Birding Tour West Papua: Arfak and Waigeo Birding Expedition November 2018

Tour Details

Duration: 12 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Spaces Available: 6
We decided to guarantee this tour with only 2 participants.
Date Start: November 16, 2018
Date End: November 27, 2018
Tour Start: Manokwari
Tour End: Sorong

Physical toughness
Reasonable physical fitness and good agility are required to bird the relatively steep slopes here.

Tour Costs

Price: US$6,499 / £5,296 / €6,065 per person sharing, based on 4 – 8 participants

Single Supplement: US$522 / £425 / €487

* 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.

Price includes:
Lodging
Meals
Expert bird guide during the entire trip
Private transportation during the tour (except for the flight from Manokwari to Sorong, which will hopefully cost between US$300 – 450 per person)
Transfers to and from the airport

Price excludes:
All flights (see above for the cost of the internal flight; we will book for you to ensure everyone is on the same flight)
Personal and medical insurance
Tips
Items of a personal nature, such as extra drinks, snacks, alcoholic beverages, laundry, souvenirs, etc.

West Papua: Arfak and Waigeo Birding Expedition 2018

New Guinea is a geographic, rather than political term that refers to the main island in the region. The western half of the island of New Guinea comprises the Indonesian provinces of West Papua (Papua Barat) and Papua, collectively once called West Irian or Irian Jaya; the eastern half of the main island of New Guinea comprises the country of Papua New Guinea. We will be based in West Papua for this birding adventure.

Aside from the large landmass of New Guinea, the New Guinea region includes numerous small islands on the continental shelf or verges thereof (some part of Indonesia and others part of Papua New Guinea), and we will visit one of these areas: Waigeo, part of the Raja Ampat Archipelago in West Papua (also known as the Northwestern Islands).

Approximately 680 bird species have been recorded from West Papua, from slightly more than 700 for the whole New Guinea region. Some 550 species are considered breeding residents, with 279 New Guinea endemics (found in Indonesia and/or Papua New Guinea) and at least an additional 42 endemics found only in West Papua. There are also over 115 Palearctic and Australian migrant species and a range of seabirds to be found spending some of their time in West Papua.

This Arfak and Waigeo tour will begin in the town of Manokwari, situated on the north-eastern tip of West Papua’s Bird’s Head, (or Vogelkop) Peninsula. From here we will travel to the nearby Arfak Mountains, where we will search for a fabulous series of birds, renowned in birders’ circles as the “Vogelkop Endemics”, such as Vogelkop Bowerbird, Western Parotia, Arfak Astrapia, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Black Sicklebill, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, and Spotted Jewel-babbler.

The second and final leg of our tour takes us to Sorong, on the opposite side of the Bird’s Head Peninsula, and then to one of the Raja Ampat Islands, Waigeo. Here we will search for endemic Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, Red Bird-of-paradise, and Western Crowned Pigeon. Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise is often considered one of the ‘best-looking’ birds on the planet, and so we’ll look forward to making our own judgments on this.

This tour can be combined with our Birding Tour Indonesia: Sulawesi and Halmahera 2018 (29 October – 15 November 2018) to explore Indonesia’s avian fauna in both the Indomalayan and Australasian ecozones.

 

Itinerary (12 days/11 nights)

Day 1: Arrival in Manokwari

Arrival at Rendani Airport in Manokwari, where you will be met and taken to our nearby hotel for the remainder of the day at leisure.

Overnight: Manokwari

Day 2: Birding near Manokwari, travel to and birding in the Arfak Mountains

We will get the tour under way with some great birds near Manokwari, such as Pacific BazaClaret-breasted Fruit DoveWhite-bibbed Fruit DovePinon’s Imperial PigeonCollared Imperial PigeonZoe’s Imperial PigeonPapuan Mountain PigeonEclectus ParrotBlack-capped Lory, and Hooded Butcherbird. We may even find our first bird-of-paradise of the trip, the beautiful Lesser Bird-of-paradise. Around mid-morning we will leave the city and travel into the Arfak Mountains, our base for the next four days. The afternoon will be spent birding the forest near our accommodation, where we may see the likes of Masked BowerbirdArfak HoneyeaterBlack-throated RobinGreen-backed Robin, and possibly Magnificent Bird-of-paradise.

Overnight: Arfak Mountains

Days 3–6: Birding in the Arfak Mountains

Arguably one of the premier birding regions in West Papua, the Arfak Mountains support nine endemic bird species (and a further eleven species with restricted ranges), of which the most famous must be Vogelkop Bowerbird – the world’s greatest avian architect. Males of this amazing species build a roofed house-like maypole (tented) bower construction at the base of a tree sapling, inside and in front of which they place colorful berries, flowers, and insect parts to attract females, a true sight to behold for the female, and for us!

We will also look for the exciting Western Parotia, the males of which perform a bizarre side-step dance on the floor of their display courts, while their flank plumes are spread to form a circular skirt, with their six, wiry, antenna-like nape feathers directed forward. Two other endemic birds-of-paradise are commonly seen here at higher altitudes (almost 2,000m) – the little-known Arfak Astrapia and Long-tailed Paradigalla (rediscovered in 1989), as well as the more widespread Black Sicklebill with its 80cm long tail. Lower down, the Magnificent Bird-of-paradise may be seen on his court, displaying, in sequence, his iridescent, carmine back, dark green breast shield, and sulphur-yellow cape before jerkily dancing up and down a vertical sapling, while quivering his cocked, sickle-shaped central tail feathers. Up to seven species of robins may be seen on the mountain trails, among many other families, as well as Spotted Jewel-babbler, and, if we are lucky, Feline or Mountain Owlet-nightjar.

