ethiopia

ETHIOPIAN WOLF & ENDEMICS

Dates

November 1st to 18th 2015 & TBC for 2106

Tour Cost

£ 3100.-

Single room supplement

300.- GBP

Group size

12 plus two leaders

Tour leader

Josele J Saiz and Local guide

Airport

London - Addis Ababa- London

What´s included

All ground transport, all meals, services of guides and reserve entrance fees. Accommodation: Please note that the hotels that we make use of are always the best available accommodations in most areas visited (exceptions are in places like Addis where they are very expensive luxury hotels that we tend to avoid). Ground Transport: By mini bus and 4x4 Toyota Landcruiser for 4 people plus driver in Sinetti Plateau

What´s not included

Transport to/from the UK and any overnight stay that may be involved, visa cost, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.Visa: You will need a tourist visa to enter Ethiopia. You can obtain a visa on arrival (recommended) at Addis Ababa airport, at a cost of approximately $25. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ethiopia. Make sure you have two blank pages in your passport on arrival.

Tour code

Fantastic birdwatching through amazing landscapes with nealy 300 bird species including up to 15 of Ethiopia´s endemics. Visit to the most representative of Ethiopia´s reserves with a good selection of mammals.Walking is generally light/moderate. An average level of fitness is required.

Selected species list

Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, Chesnut-naped Francolin, Rouget´s Rail, Arabian Bustard, Spot-breasted Plover, White-collared Pigeon, Black-winged Lovebird, Yellow-fronted Parrot, Abyssinian Owl, Banded Barbet, Gillett´s Lark, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Black Wheatear, Sombre Chat, White-winged Cliff Chat, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Abyssinian Catbird, White-backed Black Tit, Abyssinian Oriole, Thick-billed Raven, Black-headed Skin, Brown-rumped Seedeater, Black-headed Siskin.

More information

Introduction

Ethiopia is one of the most productive and rewarding birding destinations on the African continent, with over 850 species recorded. However, Ethiopia is most famous ornithologically for its large number of wonderful endemic species, with 30 birds found here yet nowhere else on the planet.  These endemics and near-endemics are complimented by a large number of forest and savanna specialist species and an influx of Palaearctic migrants, which combine to make for a bird-filled tour. There are also a good number of interesting mammals to see, and when combined with spectacular scenery, fascinating history and the experience of diverse cultures, Ethiopia is one of Africa's most rewarding holiday destinations for the wildlife enthusiast. 

We will explore huge Rift Valley lakes teeming with birdlife, moss-draped montane forests, the high altitude Bale Mountains National Park (home to a number of striking endemics including confiding Rouget's Rail), the expansive Sululta Plains, the impressive Jemma Valley, and Awash National Park, a mecca for game and bird watching where it is possible to see up to six species of bustard.

Travel though Ethiopia can be something of an adventure. The poor quality of roads and the agrarian nature of the countryside makes the design of a comfortable birdwatching tour a complex task, with long journeys inevitable. The logistical considerations are influenced by Ethiopia's difficult terrain, not least the huge Rift Valley, which bisects the country into vast plateaux associated with high mountains systems, creating an extremely beautiful succession of stunningly diverse landscapes. In view of this we have designed this tour as a rich and extremely rewarding experience of Ethiopian birdlife, without attempting to see every single endemic species on what might then be a long and arduous tour. About half of the endemics or near-endemics can be seen in our itinerary, where journeys are not too exhausting, and we stay for a few days in some of the best birding sites: Awash, Rift Valley wetlands and Wondo Genet to Goba where the famous Bale National Park holds a good number of endemic birds. We will visit many of the most important habitats, including wetlands, farmland, montane grassland, afro-alpine moorlands, forest and savanna with a rich diversity of birds.

During this holiday we have a good chance of seeing many of the following Ethiopian endemic or near-endemic: Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, Chestnut-naped Francolin, Rouget´s Rail, Arabian Bustard, Spot-breasted Plover, White-collared Pigeon, Black-winged Lovebird, Yellow-fronted Parrot, Abyssinian Owl, Banded Barbet, Gillett´s Lark, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Black Wheatear, Sombre Chat, White-winged Cliff Chat, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Abyssinian Catbird, White-backed Black Tit, Abyssinian Oriole, Thick-billed Raven, Black-headed Siskin and Brown-rumped Seedeater.

