By Merlin D. Tuttle
For those who love adventure, wild places, and bats, last year's Founder's Circle trip to Venezuela will be hard to beat--but that's exactly what we intend to do when we visit East Africa next February. The Africa trip is already so popular that we have had to expand it into two back-to-back trips, which means there are now a few spaces still open.
On our first evening in Venezuela last January, we captured and released frog-eating and fishing bats, fruit- and nectar-eating bats, and even vampires within just one hour. The following morning, we saw a large jaguar close up in the wild, as well as monkeys, capybaras, scarlet macaws, parrots, roseate spoonbills, and scarlet ibis.
Before leaving the llanos, we also caught piranha and witnessed hundreds of caiman and crocodiles and several king vultures. On the coast we observed a variety of birds: rookeries of nesting pelicans, boobies, ibises, and herons, thousands of flamingos, and hundreds of courting male frigate birds with their bright red throats inflated to resemble balloons. We also explored caves and coral reefs, and a mountain-top cloud forest, where we netted, photographed, and released dozens of unique bats--16 species in just a couple of hours. In all we saw 39 species of bats, not to mention more than 100 other mammals and birds.
Can we top that record in East Africa? I'm sure of it! For years I have traveled remote wilderness areas of Kenya, storing up a rich memory of unforgettable experiences. It's one of the few real wildlife paradises left, and on this trip we'll go to my favorite parts, including sites where I photographed epauleted bats for National Geographic. We'll visit my favorite bat cave; we'll use mist nets to catch crested, epauleted, horseshoe, yellow-winged, and many other uncommon bats; and we won't miss any of the big game or exotic birds either. In fact, we'll see many additional kinds because of our night-time activities.
Our trip will take us to the location Roger Tory Peterson once described as the greatest ornithological spectacle in the world. We'll enjoy private tented camps, delicious food, and a guide who speaks 13 languages and has an unrivaled knowledge of African wildlife. If the lions get too close for comfort during mist netting, you can trust our armed guards or seek the safety of a vehicle. In any event, this promises to be a real adventure!
Dates and enrollment details for our 1996 Africa and Venezuela trips are on the back cover.
No other African safari will bring you in contact with wildlife like this, clockwise from top left: the crested free-tail bat (
Tadarida chapini), triple leaf-nosed bat (
Triaenops persicus), giant leaf-nosed bat (
Hipposideros commersoni), and singing fruit bat (