Sultan Birding Trips
Three of us—two from the US and one from Australia— recently took a two-week trip to West Papua and Papua. We were guided expertly by Monal, who not only knows the birds but shows great care for those on the tour. Two of us had traveled with Monal two years earlier in Waigeo and Nimbokrang Papua, so we knew already how well he operated his tours. Monal and his staff did an excellent job arranging the tour details and truly taking care of us as birding clients. We especially appreciated how well Monal integrated the local guides and drivers into the tours, treating them with respect, which added to the total experience for us. We look forward with great anticipation to the next tour we take with Monal and Sultan Birding Tours.
Mr. Robert N. Wiedenmann

Birder, USA

Thanks, Monal and his team for the wonderful birding experience there. I managed to get all of my target kingfishers at Tangkoko, plus the red-bellied pitta (now known as Sulawesi Pitta) too.>
Yam Tee Yong


My wife and I decided to visit Sulawesi for the first time over Lunar New Year and asked Monal to arrange the trip. We arrived on a Friday early afternoon and left on the following Wednesday afternoon, so we limited our activities to Gunung Mahawu and Tangkoko. From the moment he met us outside arrivals until he dropped us off for departures, Monal took care of everything – all the mechanics as well as finding the birds. Both places we stayed were excellent and both provided good bird sightings in different ways: the Gardenia Hotel has extensive grounds including trees, lawns, flowering plants, and ponds that attract many species including Barred Rails, Sahel Sunbirds, and Myzomelas. The Tangkoko Hill Cottage had a Chinese Sparrowhawk hunting in the early morning, as well as views of Grosbeak Mynas, Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpeckers, Drongos, and overflying Channel-Billed Cuckoos. The vehicles were comfortable and well-driven. The food was excellent and plentiful. Monal is very aware of what his clients want: which birds, the balance between birding and photography, and their speed and agility (or lack of). He constantly optimizes the plan and uses a set of helpers, sherpas, and guides to carry food and chairs, locate birds and help his guests. As a result, we saw many of the birds we wanted to see, even though conditions were not ideal and there have not been enough visitors to get back to normal following Covid. We saw over 80 species in our four and a half days, of which over half were endemic to Sulawesi and its islands. These included the endemics of Sulawesi Pitta and Scaly Kingfisher, as well as the normal Lilac and Green-Backed KFs, Sulawesi Bush Hen, White-Rumped Cuckoo-Shrike, Silver-Tipped and White-Bellied Imperial Pigeons, Superb Fruit Doves and both Cuckoo-Doves, Knobbed and Dwarf Hornbills, Minehasa Racket-Tail, Ashy Woodpecker, Philippine Scrubfowl, the endemic Malkoha, Brush Cuckoo, two White-Eyes, Drongo, Whistler, Great Hanging Parrot, Blue Flycatcher, three Flowerpeckers, Myzomela, Pale Blue Monarch, and several others. Monal was so disappointed that we had failed to see the Great-Billed KF on our trip into the mangroves that he insisted on scheduling an additional early-morning trip before taking us to the airport and it was successful! We were also lucky to see a Javan Plover, a rare species in this area.

We cannot think of anything Monal could have done better to improve our visit. He is meticulous in planning, friendly, energetic, and solution-oriented – he found a way of binding up Kim’s shoe when the sole was detaching, then personally spent an hour round trip on a motorbike to get it re-glued and sewn at a reliable shop. He’s always trying to improve your experience – listening for the next bird while you are scoping this one, moving you several yards to obtain a better angle for a picture, recommending a fish dish for lunch, changing plans on the fly to accommodate the weather and focusing on the areas most likely to yield the species you want.

Thank you Monal for an excellent trip and we will be back to see other parts of Sulawesi with you, and maybe Papua.

Tomohon & Tangkoko Birding Trip 20 – 25 January 2023

Rob & Kim Arnold

UK & USA Birdwatchers

WhatsApp Logo Let's chat