Rain Forest, Los Andes, Mountain, Plains, Wetlands and Table Mountains. 14 Days / 13 Nights + – Extension: 7 days.
No other nation in the continent of Americas can match Venezuela for its geographic, climatic and natural diversity.
From the Andes Mountains to the limitless coastline, and numerous virgin Islands, from the jungles of the Amazons rain forest to the vast savannas (La Gran Sabana), the diversity of its landscape offers something for everyone. Most of these regions are still wild, rugged, and unspoiled. The sheer numbers and astonishing variety of plant and animal life will amaze the most demanding traveler and adventurer.
This two week + trip includes a visit to the Coastal Cordillera, the Andes and the Llanos and you will enjoy, watch, and observe most of these fabulous birds. A week’s extension can be added to include the rain forest and highlands of Southeastern Venezuela.
We will visit prime birding watching spots, starting in Henri Pittier National Park where its cloud and lowland forests shelter more than 2000 bird species. Then, we will travel to the wetlands of Falcon, home of thousands of American Flamingos, then to the Andean mountains and finally the plain of the Llanos with its wealth of wildlife and untouched nature.
La Gran Sabana Extension:
La Gran Sabana is characterized by towering table-top mountains with cheers vertical walls and mostly flat summits. Their cataracts and falls, infinite savannahs and forests, the incredible wildlife, the variety of its ecosystems, and the age of its formations have long enchanted visitors, including ornithologists, botanists and geologists. Perhaps one of the most characteristic outstanding physiographic features of this area is the Tepuy, a term used by Pemon Amerindians to table mountains. Each mountain or Tepuy harbors thousands of endemic species of plant and animal life.
Day 1: Arrival, “Welcome to Venezuela” Upon arrival, the group will meet at the airport in Caracas, then transfer to a hotel.
Day 2 - 3: The humid and dry Henri Pittier National Park Today, we will depart early for Henri Pittier National Park. The first created in Venezuela, in 1937 — is located in the north of the agricultural state of Aragua. Its outstanding bio-diversity has impressed hundreds of naturalists, among them Henri Pittier, William Bebee, and Paul Swarts.
At 1,000 meters is the Rancho Grande Biological Station, where the famed ecologist Dr. William Beebe conducted his research into tropical ecology for the New York Zoological Society. Today, it is a field station for a wide range of ecological studies under the administration of the Central University of Maracay and is visited by researchers from around the world. Its location in the midst of the cloud forest, along with high humidity and constant precipitation, has endowed it with great bio-diversity.
Here you would see more than 13 species of tanagers, including the Rufous-cheecked and Golden Tanagers, as well as the Solitary Eagle, Violet-chested Hummingbird, Scalloped Antthrush, the elusive Plain-backed Antpitta, and many more. At the station, it is common to see the White-tipped Quetzal and Handsome Fruiteater showing off their bright red, green, and yellow colours, as well as the Long tailed Sylph and Violet-fronted Brilliant chasing each other at the bird feeder.
In the lowland forest, the dry deciduous trees, as well as banana and cocoa plantations of Cumboto offer a fascinating bird life including Lance-tailed and Wire-tailed Manakins, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Fasciated Tiger-Heron, Black-backed Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, White-eared Conebill, and an array of others. We will also look for sea birds at Ecolodge Inn where we are going to stay for two nights. Here, the Glacous Tanager visits the garden quite often, and it can be admire from the swimming pool at noon while we have a rest form the tremendous heat of the midday.
Day 4: Today, we will watch birds from the of the road that leads to Choroní and the National Henri Pittier, beginning our search at 1,450 meters. Here the cecropias and other plants attract great numbers of birds, including Groove-billed Toucanet, Bronzy Inca, Flavescent Flycatcher, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, and Ochre-breasted Brush-Finch. It’s not unusual to find the endemic and rare Helmeted Curassow and the elusive Rufous-tailed Antthrush among the thick vegetation.
After our morning in the clouds, we will travel to Tucacas, located at the edge of Morrocoy National Park in Falcon State. Once there, we will spend the rest of the afternoon birding at the Cuare Wildlife Reserve where flocks of American Flamingos feed by the thousands. This will also be a good time to see other spectacular birds such as Magnificent Fregatebird, Scarlet Ibis, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Yellow-crowned Parrot, and many more.
Day 5: The Eastern coast of Falcon With Morrocoy National Park and Cuare Wildlife Refuge as protected areas, the eastern coast of Falcon State boasts more than 350 bird species. These are spread over several habitats such as dry and evergreen forests, wetlands, plain, and the mangrove of the Caribbean Sea.
We will start in the dry deciduous forest of Morrocoy where the sheer number of birds showing off can amaze even the most demanding travelers: Red-rumped Woodpecker, Black-backed, Crested, Barred, and Great Antshrikes, White-bellied Antbird, an incredible number of flycatchers, tyrannulets, tyrants, and other relatives, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Burnished-buff Tanager, and many, many more!
