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Indonesia: Central West Papua

This tour complements our Vogelkop itinerary, covering the other half of West Papua. Fully accommodated in comfortable hotels and basic guesthouses, there is no camping. We first explore the islands of Biak and Numfor for their respective paradise kingfishers and many other endemics, before crossing to the northern lowlands. Birding around Nimbokrang, specialties like Victoria Crowned Pigeon and Pale-billed Sicklebill highlight, with display sites for Twelve-wired, King and Lesser Bird-of-paradise also nearby. Finally, in the high Snow Mountains, we will focus our time around the gorgeous Lake Habbema, where Macregor's Honeyeater, Splendid Astrapia, and Greater Ground Robin all feature.

Next Dates

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

7

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Trans-Fly Extension

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

6

Deposit: $

TBD

Accommodation:

Comfortable hotels for Sentani, Wamena, and Biak. Basic guesthouses at Nimbokrang and Numfor.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly moderate roadside or trail-based birding, with a few optional longer walks (several hours at birding pace) near Lake Habbema and around Nimbokrang. The Ibele Trail near Lake Habbema is fairly short, but very steep and muddy, so good balance is essential.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: The tour starts this evening with arrivals into Sentani Airport in Jayapura (DJJ).


Day 2: The short but spectacular flight to the Grand Baliem Valley will see us landing at Wamena ready to go birding. Focusing on the lower areas this afternoon, we will hopefully see some of our first specialties such as Baliem Whistler, Black-breasted Munia, Ornate Melidectes, and Greater Lophorina (better known as Greater Superb Bird-of-paradise!).


Day 3-4-5: In the high-altitude grasslands close to Lake Habbema, we will search areas of ancient stunted forest for the striking MacGregor’s Honeyeater, which although shy, frequently betray their presence with loud whooshing sounds as they fly along the hillsides with orange primary patches conspicuous. DNA studies have shown this amazing bird to be a honeyeater rather than a bird-of-paradise, as once thought, but this makes it no less special. Snow Mountain Quail are often flushed from the grasslands, and Snow Mountain Mannikin, Snow Mountain Tiger Parrot, Mountain Firetail, Alpine Pipit, and Papuan Harrier favour the more open areas. Sooty and Short-bearded Melidectes, Orange-cheeked Honeyeaters, and Lorentz’s Whistlers prefer the alpine shrubbery, Mountain Robin sings from the larger trees, while several pairs of Salvadori’s Teal inhabit the lake. As dusk falls, we will hope to find a displaying New Guinea Woodcock and the little-known Archbold’s Nightjar. Nearby, the steep and muddy Ibele Trail allows us to enter some magical mossy forest where a whole new suite of birds appears. Ground-dwellers include Chestnut Forest Rail, Papuan Logrunner, Lesser Melampitta, and the rare antpitta-like Greater Ground Robin, here being the only reliable site for this impressive species. There are also several other species of robins, scrubwrens, honeyeaters, and maybe even the elusive Archbold’s Bowerbird possible here. Roadside birding opportunities on the way up to the lake are unfortunately changing every year due to rampant logging, and the large species lists seen on tours pre-2019 are no longer likely unless access to a new road becomes viable. Nonetheless, we will focus on the remaining patches, where above all else the colourful Splendid Astrapia is the biggest drawcard, since it is not easily accessible anywhere else in New Guinea. We will hope for Western Crested Berrypecker and Black Sittella (two more species not commonly seen elsewhere), and then regard anything else we find as a bonus!


*** Unfortunately, access to Lake Habbema has been mostly impossible for the past four years due to millitary blockades, and the situation shows no sign of improving. Booking on this tour, participants must be aware that we will make all efforts to reach the lake, but may not be able to. This would mean missing some key targets mentioned above like Snow Mountain Quail, Macregor's Honeyeater, Greater Ground Robin, Western Alpine Mannikin, etc. ***


‍‍Day 6: This morning, we fly back to Sentani before continuing to the lowland forests of Nimbokrang at the base of the imposing Cyclops Mountains, where we will be based for the next four nights at a basic guesthouse. The remainder of the day will be spent exploring this bird-rich area. Night at Nimbokrang.