Not only can you expect a bounty of birds on this unbeatable tour but a wonderful selection of mammals too.

This itinerary has been designed to include unmistakable Ethiopian Wolf, our main mammal target. There are many other interesting large mammals, fewer in number and more localised than in other parts of Africa, though nonetheless well worth our time and a key part of our holiday. We look for Hippopotamus, Nile Crocodile, Golden Jackal, Olive Baboon, Guereza Colobus and Grivet Monkeys, Bush and Rock Hyrax, African Warthog, Giant Hog, many antelope including Menelik's Bushbuck, Lesser Kudu, Mountain Nyala, Salt's Dikdik, Guenther's Dikdik, Soemmerring's Gazelle, Grant's Gazelle, Beisa Oryx, Gerenuk and Klipspringer, Water Monitor Lizard and more.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive at Addis Ababa as shown above, transfer to a local hotel, perhaps the Churchill or Bole Ambassador Hotel in Addis Ababa, with perhaps the chance for some local birding before dusk.

Day 2 - Addis Ababa, Sululta Plains and Debre Libanos Monastery.

We'll have an early breakfast and then drive to the Debre Libanos Monastery. We will have a stop on the at Sululta plains, expecting to see Ethiopian endemics such as Blue-winged Goose and Abyssinian Long-claw. Visit this amazing old Monastery. Lunch at Ethio-German hotel. After lunch we'll spend the whole afternoon birding the cliffs of Jemma river valley within the compounds of the hotel, expecting to see Lammergeier, roosting Ruppell’s Vulture, Verraux’s Eagle, White-billed Starling, Ruppell’s Chat, Erckel’s Francolin amongst many.
The endemic Gelada Baboon (Papio gelada) is a very common mammal near the monastery. We also expect to find  Ethiopian endemics such as White- cheeked Turaco, Banded Barbet, Abyssinian Forest Oriole, Golden-backed Woodpecker, White-backed Black Tit. Other interesting birds in the area include Brown Woodland Warbler, Brown-throated Wattle-eye. Overnight Ethio-German Hotel. (Total distance from Addis Ababa to Debrelibanos is 110 Km.)
  
Day 3 - Alem Ketema and Debre Birhan Town & Monastery. 

We will start our journey very early in the morning, around 0400 hrs, to Alem Ketema Some 110 k.m from Ethio-German Hotel, to arrive early at the Jemma valley site, an area which lies at the base of the valley next to a stretch of the Jemma River, where the range restricted Harwood’s Francolin is very common. We will target there Harwood’s Francolin and various other birds, such as Vinaceous Dove, Black-billed Barbet, African Grey and Crowned Hornbills, Common Bulbul, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Northern Crombec and Eastern Chanting Goshawk, amongst others, including Black-winged Bishop, Singing Cisticola, Eurasian Hoopoe, Bush Petronia and Vitelline Masked Weaver, whilst several reptiles are also possible. After breakfast we'll drive back towards Mulkature town and branch off towards Debre Birhan birding all the way to the town, in time to visit the Church there. Check in and overnight at Debre Birhan Town Eva Hotel.

Day 4 - Excursion to Tarma Ber, Ankober and Melka Djebdu

After breakfast we'll drive to Debresina on the rim of the rift valley, the topography of the area is steep and dissected by ravines and gorges through which rivers and streams tumble down the eastern escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. The altitude ranges from 1,650m. to 3700m. near to Kundi on the plateau. The vegetation is moist to dry afro-alpine moorland with some stunted Erica arborea and shrubby everlasting Helichrysum flowers.

