Indonesia: West Papua – Birds-of-paradise and Endemics of the Arfaks and Waigeo
Dates and Costs:
03 – 14 August 2022
Space available: 1. We recommend early booking for 2023.
Price: US$6,995 / £5,318 / €6,191 per person sharing based on 4-8 participants
Single Supplement: US$575 / £437 / €509
* 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.
03 – 14 August 2023
Price: US$7,555 / £5,744 / €6,686 per person sharing based on 4-8 participants
Single Supplement: US$621 / £473 / €549
Duration: 12 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Manokwari
Tour End: Sorong
Reasonable physical fitness and good agility are required to bird the relatively steep slopes here.
All accommodation (as described, including camping equipment (e.g. sleeping bags etc.) for night at the top of the mountain)
Meals (from dinner on day 1 until breakfast on day 12)
Drinking water – please bring a refillable water bottle
Expert tour leader
Local bird and wildlife guide/trackers/porters fees
Birdwatching site entrance fees and travel permits
All ground transport and tolls/taxes while on tour, including airport pick-up and drop-off
Flights to Manokwari/from Sorong
Domestic flight (Manokwari to Sorong – estimated around US$200 for 2022 – we can book this for you and add it to your tour balance to ensure everyone is on the same flight!)
Visa fees if visa required
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls, snorkeling equipment hire, excess luggage charges for internal flights, extra porter help (e.g. with walking or extra baggage carrying support) etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing/monument excursions
Camera (still/video) permits
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)
Featured Guide:Andrew Walker
Indonesia: West Papua – Birds-of-paradise and Endemics of the Arfaks and Waigeo
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 exhilarating, small-group birding adventure. Aside from the large landmass of New Guinea, the New Guinea region includes numerous small islands (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).
Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise is often considered one of the best-looking birds in the world!
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 which spend some of their time in West Papua.
This tour will begin in the town of Manokwari, situated on the north-eastern tip of West Papua’s Bird’s Head (or Vogelkop) Peninsula where we could get our tour started with the gorgeous Lesser Bird-of-paradise, this area is usually great for Blyth’s Hornbill and numerous fruit doves. 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 Western Parotia, Arfak Astrapia, Crescent-caped Lophorina (formerly part of the Superb Bird-of-paradise complex), Long-tailed Paradigalla, Arfak Catbird, Vogelkop Melidectes, and Vogelkop Bowerbird.
Western Parotia, yet another great bird-of-paradise. Watching these birds doing their ballet dancing display is incredibly impressive.
We can also find more widespread birds-of-paradise (BoPs) here too, such as Black Sicklebill, Black-billed Sicklebill, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Trumpet Manucode, and Crinkle-collared Manucode.
There are numerous other simply breathtaking and highly sought-after birds possible in the Arfak mountains and just a few of these include Spotted Jewel-babbler, Blue Jewel-babbler, Masked Bowerbird, Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Moluccan King Parrot, Modest Tiger Parrot, White-striped Forest Rail, Feline Owlet-nightjar, Mountain Owlet-nightjar, Papuan Boobook, Tit Berrypecker, Mottled Berryhunter (a monotypic family), Papuan Treecreeper, Papuan Logrunner, Grey-banded Mannikin, Papuan Grassbird, Drongo Fantail, Goldenface, and Lesser Melampitta.
The second leg of our tour takes us to Sorong, on the opposite side of the Bird’s Head Peninsula where we might find King Bird-of-paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, and Blue-black Kingfisher, 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 Glossy-mantled Manucode. Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise is often considered one of the best-looking birds on the planet, and so we will look forward to making our own judgments on this. Again, there are numerous other species high on our ‘wanted’ list, including Western Crowned Pigeon (a seriously impressive bird that will rival the birds-of-paradise for ‘bird of the trip’ if we find them), plus the likes of Hook-billed Kingfisher, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Papuan Hawk-Owl, Marbled Frogmouth, Papuan Frogmouth, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Hooded Pitta, Papuan Pitta, and Brown-headed Crow.
A huge bird, Western Crowned Pigeon is sure to impress on Waigeo.
Immediately prior to this West Papua tour, you could join our Indonesia: Sulawesi and Halmahera – Spectacular Endemic Birding tour looking for (Wallace’s) Standardwing and (Halmahera) Paradise-crow (these are two endemic birds-of-paradise), plus Maleo, Ivory-breasted Pitta, North Moluccan Pitta, Sulawesi Pitta, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Green-backed Kingfisher, Lilac Kingfisher, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher (with over 15 kingfisher species actually possible on this tour!), Moluccan Owlet-nightjar, Knobbed Hornbill, Hylocitrea (a monotypic family), Malia, Geomalia, and a multitude of more, exciting endemics.
Furthermore, you could follow this tour with our Papua New Guinea: Birding Attenborough’s Paradise tour where we will see numerous birds-of-paradise and other exceptional birds, most different to what will be seen on the West Papua tour, such as Blue Bird-of-paradise, Raggiana Bird-of-paradise, King of Saxony Bird-of-paradise, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, and Princess Stephanie’s Astrapia to name a few of the stunners, plus Blue-capped Ifrit and Wattled Ploughbill (two more monotypic families), plus other gorgeous endemics!
Additionally, we also offer an extension to the endemic-rich, amazing satellite islands of Biak, Numfor, and Kofiau where we look for island endemics such as Biak Paradise Kingfisher, Numfor Paradise Kingfisher, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and many more key, range-restricted species (please email us or fill out the contact form here to request information).
Itinerary (12 days/11 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Manokwari
Arrival at Rendani Airport in Manokwari during the day, where you will be met and taken to your nearby hotel for the remainder of the day at leisure. We will meet for a group evening meal together as the anticipation builds for the exciting birds and adventure awaiting us.
