Jun 3, 2009



Including Vanuatu and Samoa
Friday 24th July - Sunday 9th August 2009
(17 days)

Leaders: János Oláh and assistant

Group Size Limit: 10

The wonderful Kagu – in a family of its own and without doubt the avian highlight of a visit to New Caledonia (Richard Thomas)
The wonderful Kagu – in a family of its own and without doubt the avian highlight of a visit to New Caledonia (Richard Thomas)
The words ‘South Pacific’ conjure up images of curving white sand beaches, sparkling turquoise seas, exotic coral reefs, swaying coconut palms, emerald green hills and soaring volcanoes under deep blue skies. The various island groups, scattered throughout the vast Pacific Ocean, have been isolated for almost 80 million years. Despite their relative proximity to each other, a high degree of endemism has developed, especially in the larger, more diversified archipelagos. This is particularly evident amongst the island groups of New Caledonia and Fiji, both of which support endemic-rich avifaunas.

These groups lie near the western edge of the South Pacific and are made up of numerous volcanic and coral islands which are inhabited by people of Melanesian origin. The moisture-laden southeast tradewinds have swept the islands for millions of years, ensuring that the many volcanic peaks are draped with lush, tropical rainforest. Scattered like pearls across the ocean, it is little wonder that these beautiful islands are thought of as a heaven on earth. This is a tour for those keen to observe the many island endemics of this fascinating region, including the monotypic bird family Rhynochetidae, whose sole member is the renowned Kagu. Living costs are high in the area, but as compensation the standards of accommodation and food are good throughout and travelling conditions in general are well above average. For those who love tropical islands, beautiful scenery, unique endemic birds and that ‘get away from it all’ feeling, this is a wonderful experience.

We begin our travels in New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France, which comprises the large island of New Caledonia itself (known as Grande Terre) and a chain of much smaller islands, the Loyalty Islands, to the northeast, as well as a number of other small islands and islets. The main island is the largest island in the South Pacific, apart from New Zealand and New Guinea, being some 400 km long by about 50 km wide. Most of our time will be spent on the main island, centred around Noumea in the southeast, but with short explorations of the far less visited islands of Lifou (or Lifu) and Ouvea (or Uvea) in the Loyalty Islands. The New Caledonia group has at least 22 endemic species, of which two are feared extinct, but we have a very good chance of seeing all but one of the others, including the spectacular Kagu, the sole member of the family Rhynochetidae.

From New Caledonia we fly to Fiji, a group that comprises two large islands (Viti Levu and Vanua Levu), two medium-sized islands (Taveuni and Kadavu) and a large number of small islands and islets. We will visit three of the larger islands, where we should see all of Fiji’s 27 endemic birds except for two restricted to remote islets and four others that are exceedingly rare (and hardly ever observed). Firstly we will explore Viti Levu, the main island, followed by relaxing visits to the peaceful, beautiful and largely undeveloped islands of Taveuni and Kadavu. It will be hard to drag ourselves away from such a paradise.
See full trip details here: BirdQuest | NEW CALEDONIA & FIJI