Not surprisingly, it took the first natural history collectors to penetrate into the Arfak Mountains a good while to recover from their ascertainment that the unreal so-called 'roofed maypole' bowers of the Vogelkop Bowerbird Amblyornis inornatus indeed were no playing houses made by the indigenous children. Copyright © Like Wijaya
Outdoors expedition (9 days/8 nights)
We begin our West Papuan outdoors adventure with two relaxed introductory excursions outside the town of Sorong, situated on the northwestern tip of New Guinea's Bird's Head or Vogelkop Peninsula. Next morning we set off on a three days' exploration of the natural wonders of Waigeo Island in the fabled Raja Ampat archipelago off Sorong. We then shift our attention to the Arfak Mountains near the town of Manokwari, on the opposite eastern side of the Bird's Head, where we shall be based for three nights in search of an exquisite selection of New Guinea's montane wildlife here.
Possible year-round, but most certainly best from June to November.
Please enquire for details on our upcoming departures.
Reasonable physical fitness and good agility are required for this tour which plies some challenging terrain.
Day 1 > Sorong and Sorong lowlands.
Day 2 > Sorong and Waigeo Island.
Day 3 > Waigeo Island.
Day 4 > Waigeo Island and Sorong.
Day 5 > Sorong, Manokwari and Arfak montane forests.
Day 6-7 > Arfak montane forests.
Day 8 > Arfak montane forests and Manokwari.
Day 9 > Manokwari.
Day 1 > Sorong and Sorong lowlands Morning arrival at Sorong's DEO Airport on overnight domestic flight from Jakarta or alternative gateway. We will be there to welcome you at the airport, and we shall soon set out together by chartered vehicle to visit a nearby area of mangroves. After an early lunch in town, we shall then drive out by chartered vehicle for 30 minutes along a road winding into the surrounding foothills. Here we shall enjoy a relaxed walk through selectively logged rainforest where we may be rewarded with sightings of dazzling forest kingfishers among others. The final hour of light or so shall see us gathered at an open vantage point to witness evening flights of pigeons, hornbills and parrots. Dinner and overnight in Sorong hotel.
Day 2 > Sorong and Waigeo Island After breakfast in our partnering Sorong hotel, we shall set out on the two hours' ride by scheduled public fast boat across Dampier Strait to Waigeo. We shall then continue overland by chartered vehicle to a family-owned guest house located on the beach-front on Waigeo's southwestern shores. We shall enjoy lunch at the guest house and set out on foot along a track winding into the surrounding forested limestone hills, where we shall start our exploration of Waigeo proper. Majestic hornbills and colorful parrots may fly overhead as we acquaint ourselves with some of the more conspicuous forest birds. The final hours of light we shall devote to a popular display tree of the fabled Red Bird-of-paradise, taking ample time to observe the up to eight plumed males that normally gather here, interacting with soliciting females. Finally, a nocturnal foray on the way back down toward the coast could bring us up close with a weird-looking frogmouth or cuddly marsupials like the Striped Possum or the endemic and endangered Waigeo Cuscus. Dinner and overnight in family-owned guest house.
Day 3 > Waigeo Island Following a nocturnal breakfast, we shall hike to an area where a number of display courts of the Wilson's Bird-of-paradise are located in close proximity to one another in a so-called exploded lek configuration. Here we stand an excellent chance of witnessing the full array of display postures and high-intensity male-female interactions in this nearly mythical species at close range from well-appointed hides. We shall then continue our exploration of the wider vicinity. Incubation mounds of the Dusky Megapode are scattered everywhere throughout the flattish parts of the forest here, and it should not take all too long before we feast our eyes on a couple of Western Crowned Pigeons as they lift off with clapping wing beats from the forest floor to alight in nearby emergent trees. After lunch back at the guest house, we could enjoy a spot of snorkeling on the fringing reef, a leisurely walk along the beach exposed at low tide, or a visit to the local, typically Papuan, village. Dinner and overnight in family-owned guest house.
Day 4 > Waigeo Island and Sorong After breakfast there shall be a final opportunity to spend rewarding time with either the Wilson's or Red Bird-of-paradise. Alternatively, we could make a walk in the wider vicinity. Following lunch back at the guest house, we shall then drive out by chartered vehicle to catch the public fast boat back to Sorong. Dinner and overnight in Sorong hotel.
