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Relationship help needed: Borneo vs. Sulawesi

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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 19:45   #1
BruceBerman
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Relationship help needed: Borneo vs. Sulawesi

Hi Folks,

My gf and I are planning a 2 month trip to Indonesia Aug-Oct 2020. She IS a birder but we also want to see cultural stuff, which we'll do mostly on Bali and Java (where we will also bird).

Then, and here's the problem, we will go either to Borneo or Sulawesi. I want Borneo, she favors Sulawesi.

We DO plan to return to Indonesia at some time in the future, but my impression is that Borneo offers better birding and my motto is: Do It Now!

What do you think??
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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 19:57   #2
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Originally Posted by BruceBerman View Post
Hi Folks,

My gf and I are planning a 2 month trip to Indonesia Aug-Oct 2020. She IS a birder but we also want to see cultural stuff, which we'll do mostly on Bali and Java (where we will also bird).

Then, and here's the problem, we will go either to Borneo or Sulawesi. I want Borneo, she favors Sulawesi.

We DO plan to return to Indonesia at some time in the future, but my impression is that Borneo offers better birding and my motto is: Do It Now!

What do you think??
Sulawesi is one of the best places in Indo and I'd say, probably just, edges out Borneo with lots of transitional 'Wallacean' species. From what I hear about Borneo these days, Sulawesi should be cheaper too if that's a consideration?
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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 22:26   #3
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When you say Borneo, do you mean the Indonesian portion (Kalimantan) or Malaysian bits (Sabah/Sarawak)? This makes a very big difference as Kalimantan is not an easy destination, and I would say without hesitation say do Sulawesi.

The Malaysian part is a different matter, with much better birding infrastructure than Kalimantan. I would say that Sulawesi is a more interesting travel experience and has a more interesting avifauna, but lower overall species diversity.
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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 23:10   #4
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Thank you DMW. I'm thinking Malaysian Borneo vs. both north and south Sulawesi.
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Old Wednesday 15th January 2020, 00:54   #5
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Thanks, Andy. Cost is always a factor, but this will be my only trip of the year so I can spend a bit more. I'm hoping to see as many species as possible. I have an annual target number of 400 (I realize I might not get that on this trip) if I'm to hit my life target before I go to that birdy tropical rainforest in the sky.

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Old Wednesday 15th January 2020, 01:16   #6
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Malaysian Borneo would be a much better overall wildlife experience. You should see many more mammals. I believe number of bird species for a trip would be similar in both places; though I expect the number of new bird species you'd see after already visiting Java and Bali might be a little higher in Sulawesi.
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Old Wednesday 15th January 2020, 08:56   #7
andyadcock
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When you say Borneo, do you mean the Indonesian portion (Kalimantan) or Malaysian bits (Sabah/Sarawak)? This makes a very big difference as Kalimantan is not an easy destination, and I would say without hesitation say do Sulawesi.

The Malaysian part is a different matter, with much better birding infrastructure than Kalimantan. I would say that Sulawesi is a more interesting travel experience and has a more interesting avifauna, but lower overall species diversity.

Borneo as a whole has 720 species with 40 endemic.

Sulawesi has 436 of which 136 are endemic and I agree about the travel experience though unless you fly, there are some long bus journeys.

If you're doing N Sulawesi, you should try and get to Halmahera too?
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Old Wednesday 15th January 2020, 09:44   #8
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Malaysian Borneo would be a much better overall wildlife experience. You should see many more mammals. I believe number of bird species for a trip would be similar in both places; though I expect the number of new bird species you'd see after already visiting Java and Bali might be a little higher in Sulawesi.
I think it would be considerably higher, Sulawesi has just over 25% endemism.
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Old Wednesday 15th January 2020, 17:35   #9
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Hi Andy,
Absolutely, we would bird Halmahera also.
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 09:20   #10
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Do what your gf wants. My trip report for Sulawesi and Halmahera in Nov 2018 is here: http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=2898
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 17:26   #11
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Do what your gf wants. My trip report for Sulawesi and Halmahera in Nov 2018 is here: http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=2898
Sounds like an awesome trip- either a option sounds good

Therefore ....... do what the gf wants! It’s a no-brainer
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 18:34   #12
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Quite honestly, I would dump Bali and do both Borneo and Sulawesi. Just a personal opinion, but I think Bali is massively over-rated and probably my least favourite part of Indonesia. Also the birds are an almost complete overlap with Java. Even a relatively short visit to Sabah would allow you to visit Mt Kinabalu, Sepilok and Kinabatangan.
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Old Thursday 16th January 2020, 19:58   #13
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If either-or, I would choose Sabah over Sulawesi. Even if the avifauna is technically more similar, Sabah has many rainforest and mountain species unlikely to be seen in Java or Bali. And a great variety of mammals, starting with the orangutan and the proboscis monkey.

As others pointed, Java and Bali are over-populated and over-touristy to many people.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 03:14   #14
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I already downloaded your report before posting this. Thanks Steve, for the reply and the report!
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 03:18   #15
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Thank you all for the input. Bali and Java are a must for the cultural experiences available there. I did get my gf to agree to extend the trip to 10 weeks. I'm figuring 4 weeks in Java and Bali and 3 weeks each in Malaysian Borneo and Sulawesi/Halmahera. My job is to present to her my proposed birding itinerary.

Quick question for anyone who feels like answering. Do you think 3 weeks each in Borneo and Sulawesi will be enough time or will I be severely slighting both destinations?
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 09:19   #16
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You can always use more time in places like these, but if 3 weeks is what you have to work with, definitely enough for very worthwhile trips.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 17:04   #17
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Originally Posted by BruceBerman View Post
Thank you all for the input. Bali and Java are a must for the cultural experiences available there. I did get my gf to agree to extend the trip to 10 weeks. I'm figuring 4 weeks in Java and Bali and 3 weeks each in Malaysian Borneo and Sulawesi/Halmahera. My job is to present to her my proposed birding itinerary.

Quick question for anyone who feels like answering. Do you think 3 weeks each in Borneo and Sulawesi will be enough time or will I be severely slighting both destinations?
As Duncan says, I'd severely minimalise time on Java and Bali. There are some really beautiful parts on Bali, but reaching them is an effort, as the surroundings of the airport (Kuta, Legian for example) are heavily congested, and Denpasar a bit of a dump. North coasts, which are much quieter, are nicer. You can also get some birding in here too. Contact Bali Bird tours (Hery and Bayu).
The culture in Central and East Java is very nice, but it's hard going with the travelling, but also plenty of nice birding spots that are largely ignored by visiting birders - try Jatimulyo coffee plantation, as you'll be visiting Yogjakarta - great cultural experience, seeing them making coffee, while also seeing plenty of birds (it's a no hunting area).

If you want to vary things up a little, one recommendation I would make is to head over to Ruteng and Keli Mutu, on Flores to mix birding and culture, at the expense of one of your Java and Bali weeks.

Three weeks in Sabah is fine I'd say. Even two weeks, depending on your exact interests, would be fine. Sulawesi is far more time consuming to visit, depending on where you're going.

It'll be a great time, whatever you decide to do,

James
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 19:47   #18
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Thanks again for the input. The research will take weeks!
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