This very special island-hopping cruise through the seldom-birded, far eastern Indonesian islands has been specially designed to maximise our chances of locating the regions unique endemic birds. During part of the next 3 weeks, we will cruise our way across some of our planet’s least explored seas and the myriad of jewel-like islands, including Tanahjampea, Kalao, Kalaotoa, Pantar, Alor, Wetar, Leti, Damar, Babar and the Tanimbars that host an amazing number of endemics and many little-known birds. This will be expedition cruising at its very best! Except for a handful of recent observations, very little is known about the avifauna of these rarely visited islands. The main tour, followed by an extension to the seldom explored Kai Islands, bodes well in finding most of the endemics and future endemic species too. We can expect to encounter a wide array of Asia’s least known and most exciting and sought-after species!
The world's sixth largest nation, Indonesia supports around 12% of Earth's tropical forests and a vast storehouse of biological wonders and ethnographic curiosities. Of special interest to us, Indonesia hosts a total of some 1,700 species of birds including around 400 currently recognised endemics (but as many as 600 endemics if taking the new Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago into account!); at least 130 of which are considered globally threatened. The eastern islands are among the least explored of all with many having been visited by less than a handful of western ornithologists and it is these islands and their remarkable birds that will be the focus of our attention.
The extensive Indonesian archipelago that comprises the slightly enigmatic nation of the Republic of Indonesia encompasses some 17,000+ islands that girdle the equator for more than 6,000km. Like a string of emeralds adrift in seas adorned with myriads of turquoise coral reefs and blessed with dazzling beaches and deep, mysterious forests host to untold avian gems. Our journey will take us from Flores all the way across the south-eastern edge of the mighty Banda Sea to the fabulous Tanimbar Islands, still host to vast areas of primordial forest. Cruising east our first island stop will be the little explored and seldom visited Tanahjampea where we seek out Tanahjampea Monarch and Tanahjampea Blue Flycatcher – both only rediscovered in 1993 after their initial collection in 1927! The islands of Kalao and Kalaotoa, largely unbirded since 1895, will definitely excite our spirit of adventure too. Next up is the island of Pantar and very poorly known Alor where several specials await us such as Olive-headed Lorikeet, Timor Stubtail, Alor Myzomela, newly rediscovered Javan Bush Warbler and an undescribed Macropygia which is currently subsumed within the Little Cuckoo-Dove complex. Further genetic studies should give rise to a new species in the future – Eucalyptus Cuckoo-Dove! We then spend a day at sea, which has great potential for large numbers of seabirds and cetaceans before arriving at the large and quite mountainous island of Wetar. Lowly populated and still covered in large areas of lovely forest we will be in seventh heaven uncovering this island’s offerings. Further east we will pop into the island of Leti for one of Wallacea’s least known specialties - Grey (Kisar) Friarbird. Our next island is Damar, home to the endemic and at one stage mythical Damar Flycatcher, which was only rediscovered in 2001 after its initial discovery in the 19th century. Lastly, we will call in at the island of Babar before our final stop at Yamdena on the Tanimbar Islands where we spend the remainder of our time enjoying a further array of endemics.
Just some of the birds we hope to encounter include: Tanimbar Megapode, Bulwer’s Petrel, Wetar Ground Dove, Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Elegant and Timor Imperial Pigeons, Flores Green Pigeon, Tanimbar Corella, Little (Pied) Bronze Cuckoo, Flores Sea Cuckoo-Dove, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Blue-streaked Lory, Iris Lorikeet, Jonquil Parrot, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Tanimbar Boobook, Moluccan Scops Owl, Elegant Pitta, Black-necklaced Honeyeater, Cinnamon-tailed Fantail, Black-bibbed Monarch, Damar and Timor Blue Flycatchers, Wetar Figbird, Wetar Oriole, Timor Stubtail and Slaty-backed, Orange-banded and Fawn-breasted Thrushes. Add to this a wealth of other localised endemics, a rich variety of seabirds, cetaceans, reef fishes and some wonderful butterflies and you have all the ingredients of an extremely exciting and memorable adventure.
