Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hiking and Birdwatching in Sorong of West Papua

Visitors who travel to Raja Ampat will first have to fly to Sorong city. The city is located in mainland West Papua province of the Republic of Indonesia. I often receive questions from tourists whether there are other natural attractions around Sorong regency which they can see before or after visiting Raja Ampat islands.
Female Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus)
Female Eclectus Parrot
The lowland forest in the suburb of Sorong regency is a new destination for tourists who want to explore the biodiversity of tropical rainforest. The forest is the natural habitat of birds, reptiles, insects, mammals and marsupials. I introduced it for the first time on the internet in November 2014.
Male Lesser Birds of Paradise
a male Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor)
Tropical birds of New Guinea that thrive in lowland rainforest can be seen in the valley. Shining flycatcher (Myagra alecto), Sulphur crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), Pinon Imperial Pigion (Ducula pinon), Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), Western crowned pigeon (Goura cristata), Blyth's hornbill (Rhyticeros plicatus), Rufous-bellied Kookaburra, Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Moustached Tree Swift, and Lesser birds of paradise (Paradisaea minor) are some of the many birds of New Guinea that visitors can watch while walking through the forest.
Western-crowned Pigeon (Goura cristata)
Western-crowned Pigeon
Hiking through the rainforest of Klasow valley is easy because the land is flat. However, the footpath to the display tree of Lesser Birds of Paradise is steep and slippery. It is approximately one hour on foot from the village. Visitors have to walk for at least 1 hour to reach the lek of the birds that is located near Klasow river.
Visitors can watch the birds in the mornings and in the evenings. Male lesser birds of paradise compete against one another to win the heart of female birds.
Lesser Birds of Paradise (Paradisaea minor)
Lesser Birds of Paradise
When the weather is good, the courtship dance performance usually lasts for 3 hours from 6 to 9 a.m.
After watching the paradise birds, visitors could walk back to the village and do birdwatching along the way. Binoculars, spotting scopes and laser pointer will be very useful during the morning walk.
Leg-cramps and muscle pain are not very common among tourists, but there were some cases where  tourists experienced them. Dehydration, salt depletion and fatigue of long day walking on the trails caused these severe leg cramps. When these signs happened, I immediately stopped the hiking tour and returned to our guesthouse. In the jungle guesthouse, I served instant noodle and gave it to my client who suffered it.  The soup of the noodle contains salt that would reduce the cramps. The noodle soup resupplies her body with new electrolytes. To ease the soreness or pain in the muscles and joints, I gave gentle massage using coconut oil. I applied the oil on my palms, warmed them up and then gave relaxing massage to the tensed musles.
Massage also increased the flow of blood that brings nutrients and oxygen to underlying tissues. It relieved muscle tension, and stiffness. Birding could be continued around the clearing area of the forest.

Birding in the Forest Edge

The clearing area around the jungle village is a good place for birding in the afternoon particularly between 16.00 to 18.00 local time. Birds such as friarbird, moustached tree swift, large fig parrot, red cheek parrot, and black lorry often fly and perch in the nearby trees. Children in the village with their sharper eyes can spot birds in distant trees faster than most of the visitors.
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra (Dacelo gaudichaud)
Rufous-bellied Kookaburra
What you need to bring:
  • Water shoes or trekking shoes and long sleeve clothing that will protect you from insect bites when you sleep. You also need t-shirt that is suitable for tropical climate that is usually hot during the day
  • Torch
  • Rain poncho
  • Insect repellent lotion. Apply it on your skin, and the clothes that cover your body, including areas over your neck, armpits, chest, crotch and ankle. This is very important to protect you from tiny insects that can go through your clothes and bite your skin. 
  • Bring binoculars or digital camera with super telephoto lens if you want to take pictures of the animals that live in the jungle.
  • Extra batteries for your camera.

Itinerary of Rainforest Tour:
Day 1
Transfer from Sorong city to lowland forest of Sorong by 4WD pick-up car. You will stay in a guesthouse (basic accommodation) in the jungle. Birding can be done directly along the forest edge. After dinner, I or local villager will accompany you to have a night walk in the jungle to find wallaby. Sometimes Papuan frogmouth or fruit bat can be seen too. We will use flash or torch. If you are too tired to do the night walk, we could do it in the second night.
Day 2
Early in the morning, after breakfast, you will leave your camp to walk deeper into the jungle to explore its biodiversity. Deer, wild pigs and wallaby live in the jungle of the valley. Our targets for this morning are Lesser Birds of Paradise and Twelve-wired Bird of Paradise. If we are lucky, we could see them. At night, after dinner, local guide can accompany you to find cuscus possum that usually comes out at night to find food or to mate.
Day 3
We will go trekking and birding in the hill forest. Usually, Hooded Butcherbird, Western-crowned Pigeon, Black-capped Lory, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Red-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Frilled Monarch and King Bird of Paradise.
Day 4
This is your last birding day, the easiest way to explore the forest is to walk around the forest through old logging tracks that are located near the village. Birds such as Pink-spotted Fruit Dove, Large Fig Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, usually come to villagers' garden to find grains such as corn, peanuts and green beans. In the afternoon, 4WD pick up truck will transfer you back to Sorong city.
Unpaved road leading to Klasow valley

This depends on the number of participants and duration of the tour. Traveling in a group of 3 or 4 people will make the price cheaper.

The Lowland forest is located in the west of Sorong city. Visitors need to rent a 4WD Pick-up truck to reach the valley. You could contact me if you want a more customized trips and different itinerary.


Please, send me (Charles Roring) an email to: or text message to my cell phone 006281332245180. I will be happy to arrange your trip to Sorong forest or other parts of West Papua.
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Also read:
Birdwatching Tour in Sorong Lowland Forest
Birding in Sorong regency
Birding tour in Sorong regency of West Papua

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