White-backed Night Heron by Greg de Klerk, Lesser Ground Cuckoo & Fiery-throated Hummingbird by Bobby Wilcox 

Dear Friends of Rockjumper, 

As the sun sets on another incredible year of birding adventures at Rockjumper, we find ourselves reflecting on the wings that have carried us to breathtaking destinations, the bonds we’ve forged, and the joyous moments shared in the company of the birds and other wildlife that we cherish so dearly. From the lush rainforests of the Amazon to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, your spirit of exploration has transformed mere trips into unforgettable expeditions. 

In the spirit of this season of gratitude, we want to express our deepest thanks for your unwavering support throughout the year. Your trust in our team has allowed us to spread our wings, explore new territories, and share the magic of birding and travel. Your presence has not only enriched our tours but has also contributed to the conservation efforts that are close to our hearts. 

May the upcoming year bring more opportunities to marvel at the wonders of nature, deepen our appreciation for the diverse avian species that grace our planet, and strengthen the bonds of friendship that make each tour an unforgettable experience. 

Once again, thank you for being an integral part of the Rockjumper family. Wishing you a joyful holiday season filled with warmth, laughter, and the company of loved ones. 


Team Building

Our most recent “Core Team” Team Building was a great deal of fun and alongside a few minor paintball-related bruises, we enjoyed some excellent birding, Bingo and Badminton! In between our catching up and settling our competitions, we managed to see 57 species of birds. These included a Peregrine Falcon, Lanner Falcons, Long-tailed and Fan-tailed Widowbird, and a constant chorus of calling cuckoos, Black, Klaas’s, Red-chested, and Diederik.  

Thank you to Meg for organizing a wonderful day full of great activities.

Team Marketing
The Team
Team Tailormade
Birds of South Africa

Adam Riley’s Birds of South Africa is designed with the beginner birder in mind and covers 350 of South Africa’s most prominent bird species. Each species is concisely described and illustrated with beautiful photos, all taken by Adam.

Click here to purchase a copy of your own!

Peter Kaestner’s 10,000 Birds

2023 has been an interesting year.  In an effort to help the full-time Rockjumper Tour Leaders, who had been directly affected by the reduction of international travel during the COVID pandemic, I decided to forego leading.  While I miss the guiding terribly, I do believe that giving the full-time leaders additional opportunities was the right thing to do.  

 Meanwhile, I realized that I was close enough to my long-term goal of seeing 10,000 species that I made a big push this year.  Indeed, in the last 12 months (November 2022 to November 2023) I have added more than 200 life birds to my list, which now sits at 9943.  My plan is to get 10K in 2024. 

I had two listing highlights from the year:  First, was bird 9800, which put me in first place among world listers, and bird 9901, which put me over 90 percent of the world’s birds. 9800 was the Black-and White Triller, which occurred April 9, 2023 on the Island of Mindoro, Philippines.  9901 was the critically endangered Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher on August 28th. 

Peter Kaestner
Black-and White Triller
Javan Blue-banded Kingfisher
Equator Challenge

Every step counts and we are so proud of our team for collectively completing an incredible 25,584km of our equator challenge!  

We are especially delighted for Jenna who completed her first marathon in Cape Town this year, Candice, who has qualified to run her Two Oceans marathon in 2024, and Niki, who has found such passion in her running and motivates us all with her courage and determination to complete races, no matter what obstacles she has faced along the way.  

We look forward to following your progress in the year ahead, and watching you cross the Equator finish line with the Rockjumper Team behind you!

Current as at Week 73 - 26,576 km
Call of the Wild

To describe an African sunset without ever seeing one is virtually impossible. How does one encapsulate the majesty of a herd of elephant, or the prowess of a lion drinking from a watering hole? So much of the safari experience is visual because of the vivid imagery of the African bush. However, it’s not often that we think about what this experience would be like for someone who cannot see.

Call of the Wild is a uniquely designed documentary- for both able sighted and visually impaired audience members- which explores this very notion by pairing Anika, a visually impaired child with a knack for bird calls, with an extraordinary innovation in bush safari experiences engineered by soundscape specialists Derrick and Sarah Solomon.

In so doing, sound in all its profundity is unpacked- from the intricacies of the sounds we hear in the bush and what they mean, to the way in which sound can bring blind people closer to nature than we ever deemed possible.

Our very own Dr Daniel Danckwerts narrates the documentary and takes Anika through a textural sensory experience with bird skins in order to give her a better understanding of size and scale; something which was integral to teaching her about the animals she would be hearing.

The documentary- directed, written and produced by Brett de Groot- debuted at the prestigious Silwerskermfees in Cape Town this year where it was received with a 10 minute standing ovation and was nominated in every technical category including Best Director, Best Editing and won Best Sound Design for its groundbreaking use of soundscapes throughout the film which allows the film to be fully accessible for blind people- the first documentary to ever do this. The documentary has been chosen to enter the international film festival circuit next year, debuting in New York, Amsterdam and Cannes next year.

Catch the documentary on DSTV Catch-up under Silwerskerm Dokumentere. Remember to watch it with your volume turned all the way up!

New to The Nest

Tarryne Dickerson

Tarryne graduated with a Masters degree in Animal Behaviour, and spent 13 years in various reserves across South Africa studying elephants. She relocated to suburbia when it was time for her boys to start school, and now lives in Pietermaritzburg. Tarryne is passionate about conservation and wildlife, and is dedicated to providing clients with exceptional experiences as Rockjumper’s SA Operations Consultant.


Global Birdfair 2024

The Rockjumper team will be at Global Birdfair 2024! Pop over to our stand to chat about all things birding.

Our team will be giving exciting talks, offering advice on all things birding and sharing stories from all over the globe as well as answering any tour-related questions you might have.

Date: July 12, 13 & 14
New Venue: Lyndon Top, Rutland LE15 8RN

The Birdfair Team 2023 - Rob, Nigel, Sue, Dan, Paul, Mark
American Bird Festivals

Our attendance at various American Bird Festivals has been notably absent since Covid however starting from early 2024 we will be back attending several exciting festivals again.  
One of Rockjumper’s most popular tour leaders Forrest Rowland will be attending the bulk of the festivals so do drop by and say hi if you plan on heading out for some good birding and to see what the latest news is on the local and international birding front.  

We plan to be at the following festivals during the first half of 2024: 
Space Coast Festival: 24 to 28 January  

Great Louisiana Bird Festival: 31 Mar to 4 April 

New River Birding Festival: 29 April to 4 May 


OBC - Taiwan and China

The Oriental Bird Club continue to be a major force for conservation in the Oriental region of Asia and we are extremely proud of our long-standing partnership. Our support of their various projects is enabled via our Rockjumper Bird Conservation Fund, which is in essence funded by our wonderful guests as US$50 per person per tour is plugged directly into our conservation fund, which in turn is used to support various conservation initiatives across the globe.  
Our support also extends to organising tours for conservation and next year’s special Oriental Bird Club Taiwan tour from 27 Apr 2024 – 08 May 2024 is fully subscribed.  

Chinese Monal by David Hoddinott
Temminck's Tragopan by David Hoddinott
Spectacled Parrotbill by David Hoddinott
Grandala by Glen Valentine

In 2025 we have another special offering in partnership with the Oriental Bird Club through China. This exciting tour will focus on the wonderful region of Sichuan which is now well known as one of the premiere tours, not only in China or Asia but on the planet, due to the vast array of special and exciting birds and mammals that are possible. The habitats visited are also in fantastic shape and the scenery breath-taking. The tour is 19 days long from 1 to 19 June 2025 and is being led by one of our top global tour leaders – Rob Williams. There is also an extension into Yunnan for those who are keen on exploring even more of this region. For more information, please visit our website.  

