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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Venezuela: The Tepuis and Imataca Forest Reserve

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Venezuela. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING AND LEAVING VENEZUELA: Citizens of the United States and Canada do not need visas. Every visitor must have a valid passport. Please note that your passport must be valid for more than six months after you are scheduled to leave Venezuela. Tourist cards will be issued by the airline on which you arrive.

MAP AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Venezuela in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Venezuela here.

HEALTH: Malaria prophylaxis is suggested. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend that travelers to Venezuela take one of the following drugs: mefloquine (brand name Lariam®), doxycycline, or Malarone. Please check with your physician to determine which anti-malarial drug is best for you. Please remember that many anti-malarial drugs must be initiated one or more weeks before the period of exposure, and continued for several weeks after it concludes.

No vaccination certificates are necessary in order to enter Venezuela. The Centers for Disease Control currently recommend the following vaccines (see your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for immunizations to take effect): Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG); typhoid; and yellow fever vaccination, since you will be traveling outside urban areas. As needed, it is also recommended that you get booster shots for tetanus-diphtheria and measles. You can review the CDC latest advisories here.

Biting insects are not numerous although mosquitoes, black flies and chiggers occur locally. A can of spray repellent should provide adequate protection

CLIMATE: Temperatures in the Guyanan lowlands can reach the 90s (°F) at mid-day and humidity can be high. At the higher elevations along the Escalera, the mornings are frequently cool (in the 50s or 60s °F), warming up during the day. Rain can occur at any time, especially on the Escalera, and you should have an umbrella and waterproofs with you at all times.

ALTITUDE: During most of the tour we remain at relatively low altitudes (below 5,000 feet).

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: Our time in the Guyanan lowlands will be spent walking along logging roads and forest trails in fairly flat terrain. During one day we’ll visit a Harpy Eagle nest. The active nests vary from year to year, as do the walks involved to reach them. Some years it is possible to drive close to a nest, other years a walk of 3-4 hours might be necessary. If we are faced with a long walk we may encounter wet conditions under foot and may need to walk through vegetation in places. The birding in the Escalera is along an excellent tarmac road with fairly light traffic where we will walk at various altitudes either on the level or downhill. We will occasionally spend short periods of time off the road on trails in the forest. One day we will walk a lowland forest trail that is fairly flat and mostly shady, carrying a picnic lunch. We will usually be in the field all day. All of our breakfasts and dinners will be at our lodgings. We will have picnic lunches every day.

There are several long drives on this tour. Specifically, Puerto Ordaz to El Palmar (about 4 hours), El Palmar to Las Claritas (about 5 hours) and El Palmar to Puerto Ordaz (about 6 hours). In addition, on the day we visit the Harpy nest it can be a 2-3 hour drive in a rough 4x4 vehicle to get to the nest and sometimes a long walk is required (although not every year as it depends which nest we visit, but we won’t know that until we get there).

ACCOMMODATION: We will spend three nights in a local hotel in El Palmar. Although basic, each room has private facilities with a flush toilet and cold-water shower. This is the only place to stay in El Palmar and places us within an hour’s drive of superb birding in the Imataca Forest Reserve. Our nights in the Tepui area will be spent at Anaconda Camp. Located in the small town of Las Claritas, Anaconda offers us comfortable, though not luxurious, accommodation in individual cabins with private bathrooms that have flush toilets and cold water showers. (Anaconda Camp has been chosen over the dormitory-style accommodations at Henri Cleve’s guesthouse nearby due to the increased comfort of cabins with private facilities, rather than the group attempting to share two showers and two toilets between them).

TRANSPORT: We’ll travel to this area by scheduled flight from Caracas and will spend most of the rest of our time in minibuses or a small bus. For our two days in the Imataca Forest Reserve, we will use 4-wheel drive vehicles due to the poor local road conditions. If we use more than one vehicle, we will use hand-held radios to communicate between the two vehicles.

DRESS: Dress will be informal throughout the tour. The Venezuelan people tend to dress very smartly, especially when going out to dinner, so shorts are not appropriate in hotel restaurants in the evenings.

SMOKING: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

GENERAL INFORMATION & CONDITIONS OF WINGS & SUNBIRD TOURS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS General Information & Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.

FINAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Venezuela will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Updated: June 2013