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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Borneo: Sarawak Endemics

Black Oriole, Hose’s Broadbill and Dulit Frogmouth

Monday 29 May to Tuesday 6 June 2023
with Susan Myers as leader
Monday 26 August to Tuesday 3 September 2024
with Susan Myers as leader

Price: $3,690 (05/2023)

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Blue-banded PittaPhoto: Yeo Siew TeckBlue-banded Pitta Photo: Yeo Siew Teck
  • Blue-banded Pitta

    Blue-banded Pitta Photo: Yeo Siew Teck

  • Bornean Banded Pitta

    Bornean Banded Pitta Photo: Yeo Siew Teck

  • Dulit Frogmouth

    Dulit Frogmouth Photo: Yeo Siew Teck

  • Black Oriole

    Black Oriole Photo: Yeo Siew Teck

Borneo is quite rightly regarded as one of the great storehouses of our planet’s incredible biological diversity. Charles Darwin’s famous description, “one great, wild, untidy, luxuriant hothouse made by nature herself,” although often said incorrectly to have been inspired by Borneo, is in fact perfect for Borneo. Sarawak, the legendary land of headhunters and hornbills, is Malaysia‘s largest state, occupying the northwestern portion of the great island of Borneo. Here, the ever-wet rainforests reach unparalleled diversity and are home to a dizzying array of tropical wildlife - a great portion of Borneo’s 650 bird species have been recorded in the state.

In the far north of Sarawak in the Ulu Trusan region, the mountainous Paya Maga IBA is one of the state’s most promising new birding destinations. It can be reached by four-wheel-drive vehicle from the town of Lawas, and the campsite in the forest at the higher elevations allow us access to some very special attractions including Bornean Frogmouth, Bornean Leafbird, Bare-headed Laughingthrush, and the recently rediscovered Black Oriole.

Pulong Tau National Park, Sarawak’s largest reserve comprising nearly 600 sq. km of pristine montane rainforest, occupies the western flank of the Kelabit highlands of northeastern Sarawak.  Its spectacular mountain landscapes include Mount Murud, Sarawak’s highest peak (2,424 m), and the Tama Abu range. The whole area is home to the ethnic Lun Bawang, meaning people of the land. Formerly known as a tribe of fierce headhunters, most have now converted to Christianity and have settled down to quiet lives of growing rice and raising chickens. Don’t worry - definitely no more headhunting! More than 300 species of birds are listed for this park, including the rare endemic Bulwer’s Pheasant and Black Partridge, although we’ll be lucky indeed to find these. With a broad altitudinal range and habitat diversity, Pulong Tau National Park is home to numerous other bird endemics including Bornean Whistler, Mountain Barbet, Whitehead’s Broadbill, and the enigmatic Dulit Frogmouth. One of the main villages of the Pulong Tau area is Ba’ Kelalan, situated about 1000 meters above sea level, and located deep in the Kelabit Highlands.  This will be our base for three nights.

This tour is a rewarding adjunct to our main Borneo tour in Sabah and will complement that list with some strikingly different birds.

Day 1: Our tour will start with an introductory meeting at 6:00 pm followed by dinner. Night in Kota Kinabalu.

Day 2: We’ll begin early this morning in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah from where we’ll drive south towards the Malaysian state of Sarawak. We’ll stop after about an hour and half at the Klias Wetland where we’ll search for some of the most sought-after birds of the region. Our main target will be the rare Hook-billed Bulbul, restricted to lowland peat swamps which are a feature of this reserve. Other swamp forest specialists we may find include the elusive Grey-breasted Babbler, as well as Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, Red-crowned Barbet, and Chestnut-bellied Malkoha. Continuing to Sarawak we’ll stop for lunch at the large town of Lawas, then overland another 4-5 hours by 4WD to the Bakalalan homestay where we will stay the next three nights.

Day 3 - 4: We’ll bird two full days in the hills around Bakelalan where we’ll hope to connect with some of the celebrated montane endemics like Dulit Frogmouth, Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, Hose’s and Whitehead’s Broadbill, Mountain Serpent Eagle, Black-throated Wren-Babbler, Bornean Barbet, Mountain Barbet, Golden-naped Barbet, Crested Jay, Bornean Spiderhunter, and the handsome Blyth’s Hawk Eagle, which is often easier to find here than elsewhere on our Borneo tours. Nights at Bakalalan Homestay.

Day 5: We’ll spend the morning birding around Bakalalan and after lunch, begin the drive to Long Tuyo, with birding stops along the way. On arrival, we’ll begin our preparations for the following day’s trek to Paya Maga where we’ll spend the next two nights.

Day 6: After breakfast we’ll transfer to the Paya Maga Highlands trailhead and trek at a leisurely pace for 4 KM, birding as we go, to our simple but comfortable campsite. Using the campsite as our base we’re targeting some special endemic species; the mysterious Black Oriole, stunning Bornean Banded and Blue-banded Pittas, Hose’s Broadbill and the Bornean subspecies of Rail-babbler.  Overnight Paya Maga campsite.

Day 7: After breakfast, we’ll continue our birding efforts searching for more endemic species such as Bornean Banded Kingfisher, Bornean Leafbird, Bornean Bulbul, Pygmy Ibon (White-eye) among others. Other attractive resident birds abound here and with luck we’ll find Collared Owlet (surely a potential split), Cinereous Bulbul, and Hill Blue Flycatcher. One of Asia’s scarcest woodpeckers, Olive-backed Woodpecker, is relatively easy to find here.  Night at Paya Maga campsite.

Day 8: We’ll have a little time this morning to bird around the Paya Maga campsite, though after breakfast we’ll need to be packed up and ready to hike back to our drop-off point. Once we’ve reconnected with our vehicles we’ll head overland to Lawas for lunch.  From Lawas we’ll have a three to four hour drive back to Kota Kinabalu, where we will spend the night.

Day 9:  The tour concludes this morning. 

Updated: 17 November 2022

Prices

  • 2023 Tour Price : $3,690
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $250
  • 2024 Price Not Yet Available

Notes

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Questions? Tour Manager: Greg Greene. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

Maximum group size six with one WINGS leader.

Single rooms or rooms with en suite facilities won’t be available in some places. See Tour Information for details.

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