Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The best birding site in New Guinea

I have been guiding international birdwatchers on various birding trips in West Papua for years. During those trips I saw various species of birds that are endemic to New Guinea island.
There are several birding sites I higly recommend to visitors:
Klasow valley of Sorong Regency
It is located around 1.5 hours by 4WD car from Sorong city and 2 hours walk into the jungle. Klasow valley is a good choice for visitors who have at least 3 days of exploring tropical jungle of West Papua.

Ases Valley
This is one of the remotest and the most difficult to reach birding sites that I have ever known. It is located in Tambrauw regency. To go there we need to charter a 4WD car from Sorong city to Fef town in Tambrauw mountains. After that, we need to continue walking to Ibu river where we will need to stay in a camp for one night. The next morning, we will have to hike up steep mountain and then down to Ases valley.
During the hiking trip, we can see an abundant of Avifauna of Tambrauw mountains. The most recommended trip duration for visiting Ases is at least 6 days. In addition to watching birds such as paradise birds, visitors are able to see other wild animals such as deers, cuscus, wallaby and giant soa-soa lizard. It is a highly recommended site for anybody who pristine rainforest ecosystem.

Aiwatar hill in District Senopi
I can say that birding in Aiwatar hill of Senopi village is a good choice for those who are physically fit. I went there with Wim and Vicky Boyden, two visitors from Belgium who went hiking and birding in Senopi for one week. This opinion might be subjective but it was the place where I saw a lot of species of birds. I saw the famous lesser birds of paradise (paradisaea minor), Blyth's hornbill, western crowned pigeon, pinon imperial pigeon, yellow faced myna, Goliath cockatoo and many others that I cannot mention one by one on this post.
Every morning thousands of birds from all corners of the jungle land on the ground of Aiwatar hill to drink warm water that comes out of the ground. They drink it until they get drunk. I don't know what minerals it contains that can make the birds drunk. Although there is a big river near the hill, all birds only fly to Aiwatar.
Wildlife in the jungle of Senopi
Birds are not the only animals that you will see in the jungle. When I was trekking between Senopi and Aiwatar hill, I saw kangaroo, cows, deers and snakes. There are wild pigs, various species of butterflies and beetles. While walking down from the hill, I saw a green frog sleeping on a leave.
Where is Aiwatar hill?
Aiwatar hill is a five hour walk from Senopi village. The village, or now is also called district, is located between Manokwari and Sorong.  You have to leave early in the morning at around 6 a.m. to reach the hill in the mid-day. Along the way, you will be able to see sulphur crested cockatoo, black capped lory, and ornate lorikeet in the branches and twigs of the trees.

How to get to one of the above birding sites?
To reach this hill, read the following instructions:
  • First, fly from your country to Jakarta - the capital of the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Second, take a domestic flight served by Sriwijaya Air, Batavia Air, Lion Air or Express Air to Sorong city.
  • Contact me by e-mail to before arriving in Sorong so that I can give you detailed info of tour price. I will meet you at the airport.
  • I will arrange a 4WD car that will bring you to Klasow valley, or Ases valley.
If you still need detailed information about rainforest tours and birdwatching trips in Sorong regency, you can still contact me at the above e-mail address. I am sure that you will have a great adventure in West Papua's rainforest. by Charles Roring