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Birding in Venezuela (1 Viewer)

Colin

Axeman (Retired)
England
Can anyone suggest sites in Venezuela which could be profitable. I have some trip reports but would appreciate any other information. Also, although I can check other websites, what is the current situation regarding safety in this country from birders who have been there recently. For example is it still not advisable to camp in this country. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
Can't really be of much use Colin but I was there in November and our guide, who has lived in Caracas for nearly 20 years, was clearly nervous when just three of us were birding on the coast near there, saying that there was a serious risk of being attacked and robbed. He also would not consider visiting a large coastal lake that looked great for birding but is notorious for muggings.

I felt safe everywere else but there again was always in a group of at least three and we were staying in remote lodges, no camping.

Steve
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Steve Lister said:
Can't really be of much use Colin but I was there in November and our guide, who has lived in Caracas for nearly 20 years, was clearly nervous when just three of us were birding on the coast near there, saying that there was a serious risk of being attacked and robbed. He also would not consider visiting a large coastal lake that looked great for birding but is notorious for muggings.

I felt safe everywere else but there again was always in a group of at least three and we were staying in remote lodges, no camping.

Steve

Steve, have you written up an account? Otherwise, which guiding service did you use, which kind of trip was it, and what price range did your trip fall into? Was it constricting to have a guide around all the time, or did that work out OK?

I am obviously considering Venezuela myself, but also a little nervous with regards to the safety issues. My standard type of trip is óne where we go by ourselves, rent a car, and have contacts for guides on one to few days of a trip.

Cheers
Niels
 

Hench

Active member
I did a couple of amazing cotingid weeks two years ago almost all in the south (Tepuis area) based mostly at the great Henry's Cleve's place which is at the town of Dante's Inferno, (or rather just outside) the gold "mining" town at the base of the escalera which is brilliant birding, leading up to the Gran Sabana. The town has quite a few shops, gas, food and really great coffee at the garage - good while waiting for the gas delivery - a rather high percentage of the shops appeared to be brothels. An easy drive from the fly in city (Bolivar I think)...there are lots of trip reports floating around. This really requires an internal flight then a rental car.

I was with a knowledgeable person the first week, just bumming around the second. Always seemed safe, provided you're street smart. But we nearly had trouble near caracas when singing Beatles songs at a karioke bar, half the patrons loved it half wanted the gringos done in.

I guess your first decision is south or north, avoid karioke bars.
 

Dave B Smith

Well-known member
I left Venezuela almost 2 years ago so this info is a little dated. First, the two books that I'd suggest are Hilty's "Birds of Venezuela" and then a birdfinding guide 'Birding in Venezuela' by Mary L. Goodwin. This last one will be a great help in planning a trip.

My first suggestion for a safer area with great birds would be a trip into the Andes. Fly into Merida and go from there. We hired a local guide with transport and this worked out well.

My second suggestion would be in Monagas. Here's a trip report for Caripe.

The area around Caracas has a higher crime rate. For safer birding here, we went a little further out to Casa Maria. While the owner, Norbert, is an entomologist, he is also an excellent birder. He includes guiding in the B&B rates and at that point it becomes a bargain. Here's a link to Casa Maria .

If you are interested in the endemics from the Paria Peninsula you'd be safer with a local guide. The area is known for being a little rough. I'd recommend that you visit the Buffalo Farm, Vuelta Larga, run by Klaus. He and his son Daniel also guide. I have a phone number if you need, just PM me. Here is a trip report for this area

And for some more information on Venezuela birding, check out this thread by Rasmus.

Hope this helps a little. It's a great destination but there is a lot of distance between the various areas. I'd pick one or two regions max for a trip.
 

HokkaidoStu

occasional moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I went to Venezuela a few years ago. Alas I didn't do much birding as such.

A couple of places that may be worth a visit.

