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THE OTHER PHILIPPINES

The Visayan Islands, Mindoro and Northern Luzon

Sunday 10th February — Sunday 24th February 2019
(15 days)


Leader: Pete Morris

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking and mostly comfortable accommodations

PLEASE NOTE THAT WE SHALL BE OFFERING ONE OR MORE OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS TO NEW AREAS AFTER THE TOUR ENDS. DETAILS WILL BE ADDED AT A LATER STAGE.

The Philippine archipelago is a cluster of more than 7000 islands extending for nearly 2000 kilometres across the warm tropical waters of the Pacific. Most of the land area of the Philippines is divided amongst the eleven larger islands, with two-thirds accounted for by the two largest, Luzon and Mindanao. In the north, the Batan Islands are little more than 200 kilometres south of Taiwan, while the southernmost islands lie only 50 kilometres off the east coast of Borneo.

Despite their proximity to other parts of Asia, the rugged mountainous islands of the Philippines have enjoyed a long and complex period of isolation which has resulted in an evolutionary explosion with considerable variation from one island to another. There are almost 4000 species of trees, over 160 species of mammals and over 240 species of reptiles, and all this in a country slightly smaller than the British Isles! The extraordinary degree of endemism in the Philippines is well demonstrated by the country’s avifauna: nearly 600 species have been recorded, of which around 400 are resident and over 200 are endemic, many of these restricted to just one island (and with many more endemic subspecies, some of which are highly distinctive, the number of birds treated as endemic species seems sure to rise). Sadly, the marvellous but vanishing avifauna of the Philippines is amongst the most threatened on our planet: it is no exaggeration to say that some species will, within a short time, become impossible to find, so delaying a visit to the Philippines is not a good plan.

The 'Other' Philippines tour offers the chance to visit some less well known parts opf the Philippines that harbour many additional endemics.

First we will explore the Visayan Islands, which have much to offer the visiting birder. First we will travel to Negros, where at Bacolod we will search the slopes of Mount Canloan for specialities such as Visayan Hornbill, White-winged Cuckoo-shrike, the beautiful Flame-templed Babbler, Negros Striped Babbler, White-vented Whistler, Visayan Flowerpecker and the recently-split Visayan Shama.

Nearby lies the fascinating island of Bohol. Here, from our base in the bizarre Chocolate Hills, we will explore the forested limestone outcrops of Rajah Sikatuna National Park, where, amongst others, we will seek out the amazing Philippine Frogmouth, the beautiful Northern Silvery Kingfisher, the equally strange Visayan Wattled Broadbill, the dazzling Azure-breasted (or Steere’s) Pitta, Black-crowned Babbler, Yellow-breasted Tailorbird and Bohol Sunbird.

Our journey will then take us to Cebu in the central Visayan Islands, an island which has been almost totally deforested. Fortunately one or two forest patches remain and these still hold two of the three Cebu endemics, the recently-described Cebu Hawk-Owl and Black Shama (the Cebu Flowerpecker may now be extinct). We can expect to see the owl and the shama, but we will need luck to find the localized Streak-breasted Bulbul.

We continue our adventure on the island of Mindoro where we will visit one of the last remaining areas of lowland rainforest. Here we can expect to see several species of forest birds which are unique to Mindoro or of restricted distribution, including Spotted Imperial Pigeon, Black-hooded Coucal, the recently-described Mindoro Hawk-Owl, Mindoro Hornbill and Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker.

Finally we will explore some little visited parts of the Sierra Madre mountains of northern Luzon. Here, in dense moss-clad forest, we will have a good chance of finding some of the Philippine’s rarest and most sought-after endemics, most notably the colourful Whiskered Pitta, but also including Cream-bellied Fruit-Dove, Luzon Bleeding-heart, Sierra Madre Crow, Grand Rhabdornis, Sierra Madre Ground Warbler, Golden-crowned and Luzon Striped Babblers, Furtive Flycatcher and the little known Blue-breasted Flycatcher and Isabela Oriole.

Birdquest has operated tours to the Philippines since 1990.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and lodges are of good or medium standard almost throughout. We will stay one night in a simple hotel at Sablayan. Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are mostly reasonable.

Walking: For much of the tour the walking effort is easy, but there will be a few optional harder walks.

Climate: Most days in the lowlands will be hot, dry and sunny, but overcast conditions are fairly frequent and some rain can be expected. In upland areas it will be cool to warm. The humidity can be high at times.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £3340, €3950, $4380 Manila/Manila. Single Room Supplement: £394, €465, $516. Deposit: £400, €480, $520.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes these flights: Manila-Dumaguete, Cebu-Manila, Manila-San Jose-Manila.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Scale-feathered Malkoha (Pete Morris)

Scale-feathered Malkoha (Pete Morris)

Northern Luzon harbours some real stunners, including the amazingly colourful Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove (Pete Morris)

Northern Luzon harbours some real stunners, including the amazingly colourful Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove (Pete Morris)

We are also very likely to come across the Philippine Pitta (Pete Morris)

We are also very likely to come across the Philippine Pitta (Pete Morris)

... and Silvery Kingfisher, another superb endemic kingfisher (Pete Morris)

... and Silvery Kingfisher, another superb endemic kingfisher (Pete Morris)

... and the striking Rufous-lored Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

... and the striking Rufous-lored Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

The Stripe-headed Rhabdornis is even more impressive (Pete Morris)

The Stripe-headed Rhabdornis is even more impressive (Pete Morris)

Endemic kingfishers are always much appreciated and they don't come much better than the striking Spotted Wood Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

Endemic kingfishers are always much appreciated and they don't come much better than the striking Spotted Wood Kingfisher (Pete Morris)

The Chocolate Hawk-Owl, a recent split from the widespread Brown Hawk-Owl, is also endemic to the Philippines (Simon Harrap)

The Chocolate Hawk-Owl, a recent split from the widespread Brown Hawk-Owl, is also endemic to the Philippines (Simon Harrap)

The Philippine Frogmouth, affectionately known as 'old growler', is often a favourite (Pete Morris)

The Philippine Frogmouth, affectionately known as 'old growler', is often a favourite (Pete Morris)

Always high on the want list are the pittas. We have a very good chance of four on this tour, including the superb endemic Azure-breasted (or Steere's) Pitta  (Simon Harrap)

Always high on the want list are the pittas. We have a very good chance of four on this tour, including the superb endemic Azure-breasted (or Steere's) Pitta (Simon Harrap)

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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