Parrot Conservation Indonesia Part 2 – Ecotourism

In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to Mehd Halouate and his work with the World Parrot Trust.  Today, I will show you some of the eco-tours he and his wife, Lena are operating throughout Indonesia.  First, have a look at his website and see the tours organized for 2014-2016.

Use your miles to get to Indonesia and save your money for the tour and to spend locally!

Tours for 2014
Tours for 2015
Tours for 2016

If you enjoyed my series on West Papua from March 2013 but were afraid to go on your own, the good news is that Mehd & Lena are offering all the same destinations with more time at each one on this tour.

Review Of Sriwijaya Airlines Business Class And Their Lounges in DJJ & UPG

I am not the sort who would spend extra $$$ just to have a larger seat and better meal, but when a deal comes along that allows you to buy one business class seat and get one free making it equal to the cost of buying two economy seats at normal price I’d be a fool to pass it up!  Sriwijaya is one of the airlines you might be flying if you visit West Papua.

JAYAPURA – MANOKWARI (DJJ_MKW)

Although we booked in business class, there was an aircraft change to a plane that had only economy seats.  I suggested to the check in lady that she give us a row of 3 seats to ourselves in the front of the plane and she agreed.  She also escorted us through the airport past the departure tax desk and paid our tax, then she brought us to the business class lounge and made sure we could still get in since we only had economy boarding passes.  I have to give them top marks for customer service and making us as comfortable as possible since they changed the aircraft.

Jayapura Executive Lounge

Jayapura Executive Lounge

MANOKWARI – SORONG (MKW-SOQ)

No lounges in Manokwari.  This time it was a two class aircraft and we got our business class seats.  They were very comfortable and we even got driven to the plane in a private car as opposed to a bus.  The seats were very comfortable and we got a snack for the short flight.

Sriwijaya business class

Sriwijaya business class

Business class snack - Sriwijaya

Business class snack – Sriwijaya

SORONG – MAKASSAR – SURABAYA (SOQ-MKW-SUB)

This flight was pretty full with a dive tour group taking up most of the seats.  It was pretty amusing to see the looks on their faces when they had to walk past the grungy backpackers to their seats in economy!  Although this leg is sold as a through ticket, you actually have to change planes in Makassar aka Ujung Padang.  There is no business class lounge in Sorong but there is one in Ujung Padang.  We had the same seats as before on the plane for both legs and once again were offered a meal but I forgot to get pics.  The business class lounge in Ujung Padang is pretty nice with a well-stocked buffet of Indonesian dishes, sweets and hot pancakes.

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

Ujung Padang Executive Lounge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birding The Sorong Lowlands

This was where I made a mistake – I didn’t book a guide in advance, thinking it would be easy to just call one when we got there as it was low season.  Wrong!  I already had some sources such as Benny from Biak who has guide contacts in Sorong and a website that was advertising day birding trips.  The itinerary from Papua Expeditions looked great- several Birds of Paradise (BOPs) and Black Lories amongst other birds.  First thing I did upon checking into the Royal Mamberamo was to load the website to get the phone number and call or text them.  But wait – no phone number on the whole site!  I sent an email but didn’t get a reply.  Benny from Discover Papua texted me back that his guide wasn’t replying.  My husband and I were on our own.  I went back online to try to find phone numbers for other guides or at least trip reports showing where the best places were.   I found a couple trip reports that said Black Lories were in the Hutan Lindung area at km 14, about 8km past the airport.

Hutan Lindung

And this report had a similar bird list.

We had the hotel book us a car and driver, explain to the driver where we wanted to go and tell us the price – 70,000 rupiah an hour.  First we went out on the Makbon Road in search of lowland forest that looked “birdy”.  We passed a few villages and finally found a likely spot.  The villagers were curious about us but understood that we wanted “burung” which means birds.  One of them even knew where to find a Twelve-wired BOP further away but we would have been too late. We walked down the road but didn’t hear or see anything interesting, just a few barn swallows.

Village on Makbon Road

Village on Makbon Road

Curious villagers

Curious villagers

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Mosque on Makbon Road

Mosque on Makbon Road

Interesting monument on Makbon Road

Interesting monument on Makbon Road

We went back to Hutan Lindung to try our luck.  It was around 11am by now so too late for real birding but we tried!  We did hear the screech of cockatoos flying in the distance but couldn’t see them.  We gave up and had the driver bring us back to the hotel.