I can highly recommend a trip to the Rio Cauro area (near Ciudad Bolivar). A 6 night trip on the river deep into the Amazon jungle sleeping in local villages. Lots and lots of birds. Just wish I could have identified more than 10% of them. A birding guide may be available-you'd need to google it (I went on a small tour with 6 people in a boat plus local guide). Macaws, Toucans, lots of raptors and a myriad of unidentified stuff. A guide would have been extremely helpful here. Harpy Eagle are supposed to be in this region.

The main city park (name?) in Caracas was fantastic for birds too. I got about 30-40 species in 10 minutes. Macaws, Scarlet Ibis and lots of bright little things. An English expat birder told me he had been mugged there though. Stay on the main paths, don't shave for a few days, don't dress smartly, carry cheap compact bins and you should be ok. It worked for me anyway.

Henri Pittier National Park is a well known location. I didn't see so many birds here (I was drunk on the beach most of the time) but I believe the park has a list of over 600 species. You'd need a guide.

Merida (in the mountains) seemed a lot safer than Caracas and the coast. I got Bearded Helmetcrest here at 4000+ meters.

Apologies for being a bit vague. Lots of online trip reports and more knowledgeable folk (like the above poster Dave) will give you far better info than I've attempted here.
 
Last edited:

Big Phil

Well-known member
Dave B Smith said:
If you are interested in the endemics from the Paria Peninsula you'd be safer with a local guide. The area is known for being a little rough. I'd recommend that you visit the Buffalo Farm, Vuelta Larga, run by Klaus. He and his son Daniel also guide.

Is that Klaus Muller?. I stayed at his place on the Paria 16 years ago and got taken into the cloud forest by his son. Its still the most magical wildlife experience I've ever had......
 

Dave B Smith

Well-known member
Big Phil said:
Is that Klaus Muller?. I stayed at his place on the Paria 16 years ago and got taken into the cloud forest by his son. Its still the most magical wildlife experience I've ever had......

The same. He continues to improve his place and birding is great.
 

Colin

Axeman (Retired)
England
Thanks to everyone for the very very useful information. Will certainly look into this, it sounds quite exciting. Thanks again.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
I visited on my own some years back. The report is here:
http://user.chem.tue.nl/jhvsteenis/Venz2001.htm
Note that it will sadly be removed within a very few days!

Apart from minor annoyances by beggars or "would-be beggars", I had no trouble (even in Caracas). Note that I didn't take a scope – I think that wouldn't be smart on your own (bins you can hide). I stayed away from any houses built from big bricks...

I would seriously advise anyone to consider visiting Boconó (in the state of Trujillo) – a little known town, but friendly, no "big bricks", and a very interesting national park. John van der Woude's reports give better details than me.
 

Xenopsaris

Active member
Birding Venezuela

Dear Colin
There is a lot of information on the Internet about birding Venezuela - just Google "birding Venezuela". You should also get hold of a copy of Mary Lou Goodwin's book, Birding in Venezuela - published by Lynx Editions and availabel on Amazon.co.uk. The book will help you plan. The basic sites I would suggest are Henri Pittier, Morrocoy area, Yacambu, Hato Pinero (or Cedral), Merida Andes, Oilbird Cave, Parija Peninsula, Escalera, Rio Grande. Most of the big tour companies run tours to these areas. You might also check out the Puerto Ayacucho area or Junglaven or the Maracaibo basin.
As for safety, I don't think Venezuela is any less safe than most other Latin American countries - or some parts of Manchester, London or the States come to think of it! Use a bit of common sense and you should be fine. Don't hire cars, don't walk around at night with your bins on. Camping is not an activity that Venezuelans do, except on the beach, so I wouldn't camp. There are plenty of great places to stay anyway. Travelling in a group helps solve some security problems as the companies that organise tours tend to know what is safe and what isn't - just as you wouldn't want to walk aroud some parts of Liverpool after dark!
Have a great time and enjoy this wonderful country.
Best regards, DT (from Caracas)

Colin said:
Can anyone suggest sites in Venezuela which could be profitable. I have some trip reports but would appreciate any other information. Also, although I can check other websites, what is the current situation regarding safety in this country from birders who have been there recently. For example is it still not advisable to camp in this country. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.
 

