The Ultimate In Birding Tours


REMOTE SUMATRA, INDONESIA – including the Enggano, Simeulue & Mentawai islands

Tuesday 22nd June – Wednesday 14th July 2021

Leader: Pete Morris and local bird guides

23 Days Group Size Limit 6
Wednesday 22nd June – Thursday 14th July 2022

Leader: János Oláh and local bird guides

23 Days Group Size Limit 6


Birdquest’s Remote Sumatra, Indonesia birding tours explore parts of Sumatra’s mainland and offshore islands that are visited by very few birdwatchers, yet between them they have numerous endemic birds!

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 island’s 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 great opportunities to find the remaining endemics.

Our Remote Sumatra, Indonesia birding tour starts at Bengkulu on Sumatra’s west coast, the jumping off point for the remote Enggano Islands. Here we will be looking for a series of endemics including Enggano Imperial Pigeon, Enggano Cuckoo-Dove, Enggano Parakeet, Enggano Scops Owl, Enggano Thrush, Enggano Myna and Enggano White-eye.

Next we visit Bukit Barasan Selatan National Park in southwestern Sumatra, home to the rare endemic Sumatran Ground Cuckoo.

From the far south we head to 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 then explore the Simeulue islands in search of the endemic Simeuleu Scops Owl, Silvery Woodpigeon (endemic to a number of small islands in the region, but only recently recorded here) and numerous endemic subspecies.

Our final port of call will be Sipora Island in the Mentawai islands, where we will look for Barusan Cuckoo-Dove (endemic to several islands off west Sumatra) and pure Mentawai endemics such as Mentawai Malkoha, Mentawai Scops Owl and Mentawai Drongo, as well as numerous endemic subspecies and some endemic primates.

Birdquest has operated Indonesia birding tours to Sumatra since 1984.

This tour can be taken together with: SUMATRA & JAVA

Important Itinerary Information: We want to stress the fact that visiting all these remote areas in Sumatra cannot be reliably achieved in a tour duration markedly less than the duration of the Birdquest itinerary, owing to the sheer number of internal flights and ferries involved, and regular schedule changes. You might get lucky from time to time, but on most occasions you are going to end up with one of the island groups, most likely Enggano, being completely missed out of the tour!

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) or basic or very basic guesthouses. On the overnight ferries to and from Enggano, sleeping conditions are very basic: a camping mattress on top of the floor matting. 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 during our Remote Sumatra tour is mostly easy to moderate, although 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 in this part of Indonesia. Higher up, the weather will be cooler. It is often largely dry, though afternoon showers are a common feature.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Remote Sumatra tours are worthwhile.


  • Visiting some of the most remote and least birded islands on the planet to find a suite of little-known endemics
  • A great opportunity to see three highly distinctive island endemic scops owls
  • Finding the lovely Enggano Thrush, surprisingly common for an Asian ground-thrush
  • A good chance to see the rare and spectacular Sumatran Ground Cuckoo, a species that was lost to science for over 80 years!
  • The chance to see the critically endangered Silvery Woodpigeon, a species that was ‘lost’ for 77 years until its rediscovery in 2008
  • A great chance to see some of the spectacular widespread Sumatran specialities such as Graceful and Schneider’s Pittas and Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant
  • Visiting the rich remnant forests of Aceh, where rare endemics such as Sumatran Woodpecker, Aceh Bulbul and Sumatran Laughingthrush still hang on
  • A great opportunity to find additional nightbirds, including the superb Rajah’s Scops Owl and the endemic Sumatran Frogmouth
  • Seek out a number of distinctive restricted range subspecies which may yet make the grade as full endemic species, especially in the current ‘splitting’ climate!
  • The chance to see some of the endemic primates and squirrels in the Mentawi Islands


