Birdquest’s Java & Bali
Birdquest’s Java & Bali, Indonesia birding tour features two of the most famous islands in this greatest of all archipelagos. Our Java & Bali tour provides comprehensive coverage of the many endemics of these two scenic and culturally fascinating islands that lie just to the west of Wallace’s Line.
Saturday 22nd September — Saturday 6th October 2012
Leader: Craig Robson
Group Size Limit: 9
Tour Category: Easy to Moderate for the most part, but one or two optional Demanding hikes
Java and Bali are home to a number of endemics to the two islands as well as various sundaic endemics. It is also the best place to see a few otherwise difficult species, such as the amazing Green Peafowl (Pete Morris)
Java and Bali are the smallest and southeasternmost of the Greater Sunda islands, biologically one of the richest and most complex regions on earth. Both are lands of great beauty, dominated by their mountainous interiors, where high peaks and smoking volcanoes are flanked by forests and fertile terraced fields that trip down the slopes like giant steps. The birds here have more in common with those of mainland South-East Asia than with those of eastern Indonesia, beyond ‘Wallace’s Line’, which have shared affinities with the Australasian avifauna. Boasting over 300 species, of which 35 are strictly endemic and many others endemic to the Greater Sundas as a whole, Java and Bali offer a birding and cultural experience not to be missed.
Java, with its population of around 100 million, plays a central role in Indonesia’s economy and culture. Besides being the geographical and political hub of the country, and hosting Indonesia’s three largest cities, many of Indonesia’s most significant historical developments took place here, including the struggle for independence. The peoples of both islands are Malay in origin, but the Muslim faith of the Javanese is in stark contrast to the Hindu beliefs of the adjacent Balinese. Bali’s geographical location and the tides of history have served to isolate it from the Hindu mainstream in the Indian subcontinent, but this very isolation has been responsible for the extraordinary vitality of its culture. From the wonderful costumes and dances to the incredible number of temples (in some districts there seem to be more temples than houses!), Bali and its friendly people constantly fascinate and delight the traveller.
Our journey begins in the Jakarta region, where we will look for such specialities as Javan Plover, Javan (or Sunda) Coucal, Javan White-eye and White-capped Munia.
From there we travel inland to Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park, named after the sister volcanoes Gede and Pangrango which tower to over 3000m and which are still active to this day. With its hot springs, spectacular waterfalls, billowing plumes of sulphurous gases and beautiful moss-encrusted montane forest, this amazing national park holds nearly all of Java’s endemic birds, including Javan Hawk-Eagle, Chestnut-bellied Partridge, Javan Trogon, Orange-fronted and Brown-throated Barbets, Javan Whistling Thrush, Javan Tesia, Crescent-chested Babbler, Javan Fulvetta, Rufous-tailed Fantail, Pygmy Tit, Javan Grey-throated White-eye and the exquisite White-flanked Sunbird.
Next we travel to the more remote Gunung Halimun National Park, the largest tract of true rain forest on Java, and the only place where we can go birding in intact lowland rain forest. Based at a comfortable research station inside the forest, we will search for the many specialities of this beautiful and little-known protected area, which include Sumatran Green-Pigeon, White-breasted Babbler, Spotted Crocias, White-bellied Fantail, and Javan Sunbird, as well as one of Java’s few healthy populations of the endangered Javan Gibbon.
As something of a contrast, our last birding in west Java will involve a boat trip to Pulau Rambut, a small island in the Java Sea off Jakarta, where we hope to find the declining Milky Stork as well as other coastal species like Christmas Frigatebird and Pied Imperial Pigeon.
Leaving Java, we come to the emerald isle of Bali where we will search for the beautiful but sadly extremely endangered Bali Myna, as well as Javan Kingfisher and the endangered Black-winged Myna.
During the final part of our journey we will take the ferry across the narrow Bali Strait to east Java, where we will begin with a visit to Baluran National Park. Here, with the extinct Baluran volcano looming over us, we will explore the dry savanna and open woodland which, with its several species of large grazing mammals, seems strangely out of place on this tropical Asian island. Highlights here include the magnificent but endangered Green Peafowl, Green Junglefowl and the rather less dramatic Grey-cheeked Tit-Babbler.
From Baluran we will travel a short distance to the south-west, and spend a couple of days exploring the wonderful forests flanking the eastern slope of the Ijen Plateau, famed for its sulphur production. Here we will be looking for the highly distinctive White-faced Partridge, which is only found in east Java, along with the beautiful Pink-headed Fruit-Dove, Yellow-throated Hanging Parrot and Black-banded Barbet.
Birdquest has operated tours to Java and Bali since 1984.
(Note: The above is a summary of the tour. For more information please download the detailed, day-by-day itinerary. The button is at the top right of the page.)
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are mostly of normal Birdquest standard. At Gunung Halimun (2 nights) and at Baluran (1 night) the lodges are rather basic, with shared, Indonesian-style bathroom facilities and no hot water. Road transport is by small, coach or minibus and roads are mostly good.
Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy to moderate, but there are one or two optional fairly strenuous uphill walks at Gunung Gede (including in the dark while nightbirding).
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 montane areas it will range from distinctly cool to warm. The humidity is often rather high.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Tour Price: £2850, €3280, $4620 Jakarta/Denpasar. Price includes all transportation (including Jakarta-Denpasar flight), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £280, €322, $454. (The lodge at Gunung Halimun has only five rooms, so sharing is likely there. Anyone having to share will receive a small refund.)
Deposit: 10% of the tour price (excluding any single supplement).
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
As an indication, return fares from London are available from around £820, €940, $1330. You can join the tour by leaving London the day before the tour starts, arriving back in London the day after the tour ends.
The stunning Green Junglefowl is thankfully fairly easy to see along the tracks at Baluran (Pete Morris)
The twin peaks of Gunung Gede and Gunung Pangrango (seen here) are cloaked in montane forest and are home to most of Java’s montane endemics (Craig Robson)
The remarkable island of Bali has a completely different feel to it compared to the rest of Indonesia, with many ornate Hindu temples, such as here at Bedugul Botanical Gardens, decorating the landscape (Pete Morris)