Halmahera Birding

by Sultan Birding Tours Indonesia

Sultan Birding Tours Indonesia

offers a range of private and small group birding tours

throughout Sulawesi, Halmahera

Birding on Halmahera

Packed with north Moluccan birds endemics including the stunning Wallace’s Standard wing and Ivory-breasted Pitta. A trip to Halmahera is on many people’s wish lists.

Halmahera key bird species:
Moluccan Scrubfowl; Dusky Scrubfowl; Moluccan Goshawk; Rufous-necked Sparrowhawk; Meyer’s Goshawk; Gurney’s Eagle; Bare-eyed Rail; Invisible Rail; Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove; Blue-capped Fruit Dove; Grey-headed Fruit Dove; Moluccan Imperial Pigeon; Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon; White Cockatoo; Violet-necked Lory; Chattering Lory; Moluccan King Parrot; Moluccan Hanging Parrot; Moluccan Cuckoo; Goliath Coucal; Moluccan Scops Owl; Barking Owl; Halmahera Boobook; Moluccan Owlet-nightjar; Halmahera Swiftlet; Blue-and-white Kingfisher; Sombre Kingfisher; Purple Dollarbird; Ivory-breasted Pitta; Red-bellied Pitta; Dusky Myzomela; White-streaked Friarbird; Dusky Friarbird; Moluccan Cuckooshrike; Halmahera Cuckooshrike; Rufous-bellied Triller; White-naped Monarch; Moluccan Monarch; Moluccan Flycatcher; Northern Golden Bulbul; Island Whistler; Halmahera Flowerpecker; Halmahera Oriole; Paradise-crow; Wallace’s Standard wing.

This is Halmahera, in the shape of a Sulawesi in miniature, with a few people, few roads, and a vast forest, where logging has yet to make a significant impact. For birders, it is home to 24 species of bird found nowhere else in the world, including the apt name Invisible Rail and Wallace’s greatest find – the Standard wing bird-of-paradise. for decades an island so far off the beaten track that only one ornithologist ventured there between 1932 and 1986, Halmahera is now a surprisingly easy place to see some very special birds. 

Halmahera Birding Itinerary 


Upon arrival at Ternate airport then transfer by car to the harbor than by speed boat takes 45 minutes to reach Sofifi harbor, from here we will drive about 4 hours to reach our resort/Lodge in  Subaim.

Day 02, Day 03, Day 04, and Day 05
Four days birding and explore the home of Wallace’s Standard wing bird of Paradise in Halmahera. We might see: Beach Kingfisher, then trip continues walking along logging to see Paradise Crow, Long-billed Crow, Cream-throated White-eye, Rusty-bellied Triller, White-naped Monarch, Blue-and-white Kingfisher, Goliath Coucal, Moluccan Owlet-nightjar, Moluccan Boobook, and Moluccan Scops-owl, Common Paradise Kingfisher, White Cockatoo, Violet-necked Lory, Long-billed Crow, Golden Bulbul, Blyth’s Hornbill, Grey-headed Fruit-dove, Moluccan Starling and Red-cheeked Parrot. Moluccan Goshawk, Halmahera Cuckoo-shrike, Moluccan Cuckoo-shrike, Dusky Brown Oriole, Eclectus Parrot, Great-billed Parrot, Dusky Friarbird, Blue-capped Fruit-dove, Scarlet-breasted Fruit-dove, Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon, Spectacled Imperial Pigeon, Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Halmahera Flowerpecker, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Chattering Lory and Ivory-breasted Pitta and much more endemic birds.

Day 06 : Subaim – Sofifi – Ternate
After breakfast, we will transfer by 4W drive to Sofifi then by speed boat takes 45 minutes to reach Ternate, transfer by car to the hotel and if the time is permitted we can do birding near the lake

Day 07: Ternate – Jakarta
Breakfast at the hotel and then we transfer by car to the ternate airport for next destination. End of the trip.


  • Hot birding spot destinations: Ternate, Halmahera, and Poli forest.
  • Availability: Set Departure
  • Tour Type: Multi-Day Tour
  • Tour Focus: Birds
  • Group Size: Minimum 6 people
  • Duration: 7 Days / 6 Nights
  • Best Time: Throughout The Year
  • Pace: Challenging
  • Arrival In: Ternate airport, Halmahera of Indonesia
  • Depart From: Ternate airport, Halmahera of Indonesia

What is included?

