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Birdquest's Southern Moluccas birding tour explores the remote islands that form the farthest limits of Wallacea and the edge of the Australasian faunal region. Our Southern Moluccas tour offers comprehensive coverage of the endemic-rich islands of Buru, Ambon, Tanimbar, Kai, Seram, Boano, Wetar and Kisar, places which are still almost completely off the birdwatching map!
Sunday 7th October —
Monday 29th October 2018
Leaders: Craig Robson and a local bird guide
Group Size Limit: 8
Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking and mostly comfortable accommodations
In 1869 Alfred Russell Wallace wrote “Owing to the great preponderance among the birds of parrots, pigeons, kingfishers and sunbirds, almost all of gay or delicate colours and many adorned with the most gorgeous plumage, and to the numbers of very large and showy butterflies which are almost everywhere to be met with, the forests of the Moluccas offer to the naturalist a very striking example of the luxuriance and beauty of animal life in the tropics”.
The Moluccas or Spice Islands form a major part of the region that is named after this famous explorer and biologist. Wallacea is something of a transition zone between the Oriental and Australasian faunal realms, and is home to a remarkable number of endemic species. This exciting trip will concentrate on the many and little-known endemics and specialities of the southern Moluccas and the easternmost Lesser Sundas, and covers areas of Wallacea not included in our Sulawesi & Halmahera or Lesser Sundas tours.
The Moluccas boast more than 80 endemic birds, of which around 60% occur on Buru, Ambon, the Kai Is and Seram (and almost all of the remainder on Halmahera), whilst the Tanimbar Is with their 14 endemics belong geographically to the Lesser Sundas. In total, about 100 Wallacean endemics or restricted-range species should be encountered during this tour. There is also scope to add to the ornithological information available for the region, as only a very small number of ornithologists and birders have ever visited these islands and many species are barely known.
This is a normal Indonesian bird tour with normal walking effort and reasonable and comfortable hotels and other accommodations. However, as flights in this remote part of the world are sometimes cancelled or delayed for various reasons, we expect participants to show patience.
We will start our journey by flying to Ambon, the political and airline hub of South Maluku (as the Indonesians call the Moluccas). From Ambon, we will take the ferry service to Buru. This little visited but beautifully forested island boasts 22 endemics, including the superb Buru Racket-tail, Buru Green Pigeon, Buru Dwarf Kingfisher, Buru Thrush and Black-tipped Monarch, as well as Streak-breasted Jungle-Flycatcher, Tawny-backed Fantail, and Buru White-eye. We also have our best chance of seeing the rare Lesser Masked-Owl here, while the local form of Red-bellied Pitta is now sometimes split as Buru Pitta.
After returning to Ambon, we will have a chance to do some birding on this small, mountainous island. We will primarily be looking for its only near-endemic, Ambon White-eye, but should also have time to make a night-time boat trip to neighbouring Haruku, where we can visit one of the best preserved Moluccan Scrubfowl breeding areas in the world.
We will then fly to Saumlaki, at the southern end of Yamdena, the main island of the Tanimbar group. The archipelago consists of 66 islands and currently has 14 endemics, as well as many restricted range species (species shared only with the Kai and Banda Is). Tanimbar Scrubfowl, Tanimbar Corella, Tanimbar Boobook (split from Moluccan), and Fawn-breasted and Slaty-backed Thrushes are amongst the targets here.
Next we travel to the Kai Islands (Kai Kecil or Little Kai, Kai Besar or Great Kai, and Kai Dullah). Six endemics reside here: Kai Boobook (split from Southern), Kai Coucal, White-tailed Monarch, Kai Leaf-warbler (split from Island), and Great and Little Kai White-eyes.
We will then return to Ambon and take the ferry across to the nearby, rugged island of Seram, the largest in Maluku, in search of its 15 endemics. Here we will be spending most of our time in the marvellous forests along the Trans-Seram highway through the impressive Manusela National Park, looking for the rare Salmon-crested Cockatoo and Purple-naped Lory, Seram Honeyeater and Rufescent Darkeye and Grey-hooded White-eye, as well as Streak-breasted Fantail and the highly distinctive Long-crested Myna. As with Buru, the local Red-bellied Pitta form is now sometimes split as Seram Pitta, and we even have the possibility of seeing the critically endangered Chinese Crested Tern. We will also visit the neighbouring island of Boano in search of the endemic Boano Monarch.
During the optional extension there will be the opportunity to visit the remote islands of Kisar and Wetar, which are situated between Ambon and the Nusa Tenggara (Lesser Sundas), but administratively part of the Southern Moluccas. Recognized endemics and near-endemics here are Wetar Ground Dove, Black-necklaced (or Wetar) Honeyeater and Grey (or Kisar) Friarbird. ‘Wetar Scops Owl’, ‘Wetar Oriole’ and ‘Wetar Friarbird’ have also been proposed as splits, but these are not currently recognized by the IOC and others.
Birdquest has operated tours to these remote islands since 2008.
Wetar and Kisar Extension Option: If there are sufficient participants interested in exploring these remote islands we will lay on a further extension after the end of the main tour in Ambon. Price and duration will depend on both the number of participants and the available transport links to and from the islands at the time.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels on Buru, Ambon, Tanimbar and Kai Kecil are of good or medium standard. On Seram we will be staying in simple but comfortable guesthouses (with en suite bathrooms). Road transport will be by minibus, cars and 4x4s. Roads range from good to poor.
Walking: The walking effort is easy or moderate throughout.
Climate: Unpredictable and dependent on local topography, but at this season it should be mostly dry and often sunny, but there will likely be some rain. It is generally hot and humid in the lowlands and foothills. At high altitudes daytime temperatures are pleasant but it can get cold at night or when it rains.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Can be taken together with: ULTIMATE SULAWESI & HALMAHERA or just the OBI EXTENSION
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £5790, €6830, $7580 Ambon/Ambon.
Price includes all transportation (including the Ambon-Saumlaki-Tual-Ambon flights), 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: £494, €583, $647 (excluding the nights on the ferry).
Deposit: £700, €840, $910.
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
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