Day 1 Depart UK
- On arrival in Kuala Lumpur we meet our local guide and drive (165 kms / 3 hours) to the hill retreat of Bukit Fraser (known in colonial times as Fraser’s Hill), where we spend the following days birding in the surrounding highlands.
- Accommodation: Fraser's Hill, 3-nights on full board basis.
- Our target here is 50-70 highland species such as chestnut-capped laughing thrush, silver-eared mesia, large niltava, streaked spiderhunter, blue-winged minla, lesser tailed drongo, mountain fulvetta, grey-chinned minivet, golden babbler, little pied flycatcher, verditer and rufous-browed flycatcher, greater yellow-naped woodpecker and others.
- It’s also a good place to spot some of the peninsula’s endemics – specifically Malaysian whistling thrush and Malaysian hill partridge.
- After a final morning birding at Fraser’s Hill, we drive east from the highlands to Merapoh, close to Taman Negara National Park (180 kms / 3 hours). On arrival there should be time for some evening birding before nightfall.
- Our target at Taman Negara is 70-80 lowland rainforest species such as: lesser fish-eagle, bat hawk, black-thighed falconet, Malaysian hill-partridge, ferruginous wood-partridge, crested fireback, Malaysian peacock pheasant, great argus, five pigeons, long-tailed parakeet, parrots (blue-rumped and blue-crowned), various cuckoos, malkoha (Raffles’ and red-billed), lesser coucal, four owls, nightjars (Malaysian eared and large), trogons (red-naped, Diard’s and scarlet-rumped), four kingfishers, six hornbills, five barbets, seven woodpeckers, five broadbills, pittas (garnet, banded and blue-winged), black-winged flycatcher shrike, scarlet minivet, green Iora, leafbirds (blue-winged, greater and lesser), four bulbuls, Asian fairy bluebird, black magpie, velvet-fronted nuthatch, three babblers, Malaysian rail-babbler, flycatchers (dark-sided and Tickell’s blue), Asian paradise-flycatcher, monarchs (black-naped and rufous-winged), spotted fantail, forest wagtail, scarlet sunbird, little spiderhunter, two flowerpeckers and pin-tailed parrotfinch.
- Accommodation: Merapoh (near Taman Negara NP), 4-nights hotel on full board basis.
- This morning we head to Bidor (235 kms / 3.5 hours), where we spend much of the afternoon birding before continuing to Batu Gajah (another 65 kms / 1 hour), our base for two nights. This allows us to explore the wetlands of nearby Malim Mawar (just 30 minutes away) on the following day.
- In these two freshwater wetlands we target some 30-40 species, including red-wattled and grey-headed lapwings, pheasant-tailed jacana, yellow, cinnamon, black and Schrenk’s bitterns, slaty-breasted rail, purple swamphen, watercock, barred buttonquail, white-browed crake, cotton pygmy-goose, lesser whistling-duck, black-winged stilt, long-toed stint, grey heron, little and white-winged terns, marsh sandpiper, little ringed plover, greater painted-snipe, oriental pratincole, buffy fish-owl, spotted wood-owl, chestnut-winged cuckoo, and savanna nightjar.
- Accommodation: Batu Gajah, 2-nights hotel on full board basis.
- This morning we drive to the coastal town of Kuala Gula (130 kms / 1.5 hours) with stops to see what the rice paddies we pass en route have to offer. After visiting Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary, one of Malaysia’s main wetland sanctuaries, where we go birding in the mangroves and along the shore, we continue to Taiping (40 kms / 1 hour).
- Historic Taiping is famed as Peninsular Malaysia’s wettest town (its annual rainfall of 4,000 mm is twice the average!), and boasts a collection of flora and trees in Taiping Lake Gardens, the first public garden established under British rule.
- Located on a plain just west of the Bintang Mountains in the north of Perak state, it was the state capital between 1876 and 1937. When replaced by Ipoh, it stagnated and is now the second largest town, although it has undergone a recent revival. It may appear unassuming, but Taiping’s rich history and cultural heritage combine to create one of Malaysia’s best-preserved colonial settlements.
- Evening birding around Taiping and in the nearby forest, where we may see most of the barbets, such as brown, lineated, gold-whiskered, black-browed and coppersmith.
- Accommodation: Taiping, 2-nights hotel on full board basis.