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 Baza, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Zoe’s Imperial Pigeon, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Blyth’s Hornbill, Eclectus Parrot, Black-capped Lory, Lowland Peltops, 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. On the lower slopes of the mountain we might again have a chance to spot Lesser Bird-of-paradise and even Trumpet Manucode, a rather unusual crow-like bird-of-paradise (both of these sometimes get up to the area of our accommodation). What the manucodes lack in looks, they make up with their voices. The afternoon will be spent birding the forest near our accommodation, where we may see some of the birds given for days 3 to 5.
Overnight: Arfak Mountains (mid-elevation)
There is a good chance that Lesser Bird-of-paradise will be the first BoP of the tour.
Days 3 – 5. Birding in the Arfak Mountains
We have three full days (in addition to the afternoon of day 2 and the morning of day 6) to explore what is arguably the premier birding region in West Papua, the Arfak Mountains. This area supports several endemic bird species and a number of other species with restricted ranges, including several stunning birds-of-paradise.
Over the course of our stay on the mountain we will focus our attention on the birds-of-paradise and bird our way around them. This tactic works really well and gives us great opportunities for viewing the birds-of-paradise on their lek sites and also picking up numerous other exciting birds along the way. We will spend a few nights in a basic yet comfortable ‘village’ at the mid-elevation on the mountain, after which we will head up (on foot) to the high-elevation zone for a night in a basic camp (see notes on accommodation at the end of the itinerary). Those not wishing to make the hike will be able to stay in the village and will be suitably looked-after by our excellent support staff with further birding opportunities in that zone! The exact day-to-day routine over these few days will be dictated by the location of the birds-of-paradise lek sites, but a bird-filled time is to be expected, the birding here is seriously exciting.
Around our village base in the mid-elevation zone we will look for Magnificent Bird-of-paradise which may be seen on his court, displaying, in sequence his iridescent, carmine back, dark-green breast shield, and sulfur-yellow cape before jerkily dancing up and down a vertical sapling, while quivering his cocked, sickle-shaped central tail feathers.
Magnificent Bird-of-paradise may be seen in the Arfak Mountains.
Also, around our village we will look for the additional exciting bird-of-paradise trio of Western Parotia, Black-billed Sicklebill, and Crescent-caped Lophorina. The male of the Western Parotia performs 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. Black-billed Sicklebill is also found in this zone; quite a large bird, they spend a lot of time in the mid-canopy, but drop down to exposed display perches early in the morning when we have a good chance to view them well. One of the most-interesting though, is the Crescent-caped Lophorina (formerly part of the Superb Bird-of-paradise complex). This bird is mesmerizing when displaying and we will hope for a repeat performance witnessed on previous tours. The male’s fixed, delta-shaped, iridescent, blue-green breast-shield (with elongated side feathers making it protrude way beyond its chest) and its expandable hind neck cape combine to give this bird a really strange look, but one you (or the female birds) can’t take your eyes off!
Of all the endemic birds of the regions, one of the most famous ones (though not the most beautiful!) 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 us!
The impressive bower of the Vogelkop Bowerbird is something pretty special, even if the bird is rather drab – what it lacks in good looks it certainly makes up for in architectural ability!
Other potential interesting birds of this area may include Spotted Jewel-babbler, White-striped Forest Rail, Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Arfak Catbird, Arfak Honeyeater, Vogelkop Melidectes, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Vogelkop Whistler, Papuan Eagle, Black-mantled Goshawk, Masked Bowerbird (the colors on this one need to be seen to be believed!), Moluccan King Parrot, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Black-capped Lory, Papuan Lorikeet, Ivory-billed Coucal, White-crowned Cuckoo, Dwarf Koel, Drongo Fantail, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, White-bibbed (Mountain) Fruit Dove, Red-collared Myzomela, Papuan Black Myzomela, Rufous-sided Honeyeater, Northern Variable Pitohui, Hooded Pitohui, White-shouldered Fairywren, Papuan Parrotfinch, Wattled Brushturkey, Sclater’s Whistler, Regent Whistler, Rufous-naped Bellbird (formerly called Rufous-naped Whistler but moved from that family to a new family called Australo-Papuan bellbirds), Goldenface, Mountain Peltops, Black-breasted Boatbill, Papuan Treecreeper, Papuan Sittella, Green-backed Robin, Black-throated Robin, Slaty Robin, Garnet Robin, Lesser Ground Robin, and, if we are lucky, Feline Owlet-nightjar or Mountain Owlet-nightjar.
The colors on this Masked Bowerbird really need to be seen to be believed, this is one insanely colorful bird! Its bower is nowhere near as impressive as the Vogelkop Bowerbird (above), but when it looks like this, it probably doesn’t matter to the female!
Depending on timing and road conditions, we might also be able to take our 4×4 vehicles to an open area home to the extremely range-restricted endemic Grey-banded Mannikin, a beautiful bird. Other birds possible in this area include Torrent-lark, Papuan Grassbird, Great Woodswallow, Pale-vented Bush-hen, and Grey Wagtail.
Our time in the high-elevation zone (almost 6,550 feet/2,000 meters) will focus on a range of different species, including three new birds-of-paradise, two of which are endemic, the little-known Arfak Astrapia and Long-tailed Paradigalla (the latter rediscovered as recently as 1989!), as well as the more widespread Black Sicklebill, with its magnificent tail, which can be 31 inches (80 centimeters) long and its ability to turn itself into assorted shapes; the cobra move is particularly noteworthy! All three of these birds are incredibly unique and well worth the hike!