This site holds the only known population of the Ethiopian endemic and restricted-range Ankober Serin, a species whose known distribution is limited to a narrow altitudinal range from perhaps as low as 2,800m. up to 3750m. along the Tarma Ber, a distance of approximately 20km. 'as the crow flies'. Ankober Serin typically lives and breeds along broken hill tops, and on the steeply shelving, near vertical cliffs. Other birds in the area include Verreaux's Eagle, Peregrine, Red-rumped Swallow, Ethiopian Siskin, Alpine and Mottled Swifts, African Pipit, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler. From this site we will drive back towards Debrebirhan and to Ankober and the Melka Djebdu river, where our target species will include Half-collared Kingfisher, Yellow-throated Seedeater and Yellow-breasted Barbet. Overnight again at Eva Hotel at Debrebirhan.

Day 5 - Debrebirhan to Awash National Park via Addis Ababa and Debre Zeith.

After an early breakfast we'll drive towards Addis Ababa and Debrezeith (Bishoftu) town. Debrezeith is situated on the main highway to the eastern and southern parts of Ethiopia, about 175kms. from Debrebirhan. It is famous for its five craters and one seasonal lake within and around the town. Three of the lakes in the area have been identified as having large congregations of water birds. Both Great and Long-tailed Cormorants, Hammercop, African Fish Eagle and African Paradise Flycatcher are common at Hora Lake. You will have a chance to do birding at least on two of these lakes.

We'll later continue to the Awash National Park, about 200 kms. from Debre Zeith, via Methara town. The 756 square km. of Awash National Park is located between Methara and Awash towns, in the semi arid lowlands of the Great Rift Valley. The total number of bird species recorded in the National Park now exceeds 460, with an interesting complement of large land birds such as Ostrich, Secretary Bird, Kori and Arabian Bustards being seen regularly. Seven species of Bustards have been recorded in Awash National Park. We will do birding and a game drive across the Illala Sala plains inside the park. Expect to see, Kori, Hartlaub’s and Buff-crested Bustards, plus Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Brown Snake Eagle, Abyssinian Roller, Carmine Bee Eater, Black-shouldered Kite, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, among ,any others. Mammals such as Soemmering’s Gazelle and Beisa Oryx are the most common and easily seen in this part of the park. Overnight at Awash Falls Lodge, inside the park.

Day 6 - Awash River, Kereyu Lodge and the hot springs.

After breakfast we'll spend the whole morning with a park ranger, along the Awash River and waterfalls, with a good opportunity to walk inside the park. We can expect to see Senegal Thick-knee, Woodland Kingfisher, Hadada Ibis, Blue-naped Mousebird, Tropical Boubou, Red and Yellow-billed Hornbills and many more. Lunch at Kereyu Lodge, with a great view over the Awash River gorge. After lunch we'll drive about 30 kms. to the hot springs, exploring the northern part of the park. Expect to see interesting birds such as Arabian Bustard, Nile Valley Sunbird and a great variety of other birds associated with this arid landscape. Overnight again at Awash Falls Lodge.

Day 7 - Awash National Park to Ziway Town

After breakfast we'll drive directly to Fentale Mountain with an altitude of 2007 m., situated some 50 km. from Awash town. We will walk as high as possible in search of the endemic Yellow-throated Serin, the near endemic Sombre Rock Chat and the other endemic here, Ethiopian Cliff Swallow, as well as other birds such as Yellow-breasted Barbet, Nile Valley Sunbird, White-throated and Little Bee Eater, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Ruppell's Weaver, Pale Flycatcher, Chestnut-headed Sparrow Lark and Black-cheeked Waxbill, whilst Bush Petronia, Northern White-crowned Shrike and Common Redstart can also be seen. We will be birding the whole morning exploring the Fentale slopes, especially in the acacia forest a great place for birds. Before it gets too hot we will head towards Lake Langano (taking lunch at any convenient point en route) in time for check in our next accommodation. Overnight at Bekelemolla Hotel at Ziway Town. 

