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.
Our Indonesia birding tours take us to this remarkable chain of 17,508 islands, boasting over 1,600 bird species and nearly 400 Indonesian endemics (more than any other nation in the world) – an area that cannot be ignored by the international birder! Rockjumper is, therefore, proud to be offering the opportunity to explore this mind-bogglingly biodiverse region, with a suite of birding and wildlife tours to some of the most endemic-rich Indonesian islands.
Nestled in the tropical waters of Wallacea, the remarkable islands of Sulawesi and Halmahera are seldom-visited parts of the Indonesian archipelago. Our Sulawesi & Halmahera Highlights tour takes in both these strangely shaped islands lying just to the east of Borneo, yet their Australasian-influenced fauna could not contrast more sharply with Borneo’s. Our carefully-crafted tour will provide the intrepid birder with a mouth-watering array of exceptional endemics. The most extraordinary of these must surely be the outrageous Standardwing, an otherworldly bird-of-paradise observed at a noisy display lek. The luxuriant rainforests are also home to a wonderful assortment of parrots, fruit doves and endemic kingfishers, while other targets include Hylocitrea (previously known as Olive-flanked Whistler but now placed in its own family), the stellar Ivory-breasted Pitta, strange Maleo, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Knobbed Hornbill and Purple-winged Roller. Unique mammals also abound, including the cute Spectral Tarsier and aberrant Sulawesi Crested Macaque. This tour offers some of the finest endemic island birding in the world!
The Lesser Sundas, a diverse and rugged chain of islands stretching across the Java Sea between Bali and New Guinea support over 80 endemics. Our tour to the Lesser Sundas visits four of these islands (Sumba, Timor, Flores and Komodo) and targets over 60 of these localised and highly sought-after birds. Starting and ending in Bali, we explore montane rainforests, lowland monsoon forests and dry scrub. Key targets include Sumba Hornbill, the beautiful Red-naped Fruit Dove, Black-banded Flycatcher, Orange-sided Thrush, Timor Sparrow, the difficult Flores Scops Owl, Elegant Pitta, unusual Bare-throated Whistler, stunning Glittering Kingfisher, Yellow-crested Cockatoo and the truly impressive 10ft Komodo Dragon!
Our Bali extension takes us to the magical island of Bali, part of the chain of tropical islands in the Indonesian archipelago. Although most famous as a beach tourism Mecca, Bali also has a lot to offer the birder and naturalist. Situated at the eastern end of the Greater Sundas, our tour provides superb Indonesia birding. The island’s most iconic bird, the beautiful and very rare Bali Starling, will be top of the hit list. We will stay at a lodge situated near the world-renowned Bali Barat National Park. Here we will search for some of the last wild Bali Starlings in existence and we will also be treated to numerous other avian treasures, many of which are only shared with neighboring Java. These include the endangered Black-winged Starling, Beach Stone-curlew, the dazzling Cerulean Kingfisher, Green Junglefowl, Javan Plover, Javan Sparrow and the spectacular Javan Banded Pitta! Our trip also ventures into the highlands where specialties include Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Whistling and Sunda Thrushes, Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot, the delightful Sunda Warbler, Blood-breasted Flowerpecker and Grey-throated Ibon. The Bali countryside is eye-catching and we will additionally find ourselves enjoying such wonderful and range-restricted species as White-capped and Javan Munias, the stunning Javan Kingfisher and Cinnamon Bittern while gazing across emerald-green rice paddies, uniquely punctuated with Hindu temples.