Our time will be focused on finding the above three great birds-of-paradise but we will also be in the zone for plenty of other exciting birds and we will hope to also see the likes of Lesser Melampitta, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Modest Tiger Parrot, Bronze Ground Dove, Crested Berrypecker, Orange-crowned Fairywren, Obscure Berrypecker, Fan-tailed Berrypecker, Tit Berrypecker, Mottled Berryhunter (a monotypic family endemic to New Guinea), Papuan Logrunner, Ashy Robin, Smoky Robin, Black-throated Robin, Canary Flyrobin, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Arfak Honeyeater, Papuan Treecreeper, Papuan Parrotfinch, Mountain Mouse-warbler, Red-collared Myzomela, Vogelkop Owlet-nightjar, and Papuan Boobook, among, as always, so many others.
Overnight: Arfak Mountains (two nights mid-elevation and one night high-elevation)
Brehm’s Tiger Parrot is a possibility in the higher elevations of the Arfaks (photo Matt Prophet).
Day 6: Arfak Mountains to Manokwari
We will have a final morning birding in the Arfak Mountains mopping up species mentioned above, or maybe taking one last look at our favorite birds-of-paradise of this area for the final time. After our final lunch in the village we will bid a fond farewell to our hosts and we will then descend off the mountain, before returning back to Manokwari for a welcome night in our comfortable hotel.
Day 7. Manokwati to Sorong
We will take a short flight in the morning between Manokwari and Sorong where we will check into our very comfortable hotel for the night. In the afternoon after the heat of the day wanes we will venture into the mangroves where we hope to find Blue-black Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Little Kingfisher, Barred Rail, Black Bittern, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Moustached Treeswift, Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, and Orange-breasted Fig Parrot.
Day 8. Sorong to Waigeo
An early start today will see us birding in some forest near Sorong where we could extend our bird-of-paradise list in the form of the raucous Magnificent Riflebird and the bizarre, delightful, and rather small King Bird-of-paradise. There are many other incredible birds possible here too, and one of the most highly sought-after of these is Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher which we will look for today. Other quality birds here include Papuan Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Blyth’s Hornbill, Palm Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot, Coconut Lorikeet, Black Lory, Moluccan King Parrot, Large Fig Parrot, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Blue-black Kingfisher, Red-billed Brushturkey, Golden Cuckooshrike, Brown Oriole, Dwarf Fruit Dove, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Superb Fruit Dove, Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Frilled Monarch, Rusty Pitohui, Lowland Peltops, and Long-tailed Honey Buzzard. Plus, Lesser Bird-of-paradise is also present in this area.
King Bird-of-paradise is a beautiful BoP and we will hope for some great views at their lek site.
After lunch and checking out of our hotel, 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 Jaeger, Lesser Frigatebird, Great Frigatebird, Brown Booby, Bulwer’s Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel, Black Noddy, Common Tern, Great Crested Tern, Black-naped Tern, and Bridled Tern. On arrival at Waigeo Island we will likely see White-breasted Woodswallow and Singing Starling in the harbor. We will then drive the short distance to our picturesque and secluded beachside dive resort where we will check in for the next few nights. As we take the short ride between the harbor and our resort, we might spot Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Pacific Baza, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Black Sunbird, Oriental Dollarbird, New Guinea Friarbird, Moluccan Starling, and Rufous-bellied Kookaburra along the way. The birding in Waigeo is great!
Overnight: Waigeo Island
Days 9 – 10. Birding on and around Waigeo Island
Waigeo, where we will be based for the next two days, is the largest island in the Raja Ampat Archipelago, comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals and located off the northwest tip of the Bird’s Head Peninsula. These islands are home to two endemic birds-of-paradise, the exquisite Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise with its bright, cerulean-blue, bare crown, crisscrossed by fine black lines (considered by many as the best-looking bird on the planet – see the front cover of this itinerary for an idea of how stunning this bird is) and the crimson-plumed rather slick-looking Red Bird-of-paradise. We will look for both of these species while on Waigeo.
Endemic to Waigeo, Red Bird-of-paradise is yet another interesting BoP with its wire-like tail projections. We will visit a lek site of this bird while on the island.
Waigeo Brushturkey (a stunning bird too) was recently rediscovered, but this island endemic is a very tough bird and is unlikely to be found on this tour – if you’d like to try for this very difficult range-restricted species please talk to us about a possible expedition extension to look specifically for it after the tour).
Other birding highlights on these islands include Hook-billed Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Western Crowned Pigeon (an absolutely ginormous bird), Pheasant Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, and Great-billed Parrot. We will also hope to get good views of yet another bird-of-paradise while in this region – Glossy-mantled Manucode. These birds have elongated tracheas which serve to magnify their voice!
We see some amazing kingfishers on this tour and Common Paradise Kingfisher is one beautiful example of the family.
During our time on Waigeo we also hope to encounter, among a multitude of others, Papuan Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Papuan Dwarf Kingfisher, Blyth’s Hornbill, New Guinea Friarbird, Southern Variable Pitohui, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Hooded Butcherbird, Black Butcherbird, Marbled Frogmouth, Papuan Frogmouth (often right outside the resort dining room at night!), Papuan Boobook, Dusky Megapode, Pygmy Eagle, Gurney’s Eagle, Red-necked Crake, New Guinea Bronzewing, Moustached Treeswift, Moluccan King Parrot, Brown-headed Crow, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Green-backed Honeyeater, Long-billed Honeyeater, Black-sided Robin, Golden Monarch, Spot-winged Monarch, Frilled Monarch, Beautiful Fruit Dove, Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon, and Stephan’s Emerald Dove.
We will have early-morning and late-afternoon birding sessions in the forest and the late-morning and early-afternoon will be at your leisure around the resort where you can sit and enjoy the view, maybe even with Palm Cockatoos feeding above your heads! Or you can take some time to snorkel in the reef right outside our rooms; the coral reef and various fish and sea-life present here is remarkable and well worth an underwater experience.
