I met Shita in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands in October 2014. In January and February 2016, David Bishop and I engaged her to organize a five-week ornithological expedition for us into Indonesian New Guinea’s Arfak Mountains and Bird’s Head Peninsula. This was a demanding expedition, which involved censusing birds from sea level up to 2900 meters, establishing camps, traversing roads where other vehicles were bogged down, and resolving innumerable problems of logistics and of local relations. Shita solved all those problems for us impeccably. She is a pleasure to deal with: clear, honest, dependable in carrying out her promises, and a constant delight to share her company. I recommend Shita to anyone planning tours of Papua.
PROFESSOR JARED DIAMOND, Professor of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles
Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and other books.
I had the privilege of leading a group of birders to the Arfak Mountains and Waigeo Island, West Papua, in November 2015, with Shita Prativi as the local leader and organizer (through her company Magnificus Expeditions). Shita is exactly the right person to work with, and that is in fact a gross understatement! West Papua is an extremely difficult country to operate tours in, but Shita makes it look easy. She is exceptionally good with people, which is particularly critical in West Papua because a great deal of diplomacy is required to set up the necessary camps in and near local villages, the inhabitants of whom control certain areas one needs to go to find the Birds of Paradise and other New Guinea endemics. These folks have taken Shita in as a friend because of her personality and hard work, despite the fact that she also has to be a taskmaster – preparing the delicious meals, setting up remote camps high in the mountains, etc., takes lots of hard work from a large team that Shita works extremely well with.
Then of course Shita has to work with the local birding guides. She is an excellent birder herself, but very much also involves the best site guides on the ground, including those who worked with David Attenborough during his pioneering expeditions to West Papua. And our clients really loved her. She’s an unbelievable organizer, and also knows how to ensure we get the birds we need.
Shita gives excellent attention to every detail, and she knows not only how to help get people the birds, but also how to make it a pleasant experience as is possible – for example starting the trip in the rough parts and ending it in a more idyllic island paradise. Not all ground operators are such a pleasure to work with as they don’t always know these basics of how to keep birding tour participants happy.
We were very happy with a tour that went like clockwork despite it being one of the world’s most challenging destinations, and we found 11 Birds of Paradise in 12 days which is a good result (especially when combined with all the other endemics such as the incredible paradise kingfishers, kookaburras and Spotted Jewel-babbler).
CHRIS LOTZ, owner/founder Birding Ecotours