We will then explore an evergreen forest and its beautiful hills with amazing landscapes that shelters significant populations of Red-and-green Macaws and Horned Screamers. This is also a great spot for King Vulture, Collared Forest-Falcon, Black-throated Mango, Pale-legged Hornero, Cinereus and White-winged Becards, Masked Yellowthroat, Glaucous Tanager, and Large-billed Seed-Finch.
Day 6: In search of crakes and rails Among the wetlands in the north of Venezuela live two amazing creatures that are often very hard to see: the endemics Plain-flanked Rail and Rusty-flanked Crake. The Rail was rediscovered in 1999 after more than 40 years of no sightings, and now is being study by the Phelps Ornithological Museum.
After our bird quest, we will travel across the central plains to the city of Barinas at the base of the Andes, where we will spend the night. On the way, we will stop in San Pablo Marsh where the Rusty-flanked Crake lives. We will take advantage of this interesting spot to look for Laughing Falcon, Wattle Jacana, Black-capped Donacobious, Hooded Tanager, and Trinidad Euphonia. Overnight at the city of Barinas.
Day 7: Andes slopes The birds of the Andean slopes change according to the altitude, from the foothills up to the high snow-capped peaks.
As we ascend the mountain, we will make several stops to watch for some of the birds of the Andean slopes. Starting at the base of the foothills, we will probably hear the cry of the Little Tinamou, followed by the Green-bellied Hummingbird, Spangled Coquette, Many-banded Aracari, Cinnamon Becard, Cliff Flycatcher, and Blue-necked and White-shouldered Tanagers. We will try to find the endangered Red Siskin, which sometimes forages at the forest’s edge. Along the roadside flows the Santo Domingo River, where two moving water specialists live: the Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper.
We will also explore a dwarf forest over the 2.200 meters to find interesting bird species such as the Sword-billed Hummingbird, Pearled Treerunner, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Red-crested Cotinga, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Brown-bellied Swallow, Collared Jay, White-fronted Redstart, Black-crested Warbler, Blue-backed Conebill, Bluish Flower-Piercer, Buff-breasted and Lachrymose Mountain-Tanagers, Supercilliaried Hemispingus, as well as many others.
Day 8: Paramo zone, the land of the Andean Condor The Paramo is a high-altitude — between 3,000 and 5,000 meters — treeless plain located entirely within the tropics. Among its most distinctive features is its plant life, which includes many endemics such as composites, bromeliads, sedges, and mustards. But the most dominant plant is the Frailejon Espeletia spp., a member of the composite family. The frailejon blooms between the months of July and November, by then it is often visited by the Bearded Helmetcrest, a hummingbird that amazingly can survive at high elevation.
We will spend the day finding the avian specialties in paramos, lakes, and mountains. We will look for Speckled Teal, Ochre-browed Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Streak-backed Canastero, Bar-winged Cinclodes, Paramo Pipit, Páramo Wren, Paramo Seedeater, and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. With good luck we will find the impressive Andean Condor, and the Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle.
Day 9: Bright dancing birds in the Andean forest In other to attract females, some birds sing while others display their colourful plumage. In the Andean forest of South America, there are birds that actually dance to attract their mates. Among them are the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock’s males that gather together to display amazing dances (called leks) to attract females. Their resplendent orange-red colours make them stand out in the green forest. We will look for this amazing bird, as well as other colourful Andean species such as the Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Collared Inca, Golden-winged Manakin, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Russet-backed Oropendola, and Saffron-crowned Tanager. The Immaculated Antbird has also been spotted here.
After lunch we will drive to the beautiful Andean town of Altamira de Caceres located at the Andean foothills. We will be birding on road and near the town in the exuberant cloud forest vegetation, as well as plantations. We will be spending the night in a colonial-style house, which is located in a transition forest between the Andes and the Plains.
Day 10, 11, 12: Hato El Cedral, comfort and rich wildlife We will bird early in the morning around the hotel before being transfered to the renowned Hato El Cedral, located in the vast plains known as Los Llanos, where we will spend three nights. This ranch is a must for adventure photographers and nature lovers in search of exotic animal life in natural surroundings, capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), giant anacondas (the world’s largest snake), anteaters, caimans and crocodiles, as well as thousands of birds, are just some of the wildlife that fascinate visitors.
The Hato El Cedral is a spectacular ranch in the vast interior grassland of the Llanos. This 53,000-hectares (106,000-acre) ranch is a wildlife sanctuary, as well as a working cattle ranch. The Matiyure tourist camp, located inside the ranch, offers comfort – with a swimming pool, good food, air-conditioned rooms – and exceptional opportunities to experience one of the continent's greatest wildlife spectacles.
El Cedral is endowed with many wonders including more than 340 species of birds. During our stay, and using several ways of transportation, such as boat trips and safari-like trucks, we will explore the different habitats within the ranch, such as savannas, wetlands, gallery forest, and matas (clumps of trees in the savanna).