One of our afternoons while here, we will take a boat into Kabui Bay to look for Spice Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Metallic Pigeon, White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Beach Kingfisher, Violet-necked Lory, Great-billed Heron, Dusky Megapode, Raja Shelduck, Island Monarch, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Varied Honeyeater, Arafura Fantail, Moluccan Starling, and White-bellied Sea Eagle, ending with sunset and watching the huge Great-billed Parrots coming in to roost.
Overnight: Waigeo Island
The rather large Palm Cockatoo can often be found around our accommodation.
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 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’, not an easy choice!
Day 12. Departure from Sorong
Time at leisure and departure from Sorong.
Overnight: Not included
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually only slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, weather, roads, birding sites, the discretion of the local guides, or other factors.Download Itinerary
West Papua: Arfak and Waigeo Trip Report November 2018
16 – 27 NOVEMBER 2018
By Andy Walker
This West Papua set-departure tour commenced on the 16th of November 2018 in the town of Manokwari, situated on the north-eastern tip of New Guinea’s Bird’s Head (or Vogelkop) Peninsula. From here we traveled to the nearby Arfak Mountains, where we birded the low- and middle-elevation forests. The second half of the tour took us to Sorong, on the opposite side of the Bird’s Head Peninsula, and then to one of the Raja Ampat Islands, Waigeo. After our time on this beautiful bird-filled island we headed back to Sorong, where the tour concluded on the 27th of November 2018.
The main focus on this tour is always the stunning and highly-sought birds-of-paradise, and we managed to find eleven species of them: Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, Lesser Bird-of-paradise, Red Bird-of-paradise, King Bird-of-paradise, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Western Parotia, Black-billed Sicklebill, Crescent-caped Lophorina (formerly the Vogelkop sub-species of Superb Bird-of-paradise), Trumpet Manucode, Glossy-mantled Manucode, and Magnificent Riflebird. Other highlight birds seen were also plentiful and included Western Crowned Pigeon, Spotted Jewel-babbler, Grey-banded Mannikin, Vogelkop Bowerbird, Masked Bowerbird, Arfak Catbird, Mountain Owlet-nightjar, Arfak Honeyeater, Lowland and Mountain Peltops, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Blyth’s Hornbill, New Guinea Friarbird, Lesser Ground Robin, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Vogelkop Whistler, Ivory-billed Coucal, and Papuan Frogmouth.
The region is well blessed in terms of pigeons and parrots, and we enjoyed many of them, such as Ornate, Superb, White-bibbed (Mountain), Orange-fronted, Orange-bellied, Pink-spotted, and Claret-breasted Fruit Doves, Spice, Pied, Pinon’s, and Collared Imperial Pigeons, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Papuan Lorikeet, Moluccan King Parrot, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, and Great-billed Parrot. There was also a wide range of other interesting species, such as many kingfishers, robins, monarchs, and honeyeaters (Ornate Melidectes being one of the most spectacular of the latter family).
A total of 174 bird species were seen during this short tour, plus twelve species heard only.
Day 0, 15th November 2018. Pre-tour arrival into Manokwari
Shita, Andy, Michael, and Diana arrived in Manokwari the morning ahead of the tour starting, with the rest of the day spent at leisure. Michael and Diana had flown to Manokwari after taking part in our Sulawesi tour immediately before this tour (see here for the Sulawesi trip report) and Andy had flown here after leading the Australia east coast tour (see here for the Australia trip report).
Day 1, 16th November 2018. Birding around Manokwari
We had our first birding of the tour along a road cutting through some forest near Manokwari, which we visited at dawn for a few hours and again late in the afternoon for another couple of hours, sitting out the heat of the day at our comfortable hotel. The morning was overcast with light showers until the sun came through and things really warmed up. Due to the overcast start birding was a bit slow to begin with, but once it got going we found some really exciting birds. On top of the list was the immature male Lesser Bird-of-paradise that was displaying to a female. Later in the day we had an amazing flyover of an adult male passing overhead across the road clearing, glowing against the intimidating dark skies. A very impressive bird!
Other exciting birds were found and included Lowland Peltops sitting on a dead snag, several Blyth’s Hornbills flying about and occasionally perching and feeding in fruiting trees (these must be one of the loudest birds in flight!), and the beautiful Golden Monarch looking for all the world like a tiny New World oriole. Fruit doves were numerous but, as usual, often skittish or just very good at hiding. We heard Wompoo, saw Superb (briefly), and had good prolonged views of multiples of Ornate and Claret-breasted Fruit Doves. The most abundant bird was Papuan Mountain Pigeon, with multiple flocks flying over, some stopping for some nice scope views. Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon showed very well both in the morning and evening, allowing careful study. One of the nice surprises of the morning was a single Black Cicadabird seen well. We also had great looks at perched and in-flight Moustached Treeswifts, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Northern Variable Pitohui, Brown Oriole, many New Guinea Friarbirds, several Black Sunbirds, and a pair of Yellow-faced Mynas. Hooded and Black Butcherbirds gave us the runaround with lots of calling from deep in vegetation and no proper looks given, and a few Red-billed Brushturkeys were very vocal but not giving us a chance of seeing them. We had brief flythroughs from Long-tailed Honey Buzzard and Variable Goshawk. Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Moluccan King Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, and the minuscule Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot were all seen too. A very nice set of birds from a few hours’ birding to get the tour going!
Day 2, 17th November 2018. Manokwari to Arfak Mountains
After breakfast at our hotel in Manokwari we started our journey into the Arfak Mountains. We stopped two times along the way to our new accommodation. The first brief stop yielded Sultan’s Cuckoo-Dove, Blyth’s Hornbill, and Northern Variable Pitohui. A distant Magnificent Bird-of-paradise could be heard but was a long way off.
