Indonesia: Banda Sea & Tanimbar

This luxurious cruise visits some of the most remote islands in Indonesia, many of them still hosting pristine forest and remarkably abundant birdlife. This year we will be going from west to east, stopping off at Tanahjampea, Kalaotoa, Pantar, Alor, Wetar, Leti, Damar, and finally Babar. Amongst many exciting and range-restricted birds are Tanahjampea Monarch, Damar Flycatcher, Banda Sea Pitta, Iris Lorikeet, Wetar Ground Dove, and Orange-sided Thrush! This is a special tour the leaders want to do, so will be run close to "at-cost" and we will be just as excited and motivated as you to explore the Banda Sea!

Kai Islands Extension

Short extension to target the eight Kai Island endemics, adding just two nights to the total tour duration.

Next dates

10-26 September 2025

Tour length: 17 days

Group size limit: 10


Julien Mazenauer & Joshua Bergmark

Spaces available

Kai Islands Extension

26-28 September 2025

3 days

Group size limit: 5


Julien Mazenauer & Joshua Bergmark

Spaces available

Day 1: Arrivals into Labuanbajo Airport (LBJ) on the island of Flores today, from which we will provide transfers to our hotel near the coast. NOTE: We are happy to assist any participants with buying flight tickets from Jakarta or Denpasar to meet with the tour start and end. Please also let us know if you would like to arrange some birding or a Komodo Dragon excursion on Flores in the days before the tour starts.

Day 2: The cruise departs this morning in Labuanbajo, where we will board our liveaboard boat and begin cruising north towards Tanahjampea.

Day 3: Since being collected in 1927, Tanahjampea Monarch and Tanahjampea Blue-flycatcher have only ever been observed by a single observer in 1993 and a handful of tour groups over the last decade. Our day on the island should produce both of these lovely birds, along with our first “field-guide” species (the first of many!), Flores Sea Cuckoo Dove. Sahul Sunbird, Elegant and Pink-headed Imperial Pigeon could be seen, both of which are abundant on several other islands during the tour. If time allows we will visit nearby Kalao to look for virginalis Elegant Pitta, a race endemic to the Flores Sea Islands, and kalaoensis Tanahjampea Blue-flycatcher – a distinctive looking taxon, endemic to Kalao, and already published as a separate species in a recent paper. We will head east overnight to reach Kalaotoa for dawn.

Day 4: A short session on Kalaotoa is likely to produce the endemic subspecies of Banda Sea Gerygone and Supertramp Fantail, but the endemic subspecies of Sunset Lorikeet is sadly presumed to be extinct. Sailing onwards and enjoying some R&R, we will keep our eyes peeled on the open ocean in search of rarer seabirds among the throng of Red-footed Boobies. Heinroth’s Shearwater is perhaps the most likely bird on our wishlist, but there are lots of potential rarities (cetaceans included!) which could make an appearance.

Day 5: After sailing throughout the morning we will eventually arrive on Pantar for some late afternoon birding. The dry, open terrain is home to Flame-breasted Sunbird, Black-fronted Flowerpecker, our first Barred Doves, and Broad-billed Flycatcher. The main drawcard however is Alor Boobook, a vocally-distinct split from the Southern Boobook complex, with a first chance of “Alor” Wallacean Cuckooshrike.

Day 6: Overnight we will have reached the next island east, Alor. Making our way into the high hills (the only big uphill walk of the tour if the dilapidated island vehicles cannot make it), the recently-described Alor Myzomela and recently-rediscovered “Timor” Javan Bush Warbler will be our primary targets. Several new species to the trip could also be seen including Timor Stubtail, Sunda Bush Warbler, Olive-headed Lorikeet, along with an outside chance of Flores Green Pigeon and two Critically Endangered species; Flores Hawk Eagle and Yellow-crested Cockatoo.

Day 7: After a full night and day of sailing, our next stop is the much larger but far-less populated island of Wetar, where we may have time for some afternoon birding.

Day 8: Recently brought to the limelight by the rediscovery of good populations of Wetar Ground Dove which will be a prime target for us, there is some excellent birding to be had in some untouched habitat on this beautiful island. Using a shallow stream as our trail we will also look for five true Wetar endemics; Wetar Figbird, Wetar Oriole, Wetar Scops Owl, Black-necklaced Honeyeater and Wetar Honeyeater together with several which are shared with nearby Timor; Black Cuckoo Dove, Timor Imperial Pigeon, Marigold, Iris and Olive-headed Lorikeets, Jonquil Parrot, Timor Stubtail, Timor Warbling-flycatcher, Fawn-breasted Whistler, Orange-sided Thrush and ‘Timor Nightjar’, a species yet to be described.

