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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Indonesia: Java and Sumatra

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING INDONESIA: A passport valid for at least six months beyond your planned arrival date and containing at least two blank pages for entry stamps is required for United States citizens to enter Indonesia.  U.S. citizens are required to have a visa to enter Indonesia, obtained either beforehand or on arrival. 

Citizens of other countries should check with their consulate/embassy for instructions. 

Visitors coming directly from countries where Yellow Fever is endemic must have a current vaccination. 

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at  , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Indonesia at

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

The longest walks will be at Gunung Gede and Kerinci, where in both cases we will take a trail uphill into the forest for a day of birding. These hikes are about five kilometers (three plus 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. 

Please contacting 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

Malaria:  A malaria prophylaxis is recommended.  Please consult your physician. 

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.

Miscellaneous: 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 can be a problem in this part of the world, dependent upon recent rain. They are easily repelled by a strong all-purpose repellent, with at least 30% active ingredient such as DEET.

CLIMATE:  Like other regions in Indonesia, Sumatra and Java have a typical equatorial climate with two seasons: wet and dry. The main variable of Indonesia’s climate is not temperature or air pressure, but rainfall. 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. 

ACCOMMODATION: Our accommodations are generally Western-style hotels or more simple Indonesian style lodges. The 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. WiFi is increasingly common in hotels, airports, restaurants and cafes though less so in remote areas and small establishments. In the hotels in the main towns free wifi is generally available.

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 will enjoy a mix of Indonesian and western style meals throughout (but mostly Indonesian). 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. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling in two or three 4WD vehicles throughout. Seating in the vehicles will rotate, and participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles. There are as well a number of internal flights on major internal airlines.

Updated: 13 May 2015