The second, longer stop gave us several species to look at. We had some perched views of a very smart Grey-headed Goshawk, a real treat being able to look down on it and study all of its ID features, and several stunning Superb Fruit Doves gave much better views than we had had the previous day. The interesting Hooded Pitohui was also seen, interesting because this species is poisonous to eat due to a small beetle that it eats. A toxin is taken from the beetle and accumulated in the bird’s tissues and feathers! Other birds enjoyed at this second stop included great views of Mountain Peltops, a small family group of White-shouldered Fairywrens, Grey Wagtail, and more Papuan Mountain Pigeons.
We arrived at our homestay village at lunchtime, at which time the weather deteriorated and the majority of the afternoon was, unfortunately, a washout. Rusty Mouse-warbler, Brown-breasted Gerygone, Green-backed Robin, Arfak Catbird, and a few other species were heard, and Dimorphic Fantail and Long-billed Honeyeater were both seen all too briefly. We’d have to wait and hope for better weather in the morning.
Day 3, 18th November 2018. Arfak Mountains
We awoke early after a wet and windy night for breakfast before heading into the forest at dawn. Thankfully the rain had stopped, but the wind was still quite high, therefore far from ideal. The dawn chorus was loud with the songs of Regent Whistler, Rusty Mouse-warbler, and Slaty Robin ringing out. After hiking down a trail for some way we entered a small hide (blind) and waited. While we waited for our main target to arrive (which was calling some way off to the side) we saw Lesser Ground Robin, and Ashy Robin come through. After a while the main event happened when a Western Parotia came into view and, after a couple of attempts at coming in, eventually dropped onto his display area. He cleaned some of the debris up and had a bit of a half-hearted attempt at displaying. This was a young male, so it lacked the six wiry plumes that full adults have, but it still looked rather impressive as its plumaged transitioned into something even more spectacular. His eye was a beautiful piercing blue, and his white forehead glowed in the dark, early morning of the forest. A real treat to see this bird so well!
After seeing the parotia we started to look for Vogelkop Bowerbird. We had no trouble finding its huge, incredibly impressive and intricately decorated tent bower; however, despite waiting for quite a while in another hide, we only got a very brief glimpse as it flew through after calling, seemingly not interested in checking on his bower this morning. While awaiting the bowerbird’s arrival we noted several species in the vicinity of the hide, including Rufous-naped Bellbird, Black Fantail, Dwarf Longbill, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Black Monarch, Blyth’s Hornbill, and Slaty Robin. The wind was again picking up, and the activity was waning, so we headed back to the homestay for lunch.
In the early afternoon, after a brief siesta, we again headed into the forest, but this time along a newly-created trail. After a short hike down a hill we found ourselves at another hide. After waiting patiently for a short while, hearing our target bird calling from an unseen location behind the hide, we were duly rewarded when a stunning adult male Magnificent Bird-of-paradise hopped onto his display court. We enjoyed watching this bird clean his area and then do some display to a female that had also come into the area (image of the male bird in tour overview section). It was great to be able to soak in all the finer details of this bird and really study it closely. Also coming into view (maybe attracted to all the commotion from the male bird-of-paradise?) was a big bonus bird in the form of the very attractively-marked (and often secretive) Arfak Catbird. The catbird continued to show well for quite some time, and after a while we left the two species to get on with their afternoons as we hiked back up the hill, feeling rather satisfied with our sightings.
On returning to our homestay village we birded a little on the entrance road and found several new species, such as Vogelkop Whistler, Sclater’s Whistler, Red-collared Myzomela, Mountain Myzomela, Northern Fantail, Friendly Fantail, and the mainland form of Island Leaf Warbler. As the wind picked up and the temperature dropped we headed back to the village for an early dinner and an early night, ready for the following morning’s early start.
Day 4, 19th November 2018. Arfak Mountains
Another windy morning was spent in the forest near our village. We went into the forest targeting one bird-of-paradise and hoping for another. Our target was Black-billed Sicklebill. Hearing it was not a problem, for its loud call was ringing out as soon as we got into its territory. Seeing it, however, proved a lot more difficult, but after quite a while we finally had perched views as it sat high up in a huge tree opposite our viewpoint. While trying to locate the calling sicklebill we bumped into a pair of our other hoped-for target, Crescent-caped Lophorina (a very recent split from Superb Bird-of-paradise and also known as Vogelkop Bird-of-paradise or Vogelkop Lophorina – the new English name is apparently somewhat up for debate.). This new species was briefly visiting a fruiting tree, which also contained a female Western Parotia. Although our attention during the morning was firmly focused on trying to see the birds-of-paradise we also saw several other species in the area, such as Arfak Honeyeater, Green-backed Robin, Capped White-eye, Regent Whistler, Black Fantail, Blyth’s Hornbill, and Stout-billed Cuckooshrike, while a distant White-striped Forest Rail and Grey Crow were heard calling. As we were leaving the forest in the midmorning we had one final treat in store in the form of the stunning Spotted Jewel-babbler, a tricky bird to see; but after a short while all of us had some nice views of this highly-sought and tough species. We came back to the village for an early lunch, where we had the nice surprise of a day-roosting Mountain Owlet-nightjar in one of the buildings, and we also had good looks at a nesting Glossy Swiftlet.
After our early lunch we took a drive along a very rough road/track to search for a very local endemic species, Grey-banded Mannikin, whose global population is only found in a very small area a couple of hours from our village. As we entered its range we quickly found a flock of thirty birds, which gave some really great views as they fed on seed heads. A really beautiful bird, and great to be able to get such prolonged and close-range views! It definitely made the bumpy drive worthwhile. Here we also enjoyed the added bonus of Great Woodswallow, a brute of a bird with its huge, white, shoulder ‘landing lights’ standing out even at long range before they flew closer and gave nice views! Our drive back was fairly uneventful (apart from a small landslide), and we managed a quick bit of birding between rain showers near the village, where we found our first Ornate Melidectes and improved our views of Slaty Robin and Red-collared Myzomela. Plenty of other birds were moving through too, such as Friendly Fantail, Sclater’s Whistler, and Island Leaf Warbler.
