Birding Tour Indonesia: Sulawesi and Halmahera – Spectacular Endemic Birding
Dates and Costs
14 – 31 July 2022
Space available: Fully Booked. We recommend early booking for 2023.
Price (includes all domestic flights): IDR97,613,688 / $7,048 / £5,057 / €5,867 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants.
Single Supplement: IDR8,528,617 / $615 / £442 / €512
* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.
14 – 31 July 2023
Price (includes all domestic flights): IDR105,422,783 / $7,611 / £5,462 / €6,337 per person sharing, assuming 4-8 participants.
Single Supplement: IDR9,210,906 / $665 / £477 / €553
Duration: 18 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Makassar
Tour End: Makassar
All domestic flights (Makassar – Manado, Manado – Ternate, Ternate – Makassar, Makassar – Palu, Palu – Luwuk, Luwuk – Makassar)
Meals (from dinner on day 1 until breakfast on day 18)
Drinking water – please bring a refillable water bottle
Expert tour leader
Local bird and wildlife guide/trackers fees
Birdwatching site entrance fees and travel permits
Mangrove boat tour in Tangkoko area
Speedboat return travel between Ternate and Sofifi
All ground transport and tolls/taxes while on tour, including airport pick-up and drop-off
Flights to/from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, Makassar, Indonesia
Expenditures due to flight cancellations/delays or other causes beyond our control (force majeure)
Visa fees if visa required
Items of a personal nature, e.g. porter fees, gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, snorkeling/diving trips, snorkeling/diving equipment hire, excess luggage charges for internal flights (baggage limited to 20 kg per person), etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Featured Guide:Andrew Walker
Sulawesi and Halmahera – Spectacular Endemic Birding
This small-group birding tour of Indonesia visits the two endemic-filled islands of Sulawesi and Halmahera. These two islands straddle the equator and sit between the islands of Borneo to the west and New Guinea to the east. They also offer some of the best birding on the planet.
Maleo, the only member of the monotypic genus Macrocephalon in the Megapode family, is endemic to the island of Sulawesi. We will be looking for it on this tour.
Sulawesi, accessed through its capital city Makassar, in the southwest of this interestingly-shaped island (also a convenient international arrivals entry point into Indonesia and the start/end point of our tour) is the westernmost of the two islands and is part of the Greater Sundas (along with Borneo, Sumatra, and Java). The other island, Halmahera, is more Australasian in nature and is part of the North Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas). We enter Halmahera through the town of Sofifi, reached by boat from the small island of Ternate, to the west of Halmahera (the closest airport to Sofifi).
This tour provides some incredible birding opportunities with a dose of adventure too, likely to leave you with a firm desire to explore further throughout this bird-filled Indonesian archipelago. Both islands are to the east of the famous Wallace Line, an invisible faunal boundary line which divides the biogeographical realms of Asia and Wallacea (a transitional zone between Asia and Australia) and named after the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.
The avifauna of Sulawesi and Halmahera is distinctly Wallacean, headlined by the bizarre mound-nesting megapode Maleo on Sulawesi and the Standardwing (also known as Wallace’s Standardwing or Standardwing Bird-of-paradise), whose raucous calls echo through the forest on Halmahera, as they bounce around their display leks – a magical sight.
We will visit a lek of the rather unique (Wallace’s) Standardwing, a range-restricted bird-of-paradise and one of many spectacular birds we will look for on Halmahera.
The birding on these islands is excellent, with a variety of stunningly colored endemic kingfishers which illuminate the forest in the Sulawesi lowlands (such as Lilac Kingfisher, Green-backed Kingfisher, and Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher), the Hylocitrea (a highly sought-after monotypic family), the enigmatic Geomalia (an aberrant ground thrush), and the Satanic Nightjar in the mountains. Further to the aforementioned Standardwing, the island of Halmahera also supports the large Ivory-breasted Pitta, several spectacular kingfishers such as Common Paradise Kingfisher, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, and Sombre Kingfisher, the unobtrusive Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove, the bizarre Moluccan Owlet-nightjar (just one of a multitude of great nightbirds possible on the tour) and a variety of other regional endemics and distinct subspecies. It is highly likely that a number of birds we see on this tour will be further split into new species.