Golden Pheasant by Glen Valentine
ABA Borneo

Malaysia is a developed Asian nation offering first-class facilities, an extensive range of well-serviced national parks and nature reserves and a bounty of quality birds and mammals; simply put, this is the perfect destination for a birding and wildlife tour!

Bornean Bristlehead by Glen Valentine
Rhinoceros Hornbill by David Hoddinott
Black-crowned Pitta by David Hoddinott

This tour provides a wonderful opportunity to view an excellent selection of south-east Asian avian specialities. We will focus in on the Sabah province of Borneo which holds some of Asia’s most famous birding sites, including the Danum Valley – protecting the largest rainforest in Southeast Asia, the Crocker Range, and the fabled Mount Kinabalu.

The wildlife is sure to impress too as Orangutan, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Bornean Gibbon, Mouse-Deers, Leopard Cat and even possibly Bornean Clouded Leopard may make an appearance!

As if this isn’t enough excitement, we are offering extensions to the main tour, each with its own diverse array of highlights:

Bulwer's Pheasant by Glen Valentine
Crested Partridge by Glen Valentine

Borneo ‘chickens’ and other rainforest specialities (Extension)

For those wishing to extend their visit to Borneo, look no further than our custom ‘chickens’ tour. Over the course of a week, we will cover several other key sites on the island including the Trusmadi Highlands, Telepud, Sepilok and the Kinabatangan River and target some of Borneo’s most sought-after birds. Top among these are several legendary ‘chickens’ including the Great Argus, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Bornean Crested Fireback, Crimson-headed Partridge, and the rarely seen Bornean Peacock-Pheasant.

Mountain Peacock-Pheasant by Nigel Redman
Malayan Crested Fireback by Adam Riley

Peninsula Malaysia Extension

This week-long extension combines some of Peninsula Malaysia’s most famous birding sites including Fraser’s Hill, the immense Taman Negara National Park, and Bukit Tinggi. Habitats range from lowland and montane rainforests and these host a rich mix of typical south-east Asian birds as well as several rarely seen species. Join us for what is sure to be an awesome, exotic blend of fabulous birds, mammals, and amazing scenery!

Rail-Babbler by Liew Weng Keong
Checker-throated Woodpecker by David Hoddinott

Rail-babbler Quest (Extension)

This short extension is designed specifically to find Rail-babbler, the only representative of the Eupetidae family. Surprisingly, this monotypic species is most closely related to the mountain-loving Rockjumpers of southern Africa. We have three days and will visit one of the most reliable sites in Malaysia to find our elusive, shy quarry.

Proboscis Monkey by David Hoddinott
Bornean Orangutan by Liew Weng Keong
Sunda Clouded Leopard by Liew Weng Keong

Borneo: Rainforest mammals extension

This tour offers the ultimate experience exploring the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, holding one of the largest populations of the mythical Bornean Clouded Leopard, and the riparian forest of Sukau on the Kinabatangan River. The mammal-watching opportunities on this voyage are superb and we expect encounters with an exciting variety including ‘the old man of the forest’, the incomparable Bornean Orangutan, Proboscis Monkeys, with their strange pendulous nose and great pot belly, several species of gibbons, mischievous macaques, colorful langurs, several species of civets, wild cats, deer, and some very impressive squirrels, including giant flying squirrels and flying lemurs!

Martial Eagle by Adam Riley, Red-crested Korhaan by Julian Parsons, Southern Ground Hornbill by David Hoddinott
The birding and wildlife extravaganza that is the Kruger Challenge is taking place again and it’s even bigger and better than before!


Remote West Papuan Islands - Keith Valentine

Our Remote West Papuan Islands Cruises were once again among the very best tours we offered during 2023. These unique voyages explore the still seldom visited islands of Buru, Seram, Obi, Boano, Kofiau and Waigeo which are home to an extraordinary selection of rare and little-known birds. These include the likes of Wilson’s and Red Birds-of-paradise, Salmon-crested Cockatoo, Purple-naped Lory, Long-crested Myna, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher, and Boano and Kofiau Monarchs to name but a few.  
This year we were fortunate to operate 3 of these fantastic tours through October and November, with the final combined list of species being truly enviable. One of the tours even broke the 300 species barrier which we thought couldn’t be achieved on this itinerary and just goes to show the phenomenal variety that these Indonesian islands hold.  

Indo Seamore by Keith Valentine

Our tours this year were treated to extraordinary views of Wilson’s and Red Birds-of-paradise while other ‘Bop’s’ included the likes of Glossy-mantled Manucode, King Bird-of-paradise, Magnificent Riflebird, and Obi Paradise-crow while some groups even lucked onto Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise and Trumpet Manucode! Besides the Bop’s other highlights on the ‘West Papua’ portion of the tours included some phenomenal views of Western Crowned Pigeon, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Blue-black Kingfisher, Black Lory, Brown-headed Crow, Grey-headed Goshawk, Waigeo and Arafura Shrikethrush, Streak-headed Mannikin, Black Berrypecker, New Guinea Bronzewing, Rufous Owl, Hook-billed Kingfisher, and Papuan Pitta.  

Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher by Adam Riley
Wilson's Bird-of-paradise by Adam Riley
Salmon-crested Cockatoo by Keith Valentine
Moluccan Megapode by Adam Riley
Melon-headed Whale by David Hoddinott

The remote islands of Kofiau, Seram, Obi and Buru all produced the goods and our groups revelled in magnificent sightings of Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher, Kofiau Monarch, Salmon-crested Cockatoo, Purple-naped Lory, Seram and Buru Boobooks, Moluccan Masked Owl, Barking Owl, mega Black-lored Parrot, Buru Thrush, critically endangered Boano Monarch, Moluccan Megapode at one of their only known breeding colonies, scarce Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk, South Moluccan and North Moluccan Pittas, distinctive Long-crested Myna, Lazuli Kingfisher, Moluccan Cuckooshrike, Rufous-bellied Triller, Cinnamon-breasted Whistler, Carunculated Fruit Dove, Cinnamon-chested Flycatcher and even a new Rockjumper bird – Bacan Myzomela on Obi! This is no mean feat given we have now operated 11 of these special cruises since we first launched the tour back in 2016.  

Cetaceans are always an additional highlight and species such as Melon-headed and Short-finned Pilot Whales, and Fraser’s, Spinner, Pantropical Spotted and Indo-pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphin were enjoyed by various groups. All four species of possible cuscus were also seen while the volumes of spectacular reef fishes are another major highlight and augment the entire experience. Over 300 species of reef fishes alone were seen between the groups this season while sightings of Green and Hawksbill Turtles and Black-tip Reef Sharks were extraordinary!  

Fraser's Dolphin by David Hoddinott
Spotted Cuscus by Adam Riley
Red Bird-of-paradise by Keith Valentine

If you haven’t done this tour yet or ventured into this incredible part of the world, we still have a few spaces open on next years voyages with Glen Valentine and Paul Varney. Contact our front office – info@rockjumper.com for more information.  

Indonesia – Remote West Papuan Islands Cruise I

21 Oct – 03 Nov 2024 (14 days) 
Indonesia – Remote West Papuan Islands Cruise II

03 – 16 Nov 2024 (14 days) 

Indonesia – Buru Island Extension I

16 – 21 Oct 2024 (6 days) 

Indonesia – Buru Island Extension II

16 – 21 Nov 2024 (6 days) 


Banda Sea Cruise - Keith Valentine

Our inaugural Banda Sea Cruise, which was led by the Valentine brothers (Glen and Keith), was undoubtedly one of our most celebrated and successful tours of 2023. This trip had been delayed by a couple of years due to Covid and it was with much excitement that we all descended upon the island of Labuan Bajo, in the Lesser Sundas chain, for what was to be an epic cruise with a wonderful group of travellers. Using a comfortable liveaboard (dive boat) as our base ensured a fun and unique way of exploring these little-known islands and seas. Our journey first took us to the remote islands of Tanahjampea, Kalao and Kalaotoa where a treat of endemics awaited and some epic snorkelling to boot. Tanahjampea Blue Flycatcher, Flores Sea Cuckoo-Dove, Kalao Blue Flycatcher and Tanahjampea Monarch were headline acts before we continued further east along the Lesser Sundas chain to Pantar and Alor. Here we revelled in sightings of the newly described (in 2019) Alor Myzomela, Alor Boobook, critically endangered Flores Hawk-Eagle, endangered Tenggara Hill Myna, stunning Ornate Pitta, scarce Flores Green Pigeon and an as yet undescribed species of cuckoo-dove known tentatively as Eucalypt Cuckoo-Dove.  