Day 5, 20th November 2018. Arfak Mountains
A slightly earlier start this morning saw us setting off on the trails in darkness in order to get into place before it was light. As we walked along the trail a distant Greater Sooty Owl could be heard calling. In the dawn light birds started to call, one of these was the Black-billed Sicklebill that flew across in front of us and vanished into the undergrowth. We heard him calling for quite a while but he never showed again, although a female did briefly perch up in full view. Also in this area we again saw a pair of Crescent-caped Lophorinas, and these showed much better than those on the previous day. Here we also got another new bird-of-paradise, Trumpet Manucode, which flew into a fruiting tree, grabbed some fruit, and then flew off again. Among all of this activity there were also plenty of other birds around, such as the gorgeous Goldenface, Regent Whistler, Hooded Pitohui, Bar-tailed Cuckoo-Dove, Black-bellied Cicadabird, Rusty Mouse-warbler, Green-backed Robin, Arfak Honeyeater, Ornate Melidectes, and more, with flyovers from Great Cuckoo-Dove, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot, Mountain Swiftlet, Glossy Swiftlet, Blyth’s Hornbill, and White-bibbed (Mountain) Fruit Dove. A little past an hour after it all got going there suddenly was silence as the dawn chorus was over.
In the midmorning we headed to another rather steep forest trail. Eventually we reached our hide, where we sat and looked at a Masked Bowerbird avenue-bower. We waited for quite a while, but the bird didn’t drop down to the bower, despite calling near to it. While here we could also hear Lesser Bird-of-paradise, Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, Crescent-caped Lophorina, and several other species. The Lesser Bird-of-paradise was seen on our way back up the hill, along with Mid-mountain Berrypecker, Olive-crowned Flowerpecker, Drongo Fantail, Black Monarch, Regent Whistler, Black Fantail, and Slaty Robin. A surprise was the Red-billed Brushturkey that we flushed off the trail. We also had an excellent sighting of Northern Common Cuscus (see photo at end of report).
Over lunch there was a bit of activity around the village with the following species noted: Garnet Robin, Regent Whistler, Sclater’s Whistler, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Ruby-throated Myzomela, Red-collared Myzomela, Black Berrypecker, Grey Thornbill, Dwarf Longbill, Black-breasted Boatbill, Capped White-eye, Slaty Robin, and Friendly Fantail.
Unfortunately, the afternoon birding was curtailed a little by a period of heavy rain and an approaching thunderstorm. Before the rain hit, and during a brief break, we all had good views of stunning Papuan Lorikeets feeding in a flowering tree, along with Vogelkop Bowerbird, Ornate Melidectes, and Black-breasted Boatbill. A pair of Lesser Ground Robins were nearby too.
Day 6, 21st November 2018. Arfak Mountains and travel to Manokwari
We awoke early after an incredibly wet and windy night, but thankfully both stopped before it was time to hit the trails. Our plan was to head into the forest, where on the previous two mornings we had seen so much. Full of anticipation we made the walk into the forest in darkness, arriving at our spot just in time for the dawn chorus to start. However, the dawn chorus simply didn’t really happen this morning for some reason or other, presumably because of yesterday’s rain and the overnight conditions. Black-billed Sicklebill and Crescent-caped Lophorina called just once each, the latter showing briefly. It was a really disappointing end to our time in the forest here. Regent Whistler called but didn’t show, and a pair of Green-backed Robins gave great views to some of us and none to others. Frustrating indeed! Arfak Honeyeater, Moluccan King Parrot, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, and our first White-bibbed (Mountain) Fruit Dove did show, though. The latter was found as we were following the call of a Masked Bowerbird that could be heard calling for a brief spell but could not be located.
We decided to leave the forest and try our luck on the road. We were very quickly successful in locating our main target for the drive, the until-now-elusive Masked Bowerbird! The bird was sitting on some bare branches at the top of the tree, glowing in the murky skies. Luckily it perched long enough for all of us to get good scope views – at times like these it’s nice having the Swarovski ATX-95 to really allow us to see the staggering colors of this species. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this bird rivals the beauty of many of the birds-of-paradise. You really do need to see this bird!
We then decided to go to a viewpoint overlooking a huge swathe of forest. We could hear and see Blyth’s Hornbills and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and could hear Pesquet’s (New Guinea Vulturine) Parrot. In our pursuit to better our views from earlier in the tour Michael took a tumble on the road and, ironically, where he ended up turned out to be the best place to view the parrots. However, that tumble resulted in the premature end to the birding for the day and unfortunately impacted on the birding over the coming days too. We went back to the village to have lunch and pack up and, as planned, headed back to Manokwari after lunch.
Day 7, 22nd November 2018. Travel from Manokwari to Sorong, birding the Sorong Area
We took a morning flight between Manokwari and Sorong, where we arrived at our new hotel in time for lunch. We sat out the heat of the day and late in the afternoon headed to an area of mangroves near the city, where we found many new birds, including Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Little Kingfisher, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Pacific Baza, Peregrine Falcon, Black Bittern, Little Egret, Eastern Cattle Egret, Brown-backed Honeyeater, Torresian Crow, Willie Wagtail, Barn Swallow, and Metallic Starling. Unfortunately the Blue-black Kingfisher was calling in the mangroves but not from a position that we could see.
Day 8, 23rd November 2018. Morning birding near Sorong, afternoon ferry to Waigeo
After breakfast we drove to a forest block near Sorong where we targeted one special bird. After arriving at the site we followed the sound, and quite quickly we were watching a gorgeous male King Bird-of-paradise as it sat high in the trees calling, giving us all excellent views. After enjoying watching him (we also found a female too) we had a quick look around the area, where we found Pink-spotted, Superb, Orange-bellied, and Wompoo Fruit Doves, Brush Cuckoo, Coconut Lorikeet, Black-capped Lory, Black Lory, and Magnificent Riflebird. At least three riflebirds were calling within earshot, but all were too far away to get there, although one did fly across the road, allowing brief views. A few other species around the area included Hooded and Papuan Pittas, Blyth’s Hornbill, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Red-billed Brushturkey, Golden Cuckooshrike, Spangled Drongo, and Frilled Monarch.