  • Day 1: Afternoon tour start at Bengkulu airport. Overnight ferry to Enggano.
  • Day 2: Morning arrival at Enggano.
  • Days 3-4: Enggano Island.
  • Day 5: Enggano Island. Overnight ferry to Bengkulu.
  • Day 6: Morning arrival at Bengkulu. Drive to Liwa.
  • Day 7: Trek to Way Titias in Bukitan Barisan National Park.
  • Days 8-9: Way Titias.
  • Day 10: Return trek to Liwa, then drive to Bandar Lampung.
  • Day 11: Flight to Jakarta on Java and onward connection to Medan in Sumatra.
  • Day 12: Flight to Simeulue Islands.
  • Day 13: Simeulue Islands.
  • Day 14: Simeulue, then return flight to Medan.
  • Day 15: Flight to Meulaboh in northwest Sumatra.
  • Days 16-18: Exploring Meulaboh region.
  • Day 19: Flight to Medan.
  • Day 20: Medan, then flight to Padang.
  • Day 21: Ferry to Sipora island in the Mentawai Islands.
  • Day 22: Sipora island.
  • Day 23: Sipora, then ferry to Padang for early evening tour end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers, boatmen and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights: Bandar Lampung-Jakarta, Jakarta-Medan, Medan-Simeuleu-Medan, Medan-Meulaboh-Medan and Medan-Padang.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2021: £5250, $7350, €6020, AUD9480. Bengkulu/Padang.
2022: provisional £5320, $7450, €6100, AUD9610. Bengkulu/Padang.

Single Supplement: 2021: £450, $630, €510, AUD810.
Single Supplement: 2022: £450, $640, €520, AUD820.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

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. The two nights on the Enggano ferries are excluded.

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.


Remote Sumatra: Day 1  Our Remote Sumatra tour begins at Bengkulu airport on the west coast of Sumatra this afternoon. From here we take the overnight ferry to remote and little-visited Enggano Island.

Remote Sumatra: Day 2  This morning we arrive at Enggano Island, where we will spend three nights owing to the infrequent ferry schedule (flights to this remote island are very infrequent and unreliable). We will have our first chance to explore the island this afternoon.

Remote Sumatra: Days 3-4  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.

Remote Sumatra: Day 5  After some final birding on Enggano we will catch the overnight ferry back to Bengkulu.

Remote Sumatra: Day 6  After returning to Bengkulu, we shall drive southwards to the town of Liwa for an overnight stay.

Remote Sumatra: Day 7  This morning we trek into the remote forest of Way Titias in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, where we will camp for three nights. The trek takes about four to five 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.

On the way, 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 include Ruby-throated Bulbul (split from Black-crested) and Baya Weaver. We will commence our explorations at Way Titias this afternoon.

Remote Sumatra: Days 8-9  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. Here, 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.

Remote Sumatra: Day 10  Today we will return to Liwa and drive to Bandar Lampung for an overnight stay.

Remote Sumatra: Day 11  From Bandar Lampung we will catch a flight to Jakarta and then an onward flight to Medan in northern Sumatra, where we will spend the night. We may arrive in time for some birding at Medan this afternoon.

Remote Sumatra: Day 12  From Medan we will take a flight to another island group off the west coast of Sumatra, this time the remote Simeulue Islands, which lie around 140km (85 miles) offshore. We will spend two nights in the islands.

Remote Sumatra: Day 13  Our main target in the Simeulue islands will 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 will also see a selection of more common and widespread species here.

Remote Sumatra: Day 14  After some final birding at Simeulue we will take a flight back to Medan for an overnight stay.

Remote Sumatra: Day 15  This morning we travel by air to Meulaboh in the remote northwestern province of Aceh, where we will stay for four nights. This afternoon we will go birding in the vicinity of Meulaboh.

Remote Sumatra: Days 16-18  We will explore more remote areas around Meulaboh during these 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 will 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.

Remote Sumatra: Day 19  This morning we return by air from Meulaboh to Medan for an overnight stay. Again we have a chance for some local birding around Medan.

Remote Sumatra: Day 20  Limited flight schedules make for some more birding at Medan today prior to an afternoon flight to the city of Padang on Sumatra’s west coast, where we will stay overnight.

Remote Sumatra: Day 21  From Padang we will travel by fast ferry this morning to the island of Sipora in the Mentawai Islands, situated around 150km across the Mentawai straits off the west coast of Sumatra. We will be spending two nights on the island and will arrive in time for some initial exploration this afternoon.

Remote Sumatra: Day 22  During our time in these large, little-known and seldom explored islands we have an excellent chance of finding such endemics and near-endemics, Barusan Cuckoo-Dove (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.

Remote Sumatra: Day 23  After some final birding on Sipora we will head back to Padang by fast ferry. Our tour ends at Padang in the early evening.

(It should be possible, depending on schedules at the time, to catch an evening flight to Jakarta. If not, an overnight in Padang will; be necessary. There are also connections from Padang to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.)


by Pete Morris

View Report


by Pete Morris

View Report

Other remote islands of Asia birding tours by Birdquest include: