Feedback on Rockjumpers PNG birding Tour July-August 2011

Subject: Feedback on Rockjumpers PNG birding Tour July-August 2011
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Sun, 01 Jan 2012 19:20:49 +0800

I read Rob Morris summary of his Rockjumper trip. I can sympathise with everything he says.

However, I went with Rocjkjumper to Assam and Bhutan last April / May. Yes, a few things could have been done better. But the guides were the best guides that I have had for an overseas tour. Three American friends were on the tour (shared a room / tent with one of them). We got on extremely well. I have since shown them around the south west of WA, and I will be joining them on Rockjumper's tour to Sulawesi & Halmahera this year, and a trip they are privately organising with Rockjumper to Southern India in Jan / Feb 2013 (including one of the two guides we had). Plus I am going to Kenya on Rockjumper's tour this April (with the other of the two guides). The three Americans will also show me around Texas and Michigan in April 2013. I will also be showing another couple from the tour around the south west this August / September, and they will show me around California sometime in the future.

Yes. There were things that could have been better in Assam (particularly) and Bhutan. But nothing like the problems Rob had. The local Indian guide in Assam was not good, but birdwise we did not need him. The two (South African) Rockjumper guides knew the birds fantastically including calls and the specific sites to find them. The lead guide had done 7 previous tours, and the other had just done his first but was equally good. There was one person on the tour who frequently lagged behind and we often had to relocate birds, but with two guides (and the local Bhutan guide), there was almost always someone looking out for the next bird. I was the one who was the last to see a couple of the birds, but found them finally with help from one or other of the guides. They do their best to get everyone to see the birds. There was one location where we had needless time off during the early afternoon, followed by a visit to a zhong, and we didn't get to bird until about 17:15 which certainly annoyed me. I think people were getting a little tired, as there were quite loud debates going on in the group about various topics, while there seemed to be no effort to bird, so I went ahead of the group and found the bird I was particularly looking for. But this was quite rare. There were a couple of places on the tour where you had a choice of activity. e.g. climb the very steep mountain or bird near the accommodation, or do a raft trip instead of heading back into the forest.

Night birding is always a problem on tours. We were getting up (at 5am) before dawn almost every day for breakfast, and departing soon after dawn. If you stay out late the previous night (even for only a few nights of the tour), it is a very exhausting tour. We found a few night birds (mostly around various places we stayed). We certainly could have found more, but I am not certain that the effort involved would have been worth it. If night birds are very high priority, then contact whichever company you are going with and ask.

Of the other 9 people on my tour 8 had been with Rockjumper before, and they were all discussing future tours they would be doing.

So yes, choose your tour, and choose the company you want to go with. Ask about the other people's abilities if this could be a problem for you. I am not saying that Rockjumper is the best, but I am saying that Rob's tour is probably (hopefully!!!) the exception.

PS : Rob mentioned that the guides did not give him a feedback form. Rockjumper emails a feedback form after the tour which is processed independently of the guides so you can say everything that you feel.

Frank O'Connor           Birding WA
Phone : (08) 9386 5694 Email :

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