Easily accessible lowland forest. White-winged Ducks, Storm’s Storks and some of the best night birding in Asia.
Key bird species:
White-winged Duck; Crested Fireback; Great Argus; Storm’s Stork; Lesser Adjutant; Milky Stork; Short-toed Coucal; Oriental Bay-Owl; Reddish Scops-Owl; Brown Wood-Owl; Large Frogmouth; Gould’s Frogmouth; Sunda Frogmouth; Bonaparte’s Nightjar; Banded Pitta; Malaysian Rail-babbler
Way Kambas is one of the well established birdwatching destinations in Sumatra. It is one of the most reliable places in the world to see White-winged Duck, has some of the best night birding in Asia, and supports a large range of Sundaic lowland birds. The habitat is a mix of mature secondary forest (the whole area was selectively logged in the 60’s and 70’s) and open wetland areas.
It is also a pretty easy site to go birding. From the main entrance gate at Plang Hijau a jeep track stretches around 15 km to a national park station at Way Kanan. The track is good for birding the whole way, but most visitors will probably make an early morning drive to Way Kanan and work the clearing there and the track heading back towards Plang Hijau. At night this same area is among the best to try; regularly producing sightings of Large & Gould’s Frogmouth, Bonaparte’s Nightjar, Oriental Bay-Owl and Reddish Scops-Owl.
For White-winged Duck a short early morning or evening trip by boat from Way Kanan to one of a couple of nearby wetland areas is probably necessary, the most famous being Rawa Gajah. This is also a good chance to look for Storm’s Stork, although both Storm’s Stork and White-winged Duck are occasionally seen on some of the small pools that lie alongside the track from Way Kanan to Plang Hijau.
For those into mammals in particular, another area worth a look is the track that runs alongside the boundary of the park from Plang Hijau towards the dreadful ‘Elephant Training Centre’. This can be a great spot to see Slow Loris feeding in flowering trees at night. White-winged Duck have also been seen feeding in rice paddies at night in this area.
Access and Accommodation:
Way Kambas is easy in comparison to other sites in Sumatra. A short flight from Jakarta to Lampung, followed by a two hour taxi ride from the airport, gets you to the park. There is currently a well maintained guesthouse just outside the entrance gate at Plang Hijau, called ‘Satwa Elephant Eco Lodge” (www.ecolodgesindonesia.com/satwa/location.html). This is a very convenient place to stay, and the staff can help arrange all the permissions needed to enter the park. They can also arrange transfers to and from the airport (or onward to Liwa for example).
For the more adventurous you can usually arrange to stay at Way Kanan itself in the basic accommodation available there. For this you would need to bring your own food, and ideally your own means to cook it (although you could probably ask the guards there if you can use their stove). No tent is required, but a mosquito net is very advisable.
The National Park itself has recently taken a very mercenary approach to visitors, producing a ‘menu’ of costs associated with birding in the park, visiting the swamp areas etc. Unfortunately it is now very hard to avoid these fees.
Note: there are wild tigers and many elephants in Way Kambas so you should be aware of the risks of both of these when out birding. Elephants in particular can be particularly dangerous. Take a local guide and follow their advice, and read the advice here.
To download the kml file click here