Project Description

Sumatra Bird Tour Kerinci Birdwatching Schneider's Pitta Hydrornis Schneideri
The Kerinci Seblat National Park has some of the best birdwatching in Sumatra, and all of Indonesia. The range of elevations – from 250m to 3805m – means there is a huge diversity of bird species to be found on this Kerinci Bird Tour. Many rare Sumatran endemics, like the Schneider’s Pitta, Sumatran Ground Cuckoo, and Sumatran Trogon, can be found alongside charismatic birds like Rhinocerous Hornbills and colorful barbets. Below you’ll find the three main regions that we operate Sumatra birdwatching tours – on the slopes of Mt. Kerinci for the high altitude endemics, Bukit Tapan for a range of elevations, and Hutan Adat Lempur for a well-protected mixed habitat with some species harder to see elsewhere. Each of the areas are about one hour apart from the next, with Mt. Kerinci furthest north, then Bukit Tapan in the center, and finally Lempur in the southern end of the Kerinci valley.
Feel free to focus your time in a single location, just two of them, or go for all three to really see what Kerinci has to offer – the choice is yours.

While Mt. Kerinci is the highest active volcano in Southeast Asia at 3805m, most of the birdwatching is done between elevations of  between 1600m to roughly 2000m. While there are a few branching paths you will take further into the forest, the majority of the time you’ll be searching on the main trail up the volcano. Besides the birds listed below, good chances of seeing Siamang gibbons, Sumatran Surili, and a variety of small mammals like the Sumatran Giant Squirrel and Niobe Ground Squirrel. Optionally, spend a morning taking a boat into the Rawa Bento wetlands for different species opportunities, with a return to Mt. Kerinci in the afternoon.

*Note that some other guides in the area frequently feed a few of the birds in one section of the volcano. We don’t agree with this practice. Please do not pressure our guides to feed wildlife – if you want guaranteed views of rare birds, please visit a bird atrium, not a National Park. 

A sampling of endemics and other targets:

Schneider’s Pitta, Salvadori’s Pheasant, Salvadori’s Nightjar, Sumatran Trogon, Sumatran Cochoa, Sumatran Wren Babbler, Sumatran Whistling Thrush, Sumatran Frogmouth, Shiny Whistling Thrush, Red-billed Partridge, Rufous-vented Niltava, Wreathed Hornbill, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Sunda Bush Warbler, Rajah Scops Owl, and many more.

Sumatran Tiger Trek Lempur Kerinci

The Bukit Tapan road gives a great range of elevation, from roughly 1500m to 250m, so there is a wider variety of species available compared to the higher elevations of Mt. Kerinci. It’s also much easier to see and photograph them because of the abundant light allowed into the canopy by the road you follow, and the farther distances you can see. Of course, going along a road also unfortunately means you’ll occasionally be annoyed by trucks, cars and motorcycles. Besides the birdlife, other wildlife you may encounter are Siamang gibbons, Sumatran Surili, Southern Pig-tailed Macaques. If searching through the night, slow loris, flying squirrels, and a variety of civets are often encountered. There have even been sightings and close encounters with Sumatran Tiger on very rare occasions.

A sampling of endemics and other targets:

Sumatran Leafbird, Graceful Pitta, Sumatran Green Pigeon, Sumatran Treepie, Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant, Sumatran Drongo, Sumatran Trogon, Cream-striped Bulbul, Spot-necked Bulbul, Black-browed Barbet, Long-tailed Broadbill, Temminck’s Sunbird, Fire-tufted Barbet, Sunda Minivet, Marbled Wren Babbler, Sumatran Green Pigeon, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Black Laughingthrush, Great Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, and many more.

While not as famous as the two previous locations, Hutan Adat Lempur is a new birding spot the local community has been developing, and we believe it has some of the best birding in the Kerinci region. Elevation is between 1000m to 1250m, but a great variety of bird species, as this area has been hit much less by bird poachers that Bukit Tapan. There’s also a chance to see the extremely rare Sumatran Ground Cuckoo – we’ve had quite a few sightings of a few different individuals. Besides birds, other wildlife one might encounter are a variety of reptiles, Colugo, Sumatran Porcupine, Slow Loris, Sun Bear, and even very rarely, Sumatran Tiger and other wildcats. If you go quickly enough, there’s a chance you’ll reach the beautiful blue Lake Kaco,  although it’s a 3-4 hour trek of straight walking. Other nearby lakes for spotting a variety of wild ducks, like the Lesser Whistling Duck, are Danau Lingkat and Danau Nyalo.

A sampling of endemics and other targets:

Sumatra Ground-Cuckoo, Sumatran Peacock-Pheasant, Sumatran Leafbird, Graceful Pitta, Sumatran Green Pigeon, Sumatran Treepie, Sumatran Drongo, Sumatran Trogon, Sumatran Bulbul, Cream-striped Bulbul, Grey-cheeked Bulbul, Spot-necked Bulbul, Black-browed Barbet, Long-tailed Broadbill, Temminck’s Sunbird, Fire-tufted Barbet, Sunda Minivet, Marbled Wren Babbler, Sumatran Green Pigeon, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Black Laughingthrush, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, and many more.

