The extraordinary degree of endemism in the Philippines is well demonstrated by the country’s avifauna: some 200 species are endemic and many of these are restricted to only one island. During this exciting journey we will target many of the scarcest and least-known endemic species, some of which have been seen by very few birders. In the process we will visit six of the major islands, where the majority of the Philippine’s endemics occur and where we have a very good chance of seeing many species that do not feature on our standard Philippines itinerary.
Sadly, in common with so many parts of the world, the rainforest in the Philippines is severely threatened and much has already disappeared. In consequence many bird species are in imminent danger if the destruction continues and in order to see some of the specialities it will be necessary to visit some very remote areas. There are basic accommodations in some areas and some fairly strenuous trails in a few of the locations, so this is a tour for those with a strong desire to see the a whole series of specialities that are part of the vanishing avifauna of the Philippines and a willingness to ‘do what it takes’.
After arriving in Manila, we begin our adventure on nearby Mindoro where we will visit one of the last remaining areas of lowland rainforest on the island. Here we can expect to see several species of forest birds which are unique to Mindoro or of restricted distribution, including Spotted Imperial Pigeon, Black-hooded Coucal, the recently-described Mindoro Boobook (or Mindoro Hawk-Owl), Mindoro Hornbill and Scarlet-collared Flowerpecker.
The Visayan Islands have much to offer and we will travel next to Negros, where at Bacolod we will search the slopes of Mount Canloan for specialities such as Visayan Hornbill, White-winged Cuckoo-shrike, the beautiful Flame-templed Babbler, Negros Striped Babbler, White-vented Whistler and Visayan Flowerpecker.
Nearby lies the fascinating island of Bohol. Here, from our base in the bizarre Chocolate Hills, we will explore the forested limestone outcrops of Rajah Sikatuna National Park, where, amongst others, we will seek out the amazing Philippine Frogmouth, the equally strange Visayan Wattled Broadbill, the dazzling Azure-breasted Pitta, Black-crowned Babbler and Yellow-breasted Tailorbird.
Our journey will then take us to Cebu in the central Visayan Islands, an island which has been almost totally deforested. Fortunately one or two forest patches remain and these still hold the two Cebu endemics, Black Shama and Cebu Flowerpecker (surely one of the rarest birds in the world). We can expect to see the shama but we will need luck to find the flowerpecker and the localized Streak-breasted Bulbul.
Next we come first to the island of Mindanao. Here we will look for Zamboanga Bulbul and White-eared Tailorbird, two rare endemics which can be found in the forested watershed just outside the city of Zamboanga. We will then travel to Mount Apo to search for some elusive montane endemics, including Mindanao Scops Owl, Mindanao Lorikeet and Whiskered Flowerpecker.
The final part of our journey will see us exploring a remote part of Luzon, where we will trek deep into the Sierra Madre Mountains. Here, in dense moss-clad forest, we will have a good chance of finding some of the Philippine’s rarest and most sought-after endemics, including Flame-breasted and Cream-bellied Fruit-Doves, Luzon Bleeding-heart, the colourful Whiskered Pitta, Sierra Madre Crow, Grand Rhabdornis, Rabor’s (or Rusty-faced), Golden-crowned and Luzon Striped Babblers, Furtive Flycatcher and the little known Blue-breasted Flycatcher, before our great adventure draws to a close.
Birdquest has operated tours to the Philippines since 1990.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are mostly of normal Birdquest standard. At Sablayan on Mindoro we will stay in a simple hotel. On Mount Apo we will be staying in a very basic lodge, while in the Sierra Madre Mountains on Luzon (five nights) we will be accommodated in simple tented camps arranged by our local agent (tents will be available for twin or single occupancy). Road transport is by small coach or minibus and roads are mostly reasonable.
Walking: The walking effort is easy to moderate in most areas, but fairly strenuous during some of the montane sections of the tour.
Climate: Most days in the lowlands are warm or hot, dry and sunny, but overcast conditions are fairly frequent and some rain can be expected. In upland areas it will be cool to warm (even cold at the highest altitudes). The humidity can be high at times.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Tour Price: (provisional): £3650, €4200, $5840 Manila/Manila. Price includes all transportation (including all flights inside the Philippines), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room/Tent Supplement: (provisional): £320, €368, $512.
Deposit: 10% of the tour price (excluding any single supplement).
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
As an indication, return fares from London are available from around £920, €1060, $1470. You can join the tour by leaving London the day before the tour starts, arriving back in London the day after the tour ends.