Welcome to Birdquest


Friday 15th June — Saturday 7th July 2018
(23 days)

Leader: Pete Morris

Group Size Limit: 7

Tour Category: Easy to Demanding, but mostly Moderate


The vast country that is Indonesia, has a huge but very threatened avifauna including an unbelievably high number of endemics. One of the reasons there are so many endemics is the complex nature of the country, with literally thousands of islands, leading to a highly complicated biogeography. Here at Birdquest we have gradually been growing our repertoire of tours to find these endemics, leading to us visiting more and more remote areas, and we have now found a vast majority of the endemics on our tours.

Sumatra mirrors Indonesia in its complexity, with isolated mountain ranges and numerous offshore islands. We have now offered a series of tours seeking out the islands tricky suite of endemics, but without attempting to find those in the most out of the way areas. In recent years we have often added extensions to the main Sumatra tour that visit Enggano Island and an area in the south to look for the difficult Sumatran Ground Cuckoo, but there is still more, and this special tour will give us a realistic chance of finding the remaining endemics.

The itinerary for the tour includes the Mentawai islands (where we will look for Barusan Cuckoo-Dove, Mentawai Malkoha, Mentawai Scops Owl and Mentawai Drongo, numerous endemic subspecies and endemic primates), the Simeulue islands (Simeuleu Scops Owl, Silvery Woodpigeon and numerous endemic subspecies) and Aceh province in the far north of the Sumatran mainland (for the endemic Sumatran Laughingthrush, Roll's Hill Partridge and the recently-split Aceh Bulbul.

We will also cover the Enggano Islands (for Enggano Imperial Pigeon, Enggano Cuckoo-Dove, Enggano Parakeet, Enggano Scops Owl, Enggano Thrush, Enggano Myna and Enggano White-eye) and visit the best area in southwestern Sumatra for the rare Sumatran Ground Cuckoo.


Day 1 The tour begins in Padang on the west coast of central Sumatra where we will stay overnight. (There are good flight connections to Padang from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.)

Days 2-12 Due to the unpredictable nature of the logistics for this tour, it is difficult to give an entirely accurate breakdown on a day to day basis. The following is a summary of what we will be doing. From Padang we will travel to the Mentawai Islands, situated around 150km across the Mentawai straits off the west coast of Sumatra. We aim to spend two or three days on these large, little-known and seldom explored islands. Here we have an excellent chance of finding such endemics and near-endemics, Barusan Cuckoo-Diove (which also occurs on the Simeulue islands), Mentawai Malkoha, Mentawai Scops Owl and Mentawai Drongo. There are another fifteen or more endemic subspecies (depending on taxonomy followed) including the distinctive sipora subspecies of Crested Serpent-Eagle, a potential split. There are also a number of endemic mammals including three squirrels and five endemic primates: the Mentawai or Kloss Gibbon, Mentawai Macaque, Siberut Macaque, Mentawai Langur and Pig-tailed Langur. These are highly endangered due to logging and unsustainable hunting, but we will do our best to find some of them.

From the Mentawai Islands we will head back to Padang and travel to Medan and on to the remote northern province of Aceh. We will explore this area for around three days. Here we will make a particular effort to track down the increasingly rare (due to trapping for the bird trade) Sumatran (or Black-and-white) Laughingthrush and the recently-split Aceh Bulbul. We also have a good chance of finding the rare and shy Roll's Hill Partridge.

Other Sumatran endemics possible here include the shy Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant, the elusive Salvadori's Pheasant, the rare and little known Sumatran (split from Grey-faced) Woodpecker, Sumatran (split from Collared) Owlet, the elusive Graceful Pitta, the attractive Blue-masked and Sumatran (Blue-winged) Leafbirds and the little-known Sumatran Babbler. The montane and submontane forests will be birdy and we'll encounter a large number of other species. Some of the more interesting species we may encounter include the sneaky Ferruginous Partridge, Black-thighed Falconet, Little Cuckoo-Dove, Silver-rumped Swift, Wreathed, Oriental Pied, Rhinoceros, Great and Helmeted Hornbills, Orange-backed Woodpecker, Red-headed Trogon, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Ruby-throated Bulbul, Sunda and Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, Lesser and attractive Chestnut-naped Forktails, Large Niltava, Blue Nuthatch and Spectacled and Grey-breasted Spiderhunters to name but a few.

The next leg of our journey will see us returning to Medan from where we will travel to another island group off the west coast of Sumatra, this time the remote Simeulue Islands, which lies around 140km off the west coast of Sumatra. We aim to spend a couple of days here, and our main target will once again be an endemic owl, the poorly-known Simeulue Scops Owl, and we have an excellent chance of tracking down this little-known bird. We should also see the distinctive (and sometimes split) Simeulue Serpent Eagle, and we have a realistic chance of finding the rare Silvery Woodpigeon which was only rediscovered here in 2010. We'll also see a selection of more common and widespread species here.

