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Negros, Bohol, Cebu, Camiguin, Mindoro, Luzon, Tablas & Panay

Philippines Birding Tours: our Remote Philippines bird watching holiday is a ‘with a difference’ tour that visits some of far less often explored parts of the archipelago in search of numerous specialities that cannot be seen on our Classic Philippines itinerary. If you are going to see the vast majority of the Philippines endemics (over 85% of the total of around 200 species), you need to take both tours.

Monday 3rd February — Thursday 20th February 2020
(18 days)

Tablas & Panay Extension: Thursday 20th February — Thursday 27th February (8 days)

Leaders: Dani López-Velasco and local bird guides

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking and mostly comfortable accommodations

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.

During this exciting journey we will target many of the scarcest and least-known endemic species, some of which have been seen by very few birders. In the process we will visit many of the less-often visited islands, where many of the Philippine’s endemics occur and where we have a very good chance of seeing numerous endemic  species that do not feature on our Classic Philippines itinerary.

Travel in the Philippines offers some fascinating insights into the history of the islands. This is perhaps the least ‘Oriental’ of all the Far Eastern countries: four hundred years of Spanish colonial rule followed by ‘fifty years of Hollywood’ (as the period of association with the United States is popularly referred to) have inevitably left their mark. The friendly Filipinos are predominantly Catholic and the countryside is adorned with thousands of extravagantly decorated churches. In the towns the American influence is even stronger than the Spanish, one of the more endearing aspects being the fleets of gaily decorated ‘jeepneys’ (intricately painted copies of extended American jeeps, some festooned with chrome-plated accessories, plastic streamers, garlands of flowers and enough lights to decorate a Christmas tree). In complete contrast, ethnic minority groups still exist in the most remote areas of the Philippines whose lives have been little changed over hundreds or even thousands of years. With magnificent scenery, friendly people and an incomparable selection of little-known birds, the Philippines have all the ingredients for a truly memorable tour.

During the first part of the tour we will explore three of the Visayan Islands, all of which have much to offer the visiting birder.

First we will travel to Negros, where we will search the slopes for specialities such as Visayan Hornbill, the tiny Negros Scops Owl, White-winged Cuckoo-shrike, the beautiful Flame-templed Babbler, Negros Striped Babbler, White-vented Whistler, Visayan Flowerpecker and Visayan Shama. With luck we will also see the spectacular Yellow-faced Flameback.

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 will also explore the little-visited island of Camiguin to seek out Camiguin Hanging Parrot, Camiguin Hawk-Owl (yes, yet another endemic owl!) and the smart Dimorphic Dwarf Kingfisher.

Next 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 forests on Luzon where we hope to find some of the Philippine’s rarest and most sought-after endemics, most notably the colourful Whiskered Pitta, but also including Cream-bellied Fruit-Dove, Bicol Ground Warbler and Isabella Oriole.

For those wishing for even more, we have an optional extension to Tablas and Panay.

During our visit to Tablas Island, in the Romblon group of islands, we will seek out further endemics, including Romblon Hawk-Owl, Tablas Drongo and Tablas Fantail.

Finally, we will visit Panay. The forest here are hard to access, but do hold further endemics including the spectacular Lord Walden’s Hornbill, the shy Negros Bleeding-heart and the somewhat drab White-throated Jungle-Flycatcher, and we will make an attempt to find all three of these.

Birdquest has operated tours to the Philippines since 1990.

Tablas & Panay-only Option: You may opt to take just the Tablas & Panay section as a stand-alone tour.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and lodges are of good or medium standard almost throughout. On Mindoro we will stay one night in a simple hotel at Sablayan. On Panay the accommodation at Sibilaw is basic. Road transport is mostly by small coach or minibus (locally by ‘jeepney’) and roads are mostly reasonable.

Walking: For much of the tour the walking effort is easy to moderate, 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.


Birdquest Inclusions: our tour prices include all flight costs and all tipping, including tips for local guides and drivers. Some bird tour operators do not do this, yet for participants these costs are an unavoidable part of the tour. The value of these inclusions on this Birdquest tour amounts to approximately $1100.

£4170, $5630, €4770. Deposit: 10%.

Tablas & Panay Extension: £1590, $2150, €1820. Deposit: 10%.

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

Also includes these flights: Manila-Bacalod, Cebu-Camiguin-Cebu, Cebu-Manila, Manila-San Jose-Manila, Manila-Tuguegarao-Manila, Caticlan-Manila.

Single Room Supplement: £440, $600, €510. Extension: £100, $140, €120.

The extension single room supplement relates to Tablas and Pandan only. It is possible there will be some single accommodation at Sibilaw available on arrival at no additional charge.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

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.

Many of the 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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