  • English Speaking Bird Guide fee
  • Meals, daily breakfast, lunch, and Dinner
  • All Lodging (Twin-Share room)
  • Entrances to Parks and Reserves
  • Local guides at many of the sites visited.
  • Car Transport during the trip

What is not included?

  • Insurance
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Airfare to Indonesia ( Jakarta )
  • Internal Airfare: Jakarta – Ternate and Ternate to Jakarta
  • Laundry
  • Tips
  • All personal expenses that are not mentioned on the items above.
  • Any kind of expenditures incurred due to flight cancellation/delays or due to other causes beyond our control.

Payment Term and Condition
We require a minimum of 50% deposit payment to confirm your booking, we cannot guarantee your booking until this has been received. Bookings will be held for 7 days to allow the client time to send a deposit payment. We reserve the right to release the booking if the deposit is not received within 7 days of the booking being made. Changes of dates to bookings after the deposit has been made can be done but will be subject to availability.
Cancelation: Deposit payment No Refund, No show – full payment charge.
Full Payment, The full payment will be required at least 30 days prior to your date of arrival. The invoice amount has to be paid in full, net of all transfer costs and bank charges.

We will use a minibus or cars. The road is some part in good condition and some part in bad condition. While from Ternate to Sofifi we will use a small speedboat.

This trip will be provided with an English speaking bird guide during the whole trip and a local guide (who owns/guard the land) for each place in Halmahera

The walking ranges from easy to moderate, but there will be one harder day to get Wallace’s standard wing Lek

Most days in the lowlands will be hot and humid for much of Halmahera, with a chance of heavy, tropical, some rains at any time.

A valid passport is required; the passport must be valid for at least six months past your intended stay. Visas on arrival in Indonesia can be obtained for tourists from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and EU countries for stays of under 30 days. There is a fee for this, payable in cash (in US Dollars). Travel requirements are subject to change; we recommend double-checking entry requirements six weeks prior to the tour or asking our office staff for help.

Sultan Birding Tours acts only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel, whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, or airplane, and assumes no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the tour. Sultan Birding Tours Indonesia can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as tour rates provide for arrangements only for the time stated. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely. The airlines concerned and their agents and affiliates are not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time passengers are not on board their aircraft.

In order to go for a good birding trip, we need to have a good guide and plan the trip during the right season. But in most cases, we might not be able to go during the right season as we have work and personal commitments. So the best way for me is to go for my trip whenever I have the time and let’s nature take its cause.

This time around I decided to explore Halmahera and was hoping to see Wallace’s Standard wing up close and personal. Standard wing is a species of the bird-of-paradise. The local called it Bidadari Halmahera. I fancy the local name more as if you translate Bidadari to English, it will be translated to “Angel” or “Fairy”.

When I contacted Monal to arrange for the trip, he told me that this is not a good time to go to Halmahera as it’s monsoon season now. I agreed with him but I also told him so let’s just go and see what we can find there together. He was reluctant initially but finally agreed.

Upon learning my decision to go to Halmahera, my good friend offered to lend his 1DX as he said my 7D mark 2 will not be good enough for the trip as the lighting in Halmahera is very challenging. I would like to dedicate all these shots to my good friend and I am grateful to you for your kindness.

I was mentally ready to bird in the rain and very low shutter count. But on this trip, I experienced equal excitement and anxiety at the same time. Almost most of the things that I could think of. I shall share with you the challenges first and the rest as we go along.

1st was the weather.

I flew through Manado when going to Halmahera and I was expecting good weather in Tangkoko but unfortunately it was raining when I flew in and out. On the other hand, I was expecting bad weather in Halmahera but fortunately, I got great weather in Halmahera when I was there.

2nd is the Nature events of bigger things.

Two years ago when I visited Tangkoko with my friends, Mt Lokon erupted. This time around I experienced the earthquake tremor during my first night at Manado around 10.30 pm. I felt like I was like sleeping on a waterbed. That night we had an M6.8 earthquake 156km NW of Ternate. Please see the below link for the earthquake details. I could not stop thinking about it during the whole trip.


3rd is bird photography.

