Indonesia: Primates and Dragons – 2018

Overview

This is a unique tour spanning across four islands, with emphasis on photographing some of the most endemic and endangered wildlife in Indonesia. Our target species are the Orangutans in Kalimantan (south Borneo); the charismatic and critically endangered Black Crested Macaques in northern Sulawesi; and the formidable Komodo Dragons on Komodo and Rinca Islands. In these special habitats, we will also encounter a very diverse range of fauna & flora with the help of our experienced, private guides, while Des and Mark will be on hand to give as much or as little guidance as you prefer.

Itinerary Open +Close -

Day 1: Depart UK/Europe for overnight flights to Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta.

Day 2: Upon arrival (am), you will be picked up from the Soekarno Hatta Jakarta airport by our hotel concierge service, via mini bus, to your accommodation for the evening. We will relax and have dinner at the hotel and ready ourselves for the exciting journey ahead.

Day 3: After breakfast, we will head to the airport again to catch a direct flight to Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Our guide will meet us here and we will travel by car to the Kumai port, where we will board the riverboat. This is our home for the next few days, as we travel deep into the remote regions of the rainforest. We will share the traditional boat with our own private cook, boatman, and guide. We will be camping on the canopied deck of the boat with simple yet comfortable mattresses. Every evening the crew will prepare our sleeping area onboard and drape the mosquito net over our sleeping area. The sides will be opened (unless it’s raining!) and we will be able to hear the incredible sounds of the jungle beside the river, sometimes with glittery Fireflies. Freshly cooked meals are also provided three times a day. Although we will not be able to plug in other electrical accessories like a laptop for example, we will be able to charge our camera batteries via the use of a generator. While cruising upriver, we will begin to see a number of endemic and endangered wildlife such as the Proboscis Monkeys and Hornbills.

Days 4 – 5: We will be visiting a number of feeding stations set within the rainforest to photograph the icon of Borneo, the Orangutans. These are free-roaming primates, although the wild population is sometimes mixed with a few individuals that were released from rehabilitation programs in the past. As we are in the open, sometimes they can get very close indeed. In some cases you will be able to shoot with a wide-angle! It is a wonderful sight to see these close relatives of humans in such a natural setting. We will also spend one afternoon trekking in the rainforest by foot, to photograph a variety of subjects including insects, fungi, and several species of carnivorous Pitcher Plants.

Day 6: We will set off very early this morning, to a new feeding station that is some distance away from the more popular locations on the main stretch of the river. We will be using a speedboat for this journey and all baggage left onboard the main boat will be transferred directly to the hotel. We will have the opportunity to do more jungle trekking after the shoot before heading back to the hotel on land for the evening.

Day 7: After breakfast, we will head to the airport for a couple of internal flights to our next destination, the island of Sulawesi. Upon arrival, we will be met by our guide for the next few days. We will then weave through the hilly terrain before arriving at the homestay (a cross between a hotel and bed & breakfast) close to the nature reserve. The accommodation here is clean and comfortable, and will serve as our base as we make daily treks to the forest.

Days 8 – 10: Over the following three days, we will split the days into two sessions – early morning and late afternoon, with lunch and a few hours rest at midday. We will track and follow the charismatic Black Crested Macaques – sometimes by the shore, in the forest, or by the river. As our guide is part of the research team, we will have good information at hand and together we will be able to get some really intimate images of their daily routines. Aside from the adorable Crested Macaques, we will of course also be photographing a diverse range of forest inhabitants, such as the insect-eating Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher, the wonderful Spectral Tarsier, another endemic species in the IUCN Red List, and the unique but sadly also vulnerable marsupial, the Bear Cuscus. Depending on the whereabouts of the wildlife, we may walk up to several kilometers a day in the reasonably flat jungle terrain. With our private guide, we can travel at our own pace and one that is comfortable for everyone.

Day 11: After breakfast, we will leave the nature reserve and make our way to the airport, where we will take an internal to Bali for an overnight’s stay at a hotel.