Day 8 - Lake Ziway and Abijata Shalla National Park and Bishangari

Lake Langano and Lake Abijata. The three neighbouring lakes in the central Ethiopian Rift Valley could not be more different from each other. The medium depth reddish-brown of Lake Langano, the shallow and brackish Lake Abijatta, plus the extremely deep and blue Lake Shalla, once a volcanic crater and now home to several bubbling sulphuric hot springs. We will spend today exploring these lake shores and their surrounding woodlands and forests. Little Rock Thrush, African Thrush, Buff-bellied Warbler, Red-faced Crombec, Beautiful Sunbird, Rüppell’s Starling, Red-billed Oxpecker, Red-billed Firefinch, Bare-faced Go-away-bird, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Black-winged Lovebird, Abyssinian Wheatear, White-winged Black Tit, Black-billed Wood Hoopoe, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Bearded Woodpecker and Masked Shrike occur in dry acacia woodland surrounding the lodge, whilst Lemon Dove, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Black-billed, Banded and Double-toothed Barbets, African Grey Woodpecker, White-rumped Babbler, Tropical Boubou, Scaly Francolin and Abyssinian Ground Thrush are resident in forest areas. We will search the lake edge for the impressive Saddle-billed Stork and attractive White-browed Coucal. At Lake Abijata we'll hope to find flocks of Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Northern Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Cape Teal, Dark Chanting Goshawk, Asian Imperial and Long-crested Eagles, Grey Kestrel, Little Ringed, Common Ringed and Kittlitz’s Plovers, many species of Palearctic waders, Great Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, amongst several other species of gulls and terns, Little Bee Eater, family groups of the wonderful Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Sand Martin, African Pipit and Isabelline, Pied and Mourning Wheatears. Mammals we may see here include Grant’s Gazelle, Oribi and Spotted Hyena. Overnight at Bishangari Eco-lodge.

Day 9 - Full day at Bishangari area.

Bishangari is located 20 km. from the main road at the eastern side of Lake Langano, one of the remaining natural forests of its kind. 401 bird species have been recorded around this area. Expect to see endemics such as Banded Barbet, Yellow-fronted Parrot and White-cheeked Turaco. Other interesting birds of this area include Olive Dove, Tambourine Dove, Olive Pigeon, Narina Trogon, Broad-billed Roller, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Red-capped Robin-chat, Violet-backed Starling, Double Twinspot. Overnight again at Bishangari Eco-lodge.

Day 10 - Bishangari to Dinsho, Bale.

Today we'll start driving our way upwards towards the world famous Bale Mountains National Park, while having brief stops all the way until we reach at the site. At the park headquarters in Dinsho we will search the trails for the colourful Chestnut-naped Francolin, Groundscraper Thrush (of the distinctive, endemic race 'simensis'), the secretive Abyssinian Ground Thrush, the vocal Abyssinian Catbird and the endemic White-backed Black Tit. We also hope to see two species of Owls, Abyssinian Long-eared Owl and African Wood Owl.
Mammals: Mountain Nyala, now entirely restricted to the Bale Mountain massif, Menelik’s Bushbuck and Warthog, unusual at this high altitude.  Overnight at Bale Goba.

Day 11 - Excursion to Senetti Plateau.

