I have been on birding trips for many years, but this is the first time with Rockjumper. The trip was easily the best birding trip I have ever been on. In particular, both David and Glen made life so easy and their birding knowledge was remarkable. Other members of the group were very easy to get on with. The birding was quite remarkable and it is difficult to pick out a highlight from the Birds of Paradise, the Chinese Crested Tern or the Madanga. There is no doubt that I will travel with Rockjumper again.
New Guinea is one of the world’s largest tropical islands, surpassed in size only by Greenland, and is blessed with an incredible avifauna, including some of the planet’s most outlandish birds. The Indonesian half of the island, the province of West Papua (Irian Jaya), is a destination few birders have visited, with large expanses of pristine habitat, from towering snow-capped peaks to huge tracts of humid lowland forest. Of particular importance to birders are several distinct mountain ranges, some of them quite isolated. This isolation has led to the evolution of a diverse and unusually interesting avifauna with numerous endemics, a significant number of which being restricted to West Papua and its offshore islands; our pioneering tour is designed to see as many of these restricted-range and endemic species as possible.
The attraction of West Papua for many is the fact that it remains relatively under-developed and primitive, and affords the intrepid birder a glance into cultures from a bygone era, having barely emerged beyond the stone-age! This does mean however that this tour is not for the faint-hearted and we will be camping in rustic conditions in remote areas during much of the tour. This is a small price to pay for the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular and mythical birds on the planet, including Collared Brushturkey (Brown-collared Talegalla), Snow Mountain Quail, Papuan Eagle, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Victoria and Western Crowned Pigeon, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Pesquet’s Parrot, Salvadori’s Fig Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Modest Tiger Parrot, Black Lory, New Guinea Woodcock, Archbold’s Nightjar, Barred and Mountain Owlet-Nightjars, Crested and Tit Berrypeckers, Greater Ground Robin, Smoky and Green-backed Robins, Papuan Logrunner, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Spotted and Blue Jewel-Babbler, Arfak Honeyeater, Belford’s, Short-bearded and Vogelkop Melidectes, Lorentz’s Whistler, Pale-billed, Black-billed, Black and Brown Sicklebills, King-of-Saxony, Red, Wilson’s, Magnificent and Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, Loria’s and Crested Satinbirds, Splendid and Arfak Astrapias, Western Parotia, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Vogelkop and MacGregor’s Bowerbirds and Western Alpine Mannikin (Snow Mountain Munia) to name but a few!
To see this suite of incredible birds you will journey with us to the spectacular Arfak Mountains; the northern lowlands bordering the Cyclops Mountains, the mysterious Snow Mountains including the upper Ibele Valley and finally the island of Biak, brimming with endemics. For those dedicated birders with a sense of adventure and a desire to see birds that few birders have ever seen, this remains one of the most incredible destinations on the planet. This strange land, is sure to expose you to the avian wonders of remote West Papua, and we greatly look forward to having you aboard what is sure to be an incredible adventure!
Collared Brushturkey (Brown-collared Talegalla), Snow Mountain Quail, Papuan Eagle, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Victoria & Western Crowned Pigeons, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Pesquet’s Parrot, Salvadori’s Fig Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Modest Tiger Parrot, Black Lory, New Guinea Woodcock, Archbold’s Nightjar, Barred & Mountain Owlet-Nightjars, Crested and Tit Berrypeckers, Greater Ground Robin, Smoky and Green-backed Robins, Papuan Logrunner, Vogelkop Scrubwren, Spotted & Blue Jewel-Babblers, Arfak Honeyeater, Belford’s, Short-bearded & Vogelkop Melidectes, Lorentz’s Whistler, Pale-billed, Black-billed, Black & Brown Sicklebills, King-of-Saxony, Red, Wilson’s, Magnificent & Twelve-wired Bird-of-paradise, Loria’s & Crested Satinbirds, Splendid & Arfak Astrapias, Western Parotia, Long-tailed Paradigalla, Vogelkop & MacGregor’s Bowerbirds, Western Alpine Mannikin (Snow Mountain Munia)
lowland and montane rainforest, savanna, grasslands, wetlands
weather is unpredictable and somewhat dependent on local topography. While mostly dry and sunny, it can be rather hot and humid in the lowlands. At higher elevations, temperatures are pleasant during the day, but can get very cool at night.
This tour is designed to be an intensive, fast paced birding experience. At times we will experience physical difficulty when walking up very steep, slippery trails or on bumpy drives over poor road conditions. This tour is not suitable for people with physical or medical limitations; nor is this tour suitable for the casual birder.