Lady Denok by Glen Valentine

Wetar is without doubt one of THE most idyllic of all Indonesian islands with a plethora of endemic birds all found in the most sumptuous of habitats. Here the mythical Wetar Ground Dove gave itself up without much fuss and we enjoyed plenty of other endemics and Rockjumper firsts including Black-necklaced Honeyeater, Wetar Myzomela, Wetar Oriole, Wetar Figbird, Timor Imperial Pigeon, Orange-banded Thrush, Wetar Scops Owl, and an undescribed species of nightjar which is currently being called Timor Nightjar. What a location!  

Next up were the islands of Damar and Babar and again they lived up to the billing. Damar Flycatcher was only rediscovered as recently as 2001 after going unseen by birders for over 100 years! Other delights included Wallacean Whistler, Black-bibbed Monarch, Tricoloured Parrotfinch, Banda Myzomela, Cinnamon-tailed Fantail and Timor Stubtail.  

Tanimbar Flycatcher by Glen Valentine
Wetar Ground Dove by Glen Valentine
Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher by Keith Valentine

We then said goodbye to our much-loved liveaboard and checked into our lovely seaside accommodations on Yamdena, for our Tanimbar Islands exploration. Simply put the Tanimbars produced every single endemic including the difficult Tanimbar Megapode. All of Tanimbar Corella, Blue-streaked Lory, Slaty-backed and Fawn-breasted Thrushes, Tanimbar Flycatcher, Tanimbar Monarch, gorgeous Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Tanimbar Boobook, Tanimbar (Moluccan) Masked Owl and the recently described Banda Sea Pitta were enjoyed. Plenty of megas indeed and such a fun place to bird!  

Finally, we dropped into the seldom visited Kai Islands which are home to a couple of endemic white-eyes and a few other endemics and specials. We had little trouble finding both Golden-bellied and Pearl-bellied White-eyes while other great species such as Kai Coucal, Kai Monarch and Kai Cicadabird were also welcomed.  

Alor Myzomela by Keith Valentine
Fawn-breasted Thrush by Keith Valentine

We were thrilled to find an incredible 42 brand new species that have never been seen before on any Rockjumper tours. This goes to highlight just how many special, unique, and little-known birds occur on these islands. We can’t wait for our return to the Banda Sea and its exotic islands in 2025 and hope you will consider joining Adam Walleyn and Nigel Redman for this special and most enjoyable cruise.  

Indonesia – Banda Sea Cruise

09  – 26 Sep 2025 (18 days) 

Papua New Guinea - Paul Varney

I have met many birders and tour leaders who have been to PNG and say “never again”. When you quiz them further they say logistics, safety, birding and then qualify it. The birds are great but the birding is tough. All of this is true but I can’t wait to get back….

In August/September I co-led, with Stephan Lorenz, the 18 day comprehensive PNG tour then an extension to the wonderful island of New Britain before leading a Highlights tour on my own, while Stephan embarked on the comprehensive tour again, this time with a small group.

The logistics were problematic, on our first tour we had 4 flight cancellations but, on my highlights tour, all was good and flights were all on time allowing us to visit all of the locations, as planned.

The birding is tough, the birds are very shy, not particularly responsive to calls and although there are great birds to see, being an island the species list is limited. This all sounds a bit bleak but not a bit of it. Birding PNG is a delight. Frustrating, yes but rewarding, absolutely. Patience is key and not to get frustrated. There are repeat chances for most key species and always the chance of something extra special. This happened to us on our trip to Tabubil. We had worked Henry’s Road and were birding the final point when a client saw a raptor. Stephan scanned with the scope and incredibly announced its a Papuan Eagle or New Guinea Harpy Eagle. This is a species you can never expect and incredibly there were a pair. We enjoyed good views but a couple of the group had not joined the afternoon excursion. With a huge amount of luck the birds were still there the following morning and performed even better, even displaying to each other. Always distant but great views nonetheless.

Blue Bird-of-Paradise by Paul Varney
Brown-headed Paradise Kingfisher by Stephan Lorenz
Brown Sicklebill by Paul Varney

As well as our Papuan Eagle experience we notched up 18 species of Birds of Paradise (Stephan added more on his second trip), the simply stunning Flame Bowerbird, Chestnut-backed Jewel Babbler, plenty of Kingfishers and we collected all 7 of the endemic families during the trips, even on one day in fact.

New Britain is like a vacation island paradise and our lodge looking out over the beach enhanced this feeling. Some great birding and a very different feel to mainland PNG. A highlight was a boat trip out to the island off Kimbe to search for island specialities like Island Monarch, Sclater’s Myzomela, Mackinlay’s Cuckoo Dove and Island Imperial Pigeon. We connected but perhaps more impressive was a brief opportunity to snorkel in the calm warm waters. When you dipped your head and mask into the water, a city of fish and corals is exposed and it was a fantastic hour or so marvelling at the colours of reef fish, not my area of expertise at all but wow, amazing all the same. The colours of the fish rival some of the ornate and colourful birds found on the PNG tour.

A favourite place for everyone is Kumul Lodge where the feeders attract Brown Sicklebill, Ribbon-tailed Astrapia, Stella’s Lorikeet, Brehm’s Tiger Parrot and other species. Sitting down at the feeders with these birds just a few yards away, perhaps with a coffee or tea (or beer) is a super experience and meals were interrupted more than once by the arrival of something very cool at the feeders that just needed to be looked at!
The grounds also supported Crested Satinbird, the male stunning in his orange and black finery and the night shift delivers Feline and Mountain Owlet Nightjar. Kumul Lodge is a special place.

Crested Satinbird by Stephan Lorenz
Feline Owlet-nightjar by Stephan Lorenz

PNG is hard. The logistics can be unreliable and frustrating, the birding is tough and you do need to be careful but when you have an opportunity to sit and watch Raggiana or Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise, Flame Bowerbird or a displaying Magnificent Riflebird. Marvel at the majesty of huge Sclater’s Crowned Pigeons or just quietly watch Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler foraging on a forest track, why wouldn’t you want to. PNG is wild and magical and I can’t wait to go back.

Borneo - Adam Walleyn

2023 has been another exceptional yearAmongst several memorable tours it was the long awaited Bornean trip that really stands outThis private tour had been planned out with a group of wonderful folks that I really enjoy travelling with and was led along with my friend Liew. It was originally scheduled to happen in early 2020 and was one of the first tours to be cancelled due to covidIt took 3 years of cancellations and rescheduling before it happened and when it finally did – well the wait was worth itAlmost a full month exploring the incredible island of Borneo with so many epic and surprising findsThe group was particularly keen to try and see Clouded Leopard and when several all night drives did not produce a sighting we thought our chances were upBut something nobody could have imagined happened when in broad daylight on our final afternoon at Danum we came to the crest of a road and there, 15 feet away from us, was this magnificent cat calmly watching us and allowing us a couple minutes in its presence. 

