Whether you are a mere nestling who is new to bird watching, a fully-fledged birder, or a seasoned twitcher, this 10-day (9-night) ornithological adventure through the remote, rainforest-clad islands of northern Raja Ampat and North Maluku, which includes a two-night stay at the famed Weda Resort on Halmahera, is a fantastic opportunity to add some significant numbers to your life lists. No other feathered family is as beautiful, or displays such diversity of plumage, extravagant decoration, and courtship behaviour as the ostentatious Bird of Paradise.
In the company of our guest expert, Dr. Kees Groeneboer, we will be in hot pursuit of as many as six or seven species of these fabled shapeshifters, which strut, dazzle and dance in costumes worthy of the stage. Raja Ampat is one of the most noteworthy ecological niches on the planet, where you can snorkel within a below-surface world reminiscent of a living kaleidoscope, while marveling at above-surface views – and birds, which are among the most stunning that you are likely to behold in a lifetime. Meanwhile, Halmahera, in the North Maluku province, is where some of the world’s rarest and least-known birds occur.
Note: An optional two-night programme in Sorong at the end of the cruise is availabel where the Magnificent Rifebird and the Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise can be seen. Ask us for details.
Which Birds-of-Paradise might we see?
On the islands of Gam, Waigeo, Batanta and Salawati: Red Bird-of-Paradise, Wilson’s Bird-of-Paradise, Glossy-mantled Manucode. On Batanta and Salawati also: King Bird-of-Paradise, Twelve-wired Bird-of-Paradise, Lesser Bird-of-Paradise, Magnificient Bird-of-Paradise, Magnificent Rifflebird, Trumpet Manucode. On Halmehera: Standard-wing (Wallace’s) Bird-of-Paradise, Paradise Crow.
Special birds in the Weda-Forest of Halmahera
Moluccan Goshawk, Moluccan Scrubfowl, Bare-eyed Rail, Drummer Rail, Scarletbreasted Fruit-Dove, Blue-capped Fruit-Dove, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Chattering Lory, White (Alba) Cockatoo, Moluccan Cuckoo, Goliath Coucal, Blue and-white Kingfisher, Sombre Kingfisher, Azure (Purple) Dollarbird, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Halmahera Cuckooshrike, Rufous-bellied Triller, Halmahera (Dusky-brown) Oriole, Moluccan Starling, White-streaked Friarbird, Halmahera Flowerpecker, Gery-headed Fruit-Dove, Moluccan King-Parrot, Rufous-bellied Whistler, Moluccan Owlet Nightjar, Moluccan Scops-Owl.
Special birds of Northern Raja Ampat
Orange-bellied Fruitdove, Pinon’s Imperial Pigeon, Palm Cockatoo, Papuan Frogmouth, Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Blue-black Kingfisher, Yellow-billed
Kingfisher, Western Crowned Pigeon, Grey-headed Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Long-billed Honeyeater, Tawny-brested
Honeyeater, Varied Honeyeater, Spectacled Longbill, Pink-spotted Fruit-dove, Black-capped Lory, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Hooded Butcherbird, Barred
Cuckooshrike, Raja Ampat Pitohui, Spot-winged Monarch, Golden Monarch, Singing Starling, Brown Oriole, Yellow-faced Myna
Special birds found both in Northern Raja Ampat and Halmahera
Red-cheeked Parrot, Yellow-capped Pygmy-Parrot, Claret-breasted Fruit-Dove, Spice Imperial Pigeon, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Sulpher-crested Cockatoo, Violetnecked Lory, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Shining Flycatcher, Torresian Crow, Dusky Scrubfowl, Common Paradise Kingfisher, Beach Kingfisher, Black Sunbird, Stephan’s Emerald Dove, Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Blyth’s Hornbill, Olive-backed Sunbird, Willie-wagtail, Spangled Drongo.
Our birding-watching adventure will begin in Ternate, in Indonesia’s North Maluku province. After everyone has been picked up at the airport or from a hotel in Ternate City, we will travel by speedboat to Sofifi Harbour on Halmahera. From there, our journey continues by car to the Weda Resort on the east side of the island. This ride of 3-4 hours takes us through some facinating landscape. Stops will be made along the way so that we can catch our first glimpses of some of the birds of Halmahera. We will check in at the Weda Resort and have lunch there. In the afternoon, we can enjoy our first bird watching experience in the Weda Forest, where we will see more of the endemic birds. Hopefully we can also observe the beautiful courtship dance of the Standardwing (Wallace’s) Bird-of-Paradise, which only lives on Halmahera.
At dawn we will set out on a trek through the Weda Forest looking for more of the fabulous birds of Halmahera. We will start from another spot where we can watch the Standardwing (Wallace’s) Bird-of- Paradise again, dancing in the trees above us. The rest of the morning we may spot many more birds of Halmahera, including, perhaps, the endemic Paradise Crow. In the afternoon we can enjoy additional bird watching in the area or some fantastic snorkelling in Weda Bay.