Day 1: Arrival in Biak Island
We expect to arrive in the early hours of the morning on Biak and will then transfer through to our jungle camp. Initial forays into the surrounding forest clearings could elicit Gurney’s Eagle, Variable Goshawk, Sultan’s and Great Cuckoo-Dove, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Moustached Treeswift, Biak Lorikeet, Eclectus Parrot and Emperor Fairywren.
Days 2 & 3: Biak Island
We will spend two full days of our Indonesia birding tour in this area birding a mixture of secondary growth and tall primary forest where a number of interesting species are found. Red-fronted Lorikeet, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Emperor Fairywren, Dusky Myzomela, Biak and Shining Flycatcher, Biak White-eye, Biak Paradise Kingfisher and Hooded Pitta are all possible while more challenging species, that will require luck and patience to see, include Biak Megapode, Biak Coucal, Geelvink Pygmy Parrot, Biak Gerygone and Biak Monarch. During the hottest part of the day we will spend our time along a nearby creek where we have a chance to see the world’s largest pigeon, the glorious Victoria Crowned Pigeon! In the evenings, after dinner, there will be optional nocturnal forays, which could produce the rarely seen Biak Scops Owl as well as Papuan Frogmouth and Large-tailed Nightjar.
Day 4: Biak Island to Wamena via Jayapura
After our early arrival at Sentani Airport in Jayapura, we will bird the grasslands and patchy secondary forest hemming Lake Sentani where we hope to find two localized grassland species, Great-billed and Hooded Mannikin. After an early lunch we shall take the one-hour flight to Wamena, the principal town in the 80 km-long Grand Balim Valley. If the weather is good, the flight itself offers spectacular views of a vast expanse of lowland forest with its numerous meandering rivers, the precipitous northern scarp of the Snow Mountains and the beautifully landscaped Grand Balim upland valley. We will spend the afternoon birding the Balim Valley primarily in search of another localized finch, the endemic Black-breasted Mannikin. Other birds we hope to find in the open country here include Blue-breasted Quail, Brahminy Kite, Brown Falcon, White-shouldered Fairywren, Pied Bushchat, Golden-headed Cisticola, Capped White-eye, Tawny Grassbird and Red-capped Flowerpecker.
Day 5: Wamena to Lake Habbema
After breakfast we will journey to Lake Habbema passing the tree line to reach the alpine plateau where the lake is situated. The scenery here, at 3,200m elevation, is spectacular with the third highest mountain in Indonesia, Mt Wilhelmina, towering above us. Here we shall start our exploration of the Snow Mountains with a gentle walk through the alpine meadows as we slowly adjust to the altitude. One of our primary target species is the secretive Snow Mountain Quail, a species that freezes when approached and relies on its amazing camouflage to remain undetected. The grasslands and scattered scrubs of course supports many other interesting species, and we hope to see such species as Alpine Pipit, Western Alpine (Snow Mountain) Mannikin, Orange-billed Lorikeet, Papuan Harrier, Short-bearded Melidectes and Papuan Grassbird. In the late afternoon we will search the lake for the endemic Salvadori’s Teal and other waterbirds such as Grey Teal, Black Duck and the migratory Hardhead while Spotless Crake is common along the marshy lake shore. After dinner a nocturnal foray could produce Eastern Grass Owl and, with luck, roding New Guinea Woodcock. If the sky is clear, we can expect breathtaking views of the night sky from our camp.
Days 6 & 7: Lake Habbema & the Upper Ibele Valley (Snow Mountains)
After a pre-dawn breakfast this morning on our bird holiday, we shall focus our birding efforts on the heathlands of the Habbema plateau. Here, amongst the stands of Libocedrus pines and associated shrubberies, we will search for the famous MacGregor’s Honeyeater, a spectacular species that is only found in West Papua. Looking for this species, in such wonderful scenery, is a truly unforgettable experience! Other noteworthy species in this area include Whiskered and Orange-billed Lorikeet, Brehm’s and Painted Tiger Parrot, Black-throated, Orange-cheeked, Black-backed and Smoky Honeyeater, Mountain Mouse-Warbler, Large Scrubwren, Papuan Thornbill, Garnet and Alpine Robin, Lorentz’s Whistler, Great Woodswallow and Mountain Firetail. After lunch we’ll have the entire afternoon to bird through grasslands and shrubbery toward a camp near the 3,225m pass into the Ibele Valley. After dinner a nocturnal foray could produce Archbold’s Owlet-Nightjar, Archbold’s Nightjar as well as New Guinea Woodcock.