Costs for all of the itineraries on this Kerinci bird tour include accommodations in a nearby village for one night before and one night after the birdwatching excursion, as well as every night in the village. If you prefer to camp in the forest, please let us know as this will potentially lower the pricing a bit. Also, the prices below are general guides – staying in one location longer will often lower the price, as transportation won’t be as big of a cost. Just let us know how many days you are interested in spending here on this Sumatra birdwatching tour, which locations you want to focus on, and we’ll work up a bespoke itinerary for you with final costs. 
Click for costs.

Difficulty: Easy. The trails are all mostly level, with only slight inclines in places. Although some are muddy in parts.

Activities: Bird Watching, Wildlife Spotting, Jungle Trekking

Elevation: 250m – 2200m

Terrain: Primary Rainforest, Mountains, Jungle Streams, Waterfalls, Hutan Adat

Nearest Village: Kersik Tuo, Sungai Penuh, and Lempur. All within the Kerinci regency, Jambi province, Indonesia

  • Be aware that we DO NOT feed birds or other wildlife on our Kerinci bird tour, as it’s disruptive to the natural order, and makes birds more prone to poaching, which is a massive problem in Indonesia. Please do not feed wild animals, nor pressure our guides to do so. 
  • Actively walk through the forest, or spend more time in one place seeing what will come to you – the choice is yours.
  • Accommodations in the villages have western-style sitting toilets, and hot water (assuming they’re working!), but are quite simple and definitely not international standard.
  • Also, as it is a rainforest, expect and prepare for rain at some point during your trek, no matter what season you’re travelling in.
  • This is also not a zoo or atrium – the animals here are very wild and extremely wary of people, and the lush environment itself makes visibility difficult. While seeing tracks and other fresh signs of a variety of wildlife is very common, actually spotting large mammals is rare.
  • Since you’ll be hiking in the middle of the Bukit Barisan mountain range while birdwatching in Sumatra, at elevations mostly between 1100m to 2000m above sea level, temperatures are relatively cool – expect highs of around 25°C during the day, and down to around 15°C at night. For Bukit Tapan, temperatures will climb as you near Muaro Sako, where it could get as warm as 30°C.
  • Food is very traditional local fare. Vegetarian and vegan options are available, if you let us know ahead of time.
  • Like all of our trips, you travel at your own risk. Keep in mind that you are visiting a wild and extremely remote area of rural Sumatra, with wild animals and other dangers that come from being in a natural landscape. Quality medical care is also very far away. It’s your responsibility to make sure you are covered with valid travel and medical insurance.
  • A comfortable pair of hiking or walking shoes – preferably water resistant.
  • Comfortable trekking socks – with the various wetlands and streams you’ll be crossing, your feet will definitely get wet, even with good shoes. Good hiking socks can help prevent blistering.
  • Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Preferably made from quick-dry material.
  • Your own water bottle, to cut down on single-use plastics.
  • Insect repellent.
  • A headlamp, especially if you want to take any night walks.
  • A waterproof jacket in case it rains, and to keep you warm in the chilly evenings and mornings.

There are now daily flights to Kerinci from the city of Jambi! You can read more about them here.

The best place to base yourself before and after the trek is in the small village of Lempur, in the southern region of Kerinci, staying with your guide’s family. It’s also possible to stay in a small hotel in the main town of Sungai Penuh, about an hour north of Lempur.

Many travelers come overland via the city of Padang in West Sumatra to the town of Sungai Penuh. Expect the drive to Sungai Penuh to take around nine hours, although it can vary by an hour or two depending on the road conditions and the driver, and if you are taking public or private transport. Padang has direct flights to/from the hubs of Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Medan, and Batam. If you are in Bukittinggi, it’s possible to drive directly to Sungai Penuh, roughly a ten hour drive. From Sungai Penuh, you’ll be met and driven on to Lempur.

The city of Jambi is also a possible launching point, taking roughly nine hours to reach Lempur, without having to go to Sungai Penuh first. The road from Jambi is less winding than the road from Padang, so a bit more comfortable. As mentioned, Wings Air has daily flights to Kerinci. Susi Air also has thrice-weekly flights directly to the town of Sungai Penuh in central Kerinci, although the flights aren’t as reliable as the Wings Air flights, and are difficult to book.

You can read more about transport to/from Kerinci, and what travel looks like within the valley here.

When booking with us, we’ll be happy to assist you with all accommodation and transport arrangements.

We’re proud that 100% of our proceeds goes directly to WildCats Conservation Alliance in support of wild tiger conservation projects in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, and to other local grassroots conservation and community development initiatives here in Kerinci. This also includes donations to Pencagura (Nature Lovers of Gunung Raya Sub-district) to support their forest and wildlife protection activities in the area, and to the local village.

As always, we use only local guides and porters from nearby communities, who are paid a fair, ethical wage above the standard local price. One hundred percent of money spent on this trek stays in this rural community – there’s no tourism leakage here!

Come discover Kerinci for yourself! Learn about the region, visit our itineraries page, or view additional points of interest around Kerinci to create your own custom trip. Be sure to check out our travel tips when you’re ready to start planning.


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