Sunda Clouded Leopard by Liew Weng Keong


Mexico Pelagic

In April 2025 we set off on an exciting voyage in search of the rare and endangered seabirds that breed only on the islands of Guadalupe and Socorro and this adventure will offer one of the first-ever chances to search out Townsend’s Shearwater, Townsend’s Storm Petrel, Ainley’s Storm Petrel and Guadalupe Murrelet.

Many other interesting seabirds nest on these islands or feed in their offshore waters and we also hope to see Laysan Albatross, Scripp’s, and Craveri’s Murrelet, Ashy, Black and Least Storm Petrels, Black-vented Shearwater and many more besides.

The islands of Guadalupe and Socorro also hold four endemic land bird species between them: Guadalupe Junco, Socorro Parakeet, Socorro Mockingbird and Socorro Wren. Despite permits being difficult to obtain we will be making every effort to do so and thereby have the opportunity to seek out these species. Socorro Wren is however gettable even without special permission.

The trip will be led by Adam Walleyn and Eric Antonio Martinez. Adam is one of the world’s most experienced seabirders and has extensive experience with almost all the world’s seabird and marine mammals during over 1 000 days spent at sea. Eric is one of Mexico’s leading birders and has spent decades guiding birders to every corner of the country.

The trip will be operated on the most comfortable vessel that visits these waters with a captain and crew that have made several previous visits.

Townsend's Shearwater by Tom Blackman
Guadalupe Murrelet by Tom Blackman
Townsend's Storm-Petrel by Tom Blackman
Whyte's Barbet by Reece Dodd
Zimbabwe Comprehensive

Zimbabwe is justly famous as a superb birding destination that leaves one with a lasting impression of having experienced the real ‘wild Africa.’ Pristine wilderness areas, spectacular landscapes and an amazing variety of ecosystems make Zimbabwe a natural history paradise. The diversity of habitats is astounding and ranges from open grassland and afro-montane evergreen forest to broad-leaved miombo woodlands, gallery forest and seasonal wetlands, which together host a large and impressive variety of birds and game. Our tour to this under-birded African destination has been specially designed to incorporate the key habitats and species which are difficult, if not impossible to find elsewhere.

Zambia Endemics Extension

Zambia is often neglected as a birding destination in Africa, and yet it boasts some of the most extensive tracts of pristine wilderness in Africa supporting an almost unparalleled diversity of mammals and well over 700 species of birds including at least two fabulous endemics (the Black-cheeked Lovebird and Chaplin’s Barbet). This exciting tour focusses on two sites in the southern part of the country, namely the Nkanga River Conservation Area and the immense Kafue National Park. These two sites will afford you the opportunity to see both of Zambia’s endemic birds as well as a host of other highly sought-after Central African species including African Spotted Creeper, Southern and Yellow-bellied Hyliotas, Racket-tailed Roller, Shelley’s Sunbird, Fülleborn’s Longclaw, and Dickinson’s Kestrel to name a few. Mammal highlights include distinct chances for Serval, Lion, Cheetah, African Wild Dog, Leopard, both Sable and Roan Antelopes, Southern Reedbuck, and Hartebeest to name a few. 

Chaplin's Barbet by Daniel Danckwerts
Relaxed Tours

Our newly launched suite of ‘Relaxed’ tours have been designed to focus more on enjoying a bird orientated tour, rather than chasing after rare species hidden deep in forests. Where possible; we have reduced or removed long drives, single night stays and basic, or rustic accommodation. We have also sought to reduce or remove difficult hikes, narrow muddy trails and otherwise oppressive environmental conditions. Early starts and night birding are mostly optional, and we will not spend much time if nay searching for overly difficult or skulking species. Join us on the following new additions to our Relaxed tours in 2025!  

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock by Adam Riley
Saffron Toucanet by Dušan Brinkhuizen
Multicolored Tanager by Adam Riley
Black-fronted Piping-Guan by Clayton Burne
Spoon-billed Sandpiper by Rob Williams
Sri Lanka Blue Magpie by Greg de Klerk
Sri Lanka
Tiger by Adam Riley
Northern India
Leopard by Adam Riley
Northern Bald Ibis by Adam Riley
White-necked Rockfowl by Greg de Klerk

Tailormade Tour Highlights

Endemic Biobash in Madagascar

Nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Madagascar stands as a testament to the marvels of evolutionary divergence. Having severed ties with the African Continent approximately 11 million years ago, this island nation has become a cradle of endemism, cultivating a biodiversity that is both extraordinary and exclusive. The uniqueness of Madagascar’s ecosystems is staggering, encompassing a multitude of flora and fauna found nowhere else on the Planet. The island’s claim to fame lies in the fact that over 90% of its diverse life forms are endemic, creating a living laboratory of evolution.

Among Madagascar’s most charismatic inhabitants are the elusive lemurs, a diverse family of primates that have evolved to showcase a remarkable spectrum of behaviours. Perhaps most remarkable of all are the famous singing Indri (the largest of all extant lemurs), several diminutive mouse lemurs including the smallest primate on Earth, and of course the charismatic Ring-tailed Lemur that has forever been immortalized by the DreamWorks Madagascar films.

Ring-tailed Lemur by Daniel Danckwerts
Giraffe-necked Weevil by Daniel Danckwerts
Brown Leaf Chameleon by Daniel Danckwerts

The diversity of reptiles is similarly staggering, adding another layer to Madagascar’s biological diversity, featuring both the world’s smallest and largest Chameleon species as well as a myriad of other species. The insect realm, too, contributes to this biological symphony with countless unique species including many dazzling moths, butterflies, beetles and the spectacular hissing cockroaches. However, it is in the avian realm that Madagascar truly shines. The island hosts 111 endemic birds including four endemic (Asities, Mesites, Madagascan warblers, Ground Rollers, and) and two near-endemic bird families (Cuckoo-roller and Vangas). With its rich tapestry of life, Madagascar has rightfully earned its status as a biodiversity hotspot, standing as a living testament to the power of isolation and adaptation over millennia.

Yet, amidst the splendour of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity, a shadow looms over its endemic species. The conservation status of many of these spectacular creatures is disconcertingly precarious. Rampant habitat loss, fuelled by agricultural expansion and logging, poses a severe threat to the delicate ecosystems that harbour Madagascar’s endemic life forms. Additionally, the spectre of climate change and its unpredictable impacts further exacerbates the challenges faced by these extraordinary species. The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated, and those captivated by the idea of witnessing the charismatic lemurs, extraordinary reptiles, and spectacular birds should seize the opportunity sooner rather than later.

White-breasted Mesite by Daniel Danckwerts
Souimanga Sunbird by Daniel Danckwerts
Flatid Leaf Bug by Daniel Danckwerts

In light of this, our Tailormade Department is committed to showcasing the world’s most remarkable natural wonders and has recently completed a series of unforgettable tours to Madagascar surrounding this rich biodiversity. Imagine – as many of our guests were able to experience – venturing into the heart of the island’s lush rainforests, encountering the elusive singing Indri and marvelling at the intricate camouflage of one of the world’s smallest chameleon species. Picture the excitement of spotting Madagascar’s endemic birds, from the vibrant Asities to the shy Ground Rollers, or stumbling upon the jewel-like Giraffe-necked Weevil within the gloomy rainforest understory. Our tailored experiences not only bring you closer to the splendour of Madagascar’s biodiversity but serve as a poignant reminder of the need to appreciate and protect these treasures before they become mere echoes of the past. Embarking on a Tailormade tour with Rockjumper offers not just a journey through the wonders of Madagascar but also a chance to contribute to the conservation efforts that ensure the longevity of these extraordinary species.

