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Birding in Indonesia: Sulawesi and Halmahera

Itineraries: Brief and Detailed

Trip Description

Brief Itinerary

Lying between Borneo and New Guinea, the province of Sulawesi, the world’s eleventh largest island, and its smaller neighbor Halmahera are among the least-visited parts of the Indonesian archipelago. From high mountains to lush lowland rainforests these islands display rich habitat diversity and are home to more than a hundred restricted-range birds.


We begin in Sulawesi, which has the highest number of endemic birds of any Indonesian island. From Manado in North Sulawesi we travel east to the Tangkoko Nature Reserve where we can expect a good selection of our first endemics in this vast area of coastal and lowland rainforest beneath three mountain peaks: Tangkoko, Dua Saudara and Batuangus. While at Tangkoko we will also explore some outlying areas, visiting a productive roadside viewpoint at Tembuan and taking a boat trip in search of mangrove species. Moving south, we will look for a selection of wetland species in rice fields as we drive on to our next destination, Doloduo. Here, we will visit Tambun, Toraut and the higher elevation roadside forests that surround the pass at Tapak Kolintang. The highlights here will no doubt be the incredible Maleo at Tambun, together with Knobbed Hornbill, Purple-winged Roller, Sulawesi Pitta, Purple-bearded Bee-eater and a selection of endemic night birds. Driving back north, we will explore remnant forest patches across a range of elevations at Mount Mahawu, focusing on Sulawesi specialties.


We then fly to Halmahera, the largest of the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, moving out of the Oriental and into the Australasian faunal region as we cross Weber’s Line. Halmahera is home to twenty-two endemics which we will look for at some great birding sites, including some incredible forest areas at Gunung Uni-Uni and Taman Nasional Aketajawe Lolobata Park. Highlights on the island will include Ivory-breasted Pitta, the rare Moluccan Megapode, which we hope to see emerging onto a sandy beach to lay eggs at night, and the chance to see the extraordinary bird-of-paradise Standardwing in full display.


We fly back to Central Sulawesi via the island of Ternate. Back on Sulawesi, we will explore cloud forests in the higher elevations of Lore Lindu National Park in search of montane Sulawesi endemics. Around the city of Palu, we will scour fishponds and wetlands for Javan Plover before flying to Makassar in South Sulawesi where our final birding takes us to the karst forests of Karaenta.

Day 1: Arrival into Manado Airport and Transfer to Tangkoko Nature Reserve

Days 2 & 3: Two Full Days Birding the Tangkoko Nature Reserve

Day 4: More Birding Tangkoko Area: AM Birding Temboan, and Afternoon Mangrove Boat Ride

Day 5: AM Final Birding Tangkoko; Birding Rice Fields and Ponds at Talawaan and Popontolen and More during Transfer to Doloduo

Day 6: Morning Birding Tambun for stunning Maleo; Afternoon Birding in Toraut; Early Evening Nocturnal Birding

Day 7: AM Birding Tapak Kolintang Forest; Afternoon Transfer to Tomohon 

Day 8: Full Day Birding in Tomohon Area: Road to Mount Mahawu, Low Elevations to Higher Elevations

Day 9: Transfer to Halmahera Island and Start Productive Halmahera Birding to Tobelo; Early Evening Moluccan Scrubfowl and Few Other Nocturnal Species

Day 10: Birding Stops Forest and Beach to Subaim

Day 11: Full Day Birding in Foli Area: AM for Standardwing Bird-of-Paradise and Much More Birding throughout the Day

Days 12 & 13: Two Full Days Birding Gunung Uni-Uni Forest

Day 14: Birding Taman Nasional Aketajawe Lolobata Park; then Birding in Kali Batu Putih, Late Afternoon Finish Drive to Sidangoli

Day 15: Transfer to Sulawesi via Ternate-Makassar-Palu for Final Birding Destination at Lore Lindu National Park

Days 16 & 17: Two Full Days Birding Lore Lindu National Park and Nearby Areas

Day 18: AM Final Birding at Lore Lindu; Late Afternoon Birding Palu for Javan Plover and More

Day 19: AM Flight to Makassar, and Afternoon Birding Makassar Area

Day 20: AM Morning in Karaenta Forest; Afternoon Transfer to Airport

More Details about this Trip:

Detailed Itinerary

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