Oh no… the bird flew behind me… Oh no… the bird just flew past in front of me… Oh no.. the bird is so near that I cannot shoot… Oh no… by the time I set up my gears… the bird already flew away. Oh no… after soaking in the rain… I got zero shutter click…

And the worst part… when you missed it…u missed it for good. The birds will fly far far away…

I guess it’s a long intro up there… let’s start with the journey.

Let me start with the last bird I shot in Halmahera as this is the most difficult journey for me on this trip.

The journey

We left at 2.30 am and drove for about 1 ½ hrs to the ranger’s place. The ranger’s place is located at the entrance of the nature reserve. The ride got winder and bumpier as we got close to the nature reserve. I got a mild headache when we arrived.

At the ranger’s place, we were served breakfast. The hot tea had helped to recover my system and I was all ready for the tough walk ahead of me. It’s about a 3 KM walk one way from the Ranger’s home to the Standard wing location. We were walking in pitch-dark with each one of us equipped with our own torchlight. We have to cross a few streams, climbing up and down the trails with slippery boots. Halfway through the trek, I had to give up my overshoes as I was not able to cope with the slippery muddy trail. Back to my trusted normal trekking shoes and walked through the streams. I have to cope with wet feet, socks, and shoes throughout the journey.

As we got near to the destination, we could hear the Standard wing calls and that made me excited. At that point, I felt a sudden burst of energy in me. Finally, we reached our location after 1 ½ hour trekking through the forest. I had to make sure that I kept in phase with the rest as I need to make sure that I was not left behind haha.

The other thing that I find very interesting is that there is a huge amount of dead corals present in the forest. Reading through the internet, I understand that the islands there is form from volcanoes emerging from the sea. These dead corals made trekking more challenging as you have to be very careful when walking and moving your tripods.

Upon reaching the location, I have to wait for a while before the sun is up. I got only about an hour to get a photo of them before they started to fly away. The birds were high up in the canopy and most of the time they were blocked and backlight.

Finally, I would like to thanks Monal Capellone and his team that made this trip possible for me to see Bidadari Halmahera and my friends here in Singapore who shared their Halmahera experienced before the trip. 

Arman AF

Bird Photographer, Singapore

Halmahera – Paradise for Birds, Hell for Photographers

It has been a long journey, one hour from Singapore to Jakarta, stayed overnight at Jakarta airport, woke up at 3 am (2 am Singapore time) in the morning to catch 5 am flight to Manado, then transited to Ternate, reached at local time 11:45 am, drove to the jetty, another 45 min speedboat ride, then followed by a 5-hour drive (of course we stopped by to shoot birds along the way), reached Weda Resort around 6:30 pm, it was dark, very dark by then.

Never heard of Halmahera before till Wong Lee Hongposted his Standard Wing in Birder’s group and Simon Quek recommended it to me. Understand it is a bird paradise with many Halmahera Endemic (not just Indonesia) birds, was excited before the trip. The reality is, yes, it is a paradise for birds, or maybe even for birdwatchers or twitchers, but from a photographer’s point of view, though the word “Hell” is a bit exaggerated, it is really a challenging place, especially comparing to other places we have been, such as Thailand. Many birds, we had never been able to see them but only hear their call, such as Common Paradise Kingfisher, Ivory Breasted Pitta, and more, needless to say, to record them on our sensors. Besides, situations such as high up on the tree tips, low light or backlit, dense leave block, far distance, fast-moving or skittish birds, plus the steep slope, muddy trail, and uneven ground, make the photography of bird a real difficult and sometimes frustrating job. Remember read an article before saying birding is light exercise leisure, shooting bird in Halmahera has never been light, one better prepares yourself physically before going to this place. 🙂

Though it is a tough place for bird photography, well, we still very much enjoy our stay in this amazing place, very good experience and eye-opening. Thanks to Monal Capellone who made it happen and everything possible for us, despite last min hiccups (which almost ruined our visit since the originally engaged guide flew us kite even though he had taken the deposit without refunding ), turns out, we were able to stay and birding at a much better place, the Weda Resort with relatively easy access to our target bird (comparing to the original arrangement). It is really 塞翁失马焉知非福呀. Highly recommend Monal, a very responsible tour organizer.

Wang Bin

Bird Photographer, Singapore

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