Get your binoculars ready for a small group adventure tour to Mauna Kea Forest Preserve for fantastic bird-watching opportunities. Visit both rainforest and dry forest habitats for a great introduction to Hawaii's wide variety of bird species, with guidance from an expert local guide and bird enthusiast.
Puu Oo Trail is a historic cattle drive route located at the 6,000 foot (1800 meters) level of Saddle Road on Mauna Loa's northeastern flank. This is the windward side of the island and is often cloaked in misty clouds. It is enchanting to be serenaded by the forest birds as you cross three to four miles (5-6 km) of lava trail. At the Humuula hunter check-in station just off Saddle Road, you'll go into the Kaohe Game Management Area and four-wheel up to nearly 7,000 feet (2,100 meters) on the western side of Mauna Kea.
Some of the avifauna you may spot along the way are iiwi, apapane, amakihi, omao, elepaio, and the elusive akiapolaau, with its unique multipurpose beak. In the dryforest, the track leads to a locked gate that is the entrance to the Mauna Kea Forest Preserve. Here, you'll have the opportunity to disembark from the van and take in the spectacular views. Then get down to some serious bird watching on foot in the mamane-naio forest.
You'll particularly focus on sighting the critically threatened palila, which feeds almost entirely on the green pods of the mamane tree. There are two other endemics of note to be found here: the Hawaii amakihi, and the local species of the Hawaii elepaio (noted for the white feathering on its head).
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- 6:30am - Queen Kaahumanu Highway
- 7:10am - Waikoloa Kings Shops
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Hawaii Birdwatching Small Group Adventure Tour
- Bottled water
- Raingear, day packs and walking sticks
- Continental breakfast, lunch and beverages
- Local taxes
- Gratuities (optional)
- Hotel pickup and drop off
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking, unless booked within 5 days of travel. In this case confirmation will be received within 48 hours, subject to availability
- Guests should wear sturdy closed-toe walking shoes, long pants, and bring a light jacket
- This tour has a maximum of 10 passengers per van
- This tour requires a minimum number of passengers to operate. There is a possibility that the tour may be canceled after confirmation if there is not enough passengers to meet requirements. In the event of this occurring, you will be provided the option to take the tour on an alternative date or be refunded in full. It will be necessary for you to call 48 hours prior to your departure date to reconfirm (contact details provided on your confirmation voucher).
- Not recommended for child aged 7 and under
- Adult pricing applies to all travelers
If you cancel between 3 and 6 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is a 50 percent cancellation fee.
If you cancel within 2 day(s) of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.
Reviewed by: Elizabeth H, October 2015
Knowledgeable trip leader, who was engaging and helpful when group members were slow. The areas were somewhat rugged, but the birds were inspiring and present. Our leader was also patient and helpful when group members had some initial difficulty sighting the birds. This experience is highly recommended.
Reviewed by: John H, August 2014
Intended for serious birders but not necessarilly "twitchers". Everything is provided - meals, snacks, drinks, walking sticks, raingear (which we definitely needed in the rainforest !) and even binoculars if you don't have your own. Guide was very knowledgeable and knew where to find specific birds. Fair amount of hiking including quite a trek over a lava trail to the rainforest. Organised locally by Hawaii Forest and Trail.