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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Indonesia: The Moluccas

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 , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on India at .

PACE OF THE TOUR: Our birding days will normally begin quite 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. Most of the walking on this tour is fairly easy, on flat to undulating terrain with plenty of stops for birding. That said, please be aware that conditions do change and an easy pace cannot always be guaranteed. 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.

Most of our birding will be along the roadside. The vehicle will drop us in one spot and then we will walk along the road while scanning the forest for birds. We can call the vehicle at regular intervals if we need to move to other areas using two way radio communications. The only trek will be on Buru island for Rufous-throated White-eye. The vehicle drops us at about 1,000m above sea level where we will start our hike up to an elevation between 1,400-1,700m. There are some drives of three to four hours (may vary according to traffic and road conditions), and 4 ferry trips and 5 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 .

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 lower altitudes. The only place where we will bird at altitude is at Manusela on Seram and Mount Kapalatmada on Buru at about 3,000 m (8,000 ft) at the highest point.

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: The Moluccas 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 consist of both Western-style hotels as well as more simple Indonesian style lodging.  Where necessary, there will be mosquito netting.  Bathrooms in the standard hotels will be that with which you are familiar, and have an en suite shower and toilet.  The bathrooms in the Indonesian style lodges will be much simpler and oftentimes shared.  Bathing in the Indonesian style lodges is sometimes referred to as “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. While bathrooms here are shared, privacy will be guaranteed when in use.

The most basic of our accommodations will be on Seram (4 nights).  Showers are provided (no hot water) along with a western toilet with manual flush (bucket of water). The hotel is built on stilts about 20-30 meters out from the shore.

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.

FOOD: The food in Indonesia is varied and generally delicious. Vegetarian options are somewhat limited but by no means out of the question. Vegetarianism is a very unfamiliar concept in this part of the world and most meals are served with meat such as beef or, more often, chicken; pork is not usually available. Fresh seafood is a specialty in this huge archipelago. We will enjoy 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 your 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. WINGS tours are all-inclusive and, no refunds can be issued for any missed tour meals.

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 five internal flights on major internal airlines as well as 4 ferry trips between islands.


Updated: 20 March 2017