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SUMATRA & JAVA

Birdquest's Sumatra & Java, Indonesia birding tour explores these huge but fascinating islands that are visited by few birdwatchers yet have very high numbers of endemic birds and restricted-range Sundaic birds. Our Sumatra & Java tour offers very comprehensive coverage, with more time than other tours in the key areas. It is not surprising that this extra time yields results, for some of the best of Sumatra's and Java’s special birds are very hard to find. These include mouth-watering species such as Salvadori’s Pheasant, Javan Cochoa, Sumatran Trogon, Schneider’s, Graceful and Javan Banded Pitta, Sumatran Wren-Babbler, Sunda Blue Robin, Temminck’s Sunbird, Red-bearded Bee-eater and Rufous-collared Kingfishers  as well as a surprising number of nocturnal species, including Salvadori’s Nightjar and four species of frogmouth.

Sunday 8th July — Sunday 22nd July 2018
(15 days)


Java Extension: Sunday 22nd July — Tuesday 31st July (10 days)

Leader: János Oláh

Group Size Limit: 7

Tour Category: Easy to fairly demanding walking and mostly comfortable accommodations

White-winged Duck is one of a number of lowland specialities that may be found on this tour. For a selection of other photos from this excellent destination, have a look at the tour reports (Pete Morris)

White-winged Duck is one of a number of lowland specialities that may be found on this tour. For a selection of other photos from this excellent destination, have a look at the tour reports (Pete Morris)

Lying at the northwestern end of the Indonesian archipelago, the fascinating and little explored island of Sumatra is the second largest of the Greater Sundas – one of the biologically richest areas on Earth. Stretching nearly 2,000 km from end to end, it is one of the world’s largest islands. Less populated than adjacent Java, Sumatra has an extraordinary wealth of natural resources which today form an integral part of the Indonesian economy. Its remote jungles, forested volcanoes and fascinating variety of peoples and cultures make any visit to this mystical island an unforgettable experience.

Sumatra boasts nearly 400 resident species, many of which are shared with the Malay Peninsula and the other Greater Sundas. Of primary interest, however, are the 29 or so (depending on which taxonomic authorities you believe) strict endemics, although some of these are known from just a handful of specimens or are from small offshore islands, and the several Sundaic endemics that are shared only with Borneo or Java.

Although this is primarily a tour for those who want to see the exciting endemics of this important island, our exploration of Sumatra will also give us the opportunity to see a wide variety of Indo-Malayan species, from the broadbills, trogons and hornbills of the lowland rainforest to the many montane species that inhabit the highland forests. Fortunately, Sumatra is endowed with some excellent national parks, and we will be concentrating on two of these; Way Kambas, a lowland rainforest in the south, and Gunung Kerinci, a forested volcano (still active!) in the centre of the island.

Our starting point will be the city of Padang on the western coast of Sumatra. From Padang we will make our way to Gunung Kerinci which, at 3805m, is the highest peak in Sumatra. This remote area has recently hit the headlines with detailed reports of a new terrestrial ape, as yet unknown to science. Here we will explore mist-clad montane forest as well as nearby submontane forest and waterfalls. During our visit to Gunung Kerinci we have a good chance of finding many of Sumatra’s endemic species including Pale-headed (or Sumatran) Frogmouth, Cream-striped and Spot-necked Bulbuls, Sumatran Drongo, Sumatran Treepie, Rusty-breasted and Sumatran Wren-Babblers, and Shiny and Sumatran Whistling Thrushes. We will also hope to find some Sundaic endemics including many of the following: Sumatran Green Pigeon, Pink-headed Fruit Dove, Sumatran Trogon, Sunda Cuckoo-Shrike, Sunda Minivet, Sunda Bulbul, Sunda Laughingthrush, Sunda Blue Robin, Lesser Forktail, Sunda Warbler, Indigo Flycatcher and Black-capped White-eye. We will also have a good chance of finding some of Sumatra’s rarest birds which include Salvadori’s Pheasant, Schneider’s and Graceful Pittas, and Sumatran Cochoa, though, as with many of these spectacular families, the dense forest makes them very difficult to find!

The second part of our Sumatran journey features the Way Kambas reserve, in the south of the island. Way Kambas is perhaps best known ornithologically for its population of the endangered White-winged Duck, which we have a good chance of seeing. In addition, many lowland specialities occur here: storks, occasionally including the rare Storm’s Stork, frequently fly over the river and the dense forests hold a whole host of species ranging from the spectacular Green Broadbill and Malayan Banded Pitta to rare nocturnal denizens such as the remarkable Large Frogmouth.

During the optional extension we will explore the island of Java, the southeasternmost of the larger Greater Sunda islands. Java is a land of great beauty, dominated by its mountainous interior, where high peaks and smoking volcanoes are flanked by forests and fertile terraced fields that trip down the slopes like giant steps. The birds here have more in common with those of mainland South-East Asia than with those of eastern Indonesia, beyond ‘Wallace’s Line’, which have shared affinities with the Australasian avifauna. Boasting over 300 species, of which 35 are strictly endemic and many others endemic to the Greater Sundas as a whole, Java offers a birding experience not to be missed.

Java, with its population of around 100 million, plays a central role in Indonesia’s economy and culture. Besides being the geographical and political hub of the country, and hosting Indonesia’s three largest cities, many of Indonesia’s most significant historical developments took place here, including the struggle for independence. The peoples of both islands are Malay in origin, but the Muslim faith of the Javanese is in stark contrast to the Hindu beliefs of the adjacent Balinese. Bali’s geographical location and the tides of history have served to isolate it from the Hindu mainstream in the Indian subcontinent, but this very isolation has been responsible for the extraordinary vitality of its culture. From the wonderful costumes and dances to the incredible number of temples (in some districts there seem to be more temples than houses!), Bali and its friendly people constantly fascinate and delight the traveller.

