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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Indonesia: West Papua

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: Passport holders from the US, UK & Canada (and more than 140 other countries) can obtain a Free Entry visa. A Free Entry visa cannot be extended and a penalty fee will be imposed. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your day of arrival and there must be at least one blank page. The day of arrival counts as day one, day of departure counts as a full day. If you plan to be in Indonesia for more than 30 days, you should buy a Visa on Arrival (VoA) at a cost of 35USD. This allows you to stay for 30 days but it can be extended to 60 days.

If you are planning to use the Free Entry visa, simply proceed through immigration and obtain a passport stamp which is good for 30 days. For those participants planning to use the VoA or who are coming from non-exempt countries, go first to one of the ‘VoA Counters’ to pay the appropriate fee and have your passport stamped with the VoA before proceeding to the Immigration Clearance Desk.

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.

There are two or three long, at least somewhat strenuous, walks, the longest being in the Arfak Mountains where we will take trail uphill into the forest to get to the hides. Once there we will be sitting quietly in the hides for extended periods. Apart from the aforementioned strenuous walk, most of the walking is fairly easy, on flat terrain with plenty of stops for birding. That said, please be aware that conditions do change and an easy pace cannot always be guaranteed. Very often we’ll be birding from or close to the vehicle. In the mountains temperatures are relatively low but it is nevertheless mostly hot and humid, although of course less so in the hills and on the coast.

There are some drives of four to five hours, and seven 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: We will be birding at various altitudes throughout this tour from sea level up to 3200m (10,500 ft) at Lake Habbema. 

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: Papua has a typical equatorial climate with two seasons: wet and dry. Generally speaking, the climate of Papua is at its most pleasant and favourable between April and September, which is often described as the ‘dry season’. It can, however, rain at any time in the tropics, of course. We will mostly be in the northern part of the province where the weather can be quite windy and rainy between the months of November and March, hence our visit in June/July should be the optimal time. The Baliem Valley is considerably drier between March and August than other months. Of note, coastal areas tend to be hotter and more humid than towns around the highland areas. Overall, the maxima and minima in June and July are 29°C / 84°F and 24°C / 75°F respectively. Mean temperatures at sea level are uniform, varying by only a few degrees throughout the region and the year. 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 western-style lodging.  Where necessary, there will be mosquito netting.  All accommodations in the standard hotels will be that with which you are familiar and have an ensuite shower and toilet. Where we use the local guesthouses, the rooms are relatively simple but clean, each with private bathroom facilities.  Please note, that with road improvements, we now do not have to camp at Lake Habbema. We will commute daily from the town of Wamena; we estimate that the trip one way should take 1-1.5 hours but we’ll probably stop for birding en route at various stages. 

WiFi, Internet and Cell Phones: Free wifi is generally available in the hotels in larger towns. 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. Fortunately, with the advent of smartphones, it is easy to download applications such as Skype or Google Voice, which can make calling home free or very inexpensive. Another option is to replace the data (“SIM”) card in your phone in-country. Two or three providers have shop fronts at the exit of the airport.

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.

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). 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. We will be taking the fast ferry to and from Waigeo Island, it is well equipped and modern. There are as well seven internal flights on major internal airlines.


Updated: 05 July 2019