The above is just a few of the potential highlight birds we will be looking for. Some of the many other targets include Gurney’s Eagle, Sulawesi Nightjar, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Sulawesi Pitta, North Moluccan Pitta, Invisible Rail, Blue-faced Rail, Grey-headed Fruit Dove, White-necked Myna, Red-backed Thrush, Ashy Woodpecker, Knobbed Hornbill, Sulawesi Hornbill, Blyth’s Hornbill, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Ochre-bellied Boobook, Halmahera Boobook, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Great-billed Kingfisher, Azure Dollarbird, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher, Great Shortwing, Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher, Malia, Rufous-bellied Triller, Piping Crow, Black-ringed White-eye, Lompobattang Flycatcher, (Halmahera) Paradise-crow (a member of the bird-of-paradise family), and Goliath Coucal. There are also plenty of brightly colored parrots (especially on Halmahera, which has a more Australasian feel than Sulawesi) such as White Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Violet-necked Lory, Chattering Lory, Moluccan King Parrot, and Moluccan Hanging Parrot. A highly rewarding and thoroughly exciting tour is guaranteed here!
A large Green-backed Kingfisher waits patiently for its prey (usually a lizard) low in the forest understorey in northern Sulawesi, where it is an endemic.
This tour can be combined with our West Papua: Birds-of-paradise and Endemics of the Arfaks and Waigeo tour which follows on after this tour and connects with a wide-range of highly sought-after birds-of-paradise such as Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, King Bird-of-paradise, Arfak Astrapia, Black Sicklebill, Western Parotia (and many more), as well as a spectacular list of kingfishers such as Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, and Hook-billed Kingfisher, plus fruit doves, parrots, and jewel-babblers to delight.
Following that tour, we also have our Papua New Guinea: Birding Attenborough’s Paradise tour which seeks out over 20 bird-of-paradise species, such as Blue Bird-of-paradise, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, and Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia as well as numerous sought-after species, many of them endemic, including several monotypic families and endemic families. There are so many staggeringly beautiful birds in this region so why not come exploring with us, we would love to show you around!
Itinerary (18 days/17 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Makassar
A non-birding day. You will be met at Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, Makassar, after your arrival in Sulawesi and will be transferred to our nearby hotel for the rest of the day at your leisure. We will meet for a group welcome dinner together in the evening.
Day 2. Makassar to Malino
After breakfast we will leave the city and drive east towards the town of Malino where we will spend the night. Malino is situated on the edge of the Bantimurun-Burusaraung National Park which unites a number of protected areas together. Much of the park is hilly with seriously impressive karst limestone landscape – you can see this as you fly into the airport in Makassar.
As we leave the city, we will look for some of the interesting species found in Makassar, such as Pale-bellied Myna, Barred Buttonquail, Woolly-necked Stork, Pale-headed Munia, Chestnut Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Golden-headed Cisticola, Lemon-bellied White-eye, Common Kingfisher, and Javan Pond Heron, amongst other more widespread and common open-country and farmland birds.
In the afternoon we will commence our first forest birding session where we will hope to find range-restricted endemics such as Lompobattang Flycatcher, Black-ringed White-eye, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Sulawesi Thrush, and Hylocitrea. Hylocitrea is a major tour target as it is a Sulawesi-endemic, monotypic family; there are two subspecies and both are possible on the tour, we have a chance of the other subspecies in the Lore Lindu area. At night we will look for Sulawesi Scops Owl, Speckled Boobook, and Sulawesi Masked Owl.
Day 3. Malino to Rammang-Rammang (via Makassar)
We will spend the morning in the same highland forest area as the previous afternoon and will look for Lompobattang Flycatcher, Black-ringed White-eye, Red-eared Fruit Dove, and Hylocitrea, once again, along with other species such as Piping Crow, Bay Coucal, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher, Sulawesi Myzomela, Sulawesi Fantail, Sulawesi Leaf Warbler, Malia – a large (c12 inches/30 centimeters), bizarre and slightly enigmatic endemic bird, that is now considered to be part of the Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies) family, Sulawesi Swiftlet, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Sulawesi Thrush, Sulawesi Drongo, Black-crowned White-eye, Warbling (Mountain) White-eye, Sulphur-vented Whistler, Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk, Golden-mantled Racket-tail, Turquoise Flycatcher, Citrine Canary-flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker, Sulawesi Bush Warbler, White-necked Myna, Fiery-browed Starling, and Dark-eared Myza.