We will spend a day exploring the extensive cloud forest of the upper Ibele Valley for the wonderful selection of high-altitude avian delights found here. Such specials include Splendid Astrapia, Brown Sicklebill, King-of-Saxony Bird-of-paradise, Loria’s and Crested Satinbird, Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, Papuan and Yellow-billed Lorikeet, Brehm’s and Modest Tiger Parrot, Black-billed and Great Cuckoo-Dove, White-bibbed Fruit Dove, Shining Imperial Pigeon, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Chestnut Forest Rail, Black-mantled Goshawk, Papuan Treecreeper, Orange-crowned Fairywren, Red-collared Myzomela, Olive-streaked and Black-backed Honeyeater, Belford’s Melidectes, Smoky Honeyeater, Papuan Scrubwren, Mountain Gerygone, Greater and Lesser Ground Robin, Canary Flyrobin, Garnet and Black-throated Robin, Blue-capped Ifrit, Varied and Black Sittella, Lesser Melampitta, Rufous-naped and Regent Whistler, Great Woodswallow, Mountain Peltops, Hooded Cuckooshrike, Dimorphic Fantail, Wattled Ploughbill, Black-breasted Boatbill, Fan-tailed, Tit and Crested Berrypecker and Mountain Firetail.
Day 8: Lake Habbema to Wamena
We shall further spend time in the mossy forest on the other side of the pass primarily in search of the shy and retiring Archbold’s Bowerbird and the skulking White-winged and Alpine Robin, Lorentz’s Whistler, while Torrent-lark is regular along the stream below the pass. In the late afternoon, we will drive back to Wamena for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Day 9: Wamena to Nimbokrang via Sentani
Once our flight from Wamena arrives in Sentani, we will transfer to 4WD-vehicles and make our way to an area west of the Cyclops Mountains. After lunch here, we shall use the remainder of the afternoon to slowly bird toward our secluded jungle camp situated in pristine alluvial primary forest. On the walk we hope to see the majestic Palm and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, noisy Blyth’s Hornbill, Brown, Dusky and Black-capped Lory and Rainbow Lorikeet. The walk will also give us an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with some of the commoner or more conspicuous forest interior birds such as Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Great Cuckoo-Dove, Stephan’s Dove, Wompoo, Superb, Coroneted, Beautiful and Orange-bellied Fruit Dove, Purple-tailed, Pinon and Banded Imperial Pigeon, Mimic and Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, New Guinea Friarbird, Fairy and Yellow-bellied Gerygone, Rufous Babbler, Little Shrikethrush, Variable and Rusty Pitohui, Grey Crow, Glossy-mantled Manucode, Hooded and Black Butcherbird, Brown Oriole, Northern Fantail, Spangled Drongo, Spot-winged, Golden and Rufous-collared Monarch, Yellow-faced Myna, Red-capped Flowerpecker, Black Berrypecker as well as Green-crowned, Plumed and Pygmy Longbill. After dinner at camp, a nocturnal walk in the vicinity could produce Barred Owlet-Nightjar, Marbled Frogmouth and the little-known Papuan Nightjar.
Days 10 to 12: Nimbokrang (Cyclops Mountains)
This morning on our Indonesia birding tour, we enjoy breakfast as the dawn chorus unfolds. The camp is situated close to known display sites of various birds-of-paradise and we hope to see Twelve-wired, Lesser and King Bird-of-paradise, and the more mobile Pale-billed Sicklebill. While sitting quietly in the forest, admiring the full displays of these incredible birds, we also stand an excellent chance of seeing some of the many terrestrial species that grace this area, such as Northern Cassowary, New Guinea Megapode, New Guinea Bronzewing, Cinnamon Ground Dove, Thick-billed Ground Pigeon and Hooded and Papuan Pitta.
After lunch, we shall bird in the vicinity of camp in search of these ground-dwelling species and other less common species such as like Azure, Variable, Blue-black and Hook-billed Kingfisher, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Ivory-billed Coucal, Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot, Double-eyed and Salvadori’s Fig Parrot, Pink-spotted and Orange-fronted Fruit Dove, Collared Imperial Pigeon, Long-tailed Buzzard, White-eared Catbird, Yellow-gaped, Plain and Streak-headed Honeyeater, Meyer’s Friarbird, Rusty Mouse-Warbler, Large-billed Gerygone, Black-sided Robin, Blue Jewel-babbler, Brown-headed Crow, Jobi Manucode, Lowland Peltops, Boyer’s, New Guinea and Golden Cuckooshrike, Sooty and White-bellied Thicket Fantail, Rufous-backed Fantail, Hooded Monarch, Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Golden Myna. In the evening we could return to the Lesser Bird-of-paradise display tree for another observation session, or we could bird along one of the broader rivers which could produce Papuan Swiftlet among abundant Glossy and Uniform Swiftlet, as well as Papuan Spinetail and Moustached Treeswift. After dinner we have the chance of another nocturnal excursion.
