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Venezuela: Tepui and Eastern Endemics

Visiting the lost-world of the Tepuis has always been every birder’s dream and now we are making it possible again with Diego’s substantial in-country experience and assistance by Eduardo! Venezuela has been slowly recovering from years of not being open to tourism, and while most areas remain unsuitable for birding groups, these sites are open and safe. In addition to birding along the normal route, we will be trekking to the wall of Mount Roraima where Tepui Wren is common, all while enjoying one of the most breathtaking views this planet has to offer. Some of the standouts amongst 40+ regional endemics include Peacock Coquette, Tepui Antpitta, Rose-collared Piha, Red-banded Fruiteater, Scarlet-horned Manakin, Roraiman Barbtail, and the monstrous Greater Flowerpiercer. Along the Orinoco we'll look for the recently discovered Delta Amaruco Softtail, amongst other endemics, and at Caripe, Sucre Antpitta and Urich's Tyrannulet will be some of our main targets!

Next dates

5-21 March 2025

Tour length: 17 days

Group size limit: 6

Leaders:

Diego Calderon, Eduardo Patrial, and a local leader

Guaranteed departure

3-19 May 2025

Tour length: 17 days

Group size limit: 6

Leaders:

Eduardo Patrial and a local leader

Guaranteed departure

24 January - 9 February 2026

Tour length: 17 days

Group size limit: 6

Leaders:

Diego Calderon and a local leader

Tour full

All our Venezuela tours are organised by David Ascanio, the foremost birding expert here and author of the Birds of Venezuela. David is in a unique position with contacts all over the country to make our planned tours very safe, with smooth logistics and reliable access permissions to sites with every accessible endemic.

Any birders reading this itinerary and planning should be aware that travel to Venezuela for birding without David’s professional help is currently not advisable. At this stage, due to his busy schedule, he is exclusively arranging for Ornis.

Day 1: This Venezuela birding tour starts at Caracas International Airport (CCS). Overnight nearby in preparation for the exciting days to come!

Day 2: Early domestic flight to Puerto Ordaz on the Orinoco River before a long drive to reach the base of the Guianan Shield near the famous town of Las Claritas, our base for the next three nights. Some casual roadside birding along the way might add Capped and Whistling Herons, King Vulture, Swallow-winged Puffbird, Brown Jacamar, and others. Night at Las Claritas.

Day 3-4: We’ll have effectively two full days birding the legendary Sierra de Lema (La Escalera) in search of more than 40 regional endemics! We’ll start with some of the more widespread lowland goodies like Crimson Topaz, Sharpbill, Guianan Toucanet, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, and maybe Capuchinbird, while mixed flocks will hopefully add the endemic Roraiman Antwren. Spotted Tanager, Flutist Wren and Yellow-green Grosbeaks will be common before we move higher and start encountering specialties like Golden-tufted Grackle, White Bellbird, Pantepui Thrush and Rufous-breasted Sabrewing. Flocks of Fiery-shouldered Parakeet and Golden-tufted Mountain Grackle will be for sure making loads of noise around while we also look for the more secretive Roraiman Antbird, White-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Sierra de Lema Flycatcher, McConnell’s Spinetail, and others. Some of the scarcer main targets we will be working hard for include Peacock Coquette, Rose-collared Piha, and Red-banded Fruiteater. We also know a couple of Scarlet-horned Manakin lekking areas so can certainly expect an excellent show!

Then of course are the many Tepui birds to find and enjoy: Tepui Tinamou, Tepui Swift, Tepui Parrotlet, Tepui Toucanet, Tepui Spinetail, Tepui Elaenia, Tepui Vireo, Tepui Redstart, and Tepui Brushfinch. Other endemics and major targets include Velvet-browed Brilliant, Bearded Bellbird, Black-fronted Tyrannulet, Chapman’s Bristle Tyrant, Olive Manakin, Orange-bellied Manakin, Olive-backed Tanager, and Roraiman Warbler. Spotlighting will concentrate on finding the roraimae subspecies of the Foothill Screech-Owl and Roraiman Nightjar. Nights at Las Claritas.

Day 5: Some final birding in the Sierra de Lema to clean-up any missing targets along the full elevational range before arriving at the Gran Sabana Flatlands for dusk, where we will be looking for Giant Snipe near our simple but clean lodgings! Night at Campamento Kamoirán.