Day 13 This morning we will take a flight back from Medan to Jakarta and then an onward flight to Bandar Lampung in southwestern Sumatra for an overnight stay.

Day 14 Today we shall drive to the town of Liwa and then trek into the remote forest of Way Titias in Bukit Barasan Selatan National Park where we will camp for three nights. The trek takes about six hours, with a few stops along the way, and takes us first through rolling coffee plantations, then down into a small stream bed which we will follow for a few kilometres before climbing up into primary forest. We will arrive in time for some initial exploration.

Days 15-16 Way Titias is one of those areas of accessible foothill forest where the steepness of the terrain has preserved the habitat from clearance for agriculture. Fortunately, once inside this beautiful primary rainforest, the trails are good and pleasant to bird from. He we will surely hear the far-carrying all of the elusive endemic Sumatran Ground-Cuckoo, a species that was lost for a century before being rediscovered here in 2007! This is surely one of Southeast Asia’s rarest and most sought-after birds, but seeing (as opposed to hearing) this remarkable creature certainly requires some luck as well as persistence. There are plenty of other birds in this forest and amongst these we have a good chance of finding a number that are not usually seen on the main tour, including Blue-banded Kingfisher, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Spotted Fantail, Fulvous-chested Jungle-Flycatcher, Maroon-breasted Philentoma and Yellow-eared Spiderhunter. The scarce Sumatran Trogon is surprisingly common in the forest around our camp and it is a delight to see such a bird on a regular basis. We also have extra chances here for some difficult-to-see species such as Ferruginous Partridge, Bronze-tailed Peacock-Pheasant, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Graceful Pitta and Blue-masked Leafbird.

Day 17 After a last morning at Way Titias we will return to Liwa for an overnight stay. On our way back we will be looking for some special birds of the forest edge and secondary scrub amongst the paddyfields such as the little-known endemic Buettikofer’s Babbler and White-capped Munia (a species thought to be endemic to Java until it was discovered here in southern Sumatra). Other species of this habitat which are not seen on the main tour include Ruby-throated Bulbul (split from Black-crested) and Baya Weaver.

Day 18 After some birding around Liwa we will drive back to Bandar Lampung for an overnight stay.

Day 19 This morning we will catch a flight to Jakarta and an onward flight to Bengkulu on the west coast of central Sumatra. From here we take an overnight boat to remote and little-visited Enggano Island.

Day 20 We will arrive in Enggano this morning for a two nights stay. We will have most of the day to explore the island.

Day 21 The island of Enggano lies approximately 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of the mainland and is about 35 kilometres (22 miles) long and about 16 kilometres (10 miles) wide. This Indian Ocean island has an area of roughly 500 square kilometres, yet the highest point is only 281m above sea-level. This remarkable but rarely visited place has several types of forest habitat, some of which are still intact. Our prime targets here will be the seven endemics; Enggano Imperial Pigeon, Enggano Cuckoo-Dove, Enggano Parakeet, Enggano Scops Owl, Enggano Thrush, Enggano Myna and Enggano White-eye. Other interesting birds on the island include Red-legged Crake and Sunda Thrush. If weather conditions are suitable we also have a chance for Christmas Island Frigatebird.

Day 22 After some final birding on Enggano we will catch an overnight boat back to Bengkulu.

Day 23 Morning arrival at Bengkulu from where we will take a flight back to Jakarta, where the tour ends around midday.

Accommodation & Road Transport: Outside of Padang, Medan and Bandar Lampung (where the hotels will be of a good quality) we must stay in simple hotels (although all rooms have private bathrooms) and basic or very basic guesthouses. Road transport will be by minibus/passenger van. Nowadays roads in this region are good, or at least of reasonable quality, but we will still have to use rough roads in some places.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy to moderate though a few optional walks are likely to be fairly strenuous.

Climate: Generally the weather will be warm or hot and regular late afternoon/evening rain is to be expected. Higher up, the weather will be cooler. It is often largely dry, though afternoon showers are a common feature.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Can be taken together with: SUMATRA & JAVA

These are provisional prices

Tour Price: £4990, €5890, $6540 Jakarta/Jakarta.

Price includes all transportation (including all 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: £460, €543, $603.

Single rooms may not be available at everywhere for all those requesting them, as some guesthouses only have a limited number of rooms. Anyone having to share unexpectedly will be given an appropriate refund.

Deposit: £600, €720, $780.

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.

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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