Our Western Highlights: Greater Sundas and Dragons tour delves begins on the island of Flores in the Lesser Sundas. Here we search for an array of ornate species such as Glittering Kingfisher, sensational Elegant Pitta, Wallace’s Hanging Parrot, Leaf Lorikeet and the bizarre Bare-throated Whistler before embarking on one of the undoubted highlights of the trip to Komodo Island. Here, 10ft long Komodo Dragons roam this almost prehistoric paradise alongside Green Junglefowl and the beautiful, critically endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo. A short flight takes us to the island of Bali, most famous as a beach tourism Mecca. Situated at the eastern end of the Greater Sundas, we shall base ourselves near the famous Bali Barat National Park. Top of our priority list are the few remaining truly wild Bali Starlings, with a supporting cast of Black-winged Starling, Cerulean Kingfisher and Javan Banded Pitta! Departing Bali, we head to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, to explore the Javan hot spots of Cibodas and Gunung Gede National Park. These fabulous montane birding spots host all the possible Javan endemics, and we shall bird diligently for such highlights as Javan Trogon, Javan Kingfisher, Flame-fronted Barbet, Pygmy Tit, Orange-spotted Bulbul, Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Tesia and Yellow-throated Hanging Parrots. We depart Java on a short flight to southern Sumatra and head to Way Kambas National Park. Producing arguably the best nocturnal birding in the whole of South-East Asia, Way Kambas gives us excellent opportunities for such tantalizing species as the bizarre Oriental Bay Owl, Sunda and Reddish Scops Owls and Buffy Fish Owl as well as Gould’s, Sunda, Blyth’s and the rare Large Frogmouth. Not that we will bird at night only, for the forests here hold many delights including the marvelous Hooded and Malayan Banded Pittas, the strange mesite-like Rail-babbler, placed in its own monotypic family, Crested Fireback, Banded and Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers, White-crowned Forktail and Rufous-tailed Shama!
As a result of the remarkable biogeography of the region, our Eastern Highlights: Sulawesi, the Moluccas & Papua tour provides very little overlap in bird species with our Western Highlights: Greater Sundas and Dragons tour, with a phenomenal number of special and endemic birds. We begin by exploring the prime highland site of Lore Lindu National Park on the island of Sulawesi. Boasting over 70 endemic species, the exceptional range of highly desirable birds we will seek include the endemic Hylocitrea, now placed in its own monotypic family, the indescribable Purple-bearded Bee-eater, bizarre Geomalia, Fiery-browed Starling, Green-backed Kingfisher (one of many endemic kingfishers), Purple-winged Roller, Satanic Nightjar and the impressive Knobbed Hornbill. We then wing our way to the nearby island of Halmahera, where we visit a lekking site for the highly sought-after Standardwing, surely one of the most bizarre birds-of-paradise! Here we also seek a mindboggling number of Mollucan endemics including the spectacular Ivory-breasted Pitta and Moluccan Owlet-nightjar. Moving further eastwards we again enter a completely new biological zone as we arrive in Sorong, on the extreme western tip of New Guinea. Here we bird the famous Vogelkop, a veritable feast of incredible highlights may include up to seven birds-of-paradise including Magnificent, King, Lesser and Twelve-wired as well as numerous pigeons (Wompoo, Superb and Pink-spotted Fruit Doves to name a few), parrots (including the localized Black Lory) and kingfishers (Red-breasted Paradise being one of the prime targets.) We conclude our tour on the Raja Ampat Island of Waigeo, famed for the best snorkeling in the world! Here our targets in this tropical island paradise include Red Bird-of-paradise, the incredible Western Crowned Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Lowland Peltops and much besides. And as a way of celebrating the finale of this remarkable tour we will visit the display ground of quite possibly the most beautiful bird on Earth – Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise!
Over the next few years on Indonesia birding tours, we plan to offer a succession of cruises coupled with short land-based ventures to some of the most exciting and least-known islands on our planet.
Our cruises will follow in the footsteps of Alfred Russell Wallace and some of the world’s most famous naturalists as we will encounter a plethora of Indonesia’s remarkable avian endemics.
Our new Remote West Papuan Islands birding cruise to the Raja Ampat Islands (Four Kings: Waigeu, Batanta, Salawati and Misool), plus the very rarely explored island of Kofiau, will seek out some of our planet’s rarest and least-known species. These include such extraordinary gems as Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise (regarded by many as the most spectacular bird on earth!), Red Bird-of-paradise, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher and Kofiau Monarch. Thereafter we cross Weber’s Line and head into the south Moluccas. Here we explore little-birded waters in addition to visiting several endemic-rich islands including Obi, Seram and Boano, ending in Ambon for many incredibly exciting endemics such as Carunculated Fruit Dove, Obi Woodcock, Lazuli Kingfisher, Seram Cockatoo, Boano Monarch and Long-crested Myna to mention but a handful.
Our Buru Extension explores a beautifully forested island hosting around 20 avian endemics including Buru Green Pigeon, Spectacled Imperial Pigeon, superb Buru Racket-tail, Buru Boobook, Black-tipped Monarch and Tawny-backed Fantail among many others, and if we are very lucky we may even find Moluccan Masked Owl or the reputedly nocturnal Black-lored Parrot!
