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.
Valencia, Ebro Delta, & The Pyrenees
June 9-22, 2018
Leader: Aaron Steed
& One Local Guide
For many, Spain brings to mind world famous gastronomy, wine, and a fascinating, storied history and culture. It is perhaps less widely known as a birding destination, yet it indeed contains some of the best birding in all of Europe. This 2-week trip has been put together with all of these things in mind, and we will experience lovely Spanish spring birding amid the backdrop of picturesque landscapes and charming cities and towns.
Spain is the perfect destination for birding at a slower pace and offers a wealth of cultural and culinary attractions to enhance your experience, so what are you waiting for? Join us for what should be a memorable Venture!
“Bowerbirds and Birds-of-Paradise”
Special Exploratory Tour to the Arfak Mountains & Lowland Forest
June 18 - 26, 2018
Trip is Full
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
Trip is Full
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!
"Jaguars in the Pantanal & Hummingbirds in the Coastal Rainforests"
October 5 – 18, 2018
Canastra Extension: October 18 - 26, 2018
Brazil’s Southeastern Coastal Rainforests are incredible. With a huge list of tanagers, hummingbirds and antbirds possible, this is a must-do tour! On our preview trip a few years ago, we had outstanding views of such rarities as Black-hooded Antwren and Spotted Bamboowren (a Tapaculo), as well as many other species found only in these forests. We will visit Itatiatia National Park and Ubatuba before heading inland to Mato Grosso and the Pantanal.
The Brazilian Pantanal: With birds such as Hyacinth Macaws and Harpy Eagles possible, every birder has to make the pilgrimage down to this amazing part of the world. The Pantanal is the richest ecosystem in Brazil, with a huge number of aquatic and marsh birds. Over 700 species of birds occur in the Pantanal and surrounding region, including 26 species of parrot, such as the endangered Hyacinth Macaw. We also hope to see Giant Otter, Jaguar and Tapir.
Birds & Culture
October 31 – November 12, 2018
Our program begins in Cuba’s Western Mountains, a beautiful landscape dominated by towering, lushly-vegetated, limestone monoliths called ‘mogotes.’ Next, we’ll explore the Zapata Peninsula, an area covering more than 2800 square miles and featuring accessible, Everglades-like wetland habitat. Bordered by the pristine coastal environment of the notorious Bay of Pigs to the east, the peninsula contains vast open swampland, low coastal forests, sparkling white sand beaches, healthy coral reefs, and refreshing limestone pools. We then turn north to Cayo Coco & Cuba’s northern keys. These previously uninhabited and relatively unexplored barrier islands provide excellent birding opportunities - Cuban Gnatcatcher, Oriente Warbler, Thick-billed Vireo, West Indian Whistling Duck, and Gundlach’s Hawk, as well as numerous shorebirds and aquatic birds, can be found here. We finish in Havana.
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.
"Cloud Forests & Coffee"
November 26 – December 4, 2018
You are invited on this unique 8-day Venture to Nicaragua, the next best up-and-coming birding destination in Central America! This itinerary takes you through the northern highlands, an area dominated by lush cloud forests, showcasing beautiful mountain scenery and a spectacular assortment of hummingbirds, tanagers, parrots, trogons, and more. The prevailing year-round moisture of these montane habitats makes for perfect conditions for the growing of coffee, and both lodges on this trip produce their own organic, sustainable blends (which we will get to drink daily – & it’s delicious!). Our primary base will be at El Jaguar, a reserve home to such stunning hummingbirds as Violet Sabrewing, Black-crested Coquette, and Green-breasted Mountain-Gem, as well as other birds like Emerald Toucanet, Collared Trogon, Montezuma Oropendola, and a wintering population of the declining Golden-winged Warblers.
World class birding in the Darien
December 1-8, 2018
The Darién, as the entire eastern-most region of Panama is called, is one of the most diverse and species-rich regions of Central America. Here, some of the last large, relatively untouched swathes of lowland rainforest await to be explored. Long revered by avid birders as a haven for rare species, including the majestic Harpy Eagle, Panama’s national bird, this region is now readily accessible by a new highway, extending through the spine of Panama right into the heart of this bird-rich land!
"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.
"Northern Lights and Winter Birding"
March 21-28, 2019
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 & High Atlas Mountains”
April 14-30, 2019
We start our tour in the historic city of Marrakech which is one of the economic centers of Morocco. Mosques break the skyline and gardens and planted areas add to the green of this desert city. Our hotel is situated near the picturesque Katoubia Mosque, and the nearby gardens are home to Little and Pallid Swifts, European Blackbird, Serin and European Greenfinch. The nests of White Storks seemingly perch atop every mosque and tower and migrating Black Kites and Booted Eagles are a daily sight as they migrate north over the city.
Our accommodation will be comfortable and convenient to the best birding spots. The food is excellent and the people very friendly and accommodating. If you have never been to North Africa before, this trip will open your eyes to the beauty and diversity that is Morocco.