After lunch back in Sorong we caught the afternoon ferry to the island of Waigeo for the next few nights at a very picturesque resort right on the beach. As we made the short journey across the island in the late afternoon we found a few good birds, such as a perched Long-tailed Honey Buzzard and Variable Goshawk, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Moluccan Starling, Oriental Dollarbird, Grey-streaked Flycatcher, Pinion’s Imperial Pigeon, Grey-tailed Tattler, Far Eastern Curlew, and Lesser Frigatebird, with brief views of Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, and Golden-headed Cisticola. Red Bird-of-paradise was heard calling but remained out of range on the wrong side of the slope; we’d have to wait to see that one…
Day 9, 24th November 2018. Waigeo
There were three main targets for our morning birding session, two birds-of-paradise and a pigeon. We knew we had a good chance of the first two birds, but the third bird would take some luck. We gingerly made our way up the hills behind our beach resort via a combination of walking and driving a 4×4. We entered the forest to the sound of Rusty Pitohui, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Common Paradise Kingfisher, and Black-sided Robin. We hiked up a short trail, and when we got closer we could here what we wanted to hear, the sound of a male Red Bird-of-paradise announcing his presence. In a short amount of time we found ourselves enjoying great views as he called and displayed, throwing himself upside down, and generally showing off! We were certainly appreciative of the views. While watching this, we could hear the huge Channel-billed Cuckoo calling.
After making our way back down the hill a little we jumped in the 4×4 and started driving to our next spot; however, along the way something hoped-for but not expected happened when a pair of the magnificent, huge Western Crowned Pigeons were found walking along our track! We couldn’t believe our luck to have seen these major target birds so easily! Full of excitement we continued on our way to the next bird we were targeting, and arguably one of the most-sought species in the world, Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise. We didn’t have to wait long. We could hear the bird calling, and after a short while a male flew into of our view from the hide and proceeded to give us some really excellent views. First he was slightly hidden at the back, but then he came out into the open and started to display. A Long-billed Honeyeater flew in, and that seemed to set him off! We all thoroughly enjoyed the sighting (also see the photo on front cover of this report). After this excitement we glimpsed Rusty Pitohui, had great looks at a pair of Black-sided Robins and a couple of Northern Fantails, and then started our drive back to our beach resort. Along the way we picked up a couple of new species, including our eleventh and final bird-of-paradise of the trip, Glossy-mantled Manucode, although the views were not too prolonged, so this was one to try and improve on over the next couple of days. Other highlights here included Yellow-faced Myna, Great-billed Parrot, Coconut Lorikeet, Eclectus Parrot, New Guinea Friarbird, Spangled Drongo, Eastern Osprey, and Hooded Butcherbird. When we returned to the resort we enjoyed watching a Papuan Frogmouth on its nest with a young bird right outside our cabins, and another Glossy-mantled Manucode flew in, giving further brief (but much closer) views!
The afternoon was spent relaxing around the resort, having a swim, and watching the Palm Cockatoos destroying the almond trees! It was great to be able to watch these magnificent, huge, and rather attractive cockatoos for so long and at close range. We sat on the pier and watched several species come through, such as Beach Kingfisher, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Grey-headed Goshawk, Variable Goshawk, Lesser Frigatebird, almost three hundred Great Frigatebirds, Greater Crested Tern, Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, and several other species. We then enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the adjacent Raja Ampat Islands.
Day 10, 25th November 2018. Waigeo and Raja Ampat Islands
Papuan Frogmouth was sitting on its nest as we went to breakfast, allowing a nice photo opportunity.
We then jumped into a small boat and headed to a couple of small islets, landing on one briefly for some exploration. We added quite a few new birds during this trip, with highlights including proper views of Glossy-mantled Manucode, a nest building Dusky Megapode, the stunning Common Paradise Kingfisher, and Beach Kingfisher, along with Spice Imperial Pigeon, Metallic Pigeon, Varied and Mimic Honeyeaters, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Eastern Osprey, and Shining Flycatcher. We also found Waigeo (Spotted) Cuscus (see photo at end of report) and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin. An interesting interaction involved watching the dolphins fishing, with fish leaping out of the water to escape them. While the fish were leaping out of the water a flock of Greater and Lesser Frigatebirds were diving down, trying to catch the escaping fish. Great fun to watch!
Our afternoon was spent back at the resort relaxing. Some of us ventured out snorkeling right in front of the resort, which was incredible, with a plethora of kaleidoscopic fish and corals on view. It is definitely worth spending some time in the water out here, the rewards are very high. The diving in this area is rightly considered to be some of the best in the world.
Day 11, 26th November 2018. By boat from Waigeo back to Sorong, the rest of day at leisure
We took a speedboat from our resort on Waigeo back to Sorong where we arrived late in the morning. The sea was flat and calm, and the bird activity was low, but we did note Red-necked Phalarope, Brown Booby, Great Frigatebird, and White-naped, Greater Crested, and Common Terns. The rest of the day was spent at leisure at our very comfortable hotel.
Day 12, 27th November 2018. Departure from Sorong and tour concludes
We all departed on early-morning flights out of Sorong to make our international departures, and this enjoyable bird-of-paradise-packed tour concluded. Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise was voted “Bird of the Trip”, which was not surprising given the amazing close views we had had of this stunning bird, with Red and King Birds-of-paradise and Masked Bowerbird coming closely behind.