Eastern Indonesia is so littered with little-known, virtually unexplored islands that we will have a surfeit of opportunities to check out places where no birder has been before and undoubtedly make some exciting discoveries along the way. Rockjumper’s unique take in the Banda Sea on our Far East Cruise kicks off in the Kai islands from where we explore some of the least-birded waters and islands on Earth. Taking in Great and Little Kai, endemic-rich Tanimbar Islands, Pulau Bandar, Damar (one of THE most exciting islands of the trip), arid Pulau Leti and fascinating but little-known Wetar. Numerous island endemics and sought-after pelagic species can be expected as well as rare cetaceans. A selection of our many targets include Heinroth’s Shearwater, Tanimbar Scrubfowl, Elegant and Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon, the exquisite Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Wetar Ground Dove, elusive Fawn-breasted Thrush, Great and Little Kai White-eye, Damar Flycatcher and the enigmatic Kisar Friarbird.
Our West Papua and Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise extension visits the Indonesian half of New Guinea (Irian Jaya), 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. 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.
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!
Our Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise extension explore a completely different biological zone. We spend most of our tour on the Raja Ampat Island of Waigeo, famed for the best snorkelling in the world! Here our primary target of this tropical island paradise include perhaps the most attractive bird on the planet, Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise, as well as Red Bird-of-paradise, the incredible Western Crowned Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Lowland Peltops and much besides. We also spend a day on the extreme western tip of New Guinea. Here we bird the famous Vogelkop, a veritable feast of incredible highlights may include up to seven birds-of-paradise including Magnificent, King, Lesser and Twelve-wired as well as numerous pigeons such as Wompoo, Superb and Pink-spotted Fruit Doves to name a few, the localized Black Lory and Moluccan King Parrot as well as the endemic Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher.
We start our Sumatra & Java tour on the island of Java, one of the most densely populated places on our planet. This is a land of great beauty, dominated by towering volcanos whose forests support important watersheds for the fertile rice fields, which cover almost every square inch of the lowlands. Nevertheless, Java still supports some wonderful forests and we will explore the best of these. From our hotel we will make a short excursion to a tiny swamp on the very edge of the teeming metropolis of Jakarta for Sunda Coucal and Cerulean Kingfisher. Next we take in the famous Gunung Gede – Pangrang National Park, better known to birders as Cibodas. Here we will wander enchanting pathways and trails through some of Java’s least disturbed montane forests in our search for a long, long list of endemics and specialties such Javan Fulvetta endemic Spotted Crocias – a fantastic vocalist, Sunda Warbler, Indigo Flycatcher, endemic Mees’s White-eye and the exquisite endemic White-flanked (or Kuhl’s) Sunbird. A short hop from Jakarta takes us to the island of Sumatra, a vast, wild island that is surprisingly poorly explored and yet supports a fabulous range of habitats. We will range from the bird and mammal rich lowlands of Way Kambas National Park to the volcanic slopes of Gunung (Mt) Kerinci, Sumatra’s highest mountain. The lowland forests harbour a mouth-watering list of species including several very little known and/or endangered species such as the globally endangered White-winged Duck and Crested Fireback – quite common here. Way Kambas is arguably THE best place in all of SE Asia to seek out nocturnal birds and mammals; and we hope to find Large, Gould’s and Sunda Frogmouths, Malaysian Eared and Bonaparte’s Nightjars, (the latter is currently only known from this site) in addition to a remarkable suite of owls. From Way Kambas we will make our way to the enormous Kerinci National Park, which occupies a vast chunk of Sumatra’s Barisan Ranges. We will bird the slopes of Gunung Kerinci in the midst of some of THE most exquisite forests on our planet. To be sure, the birding is not easy, however, the rewards are fabulous and include such rare endemics as Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Red-billed Partridge, the incomparable Schneider’s Pitta, Sumatran Trogon, Brown-winged and Shiny Whistling Thrush, and if we are incredibly fortunate, Sumatran Cochoa. All of the locations we visit in Sumatra afford superb opportunities to see some very special mammals and reptiles including Tiger, Sunda Clouded Leopard, Leopard Cat, Sun Bear, Asian Elephant, Siamang and a host of other wonderful primates.