Day 9: We will try to reach the upper elevations of Wetar today in search of any species we are missing before departing in the evening. We will be heading further east, towards some of the most range-restricted and isolated bird species in the world.

Day 10: Arriving in the afternoon, we will have plenty of time to explore the arid island of Leti before dark, concentrating on Kisar Friarbird, endemic to just three tiny islands in this region. Along with Banda Sea Fantail, we might also find our first Wallacean Whistler, Supertramp Fantail. An endemic subspecies of Southern Boobook will be targeted before we begin a long sail north-east.

Day 11: Today is another sailing day to enjoy some R&R, fabulous snorkelling off the tiny, uninhabited island of Terbang Selatan at lunchtime, and plenty of seawatching as we slowly approach one of the most remote islands in Indonesia.

Day 12: Probably the most exciting stop of the trip, this is the home of the beautiful Damar Flycatcher, a species missing since the 19th century prior to its recent rediscovery by an expedition in 2001. Once in good forest this enigmatic species is quite common, at least by voice and we may also find Elegant and Pink-headed Imperial Pigeons, Orange-sided Thrush, White-tufted Honeyeater, Banda Sea Monarch, Black-banded Fruit Dove, another endemic subspecies of Golden Whistler, Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher and Banda Sea Gerygone. We will make a start on the cruise back south-east to Babar this evening.

Day 13: On Babar today we should see our first Cinnamon-tailed Fantail (vocally distinct from Tanimbar birds and thus likely an undescribed species), Banda Myzomela which are shared with the Tanimbars, along with particularly confiding Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher, Orange-sided Thrush, Olive-headed Lorikeet and Tricoloured Parrotfinch. The main attraction will have to wait until after dark however, when the strikingly plumaged endemic race of Southern Boobook comes out to play. After our nocturnal foray we will commence the last sea crossing of the tour towards the Tanimbar Islands.

Day 14: After a final scan of the open ocean for interesting seabirds and cetaceans we will reach a small islet just offshore from Yamdena in the late afternoon – here the rare Tanimbar Scrubfowl is relatively easy to see. Then it will then be a short hop over to the mainland to disembark at Saumlaki and toast to the end of our amazing oceanic adventure.

Day 15-16: Searching for the plethora of Tanimbar endemics will undoubtedly prove to be excellent birding, and will boost our list considerably. Wallace’s Fruit Dove, Tanimbar Cockatoo, Blue-streaked Lory, Charming Fantail, Tanimbar Oriole, Tanimbar Friarbird, Tanimbar Flyrobin, Tanimbar Starling, Pied Bronze Cuckoo, Tanimbar Monarch, Tanimbar Triller are all widespread, but Tanimbar Bush Warbler, Slaty-backed Thrush and Fawn-breasted Thrush will require some work! At night we should find Tanimbar Boobook, and with a good deal of luck, Australian Masked Owl. NOTE: Anyone who has already visited the Tanimbar Islands is welcome to depart early, on the morning of Day 15. Please contact us for a revised tour cost.

Day 17: The tour ends this morning at Saumlaki Airport (SXK), with flights out typically routing to Denpasar or Jakarta via. Ambon. Those continuing with the post tour extension will fly to Tual on Kai Kecil for overnight.



Day 1: Overnight on Kai Kecil after arrivals from Tanimbar via Ambon.

Day 2: Departing early for a half-day excursion over to Kai Besar, we will take a small muddy trail up to 400m altitude in search of Kai Besar White-eye and Kai Leaf Warbler. In the afternoon we will be back on Kai Kecil and search for Kai Fantail, Kai Monarch, Kai Coucal, Kai Kecil White-eye, Kai Cicadabird, and Kai Spangled Drongo. Wallacean Cuckooshrike, Drab Whistler, Island Whistler and Island Monarch are standouts amongst the more widespread species also present on the island. Yellow-capped Pygmy Parrot, Papuan Pitta, Amboyna Cuckoo Dove, Grey Whistler and Mistletoebird are also possible.

Day 3: Morning birding on Kai Kecil before flights out to Ambon and onwards.

Tour details

Twin Share:
$ 7,300
Single Room: $ 12,500
Deposit: $ 1,500

$ 900
Single room supplement: $ 100

Accommodation: Comfortable liveaboard boat, with comfortable hotels on Tanimbar and the Kai extension.

Walking difficulty: Easy to moderate throughout the tour on a mixture of trails and roadside birding.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.