White-necked Myna is a stunning yet widespread species on Sulawesi.
After our morning birding session, we will head back into Makassar then head northeast to the Rammang-Rammang area, another part of the huge Bantimurun-Burusaraung National Park, likely passing through Karenta Forest along the way. Here we will look for Green-backed Kingfisher (this area holds a distinct local subspecies and much-touted split as ‘Black-headed Kingfisher’), Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher (a species described as recently as 2014), Yellow-billed Malkoha, Sulawesi Pitta, Black-ringed White-eye, Yellow-sided Flowerpecker, Grey-sided Flowerpecker, Black Sunbird, Black-billed Koel, Knobbed Hornbill, Sulawesi Hornbill, Ashy Woodpecker, Piping Crow, Sulawesi Babbler, Sulawesi Goshawk, and more.
In the evening we will have another owling session in the area around our ecolodge where we will hope to find Sulawesi Masked Owl, Sulawesi Scops Owl, Speckled Boobook, and Great Eared Nightjar.
There are not many woodpeckers to the east of the Wallace Line, Ashy Woodpecker is the largest of them, at 12 inches (30 centimeters) and is endemic to Sulawesi.
Day 4. Rammang-Rammang to Makassar, then fly to Manado and on to Tangkoko
We will check out of our lodge and then make our way back to Makassar but go via the Karenta Forest area for our final birding in the Bantimurun-Burusaraung National Park area where we will have another look for Green-backed (Black-headed) Kingfisher, Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher, Sulawesi Pitta, Piping Crow, and Sulawesi Hornbill, along with the other species listed for the afternoon of day 3.
We will likely grab lunch in one of the many outlets in Makassar airport before we take our short flight north to the town of Manado. On getting through the airport in Manado, we will continue in a northeasterly direction to the village of Batuputih Bawah, close to Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve. We will likely start birding in the local area late in the afternoon after first getting checked in to our accommodation, where we might find Black Sunbird, Brown-throated Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, and Pale-blue Monarch in the garden. We will have two full days (days 5 and 6, as well as the morning of day 7 birding the excellent Tangkoko environs and our time here is sure to be a tour highlight).
Overnight: Tangkoko Area, Batuputih Bawah
Days 5 – 6. Tangkoko area (including Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, mangrove boat trip, and Temboan Hill areas)
Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve is practically as far north as you can go in Sulaswesi, not far from the tip of the Minahassa Peninsula – the long arm that bends out from Palu in central Sulawesi (where we will find ourselves later in the tour!). The geography of this island and adjacent Halmahera is fascinating, and the birds even more so! We are sure to really enjoy ourselves over our two full days here as we bird on foot and by boat as we look for four gorgeous endemic kingfishers: Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher, Lilac Kingfisher, Green-backed Kingfisher (the “Green-backed” subspecies rather than the “Black-headed” subspecies referenced in days 3 and 4), and Great-billed Kingfisher, along with beauties such as the ginormous Knobbed Hornbill and smaller Sulawesi Hornbill, gaudy Sulawesi Pitta, plus so many others like Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Sulawesi Goshawk, Spot-tailed Goshawk, Red-backed Thrush, Philippine Megapode, Sulawesi Myna, White-necked Myna, Grosbeak Starling, White-rumped Triller, Pied Cuckooshrike, Sulawesi Cicadabird, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Purple-winged Roller, Bay Coucal, Ashy Woodpecker, Black-naped Oriole, Hair-crested (White-eyed Spangled) Drongo, Isabelline Bush-hen, Barred Rail, Buff-banded Rail, and maybe even the mythical Blue-faced Rail, with some luck.
On this tour you will see many stunningly beautiful birds, Knobbed Hornbill does take that up a notch, this huge bird is gorgeous.