You will see thousands of herons, egrets, storks (Jabiru, Maguari and Wood), seven species of ibis (including fields of Scarlet Ibis), hundreds of thousands of whistling ducks, along with herds of capybara, hundreds of cayman, and such avian specialties as Zigzag Heron, Pinnated Bittern, Hoatzin, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Orinoco Goose, Pied Lapwing, Dwarft Cuckoo, Pale-headed Jacamar, and White-naped Xenopsaris. El Cedral has 15 species of raptors, including such beauties as Aplomado Falcon, Savanna, Harris’ and Black-collared Hawks. In addition, it is rich in mammals such as red howler monkey, crab-eating fox, pink dolphin, giant anteater, ocelot, and many more.
Day 13: Return to Caracas We will bird in the morning in the ranch before transferring to Barinas airport for our flight to Maiquetia. Overnight at the coast of La Guaira near the international airport. Tonight, the group for the seven-day extension will arrive.
Day 14: Return to Home A bus will take the group to the international airport in Maiquetia for the flight back home.
The Tepuys’ extension of 7 days.
Day 14: The amazing rainforest The southern rainforest of Venezuela is characterized by diverse and often-unique biological communities and is renowned for a high level of endemism. More than 700 bird species, and more than 20 endemics, inhabit the south of Venezuela. Perhaps one of the most characteristic outstanding physiographic features of this area is the tepui, a term used by Pemon Amerindians to table mountains, with cheers vertical walls and mostly flat summits. The tepuis shelter most of the endemic birds of this area and is one of the highest level of endemism in the world.
Today, we will take an hour flight to Puerto Ordaz, located south of the leyendary Orinoco river. Then, on the way to El Palmar, we might stop at several locations to search for more birds. Among open dry forests and wetlands, many interesting species can be seen, among them Purple Gallinule, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, White-eyed Parakeet, Striped Cuckoo, Slaty Antshrike, Painted Tody-Flycatcher, Chestnut-vented Conebill, and many more. In the wetlands, the Yellow-breasted Crake is often seen.
We will spend the next two nights in the hotel Parador Taguapire in El Palmar.
Day 15: Rio Grande, home of the harpies Imataca Forest Reserve is a special area that boasts an incredible diversity of wildlife. Although it has been exploited by wood companies and gold miners in the past years, it still remains pristine and fairly untouched. This forest has perhaps the largest density of Harpy Eagles in Venezuela and is probably the best place in the world to see it.
After our encounter with the harpies, we will continue our birding adventure, looking for other interesting species such as Crimsom Topaz, Racket-tailed Coquette, Plain-backed Spinetail, Guianan Toucanet, White-necked Puffbird, Spangle Cotinga, Long-tailed Tyrant, Green Oropendola, Magpie Tanager, among many others. It is also possible to find the Black Nunbird and Purple-throated Fruitcrow
Day 16: Imataca to tepuis and the Gran Sabana. After an early birding near Rio Grande, we will drive 5 hours to the home of all bird lovers in Venezuela, the Barquilla de Fresa lodge. With several hummingbird feeders, as well as trails and fruiting trees, Barquilla is an extraodinary place for spotting some of the rainforest bird wonders. Here we can enjoy a beer or coffee in the garden while we watch the afternoon show put on by the many species foraging in the garden. More than 10 species of hummingbirds visit the feeder, including Gray-breasted Sabrewing, Long-billed Starthroat, Crimson Topaz, and Fork-tailed Woodnymph. Also, up on trees we could see Cayenne Jay, Purple-breasted Cotinga, Channel-billed Toucan, and Red-fan Parrot.We will stay at the inn for three nights to take full advantage of the many birding opportunities in the area.
Day 17, 18, 19: Tepuys, highland savannas, and rainforest. During these three days, we will explore the Sierra de Lema at several levels of altitude, as well as the lowland rainforest and the upper Gran Savanna, the later consists mainly of treeless savannas that alternate montane and gallery forests at an elevation of 1,400 meters. Tepui Goldenthroat, Great Elaenia, Black-faced Tanager, and Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch are some of the birds encountered here.
Then, as we descend through the Sierra de Lema (La Escalera), we find more amazing vegetation and equally enchanting birds: Guayanan Cock-of-the-Rock, White and Bearded Bellbirds, Scarlet-horned and Tepui Manakins, and the Tepui-mountain Grackle with its harp-like song. We can also see Olive-backed, Yellow-bellied, Paradise, and Spotted Tanangers, Flutist Wren, Tepui Spinetail, Rose-collared Piha, and Tepui Greenlet. Once in the lowland, we might spot the Capuchinbird, Pompador Cotinga, Red-billed Toucan, Black-faced Hawk, as well as many antbirds, manakins, and flycatchers.
Day 20: Back to civilization By early morning, we will walk along the Barquilla de Fresa’s trail. Here we will be able to find Cinereous Antshrike, Black-spotted Barbet, Golden-headed Manakin, and Collared Puffbird. After a far-too-short time to bird in the morning, we bid a reluctant farewell to Henry Cleve, the kind and thoughtful owner of Barquilla. We have a six-hour trip ahead of us to catch the flight back to the central coast with a transfer to the hotel.
Day 21: From the tropics to home, for sure there will be countless happy memories of an unforgettable tour.
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