For those eager to embark on their own adventure into the heart of Madagascar’s enchanting landscapes, we invite you to contact our Tailormade Tours Department. Our dedicated team is ready to work with you, weaving your dreams and preferences into a bespoke journey that captures the essence of this biodiversity hotspot. As the window of opportunity to witness Madagascar’s unique species grows narrower, there has never been a better time to turn your aspirations into reality. Join us in safeguarding the wonders of Madagascar by creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Golden-brown Mouse Lemur by Daniel Danckwerts
Rufous-headed Ground Roller by Daniel Danckwerts
Giant Coua by Daniel Danckwerts
Miombo Magic in Zambia!

Zambia must rank as one of Africa’s most underrated counties, boasting vast untouched wildernesses and a high diversity of both birds and mammals. Coupled with these riches are a good network of infrastructure throughout, incredible scenery, and the famed Victoria Falls; rightly considered as one of the Severn Natural Wonders of the World. Over the course of 23 days, we enjoyed incredible luck with many of Zambia’s top bird species seen well. Highlights of the tour included the almost mythical Chestnut-headed Flufftail, unpredictable Blue Quail, increasingly difficult Bar-winged Weaver, localized Grimwood’s Longclaw, Locustfinch, Bamboo Warbler, and both the Black-cheeked Lovebird and Chaplin’s Barbet. Additionally, we sighted an almost unbeatable number of mammals with notable species including the swamp dwelling Sitatunga, Southern Lechwe, both Sable and Roan Antelopes, Sharpe’s Grysbok, Cheetah, Leopard, and Serval on multiple occasions. All in all, this was by far our most successful tour of Zambia!

Black-and-Rufous Swallow by Daniel Danckwerts
African Broadbill by Daniel Danckwerts
Black-cheeked Lovebird by Daniel Danckwerts
Black-faced Canary by Daniel Danckwerts
Bocage's Akalat by Daniel Danckwerts
Fullerborn's Longclaw by Daniel Danckwerts
Whyte's Francolin by Daniel Danckwerts


Last chance to sign up for our Bird Families special!

This year, 2023, marks Rockjumper’s 25th birthday and we are thrilled to bring you a brand new, exciting program that gives you every opportunity to explore our planet, and in the process see not only a wonderful array of the world’s birds, wildlife, scenic splendour, people, cultures and more but also a chance of finding every single currently recognised bird family. 

While the world’s total number of birds currently sits at 11,140 species (IOC taxonomy) the world’s total number of unique bird families is just 253 (IOC taxonomy), although one family from Hawaii (the Oos) are sadly extinct). You can bird your entire life, and even visit every single country more than once, but the reality is that while you can potentially see 8000, 9000, or dare we say even 10,000 species nobody is ever going to see every bird species on Earth. The bird families of the world, however, are a completely different story. With 253 families in total, it is an achievable goal, and the beauty is that while trying you are almost guaranteed to see half the world’s birds while also seeing a wonderful selection of countries, habitats, mammals, cultures, scenery and so much more.

Below we outline how the ‘Bird Families’ Program Works. We have also produced a special e-book that outlines some of the trickier families and where to find them. The e-book can be downloaded from our website here.

• Sign up below or e-mail info@rockjumper.com directly to register for the program. 

• Registration ends 31st December 2023. 

• No cost or obligation involved. 

• We have carefully selected 25 countries that if visited, on a Rockjumper scheduled tour, give you every opportunity of finding all the currently recognised bird families. See below for the list of countries that qualify for the ‘Bird Families’ program. Within the countries selected we have outlined the tours that give you the very best chance of seeing the critical bird families and these are the tours that qualify for the ‘Bird Families’ program discounts. 

• Your next tour with Rockjumper (any qualifying tour in 2023 or 2024 even if you have booked already) qualifies for a 2.5% discount provided it is one of those listed under the Bird Families Program below. 

• Thereafter you have a maximum of 6 years to sign up for 6 further Rockjumper tours that fall under those listed for the Bird Families Program below. You will receive discounts on the tours as follows: 5% on your 2nd tour, 7.5% on your 3rd tour, 10% on your 4th tour, 12.5% on your 5th tour, 15% on your 6th tour and a whopping 17.5% on your 7th tour! 

• You can take a maximum of 7 tours under the Bird Families Program. A tour must be taken at least once every calendar year otherwise future discounts are forfeited. The tours can be taken in less than 7 years but not longer. The Bird Families Program is only valid for the scheduled Rockjumper tours outlined below and the tours must be booked directly with Rockjumper to qualify. Antarctica has been included as a bonus destination under the program. Further terms and conditions can be found below or else email info@rockjumper.com  

1st tour – Save 2.5%
2nd tour – Save 5%
3rd tour – Save 7.5%
4th tour – Save 10%
5th tour – Save 12.5%
6th tour – Save 15%
7th tour – Save 17.5%
Plains-wanderer by Stephan Lorenz
Bearded Reedling by Adam Riley
Cuban Tody by Dušan Brinkhuizen


Kenya & Tanzania

  • Tanzania Mega Birding
  • Kenya Mega Birding


  • Comprehensive: Rockfowl & Upper Guinea specials
  • Mega Birding


  • Comprehensive
  • Highlights
  • Budget

South Africa

  • Eastern
  • Cape Extension
  • Birds, Wine & Big Game
  • Budget
  • Cape & Kruger
  • Western Endemics
  • Cape Wildflowers Birding & Big Game
  • Falcons & Big Cats


  • Birds & Gorillas
  • Highlights

Uganda, Tanzania, and Ghana

  • Bird Families




  • East Coast
  • Bird Families of Australasia

New Zealand

  • Comprehensive
  • North Island Extension
  • Bird Families of Australasia

New Caledonia

  • Southwest Pacific Islands: New Caledonia Extension

Papua New Guinea

  • Birding in Paradise
  • Highlights
  • Bird Families



  • Sulawesi & Halmahera


  • Birding the Buddhist Kingdom
  • Highlights


  • Sichuan Birding
  • Highlights


  • Winter Birding

Malaysia & Borneo

  • Rainforest Birds & Mammals
  • Bird Families

Oman & UAE

  • Arabian Birding Adventure

Kuwait & Saudi Arabia

  • Bird Families




  • Western Chocó Specialities


  • Mega Birding
  • Highlight
  • Southern Andes Endemics


  • Pantanal: Birds & Wildlife
  • Amazon Rainforest Ext

Argentina & Chile

  • Southern Patagonia incl. Torres del Paine NP



  • Best of Birding
  • Chiriqui Extension




  • Birding Among Volcanoes
  • Oaxaca, Veracruz & Eastern Sierras Extension



Dominican Republic

  • Endemics of Hispaniola

Puerto Rico

  • Forgotten Greater Antilles


  • Caribbean Endemic Birding


  • Bird Families




  • Best of Birding



Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctica (Included as a bonus destination)



2024 Rates & Tour Schedule

A final reminder that our full Tour Schedule for 2024 is available as a free download from our website at the following link: 2024 Tour Schedule 

Rockjumper proudly offers the most extensive tour selection of any bird tour company with over 340 different scheduled tours to choose from. Our tours are designed by category to allow you to choose the tour that best suits your birding style and energy levels. With options including Highlights tours, Budget tours, Birds & more tours, fast-paced Mega style tours and so much more, there is a Rockjumper tour perfectly suited to every birder. Our newly launched Relaxedstyle tours continue to be very popular, and we have several new Relaxed itineraries for 2024.  
Our 2025 dates have also been scheduled for those who wish to plan further in advance, but firm rates will only be available from next year.  

Birding Direct

Our sister company, Birding Direct has experienced a significant amount of growth in 2023, with a total of 65 exciting tours being run to incredible destinations around the globe this year alone.  

Since opening Birding Directs doors in 2021, 113 tours have been successfully completed. As of now, Birding Direct’s platform has 318 tours listed in 67 different countries! 