Parrots, pigeons, and doves are common here and we could see Yellow-breasted Racket-tail, Golden-mantled Racket-tail, Blue-backed Parrot, Ornate Lorikeet, Great Hanging Parrot, Pygmy Hanging Parrot, Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon, Green Imperial Pigeon, White-faced Cuckoo-Dove, Black-naped Fruit Dove, Oberholser’s Fruit Dove, Superb Fruit Dove, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, Stephan’s Emerald Dove, Spotted Dove, and Zebra Dove!
The park is also great for three really cool mammals, the tiny Spectral Tarsier (the smallest monkey in the world), (Sulawesi) Celebes (Black-) Crested Macaque, and (Sulawesi) Bear Cuscus – a marsupial! We are, after all, in that fascinating Wallacean mix-zone between Asia and Australasia.
The Celebes Crested Macaque is a rather interesting mammal, very reminiscent of some of the African primates.
Nightbirds are usually plentiful here and Ochre-breasted Boobook, Speckled Boobook, Minahassa Masked Owl, Sulawesi Scops Owl, Great Eared Nightjar, and Sulawesi Nightjar are all possible, and we will hope to find some of these on day roosts while we are out birding in the forest too.
Our mangrove boat trip will likely yield a different range of species, this is the best area for the aforementioned Great-billed Kingfisher. We will also be on the lookout for Great-billed Heron, Pacific Reef Heron, Striated Heron, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, White-rumped Cuckooshrike, Common Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Lesser Frigatebird, Slender-billed Crow, and Golden-bellied Gerygone. There may be some early shorebird migrants about too such as Eurasian Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattler, or Common Sandpiper.
Overnight (two nights): Tangkoko Area, Batuputih Bawah
Endemic to Sulawesi, we will hope to find Ochre-breasted Boobooks on their day roost, it is worth it just to see their incredibly intense bright yellow piercing eyes!
Day 7. Tangkoko to Tomohon (Gunung Mahawu)
After a final morning birding the wonderful Tangkoko area, we will travel to the town of Tomohon, located to the south of Manado. We will have a late afternoon birding session on nearby Gunung Mahawu where we will look for the endemic Scaly-breasted Kingfisher. We will also be back here the following morning.
Day 8. Tomohon (Gunung Mahawu) to Ternate, then on to Halmahera
We will be back on the mountain at dawn hoping for some great birds. We will likely be greeted by a dawn chorus of booming White-bellied Imperial Pigeons, plus some of the following species: Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Bay Coucal, White-faced Cuckoo-Dove, Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, Red-eared Fruit Dove, and Superb Fruit Dove. We will search for Scaly-breasted Kingfisher and while looking for that we might also find Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Sulawesi Pitta, Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk, Red-backed Thrush, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher, Citrine Canary-flycatcher, Rufous-throated Flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Turquoise Flycatcher, Pale-blue Monarch, Sulawesi Bush Warbler, Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker, Sulawesi Myzomela, Sulphur-vented Whistler, Sulawesi Babbler, Streak-headed White-eye, Warbling (Mountain) White-eye, Black-crowned White-eye, Crimson Sunbird, Yellow-sided Flowerpecker, Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker, and Grey-sided Flowerpecker.
Formerly called Mountain White-eye, following a recent taxonomical reworking of some Zosterops species these birds have now been merged into Warbling White-eye, regardless of their English names they are delightful little birds.
After our morning birding session, we will drive back to Manado where we will board a flight to Ternate in the North Moluccus. Ternate is a spectacular volcano and the flight into the island is well worth having a window seat for! Once through the small airport we will take a short car ride to the harbor where we will board our private speed boat taking us to the town of Sofifi on Halmahera. Once on land we will get into our 4×4 vehicles and start the drive to our base for the next four nights. The drive takes about four hours; we head south out of Sofifi passing through some agricultural land (lots of coconut plantations) and then we will turn east as we go over an impressive mountain range (where we will see some gorgeous rainforest – and potentially stop if we see something very interesting), after reaching the opposite coast we will then head north again, finally reaching our idyllic beachside resort. It will be a long day but well worth it. This area of Halmahera has been chosen as our base as it offers excellent accommodation, great food, fantastic snorkeling during the down time, and most importantly it offers unparalleled birding on the island with all of the island endemics possible in the forest close to the lodge.
