San Blas, in the small Mexican state of Nayarit, is probably one of the most enjoyable birding spots in Mexico – decidedly famous for decades among birders as Mexico's prime winter birding hotspot. We spend most of our time at one very fine hotel, set in comfortable surroundings, with great food, and a swimming pool. This is close to both the Pacific Ocean and a wide range of excellent birding spots, all within a relatively short distance. From coastal waters, freshwater lagoons, shrimp ponds and marshes, to coffee plantations, thorn and pine-oak forests, the birdlife in this area is fascinating, diverse and easy to see. There are over two dozen endemic species, such as Elegant Quail, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, and Yellow-winged Cacique.
Panama forms the geographical crossroads of North and South America, where the flora and fauna of both continents intermingle and produce an incredible biodiversity. This long, thin country only covers an area of about 76 square kilometers, which is somewhat smaller than the state of South Carolina. However, due to its location at the juncture of the Americas and its diversity of habitats, over 880 species of birds have been recorded within its borders! This makes Panama a haven for birders and nature enthusiasts alike!
"The Best of Choco Endemic Birding"
March 10 - 19, 2017
Ecuador is the size of the state of Georgia, yet 1,540 species of birds have been recorded in the country. On this Venture, we'll travel from the Andes into the northwestern lowlands, seeing a dazzling display of tanagers, flycatchers and hummingbirds; over high, windswept passes to relict patches of polylepis forest for the endemic Black-breasted Puffleg; through Chocó cloudforest, where we hope to find such regional endemics as Toucan Barbet, Pale-mandibled Aracari and Chocó Toucan; and lower elevation tropical rainforest near Silanche looking for Choco endemics such as Purple-chested Hummingbird, Banded Ground-Cuckoo and Long-wattled Umbrellabird.
"Atlantic Coast, Deserts and High Atlas Mountains"
March 12 - 24, 2017
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 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.
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!
The Best of the West Indies
April 1 - 10, 2017
Trinidad and Tobago is the perfect place for a first time exposure to birding the New World Tropics. Members of almost all of the South American bird families are found here and unlike in many of their mainland haunts, the birds of T & T are easy to photograph and seem to have little fear of people. It is often said that a first timer to the islands will add thirty species to their life list before breakfast. With over 430 species, a warm West Indian climate, excellent food and rich island culture, these twin islands are a perfect nature destination.
Birding in Paradise
May 9 - 21, 2017
West Papua and Waigeo Island are a birder's paradise. The combination of stunning birds-of-paradise and many other endemic species including several cassowaries, paradise-kingfishers, fruit-doves, lorikeets, bowerbirds, myzomelas, honeyeaters, berrypeckers, and robins makes this part of Indonesia a superb destination for a birdwatching tour. On this Ventures bird tour, we will visit some of the very best birding sites that never fail to deliver superb birds. We will provide you with an extraordinary birding experience! In the Arfak Mountains we hope to see Superb BOP, Western Parotia, Arfak Astrapia and maybe Long-tailed Paradigalla. In Waigeo we'll see Wilson's and Red BOP (see image) – Simon and I were there over the 2015 Christmas holidays and had an amazing experience. All told we hope to see between 12-16 birds-of-paradise.
Our 19-day tour takes us across the Andes from the western Andean slopes to the Amazon and back to the central Andean Valley. A non-birding reconnaissance of this trip in 2016 yielded 208 bird species. We expect to see at least 300-350 bird species on this itinerary, and see a lot of Ecuador's fabulous cultural sites. Ecuador is a very manageable country and just the size of the state of Georgia; more than 1,400 species of birds have been recorded in the country.
Marañon Endemics, Abra Patricia, Elevation Birds and Much More
July 4-18, 2017
Peru is one of the most bird-rich countries on the planet, home to over 1700 species - 100 of which are endemics. 30 of these are only found in the north, and this tour will focus on finding as many of those as possible in addition to a variety of regional specialties. The spectacular scenery of the Andes will be our backdrop as we explore a wide diversity of habitats searching for some relatively easy-to-see ultra-rare birds, such as the once-believed to be extinct White-winged Guan, the incredible Marvelous Spatuletail, and the mythical Long-whiskered Owlet.
Camargue and Pyrenees:
August 26 – Sept 8, 2017
On this Venture to the south of France we combine two of Europe's most famous birding destinations, as well as a night in the historic medieval city of Carcassonne. This Venture, which is limited to 10 people, offers two very contrasting areas, both of which should provide fascinating scenery and culture, coupled with an impressive list of bird species.
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.
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.
Few destinations conjure up such a complex mix of emotions for the American traveler as Vietnam. Long held back by decades of struggle and economic strife, this lush, avian-rich country has recently come a long way in building infrastructure and opening its doors to western tourism. That's just as well, considering Vietnam contains a wealth of endemic and near-endemic bird species – more so than any other mainland country in Southeast Asia! Among the many endemics we seek is the endangered and local Gray-crowned Crocias, a bird recently discovered in several previously unknown locales.
"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.