Arriving at Kendari Airport, we will be transferred, 50km south of the city, to Lapuko Harbour, where we will join our splendid ship, the Ombak Putih. After lunch and a general briefing, we hope to do our first bird-watching trek in the afternoon, near the beautiful Moramo Waterfall in the Tanjung Peropa Nature Reserve. Overnight we will cruise to Wawolesea on the East Sulawesi mainland
Early in the morning we will start birding on the coast in front of the village of Wawolesea, and we will walk to the nesting site of the famous, endemic and nearly-extinct maleo bird. Instead of incubating their eggs, the maleos tap the natural resources of the island, relying on heat from thermal vents or sun-warmed sand to incubate their eggs. Furthermore, instead of building up like other megapodes, maleos dig down. Later, we will cruise to Pulau Labengke (Pulau is the Indonesian word for 'island'), where we can do some more birding in the afternoon. If time allows we can also do some snorkelling in this area. Overnight we will continue cruising in a northerly direction to the Salabangka Islands.
Endemic birds of Sulawesi spotted at Pulau Labengke and Pulau Salabangka include, among others: Maroon-chinned Fruit Dove, Black-billed Koel, Sulawesi Goshawk, Spot-tailed Goshawk, Ochre-bellied Boobook, Ashy Woodpecker, Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk.
We will have a full day to explore the Salabangka Islands: we can do some trekking and birding, visit a remote village and maybe do some snorkelling in the afternoon. Overnight we will cruise to the Morowali Nature Reserve.
At dawn we will do an interesting trek in the Morowali Nature Reserve to find the isolated Wana tribe in the forest. The Wana are the native people inhabiting the reserve; about 600 families still live according to their ancient traditions. On the way, we will pass a maleo nesting site and we will have the chance to see many other birds of the area. From the village, we will return to the beach using longboats across a fast running river, an unforgettable experience. Later, the crew will weigh anchor for our crossing to Pulau Peleng.
Endemic birds of Sulawesi spotted at Morowali Nature Reserve include, among others: Maleo, Knobbed Hornbill, Sulawesi Hornbill, Sulawesi Dwarf Hornbill, Piping Crow, Sulawesi (white-rumped) Triller, White-necked Myna, Yellow-billed Malkoha, Isabelline Bush-hen, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, Sulawesi Hawk-eagle, Great-billed Kingfisher, Green-backed Kingfisher, Scaly-breasted Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Red-eared Fruit-Dove, Grey-headed Imperial-Pigeon, White-bellied Imperial-Pigeon.
Early in the morning we will start a day-long trekking and birding expedition on the west side of Pulau Peleng, not far from the village of Tataba. Walking inland the trail passes from coastal agriculture through degraded forest, to intact forest on the hills. In the evening we will cruise to the north side of the island.
Endemic birds of Sulawesi spotted at Pulau Peleng include, among others: Ornate Lorikeet, Banggai Fruit-Dove, Slaty Cuckooshrike, Banggai Crow, Red-and-Black Thrush, Peleng Leaf-Warbler, Rusty-bellied Fantail, Helmeted Myna, Sula Scrubfowl, Glossy Starling, Red-and-black Thrush, Red-backed Thrush.
Around the island’s main city of Salakan are extensive areas of degraded lowland forest. We hope to go birding and trekking near the village Kawalu, north of Salakan, while the crew visit the market in Salakan to provision for the rest of the cruise. In the afternoon we will start the long crossing to Pulau Waleabahi in the Togian Islands.
Early in the morning we will go trekking and bird watching near Tobil village on the north side of Pulau Togian, and before lunch we may visit the nearby Danau (lake) Mariona, to snorkel with thousands of multi-hued stingless jellyfish. It still remains a mystery as to how this lake was formed, yet it is a fascinating experience. If time allows we can also try some snorkelling from the stunning Karina Beach, just next to the jellyfish lake. In the afternoon we can do another walk for birding near the village Tumbulawa on Pulau Batudaka, but those who prefer to go snorkelling can do so at the beautiful nearby Tumbulawa Reef. In the evening we will move to Pulau Malenge.
Endemic birds of Sulawesi spotted at the Togian Islands include, among others: Togian Boobook, Togian Golden Bulbul, Small Sparrowhawk, Blue-faced Rail, White-faced Cuckoo-Dove, Sulawesi Ground-Dove, Bay Coucal, Sulawesi Scops-Owl, Speckled Boobook, Sulawesi Dwarf-Kingfisher, Lilac-cheeked Kingfisher, Purple-bearded Bee-Eater, Purple-winged Roller, Golden-mantled Racquet-Tail, Yellow-breasted Racquet-Tail, Pied Cuckoo-shrike, White-rumped Cuckoo-shrike, Sulawesi Cicadabird, Sulawesi Drongo, Sulawesi (rusty-backed) Thrush, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike.
We will set out at dawn for a long bird-watching excursion from the north side of the island, and end up at Tanjung Malenge on the south side. If time allows we can visit the small Bajau (sea gypsy) village built on nearby Pulau Papan, and walk to Pulau Malenge along a very long wooden bridge. In the afternoon we will take the dinghies to go snorkelling at the famous California Reef, north of Pulau Malenge. Another short jungle walk on the north side of the island is also a possibility. In the evening we will cruise to Pulau Una Una.
At dawn we will start climbing Una Una’s Gunung Colo volcano (the highest point Sakora Peak 507m, southwest crater 235m), seeing many birds along the way. Our destination will be two small lakes – one cold and one boiling hot, in an area of high geothermal activity. In the afternoon we will visit a nice snorkelling spot the north-west side of Pulau Una Una, but those who prefer to go bird watching are of course free to take another walk in the jungle. In the evening we will have our farewell party with the crew of the Katharina at the beach or on board. We will head off later that night to our final destination, the harbour of Gorontalo.
We will wake up at Gorontalo Harbour, where we will visit the Portuguese-built Fort Otanaha, from where we will have a beautiful view of the city of Gorontalo and the vast Limboto Lake. With any luck there will be some Black Eagles and Black Kites flying around, and Yellow-billed Malkohas and Crimson-crowned Flowerpeckers hopping in the trees. At noon, we will say goodbye to the crew, disembark, and transfer to the airport for the return flight to Bali, Jakarta or elsewhere.