Birding in Arfak


Arfak is by many birders known as the best birding location in West Papua. Because it’s situated in the mountains, the species here are almost completely different from other places that are located in lowlands and foothills. Birds don’t come easy here in the dense forest, but for a couple of most desired species hides have been made, so that they can be observed from close range. In fact you can divide Arfak in two sectors: the “lower” one at about 1600m altitude and the “higher” one at about 2000m altitude. The lower one has decent accommodations and birding is moderately easy, the higher one needs camping and long and steeps walks. Both have their own set of special species. The whole area is relatively cool and the forest are loaded with epiphytes and boasts with all kinds of wildlife. This makes Arfak the place to go in Papua. 

Key Bird Species Lower Area

Vogelkop Bowerbird:  A drab brown bird that excites many birders anyway. It’s not the bird, it’s what he makes. The male is a real building artist and he impresses females and birders with an enormous construction that is beautified with blue items. 

Arfak Catbird: Nice endemic member of the Bowerbird family, not specialised in construction, but big with a bright green back and a nicely patterned head. If you think you hear a cat in the forest, you’re close to watching this special bird.

Vogelkop Melidectes: Large and nicely patterned member of the Honeyeater family. Like all members of this family very active and relatively easy to see, altough they are moving fast. Arfak is by far the best place to see this beautiful bird in the wild.

Western Pariota: Odd member of the Birds-of-Paradise family, with 6 antenne-like feathers projecting from the back of the head. The chest is beautifully bronzy-scaled.

Vogelkop Lophorina: Another black Bird-of-Paradise, that stayd largely unnoticed, unless the male is displaying. It dances around, with a beautiful blue and black circling mantle and squeaks with his yellow beak wide open. Unresistable for the modest females and the hidden birders.

Key Bird Species Higher Area

Arfak Astrapia:  A restricted range Bird-of-Paradise with a black dress, very long tail and the males of course with iridescent feathers on belly and throat. It may not be the most beautiful Bird-of-Paradise, it’s certainly one of the most difficult to encounter and Arfak is the place to be.

Long-tailed Paradigalla: Another endemic member of the Bird-of-Paradise family, large and black, delicately patterned with a yellow wattle, blue line and purple dot. It feeds on fruts and probes mosses on trees for food, so with finding the right trees we might have good looks at this rare species.

Cinnamon-browed Melidectes: Another nicely patterned member of the Honeyeater family, very active and normally quite loud as well. 

Vogelkop Scrubwren: If you think that all Papuan birds are spectacular, this tiny drab species proves you are wrong. The modesty is compensated by its very small range and rarity, what makes it very special to see it moving through the epiphytes in the forest.


Other special bird species are: Black-billed Cuckoo-Dove (forest, common), White-breasted Fruit-Dove (forest, fairly common), Papuan Mountain-Pigeon (forest and open areas, common),  

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Minimum amount of days: 4 (3 nights).

Advised amount of days: 6 (5 nights).

Maximum amount of days: 8 (it’s a tough environment, cool, but humid).

Price level: $… pp/pd.

Needed level of fitness: Above average, hikes are deep in the forest with steep slopes to climb, if you want to go to the higher part you have to camp and walk 6 hours up hill.


Nearest airport: Manokwari, connections to Jayapura, Sorong, Makassar and Jakarta.

Transport: From Manokwari to Arfak with a private 4WD car. In Arfak mostly by foot.

Combinations and extensions:

Good destinations to combine with Arfak: Nimbokrang, Sorong and Biak.

Typical itinerary:

2Birding in forestEarly morning and late afternoon (lunch break)
3Birding in forestEarly morning and late afternoon (lunch break)
4Birding in morning ….


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