Overnight: Weda Bay
Days 9 – 11. Halmahera Birding
We will have three full days to focus our attention on a range of Halmahera island endemics as well as many North Moluccan regional endemics. Our first morning will see us make an early start to get into the forest before it is properly light, the reason for this is to get in place to wait for the amazing display of (Wallace’s) Standardwing. This bird-of-paradise does not look like much in the field guides but let us assure you when you see it in real life, it is a stunner!
There is also a second member of the bird-of-paradise family present on the island, the (Halmahera) Paradise-crow. As its name suggests this is a very crow-like bird-of-paradise that has a beautiful duet and makes a wide-range of interesting sounds, alas, it’s not the best-looking bird-of-paradise but it is nonetheless a very interesting bird and we will hope for some good views of this one too.
Another big (literally) target is the Ivory-breasted Pitta. This is definitely one of the best-looking pittas in the world and is actually, on average, the largest. We will hope for some good views of this one, as well as the smaller and also beautiful, but possibly more secretive North Moluccan Pitta. We will also keep our eyes peeled on the ground for Dusky Megapode, Nicobar Pigeon, and if we are incredibly lucky maybe even the Invisible Rail (the clue is in the name!).
We will hope for a repeat of the excellent views of Ivory-breasted Pitta here.
The area is full of fruit doves and pigeons and we will look for Blue-capped Fruit Dove, Grey-headed Fruit Dove, Superb Fruit Dove, Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, Spectacled Imperial Pigeon, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, and Pied Imperial Pigeon. Parrots are abundant here too and over the course of our stay we will hope to get perched views of many, such as White Cockatoo, Moluccan King Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Eclectus Parrot, Violet-necked Lory, Chattering Lory, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, and more!
Kingfishers, too, are very well represented in Halmahera and we will hope to find Moluccan Dwarf Kingfisher, Sombre Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, and Beach Kingfisher – the latter two are possible around our accommodation, watch out for the Beach Kingfisher as you take a swim right outside your room! A common sound here is the huge, heavy wingbeats of Blyth’s Hornbill and we should get repeated good views of this impressive species. Other large birds often in the area can include Azure Dollarbird, Goliath Coucal and Gurney’s Eagle.
There are so many other interesting birds here, and we will build our list of specials, likely finding Rufous-bellied Triller, Halmahera Flowerpecker, Dusky-brown (Halmahera) Oriole, White-streaked Friarbird, Dusky Friarbird, Black-chinned Whistler, Drab Whistler, White-naped Monarch, Moluccan Monarch, Moluccan Flycatcher, Moluccan Goshawk, Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk, Variable Goshawk, Moluccan Cuckooshrike, Halmahera Cuckooshrike, Moluccan Cuckoo, Rufous Fantail, Island Leaf Warbler, Cream-throated (Halmahera) White-eye, Northern (Halmahera) Golden Bulbul, and Long-billed Crow.
Beach Kingfishers are often right outside our rooms so we will hope for some good views.
Nightbirds we will search for during our stay include the uncommon Halmahera Boobook, Barking Owl, Moluccan Scops Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar, and Moluccan Owlet-nightjar. We will hope to see some of these on day roosts, otherwise in early-evening owling sessions.
Overnight (three nights): Weda Bay
Day 12. Halmahera to Ternate then fly to Makassar
Reluctantly we will leave our lovely beachside resort as we prepare to leave the beautiful and remote island of Halmahera and start our journey back to Sulawesi. Essentially a travel day, we journey by 4×4, speedboat, and plane back to Makassar where we hope to arrive in the afternoon.
Day 13. Makassar to Palu then on to Lore Lindu
We will take a morning flight from Makassar to Palu in central Sulawesi. On leaving the airport we will start our journey to Lore Lindu National Park, our next base for a few nights. Along the way we will likely stop for a few open-country birds such as Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Lemon-bellied White-eye, White-shouldered Triller, Red Collared Dove, Pale-headed Munia, Black-faced Munia, Chestnut Munia, and maybe even day-roosting Savanna Nightjar.
As we reach the Lore Lindu area we will make some roadside stops where we might find Red-eared Fruit Dove, Fiery-browed Starling, Sulawesi Thrush, Pygmy Cuckooshrike, Cerulean Cuckooshrike, Great Shortwing, and the bizarre Geomalia (now considered to be an aberrant ground thrush and not a babbler as previously thought).