 Usually this tour would include a trip to the higher elevations of the Arfak Mountains for three bird-of-paradise species, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Arfak Astrapia, and Black Sicklebill, as well as other high-elevation species. However, based on client preferences we did not bird the higher elevation on this trip. Please see the 2017 trip report for an example of the birding at the higher elevation.
Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.
- In any reading you may have done on visiting West Papua you may have seen reference to a requirement for a Surat Jalan (police clearance) for visiting there. This is no longer required. However, please note that immigration officers at your first point of entry into Indonesia are not always well-informed about West Papua and can be sensitive about this province, so if possible don’t even mention you are going there.
- 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.
- Make your luggage as light as possible, most domestic flights only allow 20kg of checked-in luggage per person.
- West Papua is one of the most remote and undeveloped areas within Indonesia, so remember that you are visiting a developing country and will be camping/staying in the most remote areas, where there are no proper sanitation facilities. Expect many things to be very different to what you might expect from home.
- 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: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/indonesia/
When you stay in the village in the Arfak mountains (ca. 1,400m/4,500ft), it’s extremely basic with limited electricity for a few hours in the evening and limited or no proper showers – you can get heated water in a bucket when you need it, though. “Facilities” such as rooms, beds, etc. are exceptionally basic (even in the village) with four rooms, each with two benches. Then, when you hike up the mountains, you camp (2,200m/7,000ft) on a platform with a tarp roof and mosquito net, and it gets even more basic than in the village – with rustic pit toilets, etc. You can leave luggage you don’t want to cart up the mountain behind in the village, so please ensure you have a small bag to take some clothes to the camp site. You can tip the villagers for this service at your discretion (they also do a lot of other hard work for the group, e.g. heating water, making meals, etc.). You can get large suitcases carried up for you if you want – but if you prefer to leave stuff in the village that is also OK and recommended. There is a nominal charge for porters to carry day packs and other belongings, and this can be booked a day or two before when you first arrive in the village (you do spend nights either before or after the trek up the mountains in the village at a lower altitude).
In Waigeo we will stay in a resort by the beach the whole time. Each room has a mosquito net, and the facilities are of a much higher standard than in the mountains, with electricity on all of the time and showers in each room. We usually stay at a dive resort, and the snorkeling straight off the resort is excellent. Masks and fins are available for hire.
Accommodation in Sorong and Manokwari is in comfortable hotels with good facilities. Wi-Fi is available here. Hotels have swimming pools, good restaurants, and excellent rooms.
In the tourist areas most types of food and drink will be available, but meals will become simpler as we move into the forest areas. We can accommodate vegetarians and special dietary needs if we know in advance. Most meals are based around rice and fish, noodles, and a few vegetables. Due to the lack of refrigeration dairy products are not common. We suggest you bring your favorite snacks or protein bars to supplement your diet (and it’s fun to share things with the local people, but we suggest you don’t give candy to the local children). Note that alcohol is generally not available around Manokwari and in the Arfak Mountains (except at great cost) but is available at a reasonable cost in Sorong and Waigeo.
Please remember to give us your dietary preferences. Are you vegetarian? Can you eat spicy food?
Currency exchange is only available in Makassar and Jakarta, but ATMs are available in every town, but not all foreign cards will work in all machines. Traveler’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, 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.
Some Items to Bring:
- Field Guide, see here: https://www.birdingecotours.com/field-guides-to-australasia-and-oceania-what-to-take-into-the-field/ for some guidance.
- Binoculars and camera.
- Sunscreen, hat (wide-brimmed for open-areas, e.g. the beach, and baseball-style cap for forest birding – so as to not block visibility for people behind you on a trail!), and insect repellent – conditions are likely to be swampy, hot, and humid, and mosquitos are prevalent, particularly in the lowlands.
- Anti-Malaria tablets – West Papua is a high-risk malaria area.
- Leech socks – useful, particularly if it is wet.
- A small first aid kit, contents should include hand sanitizer, blister bandages, antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream, any prescription drugs required, aspirin, ibuprofen and/or paracetamol, anti-diarrheal (e.g. Imodium), cyclizine (e.g. Valoid), and ciprofloxacin antibiotic for gastrointestinal upset. Most of these are available at pharmacies in West Papua, but it saves time if you bring them with you.
- Footwear – a matter of personal preference. Rubber boots can help in muddy conditions and dry out quickly but often lack suitable ankle support, which would be given by walking/hiking boots (which we recommend).
- Walking stick – linked to the above, a walking stick can help provide additional balance on steep/slippery/wet terrain. A walking stick is compulsory for anyone who is unsteady walking, as we feel this is a safety issue; we don’t want anyone slipping on the trails. Please discuss with us if you are unsure whether you will need one or not.
- Quick-dry clothes – consider a long-sleeved shirt over a T-shirt for protection against sun and mosquitos.
- Clothes – should be dull/dark for birding, as these are less likely to disturb the birds we will be searching for. Some warm clothes would be useful as temperatures may drop to 10-12 oC (50-54 oF) overnight.
- Rain jacket/coat and umbrella.
- Bathing suit/swimming shorts, mask and snorkel for optional swimming during free time (though note that snorkeling equipment can be hired).
- A small hand towel or wash cloth can be handy for cleaning and drying things when in the rainforest. Not essential but handy.
- A day pack suitable for carrying essential personal items such as field guide, bottles of water, snacks, camera, etc.
- A dry bag to keep valuable documents such as passports, cell phones, wallets etc., as well as cameras if there’s rain.
- Torch (flashlight) and/or headlamp, and spare batteries – we will be camping at some locations with no electricity, so this is essential. Also needed for times when electricity is turned off at night.
- Power bank (portable power supply) – essential if you want to charge items while camping, as there will be no electricity in some areas – e.g. higher up in the Arfak mountains.
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