The next morning, we got up early and once again hired a car and driver, bringing our bags with us so we could be dropped at the airport afterwards.  Last chance birding for West Papua! We would only have time for a couple hours in Hutan Lindung.  This time we did much better.  Cockatoos were heard but not seen again.  We saw a pair of Black Lories doing a fly-by off in the distance.  And I could swear I heard Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrots in a tree near the road but within the foliage.  They sounded like the ones we saw in Nimbokrang and I could see movement but not a clear shot of a bird.  As usual, I got great photos of leaves!  Then again, I managed to get some butterfly shots so it wasn’t a total photographic loss!

Taxi we hired by the hour for trip to Hutan LIndung

Taxi we hired by the hour for trip to Hutan Lindung

Entrance to Hutan Lindung Taman Wisata

Entrance to Hutan Lindung Taman Wisata

Entrance to Hutan Lindung Taman Wisata

Entrance to Hutan Lindung Taman Wisata

Lowland forest of Hutan Lindung

Lowland forest of Hutan Lindung

Trees where we heard the Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrots

Trees where we heard the Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrots

Tiny bird on branch near the bottom

Tiny bird on branch near the bottom

Silhouetted bird in tree, anyone know what it is?

Silhouetted bird in tree, anyone know what it is?

Butterfly

Butterfly

Butterfly

Butterfly

Just missed the Black Lories who did a quick fly by

Just missed the Black Lories who did a quick fly by

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorong – Gateway To Raja Ampat

Sorong is actually more than just a gateway city, there are good birding spots in the lowland forests outside the city.  They will be covered in a separate blog post.  It’s worth spending a couple extra days here to check them out.  I’ve already covered how to get here in the Raja Ampat post, so let’s have a look at where to stay and what to do here.  Google seems to have upgraded the zoom level of Sorong since the last time I looked.  The A in the green bubble is the Royal Mamberamo Hotel, the red X I made is the JE Meridien Hotel and the red arrow shows the road out of town that leads to the lowland forest birding areas of Hutan Lindung and beyond to Makbon.

WHERE TO STAY

At the time I was looking and booking, I couldn’t find a good map of Sorong that shows where the hotels are and where the road to Makbon is so I just had to go off Trip Advisor reviews to choose a hotel.  I chose Royal Mamberamo Hotel because it got mostly good reviews and I didn’t know exactly where any of the hotels were located except that I knew JE Meridien was across the street from the airport.

Royal Mamberamo Hotel, Sorong

Royal Mamberamo Hotel, Sorong

Nice canoe carving in breakfast room at Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Nice canoe carving in breakfast room at Royal Mamberamo Hotel

We took the cheapest room for 425,000 rupiah ($42) which had a very strong AC but no window.  That was OK as we didn’t plan to spend much time in the room.  It was very basic but had English programs on tv which was good as there is nothing to do in the evening.  The breakfast buffet was pretty good and offered Western and Indonesian items.  The location is out of the city centre with a few shops withing walking distance, even a hair salon which I visited when my husband wanted to nap.  They can organize a car and driver at 70,000 ($7) rupiahs per hour who will take you where you want to go and stop wherever you want.  I’d call this a decent hotel but bad location for birders.

I did get a look at some other hotels.  The Cendrawasih Hotel is cheaper and across the street down a block from Royal Mamberamo.  They had a taxidermied Greater BOP and some nice artwork on the walls.

Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

Taxidermied Greater BOPS at Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

Taxidermied Greater BOPS at Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant
Artwork Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

Artwork Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

Artwork Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

Artwork Cendrawasih Hotel and Restaurant

While we were driving to the birding spot, we passed the Hotel Mariat Sorong  which was more centrally located near a shopping centre and looked OK.  As I mentioned, the JE Meridien (yeah I know – Mariat, Meridien but sorry, you won’t get MR or SPG points here) is across the street from the airport.  We ended up going in here to ask dierections at the small tourist office when our driver got lost.  It looked good enough and was on the road going out of town so a more convenient location for birders.  If we were to go back to Sorong, we would stay here.   The Luxio Hotel was further down the road towards Hutan Lindung but there was nothing else in the area so it wouldn’t be my first choice because I usually choose by location but it did get some good reviews.