Day 6: Birding in the savannah of La Gran Sabana targeting Ocellated Crake, Tepui Goldenthroat, and others, before driving a few hours to the small village of Paraitepuy de Roraima where lunch and our crew of porters, cooks and local guides will be waiting for us. Jumping on the back of small local motorbikes, we will work our way north-east for one hour, enjoying point-blank views of low-flying Tawny-headed Swallow and Tepui Swift along the way. Eventually reaching the Tek and Kukenam Rivers (which we will have to wade across), our camp for the night will be set up.

Day 7: Hiking some 9km (ascending 900m in elevation) to the Roraima Base Camp at 1870masl, we will aim to arrive by mid-afternoon. With the breathtaking walls of both Roraima and Kukenam Tepuis as a backdrop, we will be able to add White-tailed Goldenthroat, Red-shouldered Tanager, and a few others. Once settled in our camp which will be home for the next two nights, an exploration of the immediate surroundings will give us our best shot at some endemics which are very hard at the Sierra de Lema like Greater Flowerpiercer and Great Elaenia. Night at Roraima Base Camp.

Day 8: Today we will quite literally be birding in the stunted forest that grows on the vertical wall of the Roraima Tepui. Having a full day to explore the single trail that leads to the top, we will slowly ascend to 2500masl, working on mega targets like Red-banded Fruiteater, Streaked-backed Antshrike, and the epitome of Roraima birding: the Roraiman Barbtail which has its own monotypic genus: Roraimia! Not to mention the highly range-restricted Tepui Wren, which is common here but has only been seen by a very small handful of birders! Roving the trail we will have better chances than at the Sierra de Lema for some species like Tepui Antpitta, Ruddy Tody-Flycatcher, and the endemic subspecies of Paramo Seedeater, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Black-hooded Thrush, etc. After a great day of birding in the lost-world, we will return to camp for a much-deserved rest. Night at Roraima Base Camp. NOTE: It should be made clear that we will not follow the trail all the way to summit Roraima, since this monumental effort would not be conducive to finding the harder birds! Any extremely fit participants who wish to forgo some birding in order to hike to the top (with local porters assisting) will be welcome to try. 

Day 9: We will have most of the morning to work any missing targets nearby base camp and then hike back down to the Kukenam River where our flock of motorbikes will be waiting for us to ride one hour back to Paraitepuy de Roraima for the night.

Day 10: After some final morning birding in the La Gran Sabana area, we’ll drive back to Las Claritas for an overnight stay, with some birding on the way.

Day 11: Today we drive back to Puerto Ordaz, with some birding on the way, including a detour to look for the poorly-known Carrizal Seedeater. Overnight in Puerto Ordaz.

Day 12: Full day birding the Orinoco Delta for Delta Amacuro Softtail, Rio Orinoco Spinetail, the undescribed Orinoco Wagtail-Tyrant, Black-chested Tyrant and more river specialties like River Tyrannulet and Riverside Tyrant.

Day 13: Today we will travel by road to Caripe, with some birds stops on the way. Three nights in Caripe (note that day 1 of the extension is day 13 of the main tour).

Day 14-15: We will visit several locations east of Caripe to look for endemics like Urich’s Tyrannulet (only very recently rediscovered!), Sucre Antpitta, Venezuelan Sylph, White-tailed Sabrewing, an undescribed Tapaculo species, “Venezuelan” Painted Parakeet, Venezuelan Flowerpiercer, Grey-headed Warbler, Handsome Fruiteater and many more widespread species!

Day 16: Today will mostly be a transit day, and a flight back to Caracas for a last night stay.

Day 17: Depending on international flight schedules, we might have time to head up to El Ávila National Park to target some of the Coastal Cordillera endemics like Venezuelan Wood Quail, Venezuelan and perhaps Red-eared Parakeets, Caracas Tapaculo, Black-throated Spinetail, plus some other goodies like White-tipped Quetzal and Ochre-breasted Brushfinch. There’s always plenty of other action here with various oropendolas, mixed flocks of tanagers, and the endemic Venezuelan Tyrannulet. End of the tour with international departures early afternoon.

Note that we do not expect Paria to become safe anytime in the immediate future, so at this stage it will not be included in the tour.

Tour details

MAIN TOUR 2025
Cost:
$ 8’800 TBC
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 535

Accommodation: Several nights of camping and basic guesthouses with no hot water. Comfortable hotels in the towns.

Walking difficulty: Getting to Roraima Base Camp involves a one-hour motorbike ride and 9km hike ascending 900m in elevation. Birding on the wall is also steep of course, but can be taken slowly.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.