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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Indonesia: Sulawesi and Halmahera

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for this tour. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document sent to all tour registrants, whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING INDONESIA: United States citizens are required to have a passport valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure and with at least one blank page for a tourist stamp (two blank pages if coming from Bali). As of June 2015 passport holders from the US, UK and Canada (and 42 other countries) no longer need to complete the 30-day visitor visa upon arrival. You will still need to proceed through immigration and obtain a passport stamp which is good for 30 days.

For those participants that are coming from non-exempt countries, visas can be obtained upon arrival and are valid for 30 days.

As soon as you book on the tour, please email the WINGS office a color scan of your passport – the page(s) with your photograph and passport details. These are needed by our ground agent to obtain permits to the various reserves we will visit during the tour.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/indonesia.html , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on India at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/id.html .

PACE OF THE TOUR: Our birding days will normally begin early; as we are very close to the equator sunrise is around 6:00 a.m. and sunset is around 6.00 p.m. On most days we’ll bird in the morning until the midday heat of the day, with breaks after our lunches. Our leader will inform the group of trail conditions ahead of time so that anyone who wants to opt out has that opportunity.

There are two or three long, at least somewhat strenuous, walks, the longest being at Lore Lindu where we will take a trail uphill into the forest for a day of birding. The hike up is about five kms (three miles). Otherwise most of the walking is fairly easy, on flat terrain with plenty of stops for birding. Very often we’ll be birding from or close to the vehicle. At this time of year temperatures are relatively low but it is nevertheless mostly hot and humid, although cooler in the hills and on the coast.

There are some drives of three to four hours, and six internal flights.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid.

Malaria: The CDC recommends a malaria prophylaxis. Note that Chloroquine resistant malaria is found in the region.

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/indonesia .

Water:  Tap water is not potable unless advised otherwise. Bottled water will be provided throughout the tour.

Insects:  Mosquitoes can be present in the forests at this time of year so long sleeves and pants are recommended. At some sites chiggers can be a problem depending on climatic conditions. Leeches are generally not a problem in this part of the world but cannot be completely discounted.

Elevation: Nearly all of our birding will be at low altitude. The only place where we’ll bird at altitude is at Lore Lindu from Lake Tambing at 1600 m (5,250 ft). to the Anaso Track at 2,600 m (7,545 ft).

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

CLIMATE: Sulawesi and Halmahera have a typical equatorial climate with two seasons: wet and dry. The dry season reliably falls between April and October. Mean temperatures at sea level are uniform, varying by only a few degrees throughout the region and the year 78°- 82°F (25°- 28°C). However, temperatures decrease 2°F (1°C) for every 656 feet (200m) of altitude, which provides a cool pleasant climate in upland communities. Even during the dry season humidity can be quite high at certain sites. Strong cyclones and typhoons, which normally occur in higher latitudes, are absent in Indonesia, but afternoon thunderstorms are relatively common.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Our accommodations are generally Western-style hotels or more simple Indonesian style lodges. Where necessary, there will be mosquito netting. Bathing in the Indonesian style lodges are sometimes mandi which involves using a small container to scoop water out of a large container and pour water over the body, in such a way that this water does not go back into the large container. In all cases privacy is possible. Toilets in most places are western style but these cannot be guaranteed, and in some rooms will be Asian style (squat) toilets. Please be aware that the homestays are very simple. The ladies who host us are very hospitable and serve great, wholesome meals but these are not hotels as such.

WiFi, Internet and Cell Phones: Wifi is generally available in the hotels in larger towns, is free, but it is not necessarily reliable. Most require a password, which we’ll receive on check-in.

Cell phones can be useful while on tour but keep in mind that many countries operate on a different cellular technology than US or Canadian carriers. Y

FOOD: The food in Indonesia is varied and generally delicious. Vegetarian options are somewhat limited but by no means out of the question. Most meals are served with meat such as beef or, more often, chicken; pork is not usually available and fresh seafood is a specialty in this huge archipelago. We’ll experience a mix of Indonesian and western style meals throughout.

Indonesian meals are commonly eaten with the combination of a spoon in the right hand and fork in the left hand (to push the food onto the spoon). Black tea is not readily available so if you prefer this to coffee or green tea, it may be worth bringing you own teabags. The food in this part of the world has a reputation for being spicy but in Indonesian cuisine, chili or “sambal” (similar in some ways to salsa) is usually added to the meal at the table and is thus optional.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. 

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling in two or three 4WD vehicles throughout. Seating in the vehicle will rotate, and participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles. There are as well six internal flights on major internal airlines. Copied below is a list of the vehicles that we will be using for this tour.

- North Sulawesi: a large 10-12 seater bus.

- South & Central Sulawesi: a minibus (Toyota), with a maximum 3 person in each car

- Halmahera: a minibus (Toyota), with a maximum 3 person in each car

- 4 Wheel Drive/Pick- up vehicle for a short trip to Foli/Halmahera

- paddling canoe is used for a night safari tour to see Moluccan Scrubfowl in Galela/Halmahera,

- outrigger boat is used for Black-billed Kingfisher  and White-rumped Cuckoo-shrike in Tangkoko.

- large well equipped speedboat: Ternate - across Halmahera/North Maluku

Updated: 20 March 2017