Bookings continue to flow in for 2024 and Birding Direct now has over 222 of the world’s very best agents, local birding guides and lodges, signed up to the platform at your service. All of them are ready to hear from you and are excited to work with you on your next travel plans. Whether it be simply a day excursion to look for a few birds while you are on a work trip in Kuala Lumpur, a week-long target focused birding trip for you and a few mates in Peru or a family holiday through Kenya with the very best local guides in the region, Birding Direct is the resource for you. 

Birding Direct is proud to support local businesses. Visit www.birdingdirect.com 



South Africa 

“Geoff created a custom itinerary for us which totally met our requirements. Along with birds we wanted to see the spring flower displays and we had several beautiful spots to visit that were just spectacular. 

We felt like we were on a trip with a friend whose company we really enjoyed. We would definitely consider another trip with Geoff in the future. Perhaps to Namibia with a group of friends someday.” – Regina and John  


“Our tour was phenomenal! We managed to see almost all of the planned targets and even spotted 6 jaguars. Bianca did an excellent job, displaying an impressive knowledge of all the birding sites. 

We would have loved to extend our trip by three extra days to visit Chapada and observe more birds, but that might have to wait for another time. Nevertheless, every minute of this trip was absolutely worth it, and we enjoyed it immensely.” – Javier 


“I had a wonderful trip on Saturday with Jeff. We saw 40 species and I had 28 life birds. A great day and a great guide. Thank You!” – Leslie


“My spouse and I booked 3 days/2 nights in the Entre Rios area with Diego in mid-November. It was our first time to Argentina for birding. 
He picked us up from our lodging and dropped us off at the end, with our last visit being to Vicente Lopez Ecological Reserve in Buenos Aires on the last day. Our lodging at Estancia Rio de las Aves was most excellent, including the food and gorgeous setting. 
Diego’s vast experience and knowledge was evident, not only in birding, but in many other areas about which we conversed. He was easy to be with, attentive to anything we saw, and went into explanations beyond just the bird ID. He was a teacher, too, as he gently challenged us to remember names of birds after we’d seen them several times. 
We saw 125+ species. We highly recommend Diego as an experienced, competent, and caring birding guide in Buenos Aires and surrounding areas.” – Dan 

Rockjumper Wildlife Tours

Our sister company Rockjumper Wildlife Tours has enjoyed a wonderful end to 2024 with extremely successful tailormade tours through Madagascar, Botswana & Namibia, and South Africa.  
Our South Africa group in September enjoyed the very best that the Cape has to offer from the scenic winelands and Table Mountain to Cape Point and the cold waters where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. The second leg of the tour spent time on safari up in Manyoni Private Game Reserve which produced many of the typical African big mammals including some magnificent Cheetah sightings for which this reserve is particularly well known. The reserve also holds significant populations of both White and Black Rhinoceros and the group enjoyed many sightings of the former species.  
Our Botswana and Namibia tour in early September was a special anniversary trip of 13-days in length and was set up to visit some very special camps and lodges in the heart of the region’s most productive wildlife viewing areas. Key destinations on the itinerary included the oasis that is the Okavango Delta, the teeming Chobe National Park, magnificent Victoria Falls and Namibia’s flagship Etosha National Park. These wildlife reserves are some of the most prolific in the world from a big game and birdwatching point of view and the volume of species and quality of sightings was exceptional. 

White Rhino by Wade Lee

Our most recent Rockjumper Wildlife tour was through Madagascar where our group spent 15 days enjoying some truly memorable wildlife sightings and experiences. The tour was geared around famous sites such as Perinet, Mantadia, Tulear, Ifaty, and Berenty. Highlights included a vast array of special lemurs such as the largest extent species – the fabulous Indri, gorgeous Diademed Sifaka, the famous dancing lemurs – Verreaux’s Sifaka, beautiful Ring-tailed Lemurs, and tiny mouse-lemurs like Goodman’s. They also got to enjoy two species of unique tenrec and an impressive variety of snakes, frogs, lizards, geckos, chameleons and birds.  

Gemsbok by Paul Josop
Indri by Christian Artuso
Facebook, X & Instagram

Team Rockjumper’s social media is as bold as ever. We share daily photos, sightings, stories, and exciting news through Facebook, X, and Instagram! Follow us to stay in touch and see what’s happening in the Rockjumper world in real time!

Go Club

Rockjumpers Go Club is an exclusive subscriber-based mail notification system that offers last minute tours which are guaranteed to depart, at discounted prices.

Up to 15% off is offered on our carefully selected tour destinations, have your bags packed and ready to go as we send you special updates, free of charge!

Join now


Zeiss Ecuador Tour

We are very pleased to announce that our partnership with Zeiss has continued to go from strength to strength during 2023 and we look forward to even closer collaboration on events across the globe. One particularly exciting announcement is that Zeiss is partnering with Rockjumper to offer a special Ecuador tour in November 2024. The main itinerary is 2-weeks long and will showcase the very best sites and special birds of the Andes, and the Chocó forests of north-western Ecuador. For those wishing to extend their time in Ecuador we have also put together a fabulous Amazon extension at the world-famous Sacha Lodge. Iconic birds on the itinerary include the outrageous Sword-billed Hummingbird, Giant Antpitta, Andean Condor, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, Toucan Barbet, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Golden-headed Quetzal, Rufous-crowned Antpitta and a ridiculous variety of delightful and colourful hummingbirds and tanagers to boot.

North-western specialities: 9 to 22 November 2024 (14 days)

Amazon Extension: 22 to 26 November 2024 (5 days)

For more information on this unique offering please contact our tailormade team here.


Adam Riley

For the past two decades, my key birding goal has been to see a representative of every single bird family. Originally, I had intended to accumulate as large a bird list as possible but at times I felt that the focus of always finding the next new bird somewhat diminished the pleasure I gained from birding.

However by targeting every bird family, I would experience the diversity of the avian world, travel to some really interesting destinations and each new family would be particularly meaningful. Six years ago, I managed to track down the Hylocitrea in the montane forests of Sulawesi. This was my penultimate bird family. All that remained was the Plains-wanderer. Another monotypic family, the Plains-wanderer is a buttonquail-like bird of the dry, open plains of scattered locations along the fringes of Australia’s great outback.

This July saw the Riley family jet out of South Africa bound for Brisbane. Over the course of three weeks, we slowly made our way southwards and finally inland to the fabled Deniliquin area, most famous in birding circles as a reliable location for the Plains-wanderer.

We had hired the services of local birding leader Phil Maher for the day and I was joined by good friends Ron Guthrie and Richard White. Our daytime birding was focussed around finding some local specialities such as Superb Parrot and we had a brilliant day out birding. However, the weather steadily deteriorated during the day and it was with trepidation that we set off in the late afternoon for an outing that was to culminate with a nocturnal search for the star of the show. My two sons William and Alex (aged 10 and 8) were also determined to be there for this much-anticipated event.

By the time we got to Phil’s chosen site at sunset, it was freezing cold with driving rain, not ideal conditions for setting off on foot into the dark wilderness, but this was our one and only shot….! The first sighting was a wet, miserable rabbit, then a few Stubble Quails and Australasian Pipits and finally the magic happened, a cute, short-tailed rotund Plains-wanderer was there in his full glory! Further searching nearby revealed his mate, the more boldly patterned and colourful female and in the end, we found no less than 5 birds in an hour of searching. Apparently, the previous wet summer had provided ideal conditions for this bird and although still considered Critically Endangered, it was a great season for the species. Despite being soaked to the skin (mostly caused by grovelling in the mud and rain to obtain low-angle photos), we shared a bottle of champers to celebrate the culmination of my twenty-year quest and it was great to share the moment of success with my two sons and the good friends who accompanied me. Thank you to Phil Maher for the spot-on guidance!

My top bird of 2023 has to be without a doubt the Plains-wanderer. My final bird family and a fascinating species too!

