East of Wallace’s Line

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East of Wallace’s Line

Indonesia is incredibly wide and diverse. From the eastern islands of Sumatra and Java, to the vast forests of Kalimantan and on to “K”-shaped Sulawesi, Halmahera and eventually to Papua, the last frontier. These last few weeks we ventured east of Wallace’s famous line, demarcating the transition zone between Asian and Australasian flora and fauna. Alfred Russel Wallace was a trapper and an explorer. His famous book “The Malay Archipelago” made his reputation. Though Wallace likely came to conclusions about origin of species through natural selection first, he always gave the credit to his contemporary and friend Charles Darwin. Traveling these last weeks in what is known as “Wallacea” (the islands between Borneo and Papua), it is easy to see how Wallace came to believe in evolution. How else could he account for the incredible variety of birds and animals on each island?

In Halmahera, we did some incredible snorkeling and saw our first Bird of Paradise, the Wallace’s Standardwing. The double combination of snorkeling at pristine reefs and birding the lush rainforest around the resort was likely the most rewarding of our trip thus far. Our base was the incredibly well run Weda Dive and Rainforest Resort, a place that is really doing an immense amount for conservation in North Halmahera. It is undoubtedly the most comfortable place in Halmahera to see the Standardwing. The Standardwing, like many Birds of Paradise, is fairly predictable and easy to view. They do their dance for the ladies at a Lek, or particular display tree in the forest. Rob has set up a jungle bench and viewing them is at an incredibly close 4-5 meters. They do their thing every day at dawn, making a trek through the dark to the Lek a must. No problem for birders, but some other guests took more convincing to wake up at 4:30.

All other key species and the majority of the endemics can also be seen very close to Weda Resort. Rob, the owner, was incredibly gracious in allowing us to camp at the resort. Our trusty Coleman Tent advertised “Double-Water Protection Technology” and the marketing delivered, as we were always happy and dry. Snorkeling and undoubtedly diving at Weda must be amongst the best in the world. The corals almost melt the mind with their beauty.

We were sorry to see our time at Weda come to a close, but there are many more islands in Wallacea to discover, and ultimately we want to make our way to Papua to see more of the amazing birds of paradise. Next stop North Sulawesi.

Check out all the pictures!