This is an account of Naturetrek’s Venezuela Off the Beaten Track budget birding holiday of 20th - 28th February 2010.
There were six clients: Dave Ferguson, Jim Rose, Dave Parmenter, Waldy Brouwer, Paul Cullington and Penny Cullington. The leader was Cecilia Herrera and the driver Leo Gomez.
The group saw 330 species and heard another 16. No attempt is made to mention every species in this account but a full birding list can be found as a supplement.
This was a short duration, high intensity tour which took in many of the habitats to the west of Caracas. We rose before dawn and usually breakfasted at the hotel while it was still dark. There was a two hour drive to the first hotel, where we spent a brief night, a five hour drive when we moved from the mountains to the coast, and a four-and-a-half hour drive from the coast back to Caracas. In between, drives from our two bases were less than an hour. Given the number of habitats we visited and the number of birds we saw it was a surprisingly less manic than some of our other holidays.
Mosquito nets were provided at the Posada el Encanto but nobody (except me!) had mosquitos in the room. Chiggers were present in the coastal areas and at Henri Pittier National Park. We tucked our trousers into our socks and sprayed the socks. We saw no snakes, spiders or other scary creatures except for a roadkill Coral Snake. We had bottled water available at all times.
It did not rain although some rain is normally expected at this time of year. Some mornings were overcast but mostly it was sunny. The temperature varied between pleasantly warm and - on the coast - hot. We were allowed a short siesta on the last two days on the coast because of the heat but the weather never stopped us birding.
The plates in the Birds of Venezuela are a trackless forest of flycatchers, woodcreepers, tanagers and many others. To lead you through this jungle you need a skilled, experienced and hard-working guide. Luckily we had one: Cecilia Herrera, who, as well as being a brilliant bird leader, spoke fluent English and had a great sense of humour. Her knowledge of bird calls and songs, particularly in the forest areas, was excellent. The clockwork-like organisation was also down to her abilities.
Trip Leader - Cecilia, surprised by an impromptu photo call, not exactly in typical birding gear!
We were conveyed in luxury by our excellent driver, Leo, in an air-conditioned Mercedes minibus. On board we had cooled water, coffee and, if we were having an al fresco lunch, picnic supplies.
We stayed in three hotels. The first, the Posada el Limon in Maracay was merely an overnight stop. We arrived in the dark and left in the dark. The room was hot which the overhead fan did little to ameliorate.
The second hotel was the Posada el Encanta near Sanare where we spent four nights. It was situated on a hill in the countryside in beautiful, immaculate grounds. The rooms were spacious, clean and comfortable with air conditioning (not needed) while the food was excellent. In short, it was as good as it gets. See http://www.posadaelencanto.com
Posada El Encanto - The stunning view and good birding also.
The third hotel was in the coastal resort of Tucacas where we spent two nights. A short walk past a boatyard, avoiding the Rottweiler than was sleeping in the shade of a boat (chained, luckily), took us to a jetty where we could watch Frigatebirds and pelicans. The rooms were fairly small but comfortable and with air-conditioning, which, in this case, was needed. The food again was excellent.
20 Feb 2010
We flew from London to Caracas with a change of aircraft at Lisbon. Strong head winds made us one and a half hours late so we did not arrive until 22.15. We changed US dollars to Bolivars at the airport then drove for two hours to the Posada el Limon in Maracay where we spent a rather hot and brief night.
Report written by Dave Ferguson
Web site editing by Jim Rose
Video clips by Dave Parmenter
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