Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Sulawesi – A Birdwatcher’s Delight!

A couple of months ago, when hubby suggested he wanted go diving in the Lembeh Strait, my first reaction was to look for it on the map.

Located off North Sulawesi (Indonesia), Lembeh Strait is famous in the diving community as a ‘muck diving’ haven, where all kinds of weird and wonderful underwater critters like octopi, sea horses, nudibranchs etc, abound.

Only much later did I realise that our trip to North Sulawesi would bring me right back in the footsteps of Alfred Russel Wallace. Between June and September 1859, Wallace spent time collecting specimens from around North Sulawesi. The below map from his book, The Malay Archipelago, shows his route across North Sulawesi.


Interestingly, in the North-East corner of this map, is ‘Limbe Island’ (what is known today as Lembeh Island). Lembeh Resort on this very island was our home for the week that we stayed in North Sulawesi. (More on Lembeh Island and diving in the Lembeh Strait, in an upcoming post. )

One of the main objectives of Wallace’s visit to North Sulawesi was to collect specimens of the maleo bird. Maleos, which are endemic to Sulawesi, are highly endangered today and rarely seen.

We had hoped we would spot a maleo during our day at the Tangkoko Nature Reserve (wishful thinking on our part!) but we had no such luck. We did however manage to photograph nearly 30 species of birds, most of which are found only in Sulawesi, as well as endemic mammals like the endangered black crested macaques, bear cuscus and the spectral tarsier.

Tangkoko Nature Reserve is accessed from Batu Putih village (which can also been seen on Wallace’s map). If you decide to stay on Lembeh Island (like us), after the ferry crossing to Bitung, the drive to Batu Putih takes little less than an hour.

Batu Putih can also be reached from Manado but the journey takes much longer (about 2 hours), than if you were coming from Bitung.


The black sand beach of Batu Putih 

I leave you with some pictures from our day at Tangkoko Nature Reserve. It’s a goldmine of endemic species and a must visit for any nature lover!


The stunning male Sulawesi wrinkled hornbill


We almost missed this Green-backed Kingfisher (endemic to Sulawesi)


Another species endemic to Sulawesi – the Yellow-billed Malkoha










A striking specimen of the Sulawesi Drongo


A male Ashy Woodpecker, busy at work. Also endemic to Sulawesi.


A pair of Sulawesi Scops Owl asleep in a bamboo grove


A family of Black-crested macaques with a newborn









These macaques are critically endangered and only about 5,000 individuals remain in their original habitat in North Sulawesi.


A Sulawesi Bear Cuscus high up on a tree branch

The Bear Cuscus is a small bear, similar to the koala. Very little is known about these bears but what is known for sure is that it’s a marsupial – the female carries the baby in an external belly pouch.


A pair of White-rumped Cuckoo shrikes spotted in the mangroves off Batu Putih village (endemic to Sulawesi)











A Great-billed Kingfisher resting in the mangroves (endemic to Sulawesi)

At the end of that really long day in Tangkoko, my legs were riddled with bites (insect/mite/whatever the hell can bite through my pants) but the sheer joy of seeing these magnificent creatures first-hand surpassed all discomfort! I know I will be back for more! 🙂

With that, we headed back to the comfort of our cozy resort on Lembeh island, just in time for another of those glorious Lembeh sunsets!

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Another sublime sunset over Lembeh Strait!



Filed under Asia, Indonesia

5 responses to “Tangkoko Nature Reserve, Sulawesi – A Birdwatcher’s Delight!

  1. Woah! these are amazing, how long did you stay there to get these pictures?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Did you hire a guide when you were at Tangkoko NP? Planning to make a trip there to find some snakes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • How exciting! Yes, we went with a guide, one of the team members of Bobby Lambaihang. I don’t have his contacts handy but you should be able to find him online or on FB pretty easily. Please do post what you find 😀


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