In the Footsteps of Wallace in the Malay Archipelago

19 Sep - 4 Oct 2023
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

Alfred Russel Wallace was one of the greatest - and most fascinating - intellectuals of the nineteenth century. He developed the theory of evolution through natural selection in the Malay Archipelago, independently of Charles Darwin. He was passionately engaged in social issues and also made significant contributions in areas ranging from land reform to astrobiology. He was known as the greatest living authority on the region, particularly of its zoogeography and discovered what is now known as the Wallace Line - a dividing line between Asian and Australasian animal species that extends between the islands of Bali and Lombok and Borneo and Sulawesi.

This tour follows in the footsteps of this remarkable naturalist, through the cultures and spectacular landscapes of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. The tour is led by George and Jan Beccaloni, world-renowned authorities on Wallace. These expert naturalists are also highly knowledgeable about this region, with a number of unique personal contacts.

Following one night in Ternate, the tour provides two options mid-itinerary. Option A spends an additional two nights in Ternate with day trips in the company of Jan Beccaloni, while Option B travels to Halmahera for two nights with George Beccaloni. The itineraries re-connect in Ternate and the group continue together to Bali.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Dr George and Jan Beccaloni

Dr George and Jan Beccaloni

Dr George Beccaloni is an entomologist/evolutionary biologist, museum curator and the Director of the Wallace Correspondence Project. George founded the Wallace Memorial Fund in 1999 and in 2002 he played a key role in helping acquire the world’s largest and most important collection of Wallace’s manuscripts, books and insect specimens from Wallace’s grandsons for the nation. George co-edited the book ‘Natural Selection and Beyond: The Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace’ (Oxford University Press) and was the historical consultant for the highly acclaimed BBC series “Bill Bailey’s Jungle Hero”. George has travelled widely in the tropics and has led scientific expeditions to Papua New Guinea, Ecuador and Madagascar. He has visited the 'Malay Archipelago' on four occasions and has been to most of the important Wallace-related sites in the region - including all the places which this tour will be visiting. George has a broad interest and knowledge of natural history and is a keen macro-photographer.

Jan Beccaloni is a museum curator specialising in spiders and their relatives, Secretary of the Wallace Memorial Fund, the Meetings Secretary of the British Arachnological Society and the author of the acclaimed book “Arachnids’. Jan enjoys travelling and has conducted scientific fieldwork in the UK, Brunei, Madagascar and Costa Rica.

Both George and Jan have led previous successful tours for Jon Baines Tours.

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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia (Tues, 19 Sept) Arrive in Kuching, a cosmopolitan city set on the Sarawak River that blends many cultures and races. Check into the Ranee Hotel and at leisure.
  • Day 2: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia (Wed 20 Sept) Alfred Russel Wallace came to Sarawak in 1855 at the invitation of the ‘White Rajah’ Brooke. Visit the Sarawak Museum to learn about the peoples of Borneo and Wallace’s contribution in Sarawak. Visit Fort Margherita and the Brooke Gallery to hear about the ‘White Rajahs’ of Borneo. Overview of the tour and hear a talk on Wallace before a welcome dinner at the Kuching Old Courthouse.
  • Day 3: Kuching (Thurs 21 Sept) Drive to Bako and take a boat trip into beautiful Bako National Park. Encompassing seven distinct ecosystems, it is also one of the best places in Sarawak to experience wildlife, with opportunities to see multitudes of colourful birds, long-tailed macaques, water monitors, wild boar and the proboscis monkey. Return to Kuching. Dinner at the Junk Restaurant.
  • Day 4: Kuching ( Fri 22 Sept) Visit the Semenggoh Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, a centre for reintroducing once captive orangutans to the wild, giving visitors the opportunity to see orangutans up close in their natural habitat. Transfer to the small town of Peninjau at the foot of Mount Serambu. It was on this mountain that Rajah James Brooke had a small bungalow, where Wallace spent many nights collecting moths. In the evening dine al fresco at the open air market in the adjacent town of Siniwan.
  • Day 5: Kuching / Singapore (Sat 23 Sept) Depart for flight from Kuching to Singapore. Arrive and transfer to the Swissotel Merchant Court on the Singapore River. Explore the cultures of Singapore from little India, to Kampong Glam, the Malay quarter. Continue to Arab Street and onto Chinatown. Relax over a Singapore Sling at Raffles before dinner along the Singapore River.
  • Day 6: Singapore (Sun 24 Sept) Visit Singapore’s Natural History Museum and see the Wallace Exhibition, including the statues of Wallace and Ali, a Malay man who accompanied Wallace. At leisure with the option to visit the extraordinary Gardens by the Bay or the Aquarium.
  • Day 7: Singapore / Manado, Indonesia (Mon 25 Sept) Fly to Manado in northern Sulawesi. Arrive and check into your hotel.
  • Day 8: Manado (Tues, 26 Sept) Take a scenic trip up into the beautiful highlands of the island, a cool retreat away from the coast that Wallace visited in 1859. Return to your hotel – need shorten this day.
  • Day 9: Manado (Wed 27 Sept) Spend the following day in beautiful Tangkoko National Park with its lush rolling hills. Spot black macaques, hornbills, kingfishers and perhaps the tiny nocturnal tarsier, which fits into the palm of a hand. Return to the hotel by boat.
  • Day 10: Manado (Thurs 28 Sept) Take a boat trip out to the islands where you can relax on the beach, with options for snorkelling in the Bunaken Marine Reserve, amongst some of the best coral reef diving and snorkeling areas in the world. Alternatively, you may spend the day at leisure.
  • Day 11: Manado / Ternate (Fri 29 Sept) Fly to the dramatic cone shaped island of Ternate next morning. Ternate was the most important of the "Spice Islands" of Maluku, once the world’s single major producer of cloves. It is also from where Wallace posted his famous “Ternate Essay”, his pioneering account of evolution by natural selection, to Charles Darwin in 1858. Spend the afternoon exploring the island and its history, including historic Fort Oranje where you will learn about the history of the Dutch in the Moluccas, and visit the clove market and the probable site of Wallace’s house.
  • Day 12: Ternate Tidore / Ternate (Sat, 30 Sept) Travel boat to the neighbouring island of Tidore, known for its history in the spice trade. Visit the Portuguese Fortress, see the Sultan’s palace, blacksmiths and the colourful markets. Return by boat to Ternate.
  • Day 13: Ternate / Halmahera (Sun 1 Oct) A full day at leisure to explore Ternate at your own pace or option to make a day trip to Halmahera Island and Dodinga village with the local guide.
  • Day 14: Ternate / Makassar / Bali (Mon 2 Oct) Fly to Manado. Arrive and visit the cave paintings at Makassar. Fly to Bali. Arrive and transfer to the beachfront Puri Santrian Hotel in Sanur.
  • Day 15: Bali (Wed 3 Oct) Local meal and a small local temple. Return to Sanur and at leisure.Farewell dinner.
  • Day 16: Bali (Thurs 4 Oct) Depart for the airport or extend with the option to visit the excellent Bali Bird Park.

Tour cost


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