Flores Sea, Timor, Tanimbar, Black & ‘Eucalyptus’ Cuckoo-Doves; Black-naped, Wallace’s, Rose-crowned & Banded Fruit Doves; Flores Green Pigeon; Wetar Ground Dove; Pink-headed & Timor Imperial Pigeons; Tenggara (Blyth's) Paradise Flycatcher; Elegant Pitta; Damar, Tanahjampea Blue, Timor Blue, Broad-billed & Mangrove Blue Flycatchers; Tanahjampea & Black-bibbed (Banda Sea) Monarchs; ‘Babar’, Rusty-breasted & Fawn-breasted Whistlers; Arafura Fantail; Rufous-sided Gerygone; Tanimbar Megapode; Orange-footed Scrubfowl; Black-fronted Flowerpecker; Flame-breasted Sunbird; Wallacean Cuckooshrike; Alor & Tanimbar Boobooks; Moluccan (Lesser) Masked Owl; Moluccan Scops Owl; Large-tailed Nightjar; Javan Bush Warbler; Rusty-breasted Cuckoo; Alor, Banda & Crimson-hooded Myzomelas; Chestnut-backed, Orange-sided, Orange-banded & Sunda Thrushes; Red-legged Crake; Flores Hawk-Eagle; Yellow-crested Cockatoo; Tanimbar Corella; Jonquil & Great-billed Parrots; Olive-headed Lorikeet; Black-necklaced Honeyeater; Wetar Figbird; Timor Stubtail; Tricolored Parrotfinch; Sunda Zebra Finch; Five-colored & Black-faced Munias; Grey & Tanimbar Friarbirds; Tanimbar Oriole; Mistletoebird; Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher; Metallic & Violet-hooded Starlings; Streaked, Wedge-tailed & Heinroth’s (rare) Shearwaters; Red-tailed Tropicbird; Tahiti & Bulwer’s Petrels; Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel; Red-footed & Abbott’s Boobys; Great & Christmas Frigatebirds.
Blue, Short-finned Pilot & Sperm Whales; Indo-pacific Bottlenose & Risso’s Dolphins.
primary and secondary moist lowland forest, hill forest, scrub, secondary woodland, islands, coastlines, mangroves, pelagic
hot and humid with tropical showers in the lowlands. Cooler in the mountains, rain and mist possible
Max Group Size
10 with 2 Rockjumper leaders / <9 with 1 Rockjumper leader
Tour Pace & Walking
easy to moderate with some longer walks. Early mornings to maximize the best time of day, but midday breaks back at the boat when it heats up. Otherwise time spent cruising
comfortable ship cabins & lodgings
Ease of Birding
easy to moderate with some tricky species
pristine forests, unspoiled reefs, snorkeling, swimming, visiting remote, little explored islands and seeing their associated local communities
We really enjoyed this tour, it felt like a holiday as well as a bird watching experience. Glen Valentine was an excellent guide, both in terms of bird spotting/knowledge, and also his affability and management of the group, and we will try to travel with him again.
Glen and Paul did a fantastic job on this tour. Glen is an excellent birder, guide and a wonderful personality. This is the second trip I have done with Glen and hope to join many more in the future.
Glen and Keith Valentine worked seamlessly together to make this one of the best Rockjumper trips! The logistics went well, local guides were great, and the boat was quite comfortable and offered good food and variety. Best of all, the birds were plentiful and everyone got lifers galore. The bros Valentine did everything possible to be sure that everyone got onto the birds and they worked tirelessly doing so. I would travel with either or both of them anywhere, thanks guys!
This was an adventure to be sure. The places we traveled were indeed remote and with the exception of larger cities like Ambon & Sorong inhabited by few people. This was my first trip to Indonesia and was an adventure to even get to Ambon. However, the Indonesian people must be the kindest most helpful people in the world. The boat was lovely and this amazing trip had so many interworking pieces -- moving from the Indo Seamore to the shore for the next adventure, disembarking at various kinds of dock, piers, rocks, etc, meeting up with our vehicles for rides up into the hills -- everything worked like clockwork. We saw so many fabulous birds thanks to our super guides, David Hoddinott and Lev Frid. The two guides were so helpful and informative; I would gladly travel with either of them or both in the future. However, I have to say that this trip was just about at the limit of my ability. I would never have seen the birds I did without the help of David & Lev and our various local guides and drivers. I think only Rockjumper could have pulled this tour off.
My thanks to Keith and Glen Valentine for taking so much time in getting me on the birds. They are so patient and really nice.