Plains-wanderer by Adam Riley
Plains-wanderer by Adam Riley
Andean Laniisoma by Dusan Brinkhuisen
Dušan Brinkhuizen

My top bird is Andean Laniisoma. It took me 18 years of birding in Ecuador to connect with this mythical creature! To give you an idea of the rarity of this presumed resident species, the last confirmed record in Ecuador was over a decade ago, a juvenile male photographed by Andrew Spencer at WildSumaco. I was there the very same day and went straight to the spot, but it had already vanished in thin air. Andean Laniisoma is patchily distributed along the east Andes of SW Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and N Bolivia, but as far as I understand it has a mythical status in any of these countries. Brazilian Laniisoma, its close relative, is restricted to the Atlantic rainforests of SE Brazil, where it is rare and local but not as mythical.

Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush by Greg de Klerk
Greg de Klerk

One of the harder species you expect to find while traveling through Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, is a definitive skulker. Very secretive residents of dense undergrowth, this bird betrayed his location with a series of quiet whistles but remained hidden for a short period, finally popping out onto an open branch and allowing the entire group to get amazing views of this spectacularly coloured bird. Although I have had some excellent birds this year, the Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush narrowly wins my bird of the year!!

Principe Scops Owl by Daniel Danckwerts
Daniel Danckwerts

Described as recently as last year (2022), the Principe Scops Owl is restricted to the last few tracts of indigenous old-growth lowland forest in the southern uninhabited half of this remote volcanic island. There, the overall extent of its habitat is less than 15km2 making it one of the most localized owl species on the Planet and hence it went undetected for many years. Its presence was only confirmed in 2016 following decades of accumulating evidence pointing towards an undescribed owl on Principe. Needless to say, this new species was a heavily anticipated target on our Sao Tome and Principe Extension earlier this year. A long hike ensued to reach a new site within Principe Obo Natural Park where the species had recently been found, and then the waiting game began. As dusk fell, we called softly hoping to elicit a response. Nothing. Appreciating that scops owls can easily go unnoticed, we continued in our efforts and in the 11th hour we heard a distant response. To hear such a rarity was privilege enough but we waited hopingly. After some time, the bird called much closer and we were able to get into position. However, the challenge then became about seeing the bird within the dense forest canopy; easier said than done. Ultimately we spotted the bird and enjoyed walkaway views of this mega-rarity – a first ever on a Rockjumper tour and unequivocally my bird of the year.

Blue-headed Pitta by David Hoddinott
David Hoddinott

My bird of the year is Blue-headed Pitta in Borneo. I’ve spent much time in Borneo hoping to get cracking views of a male without success and so it was especially satisfying to get such incredible views this year on our amazing Rockjumper, Peninsula Malaysia & Borneo tour.

Kagu by Holly Faithfull 
Holly Faithful

My top bird of the year would still be the Kagu I saw earlier in the year. This would change however if we happened to find Emperor Penguins on our Antarctic trip!

Glen Valentine

Selecting one’s “Bird of the Year” is always such a tough ask when one is as fortunate as we are to see so many amazing birds in a single year. 2023 was a mind-blowing year personally as far as rare birds and specialties is concerned, which made the decision even tougher than usual. “Dream Birds” such as Siberian Crane, Baer’s Pochard, Philippine Eagle, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Bornean Ground Cuckoo, Dulit Frogmouth, Black Oriole, Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, Crested Partridge, Taiwan Thrush, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Moluccan Megapode, Alor Myzomela and Wetar Ground Dove all made the short-list. However, it was our magical experience with the once previously-impossible-to-see Bornean Peacock-Pheasant near Sandakan, Borneo earlier this June that took first prize for me. It was indeed an almost surreal and monumental moment in my birding career and one that I’ll cherish forever!

Bornean Peacock-Pheasant by Glen Valentine
Dimorphic Jewel-babbler by Stephan Lorenz
Stephan Lorenz

I was fortunate enough to travel to the remote Adelbert Mountains in northern Papua New Guinea this year. This isolated mountain range is home to the incomparable Fire-maned Bowerbird and this stunning species alone is a great reason to trek to the pristine forests around the famous Keki Lodge.

Other rare species best seen here include the exquisite Yellow Banded Robin and infrequently recorded Forest Honeyeater. But for me, the bird of the year was the Dimorphic Jewel-babbler, a rarely encountered species that is not often photographed. It took the better parts of two days to finally get a frame that actually contained the bird and was only possible from a blind right at dawn. This was the final jewel-babbler of the quartet of shy and beautiful ground dwellers I needed to see. The Adelbert Mountains offer a birding adventure unlike any other in Papua New Guinea.

Keith Valentine

2024 was once again a year filled with many highlights from the montane forests of Mount Kenya and the dry savannas of Samburu and the ‘Mara’ to a myriad of seldom explored and exotic islands in Indonesia. It was the latter part of the year that was extremely special as I got to explore the Banda Sea islands with my brother Glen and our wonderful group of intrepid travellers and friends. This was our inaugural offering of this amazing part of the world and we enjoyed a plethora of rare and highly localised birds such as Damar Flycatcher, Wetar Ground Dove, Alor Myzomela, Alor Boobook, Kalao Blue Flycatcher, Moluccan Megapode, and a full suite of the Tanimbar endemics including Fawn-breasted and Slaty-backed Thrushes, Tanimbar Scrubfowl, Blue-streaked Lory and Tanimbar Corella while a bounty of other sightings included a spectacular assortment of reef fishes, and a pod of magnificent Blue Whale. Incredibly we had 42 new Rockjumper species on the trip! So how does one choose a bird of the year from that bunch? Well, the answer is take a cruise through the Remote West Papuan Islands, throw in an extension to the Arfak Mountains in West Papua and you don’t have to as the assortment of birds-of-paradise simply steal the spotlight!

Our cruise through the fabulous Remote West Papuan Islands was once again very special and we enjoyed an incredible array of the region’s most sought-after birds. I was fortunate to have done this cruise in 2017 but species such as Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher, Salmon-crested Cockatoo, Boano Monarch, Wilson’s and Red Birds-of-paradise, Buru Thrush, Moluccan Masked Owl, and Western Crowned Pigeon still vied for the top spot. It was however the time I spent in the Arfak Mountains at the end of our cruise that produced my absolute top sightings with Magnificent Bird-of-paradise and Western Parotia taking top honours. Both species gave us full displays at their courts for over 2 hours. These were ‘Attenborough’ style moments that we got to enjoy with birds-of-paradise of the highest order. Separating them is simply impossible so I include images of both. Indonesia and West Papua are incredible parts of the world, and the most remote regions continue to become more and more accessible with better infrastructure and increased ease with which to see the regions most special birds.

Magnificent Bird-of-paradise by Keith Valentine
Western Parotia by Keith Valentine
Blyths Tragopan by Marcel Holyoak
Nigel Redman

2023 was a busy year for me, but there were two stand-out moments – one birdy and one mammalian. My top bird of the year (despite some close contenders) was the male Blyth’s Tragopan at Eaglenest in Northeast India that emerged from the steep forested slope onto the ‘road’ that we were standing on, and crossed nervously to the other side. The sense of relief and excitement was off the scale. This exquisite creature is one of the biggest prizes in the Eastern Himalayas, and we had just joined an exclusive club of birders who have been lucky enough to see one of the world’s most beautiful birds.

Two days earlier, we had also seen the highly sought-after Bugun Liocichla, a gorgeous species of laughingthrush that was only discovered a couple of decades ago.

Later in the year, I was in Mongolia on a trip that was billed as ‘Birds and Snow Leopards’. Almost half the trip was devoted to searching for one of the world’s most iconic mammals. We narrowly missed a sighting on Day 4, but the following day we were woken early as our scouts had located our quarry. A little more than an hour later, we were watching three 6-week-old cubs in their den, playing and sleeping, completely unaware of our presence some 300 metres away. We stayed with them for 8 hours, and in mid-afternoon their mother returned. During the next two hours we were spellbound, as the cubs nursed and played with their mother. She was aware of us watching her, but we were far enough away to be no threat. For all of us, it was one of the most magical experiences of our lives.

