you!
Suriname is located on the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America and is located in the Guianan endemic zone. Although rarely visited by birders from the USA, over 700 birds have been observed in Suriname and we hope to see over 300 of these in our 10-day trip. We hope to see such iconic birds as the Capuchinbird, Crimson Topaz, Crimson Fruitcrow, Pompadour Cotinga and even Harpy Eagle. Once outside the capital, our accommodation will be simple and relatively comfortable, but convenient to the best birding spots across the north-central Suriname.
"Shoebills, Mountain Gorillas, Chimps and Albertine Endemics"
December 10-26, 2018
Uganda has been described as the 'Pearl of East Africa' and was regarded as the most beautiful country in East Africa. From the source of the White Nile on the huge papyrus-fringed Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Rwenzori Range, the luxuriant montane forests of the Virunga volcanoes, harboring some of the last remaining Mountain Gorillas, to the extensive savannas around the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, Uganda is an equatorial country of substantial contrasts and variety. No other area in Africa can match its amazing diversity of habitats and this richness is reflected in its incredible bird list of over 1000 species.
December 16 - 22, 2018
Leader: Mike McCloy
Endemic birds abound on the island of Jamaica and with more than 25 species and distinct subspecies this rank it first among Caribbean islands in endemics, or species restricted to one locality. While these Jamaican specialties will be the focus of our quest, we should expect to see a total of over 100 species of birds during our relaxing week on this tropical isle.