Days 7-8-9: The flat, alluvial rainforests of Nimbokrang have suffered from logging, but large tracts of good secondary and selectively logged forest remain. The birding in these mosquito-infested swamp forests is by no means easy, but the rewards are great. Several bird-of-paradise species can be found here, and we will be hoping to find Pale-billed Sicklebill and witness the amazing displays of Twelve-wired and King Birds-of-paradise. The seemingly endless list of possible species here includes some true specialties of the area, and thus we will target Salvadori’s Fig-Parrot, Brown and Black-capped Lories, Lowland Peltops, Buff-faced Pygmy Parrot, Blue Jewelbabbler, White-eared Catbird, Brown-headed Crow, and Jobi Manucode. Victoria Crowned Pigeon and Collared Brushturkey are present but not guaranteed, and there’s always the chance of Shovel-billed Kookaburra. Nights at Nimbokrang.


Day 10: After a final day of birding in these tropical lowland forests, we will return to Sentani for an overnight stay.


Day 11: Early in the morning, we will look for Great-billed and Hooded Mannikin at some nearby grasslands before taking a flight to Biak. In the afternoon, we will begin our birding and will soon find some of the more common island endemics. Night in Biak.


Days 12-13-14: Most endemics are best searched for in the forest here, including the pleasingly common Biak Paradise Kingfisher and Biak Hooded Pitta! Feeding flocks provide much excitement and are often joined by some of our targets: Geelvink Pygmy Parrot, Biak Gerygone, Biak Leaf Warbler, Biak Black Flycatcher, “Biak” Golden Monarch, and the rare Biak Monarch. We will also try to see the notoriously retiring Biak Scrubfowl and Biak Coucal, while at night, the endemic Biak Scops Owl is usually similarly difficult to see! In more open areas, we will look for Long-tailed Starling, Yellow-bibbed Fruit Dove, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, and Geelvink Imperial Pigeon, which are vocal and often perch conspicuously. Secondary growth is also the favoured habitat of the endemic Biak White-eye, while overhead Black-winged Lory flash past, and with luck also the rapidly declining Biak Lorikeet. We do not expect to see the exceedingly uncommon Red-brown Myzomela, but will keep an eye out nonetheless! If the weather is good and the seas are calm, we will take a one-night excursion across to Numfor. Numfor Paradise Kingfisher is abundant on the island, while the scarce Numfor Leafwarbler may take some searching. We may also see the Numfor form of Hooded Pitta and several other Geelvink Bay endemics shared with Biak, before returning to Biak. Nights in Biak.


Day 15: After a final morning birding session, the tour ends today at midday. Departures are from Biak International Airport (BIK).



TRANS-FLY EXTENSION:


Day 1: Our pre-tour extension begins this morning in Merauke (MKQ) on the south coast of New Guinea (cheap direct flights that land early in the morning are available from Makassar). We will head out into the tropical woodland and begin our exploration of the area. Night in Merauke.


Day 2: Pride of place among the species to be found in this distinctly Australian-influenced bioregion is the magnificent Spangled Kookaburra, which is endemic to the Trans-Fly along with Black Mannikin, White-spotted Mannikin, and Grey-crowned Mannikin. An additional Estrildid here is the beautiful “White-bellied” Crimson Finch, which is also endemic aside from an isolated population in remote parts of Queensland and some introduced birds around Jayapura. We should be able to enjoy several boisterous Greater Bird-of-paradise near their display tree, and we will keep an eye out for the isolated lowland form of Papuan White-eye (the taxonomy of which is certainly to-be-resolved!).  Among many other species present in the area, we might see Black-billed Brushturkey, Spotted Whistling Duck, Green Pygmy Goose, Magpie Goose, Barred Owlet-nightjar, Yellow-streaked Lory, Red-winged Parrot, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Black-eared Catbird, Tropical Scrubwren, Graceful Meliphaga, Black Thicket Fantail, and Black-backed Butcherbird. Night in Merauke.


Day 3: After some final morning birding, we will take a flight north to Jayapura, where we will meet those joining the main tour this evening.


For those taking the extension, this tour can easily be linked with either of our complementing Indonesia: Vogelkop West Papua departures in 2026.

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