Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu

Remote Sulawesi

Talaud, Sangihe, Togian, Peleng and Taliabu + Wakatobi & Selayar extensions

31st October - 20th November 2023

Leader: Carlos Bocos

Wakatobi and Selayar extensions will be confirmed later in 2023, pending flight schedules

This is truly one of the most remote regions and tours of Asia, the islands of Togian, Peleng, Taliabu, Sangihe and Talaud, around Sulawesi have barely been visited by birders despite hosting some of the world’s rarest birds. Years of planning and our intimate knowledge of the area means we manage to do a thoroughly comprehensive itinerary in as short a period of time as possible. There are over 40 species strictly endemic to the islands we visit, and obviously a few more expected future splits.

For the dedicated there is a whole raft of mouth-watering species to search for and enjoy, several of which are either endangered or only very recently described to science: Cerulean Paradise-flycatcher, Sangihe Shrike-thrush, Red-and-blue Lory, Sangihe Lilac Kingfisher, Talaud Kingfisher, Bare-eyed Myna, Banggai Crow, Sula Scrubfowl, Sula and Banggai Fruit Doves, Red-and-black Thrush, Talaud Rail, Taliabu Grasshopper Warbler and Taliabu and Peleng Leaf Warblers. We also have the prospect of three endemic pittas to enjoy; Sula, Sangihe and Talaud. While at night, we have three endemic scops owls, a masked owl and a boobook to find.

Day 1:
After arrival in Manado we take the ferry north to the mall island of Sangihe, allowing us two full days to explore the island. Night on Sangihe.

Days 2-3:
With two full days birding on Sangihe, the endemic hanging parrot, scops owl, lilac kingfisher and Elegant Sunbird can all be found in secondary forest but we will need to venture higher on Gunung Sahendaruman to find Sangihe Shrike Thrush and the stunning Cerulean Paradise-flycatcher which was rediscovered here in 1998, both of which are Critically Endangered. There is also the outside possibility of observing the virtually unknown Sangihe White-eye, although it has not been seen for over 20 years, as well as the Critically Endangered Sangihe Golden Bulbul. Nights on Sangihe.

Day 4:
We fly or sail back to Manado this morning. The remainder of the day will be spent in the remaining forests at Gunung Mahawu, a volcano above Manado where in addition to more widespread Sulawesi endemics we will search for the elusive Scaly Kingfisher. Night in Tomohon.

Day 5:
After some early morning birding at Gunung Mahawu we return to Manado for our flight to Melanguane on Talaud and will begin our birding in the afternoon. Night on Talaud.

Day 6:
We have a full day to explore the island of Talaud. Red-and-blue Lory is still present in good numbers and Talaud Kingfisher is quite common. We will try hard to find Talaud Bush-hen and Talaud Rail, both of which were discovered as recently as the late 1990's, although both are extremely shy and elusive. Other species of interest here include Great-billed, Blue-backed and Blue-naped Parrots, Rufous Paradise-flycatcher, the vocally-distinct inspeculata race of Red-bellied Pitta, Grey Imperial Pigeon and Rufous-tailed Bush-hen. Nights on Talaud.

Day 7:
After some final morning birding we return to Manado connecting with a flight to Makassar. Night in Makassar.

Days 8-12:
After a flight to Luwuk we make the crossing to the island of Peleng on the morning of day 8. During the next 4.5 days we will split our time between the mountains in the west of the island and the remnant lowland forests in the north-east.
The island shot to fame with the rediscovery of the Banggai Crow, which was refound as recently as 2007 but which has proved widespread in the mountains there. During our time here we will also be searching for Helmeted Myna, Red-and-black Thrush, 'Sula Pitta', Sula Scrubfowl, Banggai Scops Owl, Sula Hanging Parrot, Slaty Cuckooshrike, Banggai Jungle Flycatcher, Solilongan Cuckoo-dove, Banggai Fruit Dove and the recently-described Pelang Leaf Warbler and Peleng Fantail. Nights in local villages.

Day 13:
Today is predominantly a travel day as we board our private chartered boat for the long crossing to the island of Taliabu hoping for some interesting seabirds along the way. Upon arrival we will transfer to a local village for the night.

Days 14-17:
Our four full days on Taliabu will be split between the lower areas of forest and a higher altitude camp. Our time on Taliabu gives a second chance at many of the endemics including Sula Scrubfowl, Helmeted Myna and Sula Hanging Parrot, which it shares with Peleng. However, it's the Sula endemics that are of most interest here - so seldom-seen due to the difficulties in reach the islands. Pride of place falls to the spectacular Bare-eyed Myna, while at night Taliabu Masked Owl and Sula Scops Owl await. We will also make an expedition into the high mountains of the island three new species to science await; Taliabu Grasshopper Warbler, Taliabu Leaf Warbler and Taliabu Myzomela, along with Taliabu Fantail, endemic races of Island Thrush, Snowy-browed Flycatcher and Mountain Leaftoiler, while we've even encountered Meyer's Goshawk here. Nights camping on Taliabu.

Day 18:
Today we return again by boat to Luwuk where we will spend the night.

Day 19:
This morning we drive north across the central peninsular of Sulawesi to the small coastal town of Bunta from where we will take a chartered speedboat across to the Batudaka the largest of the Togian group of islands and in the afternoon will begin our exploration. Night on Togian islands.

Day 20:
Another full day birding will be concentrated on the two new species to science recently described from Togian islands, namely Togian Boobook and Togian White-eye, although we will also look out for the recently-described subspecies of Sulawesi Jungle Flycatcher here. Night on Togian islands.

Day 21:
After arriving back into Luwuk we fly to Makassar to connect with international flights.
Please note this itinerary is open to change at any time due to continuing changes in internal flight schedules.

Wakatobi extension
In 2019 we successfully ran our post-tour extension covering Kendari for Sulawesi/Kendari White-eye, and to Wangi Wangi island in the Wakatobi archipelago to see Wakatobi White-eye, a recent split from Lemon-bellied White-eye, and the wonderful orange-billed, recent described Wangi Wangi White-eye. If this is of interest, please do let us know.

Selayar extension
If flights are still available, we will offer a one night extension to Selayar, to go in search of 'Selayar Whistler', split by Birdlife/HBW, and an undescribed leaf warbler we found here in 2018. In addition, Selayar Tarsier is also possible, and an endemic subspecies of Olive-backed Sunbird.

Tour details

Cost: £ TBC or $ 6,690

Deposit: £ 500 or $ 700

Single room supplement:
£ 270 / $330

Maximum group size: 7

Tour cost includes: all accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, ferry, tips to local drivers and guides, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: International flights, flights to/from start/end of tour, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: much of the tour is in basic, but clean accommodation, some with shared facilities, where single rooms may not be available.
On Taliabu we camp for two nights.

Walking difficulty: generally moderate but with some arduous treks in hot and humid conditions.
Taliabu: 50-1,300m, camping for two nights at 800m.
Sangihe: 0-1,000m, likely camping one night at 500m.
Peleng: 600m-1,100m.

Expected number of species: 190-210 species.

Number of endemics and range-restricted species: depending on taxonomy, between 40-50 endemics restricted to these offshore islands, and not found on a regular tour.

Map of the tour

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