Xenopsaris

Active member
Birding Venezuela: organised trips

Hi Niels
The standard bird tour companies - Birdquest, Sunbird, Naturetrek - all go to Venezuela. If you want something local, the Audubon Society has a good name - try audubon AT cantv.net but you might not get a reply. I have used Chris Sharpe of Birding Venezuela - birdingvenezuela AT gmail.com - and they are excellent. I've also heard great things about Pepe Clavijo who organises trips around Maracoy. The safety issue is a real one, but probably no worse than, say, Brazil but to travel alone you want to do your homework and use common sense. The more rural areas seem safer than the big cities - not surprisingly. If you want to bird around Caracas - say, the Avila on a business trip - doing it with a guide is best. Don't rent a car as you will likely get ripped off - even by the international agencies. Instead you might try hiring a guide and car or driver and car for about the same price. There are literally loads of trip reports on the Internet too. One last note - Venezuela is quite an expensive country these days.
Good luck! DT

njlarsen said:
Steve, have you written up an account? Otherwise, which guiding service did you use, which kind of trip was it, and what price range did your trip fall into? Was it constricting to have a guide around all the time, or did that work out OK?

I am obviously considering Venezuela myself, but also a little nervous with regards to the safety issues. My standard type of trip is óne where we go by ourselves, rent a car, and have contacts for guides on one to few days of a trip.

Cheers
Niels
 

Steve Elliott

Active member
Birding Venezuela

Colin said:
Can anyone suggest sites in Venezuela which could be profitable. I have some trip reports but would appreciate any other information. Also, although I can check other websites, what is the current situation regarding safety in this country from birders who have been there recently. For example is it still not advisable to camp in this country. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

Hi Steve and everyone else, I put the trip together that went in November 2006 and Chris Sharpe was our guide there. I think that the caution Chris expressed about birding in the outskirts of a major city with expensive optics would be just as approriate in many parts of the world including certain cities in the UK and the USA. Common sense is all that is needed.
The trip report is nearly finished as Chris has just a few pieces to complete and will be viewable through the usual sources for trip reports. Alternatively you can contact me directly at [email protected] The birding places in the trip were the major centres. Hato Cedral in the Llanos, Merida for the Andes and Paramo, Coastal Cordillera and Rancho Grande. Chris is the best guide I have ever been with and Pepe Clavijos was an excellent addition on 3 days. His enthusiasm together with Chris's birding skills made it a memorable trip for all 11 of us. We saw 475 bird species in 15 days as well as 3 Giant Anteaters and a Puma. At no time did we ever feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way. Indeed all the people we met were very friendly. The trip logistics were meticulously planned by Chris and everything was provided for us in the trip price of $2200 That included accommodation in excellent collonial lodge style hotels. All meals and water on the bus. 2 internal flights, full time driver, open back truck and night drives in the Llanos for Owls Potoos, Nightjars and Nigthawks, boat trip through the Llanos. Entrance to reserves. I would recommend Chris as a guide for any trip in Central or Latin America, he can be found through www.birdvenezuela.com or through myself at www.tanagerbirding.com The best field guide has to be Steven Hilty's Birds of Venezuela
 

Dylan Edwards

Well-known member
i second that i was very fortunate to be on that trip ...an excellent well organised and also 'fun' packed birding holiday

Steve fails to mention Chris' sometimes arcane sense of humour with a comic timing worthily of Rowan Atkinson in the Blackadder series ( had me creased up many times!!!)

If this trip goes again ....GET on IT !!! you cannot fail to have a great time ( honest)


Ps there was talk of 'doing' the Eastern half of the country ...my name is on that list..... Hope you are viewing this Steve!!!!!


Dylan
 

Xenopsaris

Active member
Hi there
Just had to agree that any trip with Chris is a real treat. He's an incredibly experienced guide (I first heard of him from friends who'd been with him in Peru in the 80s), he really knows his birds, has an exceptional ear and that Pythonesque sense of humour at the most unexpected times is just a killer.
Happy memories!
I'd like to do a major Venezuela trip, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll have work trips out there.
Best regards, DT
 

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