Other wonderful birds, most of them endemic or range-restricted, which we hope to find in the Arfak Mountains include Superb Bird-of-paradise (the Arfak subspecies likely to be split soon), Papuan Mountain PigeonRed-collared MyzomelaRufous-sided HoneyeaterVogelkop MelidectesArfak HoneyeaterNorthern Variable PitohuiVogelkop ScrubwrenPapuan ParrotfinchPapuan BoobookWattled BrushturkeyWhite-striped Forest RailTrumpet ManucodePapuan Black MyzomelaVogelkop WhistlerPapuan EaglePapuan LorikeetPapuan TreecreeperPapuan LogrunnerPapuan Sittella, and Smoky Robin, among, as always, so many others.

After our final day birding in the Arfak Mountains we will descend back down to Manokwari.

Overnight: Arfak Mountains (three nights), Manokwari (one night)

Day 7: Transfer to Sorong

Today we will take a flight from Manokwari to Sorong on the far north-western edge of the Vogelkop Peninsula. Depending on the exact time of the flight there might be some time for further birding around Manokwari. After our arrival in Sorong we will visit some of the local mangroves, where we will look for Barred RailCollared Imperial PigeonOrange-fronted Fruit DoveBlue-black KingfisherLittle KingfisherMoustached Treeswift, and Orange-breasted Fig Parrot.

Overnight: Sorong

Day 8: Sorong to Waigeo

An early start today will see us birding in some forest near Sorong. There are many incredible birds possible, some of these may include Palm CockatooMagnificent RiflebirdKing Bird-of-ParadiseRed-breasted Paradise KingfisherYellow-billed KingfisherBlue-black KingfisherRed-billed BrushturkeyBlack Lory, and Long-tailed Honey Buzzard.

After lunch we will transfer by ferry from Sorong to Waigeo Island across the Indonesian Dampier Strait (sometimes also known as Augusta’s Strait). During the two-to-three-hour ferry ride we will look out for pelagic species like Pomarine Skua, Lesser Frigatebird, Bulwer’s Petrel, Streaked and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel. On arrival on Waigeo Island we will check into our beachside guest house.

Overnight: Waigeo Island

Days 9–10: Birding on and around Waigeo Island

Waigeo, where we will be based for the next three days, is the largest island in the Raja Ampat Archipelago, which comprises over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals, located off the northwest tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula. These islands are the home of three endemics, comprising the exquisite Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise with its bright cerulean-blue, bare crown, crisscrossed with fine black lines (considered by many the best-looking bird on the planet), the crimson-plumed Red Bird-of-paradise, and the recently re-discovered Waigeo Brushturkey (unfortunately this stunning brushturkey is a very tough bird, which may not easily be found on this tour – if you’d like to try for this very difficult species please talk to us about a possible expedition extension to look specifically for it). Other birding highlights on these islands include Western Crowned Pigeon (one of the trio of New Guinea crowned pigeons – the world’s largest pigeons), Pheasant Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, and Great-billed Parrot.

During our time on Waigeo we also hope to encounter, among a multitude of others, Hook-billed KingfisherCommon Paradise KingfisherPapuan PittaHooded PittaBlyth’s HornbillNew Guinea FriarbirdSouthern Variable and Raja Ampat PitohuisHooded and Black ButcherbirdsMarbled and Papuan FrogmouthsPapuan BoobookDusky MegapodePygmy and Gurney’s EaglesRed-necked CrakeNew Guinea BronzewingMoustached TreeswiftMoluccan King ParrotBrown-headed Crow, and Glossy-mantled Manucode.

One afternoon while here we will take a boat into Kabui Bay to look for Spice Imperial PigeonBeach KingfisherViolet-necked LoryGreat-billed HeronRaja ShelduckIsland MonarchCommon Paradise KingfisherWhite-bibbed Fruit DoveMoluccan Starling, and ending with sunset watching the huge Great-billed Parrots coming in to roost.

Overnight: Waigeo Island (two nights)

Day 11: Birding on Waigeo and travel to Sorong

We will have a final morning on Waigeo, where we will search for more of the species mentioned above, maybe again enjoying the otherworldly Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise. We will then take the afternoon ferry back to Sorong, where we will enjoy a farewell dinner, a good rest, and the difficult task of deciding on a ‘bird of the trip’.

Overnight: Sorong

Day 12: Departure

Time at leisure and departure from Sorong.

 

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, and the discretion of the guides and other factors.

Download Itinerary

Andy is a superb guide with a wonderful knowledge of birds and where to find them. He is enthusiastic and keen, great company and a real pleasure to bird with. Our Australian trip was very successful in terms of sightings and also really enjoyable. Andy played a big part in that with his superb organisation, excellent birding skills, easy-going nature and positive attitude. I would happily join Andy on a birding trip again and hope to be able to do so later this year!

Janice — Kent, UK

west papua: waigeo and arfak trip november report

This is a sample trip report. Please email us (info@birdingecotours.com) for more trip reports from this destination.