We will not be offerring any tours to Venezuela until such time as the current security situation has been resolved.
Venezuela, although largely neglected by birders in recent times due to the countries financial and political instability, was regarded as the birding mecca of South America. The incredible diversity of the pristine habitats contained within the national parks and the array of amazing endemic bird species, some of which are not yet described by modern-day science, give the pivotal grounding for an unforgettable birding experience. Add to the mix interactions with the welcoming, garrulous Venezuelan locals and you have the makings of a wondrous experience. Our Venezuela birding tours are a unique experince not to be missed!
Coastal Endemics, Paria & Orinoco tour aims to take in a whole suite of Venezuela’s coastal and Paria endemics that few birders have seen or even looked for in recent years. Highlights include Plain-flanked Rail, Grey-headed Warbler, White-throated Barbtail, Red Siskin, Helmeted Curassow and Venezuelan Sylph amongst many others.
Starting in the far west of Venezuela on the slopes of Sierra San Luis our main target will be Red Siskin, but we will also search for both Tocuyo and Golden-winged Sparrow and Blue-crowned Parakeet, whilst we will round of our first exciting day with a visit to a roost for Yellow-shouldered Parrot, a virtual Venezuelan endemic. The next morning we have a second chance for the Siskin before we start to tackle the coastal endemics in earnest as we target Handsome Fruiteater and Guttulate Foliage-gleaner while the backup cast may include White-bellied Antbird, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and Southern Nightingale-wren. Before we leave Coro we will look for Maracaibo Tody-Flycatcher, while we also hope to encounter a whole suite of species which are confined to the dry semi-deserts of the northern tip of South America shared between Colombia and Venezuela. These include Buffy Hummingbird, White-whiskered Spinetail, Vermilion Cardinal, Glaucous Tanager, Caribbean Hornero and Bare-eyed Pigeon.
We will then leave the dry forests and scrub of Coro behind and head to the mangroves of Tucacas where we look for the elusive, endemic pair of Plan-flanked Rail and Rusty-flanked Crake, adding a few commoner coastal species to our list including Bicolored Conebill, Golden Warbler and Common Black Hawk. From here we will head to the humid coastal forests of Casa Maria to spend the next two days searching for further coastal endemics including Rufous-lored Tyrannulet and Venezuelan Parakeet, while other species could include Violet-chested Hummingbird, Great Ansthrike and Rufous-and-white Wren.
From Casa Maria we will move on to the vast Henri Pittier National Park where we spend several days birding at different elevations within its pristine forests. Our main target will be the rare and elusive Helmeted Curassow of which we have an outside chance of encountering while we will also look for Blood-eared Parakeet, Venezuelan Wood Quail, Scallop-breasted Antpitta, Caracas Brushfinch, Rufous-cheeked Tanager and Venezuelan Tyrannulet. The supporting cast will be large, and may include White-tipped Quetzal, White-tipped Swift, Black Hawk-Eagle, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper Moustached Puffbird, Schwartz’s Antthrush, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Black-headed Tanager, Lance-tailed Manakin, White-eared Conebill, Fasciated Tiger Heron and Ochre-breasted Brushfinch.
We will then transfer to Colonia Torvar where we will look for the endemic Black-throated Spinetail and Caracas Tapaculo in the bamboo dominated high elevation forests that surround this incongruous German colony. We also hope for a suite of higher elevation species including both Chestnut-crowned and Slaty-crowned Antpitta, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Plushcap and Capped Conebill.
From Colonia Torvar we will make the long drive out to the Paria peninsula stopping to add a few wetland species such as Scarlet Ibis and American Flamingo en route. We will spend several days exploring the exciting and little known highland forests of the Paria peninsula, home to a unique and isolated set of endemic birds. Across the sites we visit, we shall be searching for the endemic hummingbird triple of Scissor-tailed Hummingbird, White-tailed Sabrewing and Venezuelan Sylph. Other mouthwatering and little known species that we will look for include Paria Whitestart, Paria Brushfinch, Paria Antpitta, White-throated Barbtail, Grey-headed Warbler and Venezuelan Flowerpiercer. We will not ignore the non-endemics, and may pick up Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Black-banded and Cocoa Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Golden-crowned Warbler, White Hawk, Tufted Coquette, Crimson-hooded Manakin, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Cinnamon Attila, White-chested Emerald, Northern Slaty Antshrike and Guianan Trogon.