We will begin the morning once again looking for birds-of-paradise, and will visit the display site of Magnificent Bird-of-paradise in slightly more undulating terrain. Here too we also stand a chance to see the Magnificent Riflebird. Other goodies that occur here include the rare Shovel-billed Kookaburra, highly sought-after Pesquet’s (Vulturine) Parrot, Papuan King Parrot, and Papuan Eagle. If the frustratingly shy Collared Brushturkey has eluded us so far, we may have an option to wait in a hide near a nest mound of this species and also to spend some time near fruiting trees in the hope of obtaining good views of Northern Cassowary. We can also work stretches of small forest streams for the rare Forest Bittern, or just sit quietly at the edge of sago-swamp where the much sought-after New Guinea Flightless Rail is known to occur.
Day 13: Nimbokrang to Sentani
After a final morning’s birding and lunch at camp we shall slowly bird back to our vehicles and transfer to Sentani.
Day 14: Sentani to Arfak Mountains via Manokwari
We shall take the earliest flight to Manokwari before setting out early for the two-hour drive to Siyoubrig in the Arfak Mountains. Here we will spend the late morning looking for some of the more conspicuous species of the garden clearings and secondary forests, including Fan-tailed Cuckoo, White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Slender-billed and Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove, Red-collared Myzomela, Rufous-sided and Western Smoky Honeyeater, Brown-breasted Gerygone, Sclater’s Whistler, Black Fantail, Capped White-eye and Olive-crowned Flowerpecker. After lunch we shall search forest in the vicinity for Vogelkop Melidectes, Green-backed Robin, Spotted Catbird, Superb Bird-of-Paradise, Western Parotia and Long-tailed Paradigalla, while a nocturnal excursion could produce Sooty Owl, Jungle Hawk-Owl, Large and Mountain Owlet-Nightjar, Papuan Frogmouth and Large-tailed Nightjar.
Days 15 to 18: Arfak Mountains
This morning on our Indonesia bird holiday, we will bird the garden edge and nearby secondary forest that are inhabited by such species as Long-billed, Marbled, Rufous-sided and Western Smoky Honeyeater, Perplexing, Vogelkop and Pale-billed Scrubwren, Blue-grey Robin, Mountain Peltops, Black-shouldered Cicadabird, Black Monarch, Black-breasted Boatbill and Island Leaf Warbler. Several display courts of the Magnificent Bird-of- Paradise are located nearby and we have the option of watching these from a hide in the hope of witnessing this beautiful species’ full array of display postures. After lunch we shall slowly ascend to 1,815m where we will camp at the edge of primary forest. As we gradually shift to higher ground and enter primary forest we will encounter birds like Vogelkop Bowerbird, Mountain Gerygone, Canary Flyrobin, Spotted Jewel-babbler, Rufous-naped Whistler, Black Pitohui and Dimorphic Fantail. From our camp we will visit nearby display courts of the endemic Western Parotia and watch these from comfortable hides. The weird dance of the male has to be witnessed to be believed, and invariably ranks as a highlight of any birding trip to the Arfaks. Having fully absorbed this, we shall spend the late afternoon birding around the garden clearing near camp where we may be rewarded with sightings of White-eared Bronze Cuckoo, Pygmy Lorikeet, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Blue-collared Parrot, Long-tailed Buzzard, Vogelkop Melidectes, Mountain Peltops, and the restricted-range Long-tailed Paradigalla. After dinner we could attempt some night birding in the vicinity of the camp, where Feline and Mountain Owlet-Nightjar occur, and there is always a good chance of roding New Guinea Woodcock here.
We will bird the first hour of light around the garden clearing near camp where we hope to attract Long-tailed Paradigalla if we have not managed to connect with it thus far. We shall then spend some time again in the vicinity of the parotia display courts as they also attract otherwise highly retiring species such as Wattled Brushturkey and Bronze Ground Dove; these occasionally walk across the display courts in search of the undigested fruit items found in parotia faeces. We will bird the primary forests the rest of the morning in search of birds we still need, including such specials as Vogelkop Bowerbird and Spotted Jewel-babbler. After lunch we will slowly ascend to a camp at 2,130m elevation, birding en route. Along the way we may spot Rufous-throated Bronze Cuckoo, Papuan Lorikeet, Red-breasted Pygmy Parrot, Pesquet’s Parrot, Papuan Mountain Pigeon, Varied Sittella, Regent Whistler, Black Pitohui, Black Sicklebill and Black-bellied Cuckooshrike. If the weather is dry, we should be able to watch the evening display of the impressive male Black Sicklebill near our camp.