Overnight: Lore Lindu Area
Days 14 – 15. Lore Lindu National Park area (Anaso Track and Lake Tambling area)
Lore Lindu National Park protects some of the largest tracts of montane rainforests remaining on Sulawesi. We will have two full days here as well as the morning of day 16. We will likely focus our birding attention on two areas while here, the famed Anaso Track (considered a tough hike) and Lake Tambling. There are a lot of new birds for us here with potential highlights including Hylocitrea (the monotypic family), Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Geomalia, Malia, Sulawesi Streaked Flycatcher, Sulawesi Woodcock, and Satanic Nightjar.
The unusual Geomalia is usually a shy and secretive bird but we will hope to get some views during our time in Lore Lindu National Park. (Photo Allin Sawuwu)
Plenty of other highlight species here will make our birding time really exciting with further possibilities including Snoring Rail, Great Shortwing, Purple Needletail, Sulawesi Pitta, Sulawesi Thrush, Red-backed Thrush, Rufous-throated Flycatcher, Blue-fronted Blue Flycatcher, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher, Mountain Serin, Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon, Sombre Pigeon, Sulawesi Ground Dove, Red-eared Fruit Dove, Oberholser’s Fruit Dove, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Green-backed Kingfisher, Sulawesi Drongo, Piping Crow, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Sulawesi Hornbill, Knobbed Hornbill, Ivory-backed Woodswallow, Sulawesi Goshawk, Dwarf Sparrowhawk, Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk, Sulawesi Masked Owl, Minahassa Masked Owl, Eastern Grass Owl, Speckled Boobook, Cinnabar Boobook (the currently undescribed “White-spotted Boobook” form), Ashy Woodpecker, Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker, Golden-mantled Racket-tail, Citrine Lorikeet, Maroon-backed Whistler, Streak-headed White-eye, Sulawesi Leaf Warbler, White-eared Myza, and Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker.
Overnight (two nights): Lore Lindu Area
Sulawesi Masked Owl is one of several exciting nightbirds possible on the tour.
Day 16. Lore Lindu to Palu to Luwuk
We will have a final morning birding around the Lore Lindu National Park area before we drive back to Palu, where we will board our afternoon flight to Luwuk in the east of central Sulawesi. On clearing the airport, we will make the short journey to our comfortable hillside hotel where we will enjoy some excellent views of the bay as we relax before our evening meal.
Day 17. Taima
We will have a long day today as we look for one of the most charismatic birds of Sulawesi. We will make an early start from Luwuk in order to reach Taima on the tip of eastern central Sulawesi in the morning, where we will hope to watch a breeding colony of Maleo at fairly close quarters. The set up at this site is great, with jobs provided to local people who help monitor and protect the birds, this has massively reduced hunting pressure on this Endangered (BirdLife International) species. We will view the breeding area (a sandy beach that looks like it has had bombs dropped on it, due to all the nest holes dug by the birds!) from blinds and/or a tower hide depending on whether you like heights or not. We will view the area and the birds in small groups, so as not to disturb them.
While in the area we will look out for other species that may be found here, such as White-rumped Cuckooshrike, Sulawesi Babbler, Red-backed Buttonquail, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Black-naped Oriole, Philippine Megapode, Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon, Black-naped Fruit Dove, Green Imperial Pigeon, Isabelline Bush-hen, Collared Kingfisher, Purple-winged Roller, Great Hanging Parrot, White-breasted Woodswallow, Grosbeak Starling, Hair-crested (White-eyed Spangled) Drongo, Great-billed Heron, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Barred (Sulawesi) Honey Buzzard, and Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle.
After lunch we will drive back to Luwuk, likely stopping at some rice paddies or forest patches along the way in case there are any potential last-minute additions we can make to, what is sure to be, a pretty impressive bird list by this time. We will have a final group evening meal together. during which time we will try and pick a ‘bird of the trip’; not likely to be an easy decision!
Day 18. Luwuk to Makassar where tour concludes
Non-birding day. After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel we will fly back to Makassar where the tour will end in time for an afternoon departure out of Indonesia or your further travel (such as our West Papua: Birds-of-paradise and Endemics of the Arfaks and Waigeo tour). Please do not book your onward flights until we have confirmed the internal flight times which may be subject to change!