- This morning we drive up to nearby Bukit Larut (known in colonial times as Maxwell Hill) in search of more highland species. Standing at an altitude of around 1,200 metres, this is Malaysia’s oldest hill station dating back to 1880. It remains relatively untouched and retains a colonial atmosphere with quaint bungalows and English-style gardens. The 13-kilometre drive to the top by government-owned Land Rover takes 30 minutes (depending on how fit you are, the walk can take from two to four hours).
- The elevation provides relief from the sultry heat of the plains, and between August and December it is a favoured location for birdwatchers, with many exotic species in the lowland rainforest and montane forest. Among the many jungle trails, the route to Gunung Hijau (1,449m) offers a fine view over Taiping, wild orchids, tree ferns and other flora and fauna; on a clear day it is possible to see the coast extending from Pangkor Island as far as Penang Island.
- Target species here include: black-crested bulbul, streaked and little spiderhunter, blue-winged minla, mountain tailorbird, black-throated sunbird, yellow-breasted and fire-breasted flowerpecker, mountain fulvetta, oriental white-eye, lesser racquet-tailed drongo, white-throated fantail, streaked and pygmy wren babbler, sultan tit, long-tailed broadbill, Blyth’s hawk eagle, orange-bellied leafbird, pink-necked pigeon, scarlet-backed flowerpecker, lineated barbet, black-capped and white-throated kingfisher, chestnut-breasted malkoha, gerygone, green Iora, speckled piculet, red-bearded bee-eater, glossy swiftlet, little cuckoo dove, orange-bellied leafbird, grey-chinned minivet, white-browed fantail, Asian paradise, Mugimaki flycatcher, blue nuthatch, ochraceous bulbul, chestnut-backed scimitar babbler.
- Today we continue to Royal Belum State Park (107 kms / 2.5 hours drive), arriving in plenty of time for evening birding on the lake. Royal Belum is widely renowned as “Hornbill Heaven”, where in the lowland rainforest all 10 of Peninsular Malaysia’s hornbills – white-crowned, bushy-crested, wrinkled, wreathed, plain-pouched, black, oriental pied, rhinoceros, great and helmeted – can be seen. We have almost two full days to explore, including a boat trip on the lake.
- This ancient tropical rainforest – the largest continuous forested area in Peninsular Malaysia, stretching right across into Southern Thailand, has been in existence for over 130 million, years making it older than those of the Amazon and the Congo. It is home to 14 of world's most threatened mammals, which include: the Malaysian tiger, Asiatic elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, white-handed gibbon, Malaysian sunbear and tapir. Other animals include seladang (wild cattle), wild boar, various species of deer, python and cobra. More than 300 avian species are found here, along with some 3,000 species of flowering plants, including three species of rafflesia, the world's largest flower.
- From now until the end of the trip we target another 60-80 species, which include: red-throated barbet, common tailorbird, oriental pied magpie robin, rufous-winged philantoma, yellow-bellied yuhina, emerald dove, purple-throated sunbird, ashy drongo, racquet-tailed drongo, plus lesser and grey-headed fish eagles, and white-bellied sea eagle.
- Accommodation: Royal Belum National Park, 2-nights hotel on full board basis.
- Leaving Taiping early, we drive to Sedim Forest Reserve (90 kms / 1.5 hours) for an opportunity to visit the world’s longest canopy walkway (925 metres) and the unique experience of watching birds from 30 metres up in the tree canopy.
- In the afternoon we stop to visit Teluk Air Dalam Recreational Forest en route to the island city of Penang.
- Accommodation: Penang, 1-night hotel on full board basis.
- Free day to explore the fascinating city of Penang, until a late afternoon transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur, with an onward connection to London.
Day 17 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities (one leader, name TBC)
Mid-range hotels (3-4 star Malaysian category); all rooms have an en suite bathroom.
All meals are included. Breakfasts and dinners are generally in the hotels, whereas lunch is usually an informal sit-down meal at a roadside restaurant or a picnic.
One or two small minibuses with local driver(s) – depending on the size of the group.
Much of each day is spent on foot while birding and, although there are no particularly long walks, the combined effect of heat and humidity can be quite tiring. The terrain is mostly level, however some locations are hilly and the conditions underfoot are varied. As a result we recommend lightweight waterproof walking boots or shoes with cleated soles to provide good traction.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Kuala Lumpur / Penang – London.
Peninsular Malaysia is positively brimming with rich and exotic birdlife in its varied highland and lowland forest, wetland and coastal habitats.
- Malaysian hill-partridge
- Malaysian whistling thrush
- Asian emerald cuckoo
- Malaysian rail-babbler