The finale of the tour will take place in the Orinoco Delta where we hope to find some localized endemics, some of which have only recently been discovered, or are awaiting scientific description. We will take a boat ride and ply the waters of the delta making stops at several islands where we hope to find Delta Amacuro Softtail, Rio Orinoco Spinetail, an undescribed Wagtail Tyrant, Black-dotted Piculet and Black-chested Tyrant. Other species that will help boost our trip list include Horned Screamer, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Long-winged Harrier, Rufous Crab Hawk, Hoatzin, River Tyrannulet, Riverside Tyrant, White-bellied Piculet and Festive Parrot.
Harpy Eagle, Capuchinbird, Guianan Cock-of-the Rock, Bearded and White Bellbirds and almost all the available Tepui endemics are just some of the delights that await us during eleven days of action packed birding on our Imataca Forest & Tepui Endemics tour. Starting at Puerto Ordaz on the banks of the mighty Orinoco we search for the localized Black-collared Swallow before driving south to the mighty Imataca Forest that straddles the Venezuelan/Guianan border hoping to pick up some waterbirds such as Capped Heron and Pinnated Bittern, as well as a few raptors en route.
We will spend two full days in the Imataca Forest where our main prize will be the mighty Harpy Eagle, a nest of which is staked out every year. Once we have had our fill of this majestic raptor we will be free to concentrate on the many other Guianan shield specialties that call this forest home. Species we may encounter include Rose-breasted Chat, Red-fan Parrot, Black-necked Aracari, Black Nunbird, Black-spotted Barbet, Golden-winged Parakeet, Cayenne Jay, Crimson Topaz, Red-and-green Macaw, Guianan Trogon, Dusky Parrot and both Rufous-throated and Ferruginous-backed Antbirds.
We will not neglect the surrounding open countryside where we have a chance of Horned Screamer, Green Ibis, Red-shouldered Macaw and Little Chachalaca.
Following this avian feast we will then head south towards the might Grand Sabana, breaking the journey up first with some stops in dry forest where we will look for Hooded Tanager, Dwarf Cuckoo, Cinereous Becard, Crested Bobwhite, possibly Black-and-white Hawk Eagle, Dusky Purpletuft, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Painted Parakeet, Paradise Jacamar and Guianan Slaty Antshrike.
The next four days will then be spent on the Escalera Road that climbs to the Plateau of the Grand Sabana and allows easy access to virtually all the Pan-Tepui Endemics. We will bird at different elevations and seek out a mouthwatering selection of species including Roraiman Barbtail, Tepui Foliage-gleaner, Tepui Spinetail, Tepui Parrotlet, Fiery-shouldered Parakeet, Tepui Whitestart, Rufous-breasted Sabrewing, Velvet-browed Brilliant, Rose-collared Piha, Red-banded Fruiteater and Golden-tufted Grackle. Cotinga fans will not be left wanting as we look for Capuchinbird, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, White & Bearded Bellbird and both Pompadour & Purple-breasted Cotinga. Other highlights during our time on this spectacular road could include Scarlet-horned, Orange-bellied and Olive Manakin, Tepui Toucanet, Roriaman Screech Owl and Rufous-brown Solitaire. Visits to the heathland habitats that sit atop the Grand Sabana will provide a chance to look for Tepui Goldenthroat, Russet-crowned Crake and Brown Jacamar whilst also allowing us the chance to view one of the Tepuis in the distance.
Finally, we will also take some time to bird the lush Guianan forests that sit at the foot of this huge escarpment, where we may encounter Guianan Puffbird, Blue-cheeked Amazon and Fulvous Shrike-Tanager amongst many commoner lowland species.
We have time for one last mornings birding in the lowlands where we shall search for Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Spotted Puffbird, Spangled Cotinga, Yellow-green Grosbeak and Golden-collared Woodpecker before taking the long drive back to Puerto Ordaz.