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.Download Itinerary
North Moluccan Pitta
Moluccan Scops Owl
Black-naped Fruit Dove
This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
Sulawesi and Halmahera: Spectacular Endemic Birding – General Information
Remember you are visiting a developing country, expect many things to be very different to what you might expect from home. We have tried to make this tour as comfortable as possible however some areas we visit are still very remote, even by Indonesian standards, but the birding certainly makes up for that.
The birding on this tour is a mix of flat forest trails and roadside birding, gently sloping low hills (on a mix of proper trails and more “off-piste” – e.g. if we have to go and look for a day-roost of an owl, or a hornbill nest, or pitta etc.), some short forest trails that might be considered tricky in places by some people, e.g. when we go to the Standardwing lek in Halmahera (particularly when the heat and humidity of some areas is considered), and one difficult hike (the Anaso Track – a former logging track that is now a heavily eroded gulley but offers some of the best birding in Lore Lindu National Park). Most days we will take a “siesta” during the middle of the day when the heat is at its strongest and bird activity generally wanes which will be good for resting and relaxing for a few hours. We have local guides and other support staff with us so if at any time anyone in the group wants to opt out of an activity that will be possible.
In Sulawesi we stay in accommodation ranging from good hotels in the towns and cities, such as in Makassar, Tomohon, and Luwuk, to more basic yet comfortable lodges catering for birders such as in Tangkoko, the countryside outside of Makassar, and at Lore Lindu. In Halmahera we stay in a comfortable dive resort for the duration of our stay on the island. All accommodation has been chosen for its proximity to excellent birding locations while still providing an adequate level of comfort. Most accommodation has either air con or a ceiling/standing fan, and sometimes a combination of both. Where necessary (such as in Halmahera) accommodation has mosquito nets and provides insect repellent/mosquito coils. Some accommodation have swimming pools and the resort on Halmahera has a sheltered bay for swimming.
In Indonesia the power sockets are of type C and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. See here for details. You may need to consider a converter and/or an adaptor.
Phone and Internet:
Phone service (and therefore mobile internet etc.) is not widely available, particularly in the forest and on the mountains and we do not have a satellite phone. Local sim cards can be purchased in the towns that will have limited connection in some places. Most places we stay at (particularly in the cities, and occasionally in the more rural areas) will have WiFi.
Food is of local Indonesian style in most places, some of the larger hotels in the towns and cities may have more western style food but this is not necessarily to be expected. Bringing energy/cereal bars might be advantageous for during early morning hikes etc.
Please remember to give us your dietary preferences. Are you vegetarian? Can you eat spicy foods?
It is likely to be hot and humid in the lowlands, more so in Halmahera and northern Sulawesi verses southern Sulawesi, with a possible temperature range of c.77-95F (c.25-35C). It is likely to be a touch cooler when we are in the mountains such as c.59-68F (c.15-20C) and may go cooler overnight. July is typically one of the drier months in the region but rain could occur at any time.
We use various forms of transport on the tour. In Sulawesi we will likely use a range of minibuses of varying sizes, sometimes 4x4s. In Halmahera the driving is carried out in 4×4 vehicles. Depending on the final group size we may have 1-3 vehicles. We will take six internal flights to move around the two islands, a necessity in Indonesia. We will use a speedboat to get between Ternate and Halmahera and we will take a smaller outrigger boat for a mangrove trip in northern Sulawesi. The boat trip to the mangroves may result in wet/sandy feet as we enter and exit the boat on the beach, the speedboat trip between the islands involves proper harbours.
Make your luggage as light as possible, most domestic flights only allow 44 lb (20 kg) of hold luggage per person, any overweight luggage may not be carried and/or will be charged extra. The tour cost includes 44 lb (20 kg) of baggage only (per person), any excess charges will need to be paid for locally by cash payments only.
