Indonesia - The Lesser Sundas 2017
Saturday 1st July – Wednesday 19th July 2017
In this ZOOTHERA adventure we visit the tropical paradise that is collectively known as The Lesser Sundas, and in particular Timor, Sumba, Flores, Roti and Komodo. These beautiful islands are home to an amazing number of endemics, which currently stand at around 70, including some of Indonesia’s rarest and least known species and are the most varied of the vast Indonesian archipelago which stretches across some 5000 kilometres. These islands are relatively undeveloped, thinly populated and seldom visited by birders but they give us access to some of the rarest birds on the planet. Starting on the arid island of Sumba which is the most isolated and least often visited and we have an excellent chance to find some of the world’s most critically endangered species such as Sumba Hornbill, Sumba Myzomela and Apricot-breasted Sunbird. Then we visit the largest island, Timor with its dry grassland, acacia scrub and montane forest holds the greatest number of endemics and the avifauna more closely resembles those parts of northern Australia that lie not far away to the south. And we have now altered our original itinerary to visit Roti island, which despite its close proximity to Timor has four endemics and several endemic subspecies for us to find. We follow this with a visit to the elongated island of Flores and is certainly one of the most beautiful and idyllic in all of Indonesia. Many of the rugged mountains of Flores are still covered with humid rainforest dotted by rumbling volcanos, and bisected by deep wooded valley and are home to such delights as Flores Lorikeet, Bare-throated Whistler, Flores Jungle Flycatcher and Flores Monarch amongst a wonderful variety of localised and endemic species. Everyone has heard of the island of Komodo and here among parched hills and dry gullies lives the rare and incomparable Komodo Dragon. There can be few wildlife experiences to compare with the sight of these unique beasts! And the birds are pretty fantastic as well with Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Green Junglefowl and Yellow-crested Cockatoo present here. So if you fancy something a little different, birding far off the regular birding circuit and set amidst beautiful scenery then this is the tour for you.
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We take a flight to Ende on Flores and drive to Ruteng, where we will stay the first 3 nights and this will be our base to explore the highlands of western Flores. This is an ideal base which gives us access to a variety of montane sites such as the highland pass of Poco Ranaka and the splendid cloud forest at Danau Rana Mese where we have plenty of time to search for high-altitude specialities amidst a fantastic setting of orchid-laden, moss-encrusted woodland. Our first walk may well give us Ruddy Cuckoo-Dove, Sunda Cuckoo, Little Minivet, Black-fronted and Golden-rumped Flowerpeckers, Brown-capped Fantail, Yellow-browed and Crested Dark-eyes, Russet-capped Tesia and hopefully Tawny-breasted Parrotfinch. Other key species in the highland region include Black-backed Fruit-dove, Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon, Flores Lorikeet (split from Rainbow Lorikeet), Flores Scops-owl, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, White-rumped Kingfisher, Flores Minivet, Brown-capped Fantail, Sunda Thrush, Thick-billed and Crested Dark-eyes, Flores Leaf-warbler, Flores (White-browed) Shortwing, Bare-throated Whistler and Scaly-crowned Honeyeater. The forested lower slopes of Gunung Pocoranaka (2400m) are home to many of the same species but here we will have a good chance of finding the near-endemic Flores Jungle Flycatcher (split from Sumba Jungle Flycatcher). We will also visit the extensive forests around the high pass at Golo Lusang for Dark-backed Imperial-pigeon and further chances of some of the highland birds.
We will spend the morning catching up with any species still missing from our lists before setting out on the drive to Labuan Bajo, stopping en-route for the enigmatic Flores Monarch, a species restricted to sub-montane forest only in Western Flores. Other possibilities include Moluccan Scops-owl, Sunda Nightjar, Rufous-chested Flycatcher and Crested Dark-eye. Our itinerary is very flexible today so we can target those species still missing from our lists and we will spend 2 nights at a very nice hotel at Labuanbajo, at the western end of Flores, overlooking the famous island of Komodo.
Day 18 Flores - Komodo Island
This is a very special day as we take a speedboat in the early morning to Komodo Island in search of the biggest lizard on the planet – the famous Komodo Dragon. After seeing this impressive beast we can concentrate on the birds, which here include the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo, as well as Great-billed Heron, Beach Thick-knee, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Green Junglefowl, Barred Dove, Island Collared Dove, Yellow-bellied White-eye, Flame-breasted Sunbird and Black-fronted Flowerpecker. We can also hope for a day-roosting Moluccan Scops-Owl here as well! During the boat journey there is the possibility of seeing some seabirds such as Bulwer’s Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Lesser Frigatebird, Lesser Crested, Bridled or Black-naped Terns. There may even be some Green Turtles or Bottle-nosed Dolphins to entertain us as well. We will have a picnic lunch on-board our small ship and a chance to do some snorkelling if we desire. Arriving back at the hotel late afternoon the rest of the day can be spent at leisure exploring the beautiful beaches, coastal scrub and mangroves near the hotel.
Day 19 Flores - Bali - End of tour - 19th July
Morning birding at Potawangka if we still need Wallace's Hanging-Parrot before driving to the airport and flying to Denpasar in Bali and connect with our return international flights back to the UK/Europe/USA.
Airfare: £700 - £850.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Zoothera tour prices explained
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 and maximum 9 with 2 leaders.
Included in cost: Domestic airfare, accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals including picnic lunches where necessary, all entrance fees to National Parks, boat ride to Komodo, transport throughout in air-conditioned coach/vehicles, and services of leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, departure tax, excess luggage charges, drinks, tips and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: The hotels/lodges used during this tour range from basic to good, most with en-suite facilities. We also stay at a basic homestay for 3 nights on Sumba. We will stay in the best available lodges/guest houses as close to the birding sites as possible.
Tour Code: This is a relatively adventurous tour where early starts and some late finishes when owling, can be expected. Usually there is some time off during the middle of the day to relax. Most of our birding walks will be of a usual slow pace and along roads & well marked trails - and relatively easy. Expect a typically tropical climate with most days being hot and humid, with the montane areas being much cooler and some rain can be expected..
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