Today will be a day of great contrasts and amazing scenery and birding. We will depart early and ascend the Bale Mountain massif onto the Sanetti Plateau, which lies between 3800m. and 4377m.. As we climb we will enter a Tid or Juniper forest zone, and here we will search for African Goshawk, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, White-cheeked Turaco, the localized Abyssinian Woodpecker, Cinnamon Bracken Warbler, African Hill Babbler, Montane White Eye and Yellow-bellied Waxbill. Once we reach this unique plateau, we will be driving on Africa’s highest road, passing close to the summit of Ethiopia ’s second highest mountain. This habitat is termed “Afro-alpine moorland”, and is characterised by Jibrra, or Giant Lobelias, which tower like monolithic giants over the rich tussock grasslands and extensive cushions of yellow Everlasting flowers. This site is an Important Bird Area of immense importance, supporting seven globally threatened species and nearly all of Ethiopia ’s Highland biome species. The grasslands are estimated to support an incredible biomass of 4,000 kg. of rodents per hectare. This obviously attracts an array of raptors and we should see Steppe and Golden Eagles, Augur Buzzard, Lammergeier and the elegant Pallid Harrier courting over this green sea. They share this abundant food source with the plateau’s most celebrated resident, the Ethiopian or Simien Wolf, crowned with the unenviable title of “the world’s rarest canid.” Watching these vibrantly coloured animals, most closely related to the European Timber Wolf, exhibiting their hunting prowess whilst pouncing on Giant Mole Rats (another endemic to the Sanetti Plateau). This is surely amongst Africa’s greatest wildlife experiences. We should enjoy excellent photographic opportunities in this unique montane wonderland. Finally we will reach the escarpment of this elevated plateau and stare down, through the clouds, at the vast Harenna Forest below. This remarkable forest is the largest intact forest block in Ethiopia and the largest protected Afro-alpine forest on the continent. It still supports populations of lion and the only surviving forest dwelling African Wild Dog. Although unlikely that we will see either of these species, the descent through this breathtakingly beautiful, moss-draped forest is inspirational. Here we will search for the uncommon Mountain Buzzard, African Olive Pigeon, Lemon and Tambourine Doves, African Emerald Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Brown Parisoma, represented by a subspecies endemic to this National Park, Abyssinian Crimsonwing, African Citril and Cape Canary. In the afternoon, we will return across the Sanetti Plateau to our lodging in Goba. Overnight Goba Town.

Day 12 - Negele Borana via Senete, Herena forest and Dolo Mena.

Today, we will depart early, and once again ascend the Bale Mountain massif onto the Sanetti Plateau. After crossing this fascinating area we drop into Harenna Forest. As we lose altitude, we will exit the forest zone and enter progressively drier thorn savanna in this remote southern section of Ethiopia. Finally we'll reach a dry wadi on the Genale River, home to Ethiopia’s most sought after endemic, Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco. The bird is named after an Italian Prince, its hapless discoverer, who was killed by an elephant soon after collecting the type specimen (of the Turaco) in the 1890s. It took another 50 years before explorers saw the Turaco again, only in the 1970s was anything revealed about this bird. We will search for it in fruiting fig trees along the wadi, and with the assistance of local farmers, we should enjoy excellent views of this very unusual and beautiful turaco. We will arrive in Negele in the early evening and check into our new  hotel in the area. Overnight at Negele Town. Turaco Hotel.

Day 13 - Negele Borana, Liben plain and the surroundings.

Negele and the road to Bogol Mayo. East of Negele lays a unique open grassland, the Liben Plains, to which the little known Sidamo Lark is restricted. This species belongs to the unusual genus Heteromirafra, which also includes the South African Rudd’s Lark, considered one of the most endangered larks on earth. We will begin our day by walking through these plains in search of this special bird, which we hope to watch performing its parachute display flight. We should also find small parties of hovering Lesser Kestrel, the giant Kori Bustard, (the world’s heaviest flying bird), Black-winged Lapwing, the range restricted Somali Short-toed Lark, Plain-backed Pipit and Pectoral-patch Cisticola. If we are very fortunate, we may see coveys of Coqui Francolin or flush a migratory Corncrake. We will continue moving east, to bird the increasingly dry woodland and thorn savanna towards the Somali border. This area supports the scarce Golden Pipit, the elusive Red-naped Bushshrike, Pringle’s Puffback, Three-streaked Tchagra, Foxy Lark, Somali Crombec, Taita Fiscal, Red-fronted Barbet, the garish Golden-breasted Starling, attractive flocks of Shelley’s Starling, and the much sought after White-crowned Starling, plus Somali Crow, African Silverbill, Somali Bunting and Northern Grosbeak Canary. Large troops of Anubis Baboons may also be encountered here and we should also see Guenther’s Dikdik and Gerenuk. Overnight again in Negele Town. Turaco Hotel.

Day 14 - Negele Borana to Yabello.