This morning presents our last chance to spot more of the endemic Halmahera birds in the Weda Forest. After lunch, we will check out of the Weda Resort and join our beautiful boat, the Katharina. Our tour leaders will give a safety briefing and, if time allows, we can go for another wonderful snorkel in Weda Bay. In the afternoon we will start the long overnight crossing east to Pulau Gebe, (pulau is the Indonesian word for 'island‘).
The island of Gebe is situated halfway between Northern Raja Ampat and Halmahera, and birds can therefore be found from both regions. In the morning we will trek from the village of Umera to try to spot some of these birds. We may see imperial pigeons, fruit-doves, cuckoos, kingfishers, parrots and maybe we will see the Glossy-mantled Manucode. In the afternoon we can explore some of the tiny islands nearby for snorkelling and water sports. Overnight we will cruise south to Pulau Kofiau.
In the morning we can go trekking in search of some of the endemic birds on Pulau Kofiau: Spectacled Imperial Pigeon, Kofiau Paradise Kingfisher, Spotted Kestrel, Kofiau Monarch, Black-faced Munia. In the afternoon we can enjoy some good snorkelling and explore the area using the dinghies. In the early evening we will begin our cruise to the
island of Gam.
Starting before dawn, we will trek from the village of Yanbesir on Pulau Gam in the hope of seeing the Red Birds of Paradise performing their spectacular courtship dances. On the way back we should see many other birds native to the area. Hopefully we will also meet the Glossy-mantled Manucode. In the afternoon we will visit the nearby tiny island of Mioskon, which is home to a number of special birds. There is also the possibility of some good snorkelling off the beach. At dusk, we can watch thousands of flying foxes crossing over to the mainland of Waigeo Island. In the evening we, too, will head to Waigeo.
Starting once again before dawn, we can participate in a long trek from the village of Sapokoren on Pulau Waigeo in search of the fabulous Wilson’s Bird of Paradise, hopefully we will see its elaborate mating display just in front of us on the forest floor. Making our way back to the boat we will be accompanied by the calls and sounds of the jungle coming to life, and we can be sure to spot a variety of birds along the way. We might even see the Glossy-mantled Manucode and Red Bird-of-Paradise flying around. In the afternoon we will move to the nearby island of Mansuar for snorkelling and beach activities, and in the evening we will cruise to the south side of Pulau Batanta.
On Pulau Batanta we will set off in the early morning to go birding from the village of Walibed, where once again we will have the opportunity to see various birds-of-paradise, parrots, pigeons and other native birds of Raja Ampat. In the afternoon we may do another walk in this area, and in the evening the Katharina will cross to the nearby island of Salawati.
Early in the morning we will go bird-watching in the Salawati Forest, the home of the King Bird-of-Paradise. With a bit of luck, we might also find the Magnificient Rifflebird, Magnificent Bird-of-Paradise, Lesser Bird-of-Paradise or Trumpet Manucode. We even might get to meet the Northern Cassowary here too. In the afternoon we can take another bird watching walk in this area. In the evening we will have our farewell party with the crew of the Katharina and overnight we will cruise to our final desination, the harbour of Sorong.
After a quick stop for a last swim and refreshments on one of the nearby islands, we will make our way back to the harbour of Sorong. Here we will bid farewell to the ship and her crew. Our tenders will take you ashore for your transfer to the airport for your onward travel.
Itineraries are subject to change.
Spacious twin shared cabins with twin bunk beds or double bed (on request). Each cabin has a wardrobe, a built-in mini safe, individually controlled cooling systems and soft lightning. All cabins have their own private bathroom with (warm & cold water) shower and toilet.
Vessel Type: Yacht
Length: 40 metres
Passenger Capacity: 14
Built / Refurbished: 1995 / 2014
The Katharina is a traditional Indonesian pinisi, built in 1995 in Kalimantan using only the very best grades of ironwood. Her slim hull was originally being planned for commercial sailing carrying freight before we spotted her in the making. We bought her and fitted her out as a cruising vessel, and then again in January 2014, the Katharina was the subject of a major interior refit. Working with the unique heritage this vessel represents, her transformation is a conservation exercise back to authenticity, using only the best traditional materials, shaped by highly skilled Indonesian craftsmen. Yet, what goes on behind the scenes is the use of the most up-to-date technology and she is now equipped with a super yacht grade AC station and we are optimizing our systems to the latest safety standards.
Not only is the Katharina very elegant on the water, she is also fast becoming a classic yacht, as very few of these original designs remain. Katharina’s overall length is 40 metres, providing comfortable accommodation for up to 14 guests in six cabins located below decks. All cabins offer creature comforts and necessary amenities including double beds or twins, private en-suite bathrooms, natural light, safety boxes, individually controlled air-conditioning and storage space including a safe.
Led by Captain Iwan, the Katharina is catered to by an all-Indonesian crew of 12, with each member dedicated to making your stay aboard truly memorable.