Our journey begins in the Jakarta region, where we will look for such specialities as Javan Plover, Javan (or Sunda) Coucal, Javan White-eye and White-capped Munia.

From there we travel inland to Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, named after the sister volcanoes Gede and Pangrango which tower to over 3000m and which are still active to this day. With its hot springs, spectacular waterfalls, billowing plumes of sulphurous gases and beautiful moss-encrusted montane forest, this amazing national park holds nearly all of Java’s endemic birds, including Javan Hawk-Eagle, Chestnut-bellied Partridge, Javan Trogon, Flame-fronted and Brown-throated Barbets, Javan Whistling Thrush, Javan Tesia, Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Fulvetta, Rufous-tailed Fantail, Pygmy Bushtit, Mees's White-eye and the exquisite White-flanked Sunbird.

Next we travel to the more remote Gunung Halimun National Park, the largest tract of true rain forest on Java, and the only place where we can go birding in intact lowland rain forest. Based at a comfortable research station inside the forest, we will search for the many specialities of this beautiful and little-known protected area, which include Sumatran Green-Pigeon, Javan Scops Owl, White-breasted Babbler, Spotted Crocias, White-bellied Fantail, and Javan Sunbird, as well as one of Java’s few healthy populations of the endangered Javan Gibbon.

As something of a contrast, our last birding in west Java will involve a boat trip to Pulau Rambut, a small island in the Java Sea off Jakarta, where we hope to find the declining Milky Stork as well as other coastal species like Christmas Frigatebird and Pied Imperial Pigeon.

We want to stress that a significant number of Sumatran and Javan specialities are difficult to find, so more time spent in the habitat is the key to success. The Birdquest tour spends longer at Gunung Kerinci and Gunung Gede than other tours, and longer at Way Kambas than some, but it is well worth it!

Birdquest has operated tours to Sumatra and Java since 1984.

Java-only Option: Provided there is space available, it is possible to take the Java extension as a stand-alone tour in itself. Please contact the Birdquest office.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are mostly of good or medium standard. In Sungai Penuh (3 nights) we will be staying in a fairly basic but adequate hotel with rooms with private bathrooms. At Keresek Tua (5 nights) we will be staying in a basic but friendly family guesthouse with very basic shared bathroom facilities and no hot water. Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during the main tour is mostly easy, except at Gunung Kerinci where the walking is moderate to fairly strenuous. During the Java extension the walking is mostly easy, but there is a fairly strenuous hike up Gunung Gede to the campsite.

Climate: In most areas the weather should be mainly hot and dry with perhaps an occasional, sometimes prolonged shower. At Gunung Kerinci and at Gunung Gede the weather will be warm or hot lower down, but may be quite cool higher on the mountains. At this time of the year the weather is often largely dry, though afternoon showers are a common feature.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Can be taken together with: REMOTE SUMATRA

These are provisional prices

Tour Price: £3690, €4610, $5170 Padang/Jakarta. Java Extension: £2350, €2940, $3290.

Price includes all transportation (including specified flights inside Indonesia), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Single Room Supplement: £332, €415, $465. Extension: £280, €350, $392.

Single rooms may not be available at Keresek Tua for all those requesting them, as the lodge has only a limited number of rooms. Anyone having to share unexpectedly will be given an appropriate small refund.

Deposit: £400, €500, $550. Extension: £300, €400, $400.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

The lowland forests of Way Kambas have a rich variety of spectacular Sundaic species such as this Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

The lowland forests of Way Kambas have a rich variety of spectacular Sundaic species such as this Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

... and this Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Pete Morris)

... and this Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Pete Morris)

The fantastic Oriental Bay Owl is one of several nocturnal denizens that we target. (János Oláh)

The fantastic Oriental Bay Owl is one of several nocturnal denizens that we target. (János Oláh)

Sumatra is, without question, one of our best tours for nightbirding. The fantastic Large Frogmouth is one of several nocturnal denizens that we target (János Oláh)

Sumatra is, without question, one of our best tours for nightbirding. The fantastic Large Frogmouth is one of several nocturnal denizens that we target (János Oláh)

Other amazing nightbirds that we may encounter include the bizarre Pale-headed Frogmouth (János Oláh)

Other amazing nightbirds that we may encounter include the bizarre Pale-headed Frogmouth (János Oláh)

... and Reddish Scops Owl (János Oláh)

... and Reddish Scops Owl (János Oláh)

Lesser Adjutant is one of a number of lowland specialities that may be found at Way Kambas (Pete Morris)

Lesser Adjutant is one of a number of lowland specialities that may be found at Way Kambas (Pete Morris)

... and other forest species present here include the stunning Red-bearded Bee-eater (Pete Morris)

... and other forest species present here include the stunning Red-bearded Bee-eater (Pete Morris)

... and the elusive Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo (Pete Morris)

... and the elusive Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo (Pete Morris)

The montane forests cloaking the impressive volcano of Gunung Kerinci are THE place to search for Sumatra's endemics (Pete Morris)

The montane forests cloaking the impressive volcano of Gunung Kerinci are THE place to search for Sumatra's endemics (Pete Morris)

... which include the secretive Salvadori's Pheasant (Pete Morris)

... which include the secretive Salvadori's Pheasant (Pete Morris)

... the colourful Sumatran (Blue-tailed) Trogon (János Oláh)

... the colourful Sumatran (Blue-tailed) Trogon (János Oláh)

... the secretive Schneider's Pitta (János Oláh)

... the secretive Schneider's Pitta (János Oláh)

... and the distinctive Spot-necked Bulbul (Pete Morris)

... and the distinctive Spot-necked Bulbul (Pete Morris)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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