Currency exchange is only available in Makasar, Manado, Pulau, and Jakarta but ATMs are available in every town. Traveller’s cheques are not accepted in most banks or stores in Indonesia, and we don’t recommend the use of credit cards except in major hotels or larger stores. Plan on either using your ATM card for money (ideally bring two), and bring American money (US$), preferably $100 bills. But Note: Any bills dated 1996 or 1999 will not be accepted anywhere in Indonesia due to counterfeiting problems in the past. The highest rate they will accept is the newest edition of $100 bills. Allow at least several weeks for your bank to obtain these for you. Also, throughout Indonesia, people will not accept bills that are worn or ripped. A rip of only 1/16th of an inch can make a bill unusable. Note that ATMs will usually allow you to only take a small amount of cash out in one go, such as IDR 1,500,000 (c$100 at the time of writing this in October 2020). Please also note that you will most likely be charged by one or both banks (at home and in Indonesia) for each withdrawal. The following cards seem to work best in Indonesia: Mastercard, Visa, Cirrus, and Alto.
Your passport must be valid for a period of at least 6 months after the date of your departure from Indonesia. Please make sure that there is at least one full empty page available in your passport. Please make sure that you also bring a photocopy of your passport, to be kept in a different location from your passport (given to your tour leader), in case of loss/damage of your passport.
Visa and Arrival into Indonesia:
Makassar (where the tour starts and ends) is an Indonesian international arrival city. It is here that you will get your passport stamped and visa issued. If you are traveling around the region before the tour, the other international arrival points into Indonesia are Denpasar (Bali) and Jakarta (Java), both have frequent flights to Makassar.
Most visitors to Indonesia usually gain a 30-day visa on arrival. If you are planning to stay longer than 30 days you will need a different visa. Please check with your government advice as you will likely need to visit an embassy or consulate to gain this. Evidence of onward travel may be required on your arrival into Indonesia. We will provide you with the name and address details of the hotel for the first night of the tour which you will need for immigration.
We require that you purchase trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself against accidents, medical, illness, loss of valuables, luggage etc., and travel interruptions or delays of all kinds. You can email us copies of this information.
Health and Medical Conditions:
Please consult your doctor regarding any vaccine requirements. All travelers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters (e.g. tetanus). There is no risk of yellow fever transmission in Sulawesi/Halmahera, however, there is a certificate requirement if travelers have visited/come from the following countries. Malaria is a risk in Halmahera and so anti-malarial drugs are recommended. See here for further specifics on yellow fever and malaria in the region.
Some travelers may require hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and tuberculosis (TB). Please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for a useful overview of the requirements and recommendations here. Please also refer to the advice of your own country.
Sunblock should be carried, and a hat should be worn to protect from the powerful rays from the sun, with sunglasses to help prevent glare. A plentiful supply of water should be carried at all times to maintain hydration (please bring a refillable bottle with you).
Please make sure that you are covered with medical insurance in case of an emergency while on this tour. Without insurance the cost of medical care can be extremely high. Please notify us at the time of registering for this tour of any medical conditions you think we should know about (including allergies, heart conditions, epilepsy, etc.). This will greatly help us to cater to your needs and update emergency services if required.
If you bring any prescription medication into Indonesia, make sure you have a copy of the prescription with you. The prescription must cover the quantity of medication you bring. Be aware that some prescription or other medication available in the US/UK/other countries, including some psychotropic medicines, may be illegal in Indonesia. If you are unsure, speak to your doctor and the Indonesian Embassy for advice before you travel.
Do not forget – Binoculars, prescription drugs (also bring the generic names for these drugs and information stated above), toiletries, prescription glasses (and a spare pair), insect repellent, sunscreen and sunglasses, camera, flashlight, batteries (for electronic equipment, and chargers for the re-chargeable batteries if required), converter plug set if needed and plug adaptors, alarm clock, money pouch, field guide(s), and daypacks.
We will provide all clients signing up to the tour with further information and a packing list along with a detailed itinerary, bird checklist, and animal checklist.
We just returned from our trip to Thailand. It was wonderful. Thank you very much for arranging our tour with Andy Walker. He was the best guide we ever had. He is knowledgeable, easy going, hard working, and has all the qualities that people expect from a guide. We really enjoyed birding with him. We would be happy to go birding with him any time and would highly recommend him as a guide to any of our friends.
Thanks again for giving us the opportunity to have him as our guide.
Our Best Regards,
Ahmad and Sue – Canada