Today’s drive along another long and seldom-travelled road takes us near to the Kenya border and finally to the Yabello region, home to two of Ethiopia’s most sought-after endemic birds, both listed as globally threatened - the enigmatic Stresemann’s Bush Crow and the glistening White-tailed Swallow. This area of acacia savanna is characterised by giant red termite mounds, some towering 5m. above the plains, and both these birds seem to be associated in some way with these marvels of natural architecture. The social Bush Crow (or Zavattariornis) was only discovered in 1938, and its affinities have yet to be established. Although it appears starling-like, it is presumed to be most closely related to choughs. Several birding stops will break the journey, the most notable being a stop at the Dawa River in search of Juba Weaver, White-winged Collared Dove and Black-bellied Sunbird. Other noteworthy birds that we may encounter en route to Yabello include Somali Courser, Magpie Starling, Black-capped Social Weaver, Steel-blue Whydah and its host, Black-cheeked Waxbill.  Overnight at Yabello Town. Yabello Hotel.

Day 15 - Yabello area.

We will have the whole day to bird the Yabello area getting better acquainted with the Stresemann’s Bush Crow and White-tailed Swallow. Birds that we will be looking for are Gabar Goshawk, the shrike-sized Pygmy Falcon, Yellow-necked Spurfowl, glamorous flocks of Vulturine Guineafowl, Black-faced Sandgrouse, Mottled Swift, Tree Pipit, the localised African Bare-eyed Thrush, the ventriloqual Spotted Palm Thrush, African Grey Flycatcher, Pale Prinia, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Banded Parisoma, Hunter’s and Shining Sunbirds, Superb and Wattled Starlings, Chestnut Sparrow, Yellow-spotted Petronia, Grey-capped Social Weaver, Chestnut Weaver, Green-winged Pytilia, White-bellied Canary and White-winged Widowbird. A nightdrive in this exciting area could produce Donaldson-Smith’s and Slender-tailed Nightjars, Greyish Eagle, Northern White-faced Owls and Three-banded Courser. Nocturnal mammal sightings may include Striped and Spotted Hyaenas, Serval, African Wild Cat and Ethiopian Genet. Overnight again in Yabello Town. Yabello Hotel.
    

Day 16 - Yabello to Hawasa Town

Hawasa town is the capital of the southern peoples region, 310 kms. north of Yabello. Lake Hawasa is the smallest of the rift valley lakes. It is fed by a small river called “Tikur wuha “meaning black water. Significant numbers of water bird species occur, particularly White-breasted Cormorant, White-faced Whistling Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Red- knobbed Coot and Pygmy Goose, as well as great number of birds associated with forest such as Barbets, Blue-headed Coucal, etc….  One of the most striking natural features of Hawasa is the large population of Marabou Stork. Overnight Hawasa.

Day 17 - Hawasa and Addis Ababa

Our pre-breakfast birding stroll should yield some special birds within the confines of our well-wooded hotel grounds. After breakfast we will visit the remarkable Lake Awasa fish market. This large lake is particularly rich in fish and the fishermen gut their fish and discard the waste around the fish market. This attracts large numbers of the grotesque Marabou Stork and other birds. After Lunch we will start driving back towards Addis Ababa, some 260 kms away. Overnight in Addis Ababa.

Day 18 – (Now 6th November). Morning at leisure followed by lunchtime check-in for a mid-afternoon flight departure from Addis Ababa, home via Dubai.

Gallery

Testimonials

Josele

Thanks again! For the first trip to Ethiopia, I think the list speaks for itself. Very successful and great value for money in an interesting country with some great birds.

The birding was fantastic, the experience was fantastic, and the weather was variable airing on the side of unseasonably heavy rains that caused the group some difficulties when transiting bush roads. 

Mike Easterbrook - 2011

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Dear Josele, I hope all is well with you and Ester. Nancy and I are making the final preparations for the trip - we greatly look forward to joining you and the others on this adventure. Do you have a final updated itinerary with all the contact numbers - I know that you have sent it previously, but there are recent changes that are of importance. Best regards, Steve

Stephen A. Liebhaber
Professor and Interim Chair,
Department of Genetics
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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Hi all,

Really enjoyed the trip with you all. Great country, fantastic wildlife and incredible scenery. Hopefully you all got home with out any unexpected delays.

Graham Ekins - 2011

 

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