EATING AND SHOPPING

Most people eat in their hotels for the convenience but we did have the driver stop at the KFC on the way back to the hotel for some take-away.  If you are going to Batanta by charter boat, there are a couple supermarkets, one near the KFC and one near the Mariat Hotel where you can stock up if your tour leader doesn’t do it for you.  There are a couple of good craft shops.  One is uphill from Royal Mamberamo (ask the receptionist to point it out) behind the BUMA building.  The other is in the airport before you go past security which has similar items to the BUMA shop and also T-shirts and beautiful sarongs with BOPs on them.  They have some nice New Guinea masks, statues, handbags and other crafts.  Please DO NOT buy anything like the hats (photos below) with the dead Birds of Paradise on them.  They killed these poor birds just to make these hats to sell to tourists and we don’t want to encourgage this.  But don’t boycott the shop altogether as the other things are sourced from different craftsmen who shouldn’t suffer along with the guilty.  It’s best to let the shop see that tourists will buy crafts that do not harm wildlife but won’t touch anything where birds are killed so hopefully they will stop stocking these items.

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Gift shop behind BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

***DO NOT BUY THESE***  Whole bird - Lesser BOP on hat

***DO NOT BUY THESE*** Whole bird – Lesser BOP on hat

SIGHTSEEING AROUND SORONG

Not really much to see, several attractive mosques and some monuments.  There’s a pretty good view from on top of the hill near BUMA.

Outside  BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Outside BUMA uphill from Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Shanties on hill above Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Shanties on hill above Royal Mamberamo Hotel

Not sure what they are selling but I liked the bird pics

Not sure what they are selling but I liked the bird pics

Sorong Mosque

Sorong Mosque

Entrance to Sorong Airport

Entrance to Sorong Airport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Bird Of Paradise – Dancing In The Trees

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo

An Indonesian endemic, the Red Bird-of-paradise (Paradisaea rubra, also Cendrawasih Merah) is distributed to lowland rainforests of Waigeo and Batanta islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua. This species shares its home with another bird-of-paradise, the Wilson’s Bird-of-paradise.   They are easier to see because they dance in the trees in the same place and don’t seem to mind spectators sitting in the hide below.

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo- dancing in the trees

Yeah, you better be watching me!

Yeah, you better be watching me!

IMG_7962

OK where did the lady BOPs go?

Large, up to 33 cm long, brown and yellow with a dark brown iris, grey legs and yellow bill. The male has an emerald green face, a pair of elongated black corkscrew-shaped tail wires, dark green feather pompoms above each eye and a train of glossy crimson red plumes with whitish tips at either side of the breast. The male measures up to 72 cm long, including the ornamental red plumes that require at least six years to fully attain. The female is similar but smaller in size, with a dark brown face and has no ornamental red plumes. The diet consists mainly of fruits, berries and arthropods.

IMG_7959

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo – dancing in the trees

IMG_7953

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo – fancy moves

IMG_7949

Red Bird of Paradise (Paradisaea rubra), Waigeo – trying to impress the ladies

For a stunning professional shot by a Nat Geo photographer, read the fascinating story of the lengths they go through to get these shots!  There’s also a video showing a Nat Geo crew filming other Birds of Paradise which shows more of their technique.  Climbing trees is probably out of scope for the typical eco-tourist!

This is my “real life” pitiful attempt to get them dancing on video.

 And this one appears to have been filmed on Batanta (Waigeo doesn’t have that sign overhead) by someone staying at a dive resort on Kri Island.  The resorts are quite nice, but not cheap!  Bonus footage of a Paradise Kingfisher!

Raja Ampat – A Treasure For Birders As Well As Divers

Out of all the places in West Papua I have been blogging about, Raja Ampat is the one most likely to be familiar to most tourists.  It is one of the world’s greatest scuba diving destinations and there are many blogs and websites to help you organize a dive trip on either a live-aboard boat or based in a resort.  Some of the resorts also offer bird watching so I will mention that where appropriate.