Yellow-knobbed Curassow, Zigzag Heron, Merida Wren, Ochre-browed Thistletail and White-bearded Helmetcrest are just some of the enigmatic species that we will search for during our Andean Endemics & Llanos tour through the impressive wildernesses of western and southern Venezuela. Starting with a short internal flight from Caracas to the base of the Venezuelan Andes, we will begin with some birding in the lowlands where alongside a host of commoner species we hope to locate the near-endemic and highly localized Pygmy Swift. We will then ascend into the Andes for our first two nights and we spend our days at various elevations searching for the endemic Rose-crowned Parakeet and a host of interesting Andean species including Golden-headed Quetzal, Rufous-banded Owl, Merida Brushfinch, Yellow-throated and Channel-billed Toucan, Inca Jay, Mountain Wren and Oleaginous Hemispingus. We will also have access to some wonderful humming bird feeders where we will find the near-endemic and truly stunning Orange-throated Sunangel to be common. We will also be able to study the endemic race of Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, which some authorities treat as a full species, while enjoying other exciting species including Lazuline Sabrewing, Long-tailed Sylph and Buff-tailed Coronet.
We will then move on to the rarified air of the true High Andes in the Santa Domingo Valley making a stop en-route to look for the endemic Blackish Chat-Tyrant. We will spend two days in the valley and our main focus will be on a small suite of localized endemics including White-bearded Helmetcrest, Merida Wren, Ochre-lored Thistletail and Merida Flowerpiercer. We also hope to encounter a good selection of high Andean Species including Paramo Pipit, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Chestnut-winged Cinclodes and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. Several of the species we encounter are represented by local races and in some cases, for example Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant and Lacrimose Mountain Tanager, may represent cryptic new species.
Before we drop out of the Andes into the lowlands of the Llanos we will take some time to bird in the subtropical zone. We will visit an Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek where we hope to enjoy close up views of the stunning display of these bizarre and gaudy creatures. Other species we may encounter include the recently split Blue-lored Antbird, Saffron-headed Parrot and hopefully the charismatic Torrent Duck which we will search for on some of the rushing mountain streams.
We spend one final morning birding at the base of Andes near the town of Barinas, our gateway to the vast Llanos plains of southern Venezuela. The morning should produce an exciting range of foothill species including Stripe-backed Wren, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Scaled Piculet and Many-banded Aracari boosting our list of forest species ahead of the waterbird spectacle that awaits us.
The next three full days will be spent in the vast plain of the Llanos at the wonderful wildlife friendly range of El Cedral. Aside from all the species that we will see, a visit here has to be one of THE world’s greatest wildlife spectacles. We take a mix of Jeep and boat safaris and will find ourselves constantly surrounded by hordes of wetland species with flocks of Scarlet Ibis and Jabiru, herds of Capybara and Orinoco Geese stretching off far into the distance. Whilst taking plenty of time to enjoy the spectacle, we will also make some effort to locate a selection of rare, elusive or localized species including Yellow-knobbed Curassow, Zigzag Heron, White-bearded Flycatcher and Pale-headed Jacamar – the latter two Llanos endemics restricted to these plains of remote Venezuela and Colombia. We will not neglect the mammals and alongside the Capybara and White-tailed Deer we have a very high chance of Giant Anteater, which can be rather common at this site, and even a possibility of its smaller cousin the Southern Tamandua. We will make some effort to find Pink River Dolphins and our night spotlighting may produce Carb-eating Fox and Common Opossum along with a selection of Nightjars, Nighthawks and perhaps Common Potoo or Great Horned Owl.
Eventually we shall tear ourselves away from this wildlife overload and return to the Andes for our final couple of days birding in the environs of Guaracamal National Park. Here we hope to tease out the endemic Merida Tapaculo, Grey-naped Antpitta, Grey-naped Hemispingus and White-fronted Whitestart, while we also hope to find a selection of Andean forest species including Andean Guan, Speckle-faced and Rusty-faced Parrot, Masked Trogon, Pearled Treerunner and the wonderful Ocellated Tapaculo. These last days birding in some wonderful and seldom visited cloud forest should provide a fitting finale to our wonderful birding adventure.