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Relationship help needed: Borneo vs. Sulawesi (1 Viewer)

BruceBerman

Well-known member
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??
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
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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DMW

Well-known member
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.
 

BruceBerman

Well-known member
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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Jim M.

Choose Civility
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.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
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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Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
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.
 

DMW

Well-known member
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.
 

jurek

Well-known member
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.
 

BruceBerman

Well-known member
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?
 

DMW

Well-known member
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.
 

James Eaton

Trent Valley Crew
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
 

kurakura

Well-known member
I have done roughly 60 trips to Sabah (Malaysian Borneo), I am a tour leader. Sabah has some great birding, good birdguides, and even alot of local birders. So you will find more people here with knowledge of the local hotspots than anywhere else in the Malay Archipelago. On my regular 12-14day trips, we will quite consistently get 140spesies, with the few odd occassions where there are actually active birders in my group. The record for a 12 days roundtrip (Teuku Abdul Rahman marine park, Kota Kinabalu, Poring, Sepilok, Selingan island, and Sukau), was 204 spesies. Even within 1-1½hrs of Kota Kinabalu you will be able to get alot of goodies. However, Sabah is rather high standard accomodation, transport, food, which also make it abit more expensive than other destinations in the region, especially if you want to go to Danum Valley or Tabin.

Sulawesi would in my opinion give you are more complete experience, with birding and unique cultural experiences. Sabah if you want to go all in on nature.
 

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