Snow Leopards by Holger Teichmann
Snow Leopards by Holger Teichmann
Chestnut-backed Jewel Babbler by Paul Varney
Paul Varney

Top Bird of 2023 is a hard decision with so many great birds seen, but it would have to be Chestnut-backed Jewel-babbler in Varirata NP, Papua New Guinea. Not only is it beautiful but it is skulking and shy and our group enjoyed prolonged views as a pair fed near a track we were walking. So many other fantastic species but Jewel-babblers have a special allure, being endemic to PNG and so shy.

Spoonbill Sandpiper by Rob Williams
Rob Williams

I think my Bird of the year was Spoonbill Sandpiper in Thailand. Seen on both tours I led there. On the first tour one flew in an landed near us and just kept walking towards us giving amazing views and photo opportunities for the whole group. We eventually walked slowly away to avoid disturbing it. Close second was a pair of Ocellated Crakes seen by the whole group in northern Peru, sadly I was too concentrated in getting everyone to see them I forgot to try and take any pictures!

Wade Lee

Can’t go wrong with Blue-headed Quail-dove and walk-away views of Zapata Wren.

Blue-headed Quail-dove by Wade Lee
Zapata Wren by Wade Lee
Yoav Perlman

My bird of the year, which was also a recent tour highlight, was the Sokoke Scops-Owl.

It was the first morning of the Kenya Highlights I 2023 tour. We were birding dense forest trails in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest, when our local guide Willy spotted this beautiful, orange-morph Sokoke Scops-Owl. We had amazing views at eye level – such a spectacular bird.

Sokoke Scops-Owl is globally Endangered and endemic to this region. From this tour highlight in the first morning it was all downhill from there…. Not! The tour continued to supply incredible highlights, but the Sokoke Scops-Owl remained as best bird of the trip.

Sokoke Scops-Owl by Yoav Perlman
Stratton Hatfield

Birding highlight for me this year was this pair of Nubian Bustards in the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve in Chad.

Nubian Bustard by Stratton Hatfield
Paul Josop

My top bird for 2023 has to be the Güldenstädt’s (White-winged) Redstart, seen at 3000m above sea level up in the Greater Caucasus Mountains on our recent FAM trip to Azerbaijan!

But then my greatest moment on tour was waking up to a Pel’s Fishing Owl calling above my tent at Xaro Camp along the Okavango River system!!

Mark Beevers

My top bird of 2023 will have to be Grey-headed Lapwing here in the U.K. an unexpected vagrant and the precursor to a fab day in fife, Scotland with loads of close sea duck including Stejneger’s Scoter though close views of Brown Booby were also great.


Our guests provide our best information. And, given that well over half our business are repeat guests, you are also each other’s best source of info. Here’s what you’ve been saying.

Yeray Seminario

This was a great short tour, well-designed to get us into a wide range of habitats for a fine selection of European birds. Yeray Seminario did a fantastic job of finding Spain’s specialties while making adjustments to dodge persistent rainstorms during the week and a local festival in Andalusia. He was knowledgeable, helpful, patient, and fun to bird with, and I would not hesitate to recommend his tours or travel with him again. There were lots of great birds; I particularly enjoyed the vultures, raptors, and the very accessible Northern Bald Ibis colony. Accommodations were great, particularly our last day at a lodge that specifically targeted birders, with its own hides. The van was middling – did the job, but getting in and out was rather cumbersome and windows did not open for taking photographs using the van as a hide. It was also a very fun group of birders. These days, shorter tours with smaller groups fill the bill for me, and I would love to see more of them! – KH (Spain)

Wade is an exceptional individual. Hard to believe he is not 21 and has such an understanding and knowledge of the animals. He also has a great personality and is a hard worker to insure that you get all the help needed to be safe in every aspect of the operation. Ryan was also a hard worker with the customer’s comfort and satisfaction always in mind. He is also extremely knowledgeable about the animals and their environment. The entire staff was very accommodating and helpful. It is a great operation and was a wonderful experience. – AF (South Africa)

Wade Lee
Wade Lee
birding tour operator
Stephan Lorenz

As always, Stephan Lorenz was considerate, organized and adaptable, as well as being a fabulous birder and good teacher. This is a very well-organized and well thought-out tour and we were successful in seeing all target species and also having an enjoyable tour. Thank you. Looking forward to traveling with Stephan again. – JW (Alaska)

This tour far exceeded our expectations.

The pace was mostly fast, and many days were long with early starts, but we fully expected this for an endemic search tour; but we still managed lots of comradery, jokes, and cocktail time. We fulfilled our tour goal of finding all the endemic island species plus most of the endemic subspecies, including those that are most likely to be split in the future. We also got to sample the local culture and food of every island. Our tour was extremely productive and a very fun trip. We had a very experienced group of participants, and everyone was pleased with the tour.

Our leaders were exceptional. Forrest Rowland and Ryan Chenery made an excellent team. Both are very knowledgeable, personable, and funny, as well as expert birders. Their knowledge of the species was profound. They worked hard to find each target and to make sure that everyone got on the birds. On several islands, we also had local leaders/drivers who were top-notch birders. They thoroughly knew their local species’ habits and vocalizations.

The Lesser Antilles are Ryan’s domain; he expertly planned and conducted the tour. When you lead a group of people to ten different islands in 14 days via airplanes, ferries, and speedboats, you know that various matters will require attention and Ryan adeptly dealt with all issues that cropped up, most of which were not even apparent to us. Thanks, also, to Ryan’s wife Alexandria, who we got meet on their home island of Barbados, who ran the back-office logistics dealing with confirmations and handling real-time changes, as needed. The team of Forrest, Ryan, and Alex kept everything running smoothly and seamlessly.

The Rockjumper home office also did a great job of handling the registration and payment processes and all associated travel paperwork and communications.

This was our first Rockjumper tour, but it certainly won’t be our last. – PD (Lesser Antilles)

Ryan Chenery
Ryan Chenery
Lev Frid
Lev Frid

The accommodations, locations and especially both guides were excellent. Both Amanda and Lev are great birders and have totally complementary skills and managed the group outings in such a competent and enthusiastic manner. – DL (Canada)

This was a wonderful tour–beautiful scenery, great birds (many rare), mammals (many rare) including snow leopards. Throw in the adventure of driving through the Altai Mountains and the quest for snow leopards, it really was everything you would want in a tour. Nigel Redmond and Atilla Steiner were excellent at finding and identifying the birds and mammals. I had been to Mongolia before on a non-birding trip and very much enjoyed this beautiful and fascinating country, but most of my bird and mammal sightings went unidentified. The gers were comfortable and even the moonlight walks to the outdoor toilets were enjoyable. And I have to put in a plug for our ground agents who shepherded us around Ulaanbaatar on a quest for trinkets, souvenirs and sights. – EL (Mongolia)

birding tour operator
Nigel Redman
Dušan Brinkhuizen
Dušan Brinkhuizen

This was my second trip with Dusan and like the first trip, he made sure everyone was looked after to the best of his abilities and was always attentive to peoples differing needs. He worked extremely well with Pablo, who himself was attentive to everyone, and they both tried hard to get everyone onto the birds. No complaints to them whatsoever. I would be very happy to bird with Dusan again and probably will. – PE (Brazil)


This year has been full to the brim with wonderful birds and experiences and we are so glad to be able to share them with you, our Rockjumper family. Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and we look forward to sharing even more lifers, stories and adventures with you in the years to come.

All the best for a birdy, adventure filled end to 2023!

Yours in birding,
Team Rockjumper.