Day 12: We will be catching an early morning flight to Labuan Bajo, Flores. Our guide here will meet us at the airport and take us to the harbour, where we will board our sea boat to the islands where Komodo Dragons roam. Just like our riverboat in Kalimantan, we will have our lunch served onboard while we head out to sea. The journey takes a few hours but is pleasant. As we are surrounded by a number of small islands, the sea conditions are generally very calm. There may be seabirds close to shore where you can try some birds-in-flight shots, such as the fish-eating Brahminy Kite. After mooring, we will make our first visit to see the magnificent Komodo Dragons. We will be supervised at all times with our private ranger, as these giant lizards roam freely on this island. Late in the afternoon, we will head out to a nearby island in time to watch the large fruit bats or Flying Foxes leave their roost en mass in the sunset. We will have our dinner in the evening onboard our boat and spend the night anchored by the coast, as visitors are not permitted to stay on the National Park.

Day 13: We will head out at dawn to catch the early morning light. In addition to these protected prehistoric lizards, it is also a good time to see and photograph their prey animals, such as the Timor Deer and wild boars. This is because they know that the body temperature of their predator is not yet at an ideal range suitable for hunting. We will keep working until noon, when we will return to our boat for lunch and onwards to Labuan Bajo, and check in at the hotel for the night.

Day 14: We will check out after breakfast and fly back to Bali. This time we will have some personal time to relax at a fabulous hotel with luxury pools by the beach, and explore the surrounding area.

Day 15: We will have a leisurely breakfast before checking out for the final time and heading to the airport for your flight home, this time from Ngurah Rai Denpasar airport in Bali.

Day 16: Arrive back in UK/Europe after overnight flights

Clothing
As we will be working mostly in the tropical rainforest, we recommend fast drying, well-ventilated trousers and tops. We may encounter tropical showers on the odd occasion. They are usually short lived but can be very heavy. So please make sure that you have rain covers for your equipment and a lightweight poncho for yourself. The simplest, albeit less elegant, way to quickly and effectively protect your camera bag, is to have a refuse/bin bag with you. You can sleeve the entire bag within seconds. A good pair of walking boots is recommended, as is an effective insect repellent (minimum 50% Deet).
Camera equipment
You should bring three types of lenses for this trip: a wide-angle for habitats (24-70mm or equivalent), a macro lens for close-ups of critters in the forest (100mm or longer), and a telephoto (focal length of 500mm or more). Flash is useful in the rainforest and especially for macros. Although we are able to charge camera batteries onboard our boats, I’d recommend bringing at least one spare with you at all times. A second camera body is also useful. Be aware that we’ll be walking in a humid tropical environment so only bring equipment that you think you’ll really need and use.
Additional info
Please note that we will be sharing a communal sleeping space while living on the boats. Single supplements are available and are applicable for land-based accommodations only i.e. hotels and homestay. All transportation from the point you land at the Jakarta Airport (CGK) and are dropped off again at the end of the tour at the Denpasar Bali Airport (DPS) is included. If you need help with booking an internal flight from Bali back to Jakarta on the final day, please contact us further. Alongside the carefully selected locations, throughout the trip, we will have experienced, dedicated guides. They will work hard to locate subjects for us to photograph and because they are private guides, we will be able to stop and spend as much time as we need to in order to get our shots, and not be hurried to move on like those on conventional wildlife-watching tours. The Asian cuisine served onboard the boats mainly consists of rice, vegetables, fish and meat. They are freshly prepared daily. Tea and coffee are normally available as is drinking water. During our short stay at transit hotels, a main course and soft drink is included in the package cost but you may order any alcoholic beverages or additional food and pay the extra charge separately. The accommodations on land will be clean and comfortable and most rooms will be air-conditioned. The sea and riverboats will be modest with simple toilets and showers. The rustic feel will add to your sense of adventure, which is what this trip is all about. Please note that the itinerary may change in order to adapt to the prevailing conditions such as weather or behavior of the wildlife. Lastly, please make sure you have adequate insurance to cover every eventuality and to speak with your physician for the necessary immunizations several weeks before travelling.

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