Phelps Expedition to Territory of Amazonas, Venezuela (1954)

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William H. Phelps, Jr. of Caracas, Venezuela, funded a group of scientists to travel the Amazonas territory of southern Venezuela to study the birds of the region. Other participants of the expedition included Dr. Alexander Wetmore, former secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, James H. Kempton, the agricultural attache of the American Embassy at Caracas; Mr. Charles D. Reynolds, geologist of the Orinoco Mining Company; geologists Dr. Guillermo Zuloaga, of the Creole Petroleum Co.; and Mrs. Kathleen D. Phelps. The expedition departed on January 2, 1954 by plane from Caracas, reaching Esmeralda on the Upper Orinoco River. On January 5 the group entered the Rio Pacimoni and traveled farther south towards the Brazilian border, eventually setting up camp after ten days on the river. Wetmore and Kempton remained near the base camp to work and collect in the lowland forest area, while the rest of the party continued to join the botanists Dr. Bassett Maguire, of the New York Botanical Garden, on Cerro de la Neblina, a 7,000-foot mountain across the Brazilian frontier. On January 25, the mountain party having returned, the expedition continued south to San Carlos del Rio Negro. From there, the party proceeded back up the Rio Guainia on the Colombian border, ending at Puerto Ayacucho, capital of Amazonas. On February 11 the group returned to Caracas by plane.


Report of the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and financial report of the Executive Committee of the Board of Regents for the year ending June 30. (1955). Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

Date Range

1954 - 1954


  • Animals
  • Geology
  • Birds
  • Plants
  • Ornithology
  • Botany


  • Venezuela
  • Cerro de la Neblina
  • Puerto Ayacucho
  • Amazonas
  • Orinoco
  • Río Yatua
  • Esmeralda
  • Río Guainía


Expedition name