Day 5 > Sorong, Manokwari and Arfak montane forests There shall be a final opportunity to spend some potentially rewarding time in the Sorong lowlands early this morning, after which we shall enjoy breakfast at our Sorong hotel and transfer to Sorong's DEO Airport for the late morning flight to Manokwari. We shall enjoy lunch at our partnering Manokwari hotel and then set out on the two hours' drive by chartered 4WD-vehicle to a community-owned guest house located at c. 1,600 m elevation in the Mount Indon area of the Arfak Mountains. A stroll through the lovely flowered garden surrounding the guest house may yield three species of large and colorful birdwing butterfly, a family that evolved chemical defence against predators as well as the largest species of butterfly in the world, and for which the Arfak Mountains are believed to be the center of origin and radiation. There will also be ample time to get up close and personal with the highly entertaining Vogelkop Bowerbird from one of the well-appointed hides set-up in front of its iconic so-called roofed maypole bowers in the area. Finally, a nocturnal foray after dinner could bring us face to face with a weird-looking Feline Owlet-nightjar or cuddly marsupials like D'Albertis and Arfak Ringtail. Overnight in community-owned guest house.
My heartfelt thanks to everyone at PE for making it all not only possible but pleasant, and to my companions for making it downright priceless. — Charles Harper, Japan
Day 6 > Arfak montane forests Following breakfast we shall hike all day along a loop ascending to a high point at c. 2,000 m elevation where there is a largish natural clearing on a broad ridgetop with a peculiar 'subalpine' flora featuring rhododendrons and pitcher plants. Most of the trail follows gently-sloping ridgetop forest but we shall also be traversing some challenging and steep terrain. As we gradually reach higher ground, the forest changes into a distinctive, stunted Kruppelholz-formation with gnarled trunks and branches heavily draped in epiphytic moss and ferns; an eerie environment often shrouded in clouds, where occasionally past-flittering elfs would not look unbecoming at all. This is the realm of the Black Sicklebill, the adult male of which sports a pair of incredibly long ornamental central tail feathers. In former days, the coastal Biak people treasured these plumes above those of all other birds-of-paradise for use in their ceremonies and rituals hence black sicklebill skins were a valuable trade item of highland-oriented Hattam, Meyah and Sougb ethnic groups who effectively controlled the species' montane forest habitat in the area. Probably as a result of the high historical hunting pressure, the sicklebills remain wary of humans today, but with some perseverance and a little luck, we should still be able to track down this impressive bird. We shall have lunch in the ridgetop clearing where magnificent views of the summit of Mount Indon are to be enjoyed in good weather. On our way down again, we shall be passing several artsy-craftsy bowers of the Vogelkop Bowerbird, and we shall certainly also go and marvel at an incubation mound of the Wattled Brushturkey, the only member of the megapode family that is truly adapted to the montane environment. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 7 > Arfak montane forests After a hearty nocturnal breakfast, we shall hike pre-dawn to an area of secondary forest where a number of display courts of the Magnificent Bird-of-paradise are located in close proximity to one another in a so-called exploded lek configuration. Here we stand an excellent chance of witnessing the amazing array of display postures and high-intensity male-female interactions in this glorious species at close range from well-appointed hides. Following lunch back at the guest house, we shall monitor nearby display courts of the area's only other terrestrially displaying bird-of-paradise, the Western Parotia, again from well-appointed hides. The wacko ballet performance of the court-tending male of this species simply needs to be witnessed to be believed and invariably ranks as the highlight of a trip to the Arfaks. Dinner and overnight in community-owned guest house.
Day 8 > Arfak montane forests and Manokwari Following breakfast, there shall be a final opportunity for an observation session at either the Vogelkop Bowerbird, Western Parotia or Magnificent Bird-of-paradise, or we could go for a walk in the wider vicinity. After lunch back at the guest house, we shall then proceed to a popular display tree of the stunning Lesser Bird-of-paradise, taking ample time to observe the up to six plumed males that normally gather here, exploding with their cocked-up elongated yellowish flank plumes amidst all shades of green to woe soliciting females. We shall drive back to Manokwari in the evening for dinner and a good night's rest in our Manokwari hotel.
Day 9 > Manokwari We shall enjoy breakfast in our Manokwari hotel and transfer you to Manokwari's Rendani Airport to check you in for the first morning flight to Jakarta or alternative destination.
❯Read on about the birdlife of the Vogelkop lowlands.
❯Read on about the birdlife of Waigeo Island.
❯Read on about the birdlife of the Arfak Mountains.
❯Read on about our filming expedition for Vogelkop Bowerbird in the Arfak Mountains with the BBC Natural History Unit.
❯Browse our terms and conditions.
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