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.
*2025 Prices & dates are estimated and will change*
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
This is a fantastic tour and it gave us a rare, unique and unforgettable experience. We are in awe of the complex logistics required to make this tour run so smoothly. Everything ran like clockwork. The leaders, Lev and David, the ship’s crew, the local teams of guides and the lovely drivers were amazing. Everyone was so friendly. The efforts that everyone went to to find the special birds of these remote islands were above and beyond! The food was very good throughout, in summary the experience was amazing!
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.
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.
Rich Lindie was super; very funny, witty, with a good sense of humour, easygoing, knowledgeable and intellectual, and flexible. 10 stars out of 10!
Expert guiding by Keith and Glen Valentine, aided by fabulous local talent, ensured we saw the maximum number of endemics and other birds and mammals. Perhaps more importantly, these two brothers enjoyed their time together and provided a warm, friendly and caring environment in which we all had a good time with lots of laughs, and looked out for each other to ensure everyone got on the birds and did not falter on a tough hike or challenging car ride.