New Guinea Woodcock, Sooty Owl, Jungle Hawk-Owl, and Feline and Mountain Owlet-Nightjar all occur near camp, and we may look for these pre-dawn if we still need any of these species. We’ll enjoy our breakfast at camp whilst listening to a dawn chorus. Wattled Brushturkey, which reaches the upper limit of its altitudinal distribution here, may deliver its striking display call from an incubation mound near camp. We shall then bird all morning along a loop descending to 1,920 m elevation, primarily in search of the elusive Arfak Astrapia and Black-billed Sicklebill, while also seeking good views of skulkers such as Chestnut Forest Rail, Lesser Ground Robin, Smoky and Ashy Robin and Spotted Jewel-babbler. In good weather, New Guinea Eagle may be heard calling persistently and can sometimes be tracked down with moderate effort. After lunch at camp we could try other known haunts of the Arfak Astrapia higher up the mountain in the afternoon. Other goodies that occur here include Black-mantled Goshawk, Orange-crowned Fairywren, Olive Straightbill, Cinnamon-browed Melidectes, Black-throated Robin, Mottled Whistler, Black Pitohui, Tit Berrypecker and Vogelkop Bowerbird. At dusk we can try for New Guinea Woodcock in a tree-fall gap followed by dinner and optional nocturnal walk.
Our last day will be spent searching for any species that still be outstanding such as New Guinea Eagle, Black-billed Sicklebill and Arfak Astrapia. After lunch at camp we shall bird towards a new camp at 1,900 m, located near two forest clearings in primary ridgetop forest. Along the way here, we’ll look primarily for the beautiful Papuan Logrunner. Dusk shall see us gathered at the edge of one of the clearings in the hope of seeing the little-known Archbold’s Nightjar hawking low over the heathy vegetation.
Day 19: Arfak Mountains to Manokwari
We will have one last chance to try for Archbold’s Nightjar prior to breakfast and then for the remainder of the morning we shall bird around the clearings enjoying species like Modest and Brehm’s Tiger Parrot, Blue-collared Parrot, Mountain Swiftlet, Black-throated Honeyeater, Vogelkop Melidectes and Great Wood-swallow. We’ll then have most of the morning to slowly bird down through pristine forests to the Mokwam road at 1,600m elevation. From here we will return to Manokwari for the evening and enjoy a celebratory dinner.
Day 20: Manokwari and depart
This morning we head to Manokwari for a flight to Sorong where the tour will conclude.
What our clients say about tours to Indonesia
- NH, Indonesia – West Papua Cruise 2016
David was notable in his high level of enthusiasm, how careful he is with identifications and how quick he is at spotting things. Our group was quite mixed in age and skills, and David was patient with members whose eyesight was not so good, and quick to get a spotting scope onto even difficult forest birds. I’d happily travel elsewhere with him and is every bit of what I could hope for in a guide. The overall group felt well run and there was always a plan B if one was needed. David’s knowledge and sense of humor also made him fun to travel with.MH, Lesser Sundas
As expected, I had a fabulous time on the Sulawesi and Halmahera trip. It was everything I wanted – amazing birds, fantastic guide, great tour participants, highly organised logistics and wonderful forests. I particularly appreciated that for one morning the group was split into two so some participants had the chance to head part-way back up the Anaso track while the others birded less strenuous areas.SL, Sulawesi & Halmahera 2017
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.MM, Remote Indonesian Islands Cruise 2017
David Ertrius is above all patient, with the birds, with the participants and the local guides. He very modestly shares his incredible knowledge of the birds.LG, Sulawessi & Halmehera
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!RB, Remote West Papuan Islands 2017
David Erterius is an excellent birder and a great tour leader. Unfailing enthusiasm while birding, and a great manner during non-birding time. The combination of the birders and the guides made this probably the most enjoyable trip I have been on.BB, Sulawessi & Halmahera
The ultimate birding trip: stunning destinations, endemics galore, cruising through the Raja Ampats and Maluku on a lovely wooden boat with wonderful crew and great food, gorgeous sunsets, awesome snorkelling and two of the best Rockjumper guides – Keith and Glen Valentine. And to top it off, Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise!!!!!!!!!SL, Remote Indonesian Islands Cruise 2017
David Erterius was a really fantastic guide, like all the Rockjumper guides have been. He certainly maintained the high bar set by all my Rockjumper guides. He was organised and friendly and was onto birds in near-mythical speed. I didn’t have any problems on the tour, but if I did, I would be confident that he would be able to assist.SL, Sulawesi & Halmahera 2017