Ethiopia, the roof of Africa
Ethiopia, the “roof of Africa”, is a rugged and ancient land which has long held a fascination for travellers and birdwatchers alike. This is a land of superlatives, unsurpassed in scenic grandeur by any other part of this ancient continent. A place where the infant Blue Nile plunges over a dramatic precipice at the start of its long journey to the sea, where robed horsemen gallop across the high plains. It is a country full of contrasts, incredible landscapes and fascinating cultures, from the ancient Abyssinia in the Northern plateau and the dinamic Oromia nation in the center of the country to the nomadic, animistic tribes at the remote Omo Valley.
The country counts with a long and complex list of habitats, from the Afroalpine meadows above 4.000 metres to the extremely dry desert in the Danakil region, including the second lowest emerged land on Earth. This amazing variety of landscapes hosts over 700 species of birds, including about 30 endemics (some of them with small extensions of their range into neightboring Eritrea). This is a country of contrasts, where in the morning you can be delighted by Lammergeiers and Verreaux’s Eagles soaring over your head while Ethiopian Wolfs run amongst wonderful Lobellias, and in the afternoon enjoy the massive flocks of Flamingoes and Phalaropes down in the Rift Valley.
Our journey will start with a gentle drive northwards of Addis Ababa, crossing an endless green plateau above 3.000 metres to reach Debre Libanos. All along our way we will find endemic birds including Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, Rouget’s Rail, Abyssian Longclaw and Abyssinian Serin. Once in Debre Libanos, we will enjoy the majestic flights of Verreaux’s Eagles and Lammergeiers while in search of more endemics including White-billed Starling, White-winged Cliff Chat, Black-winged Lovebird,… From here we will also enjoy the marvels of Jemma Valley, where we shall contact with Ankover Serin, Harwood’s & Erckel’s Francolins.
After this amazing high plateau we shall drive southeast into the Rift Valley and the famous Awash National Park. This is a totally different area of dry thornbush where to enjoy herds of unique mammals but also specialities such as Gilett’s Lark, Sombre Rock Chat and Nile Valley Sunbird. We will continue exploring the Rift Valley to arrive to the southern plateaus, a land of no comparable beauty where we shall enjoy Abyssian Wolfs but also a wide array of specialities and bird endemics including Abyssian Catbird, Spot-breasted Plover and Abyssinian Woodpecker. We will continue to our journey by crossing the exuberant Harenna Forest and explore the remote Sidamo and Boran regions, to look for some of the most range limited bird species in Africa. Here we will be in search of Prince Ruspolli’s Turaco, White-tailed Swallow, Liben Lark (formerly known as Sidamo Lark), Salvadori’s Seedeater and the enigmatic Stresemann’s Bushcrow.
Once back in the Rift Valley we will enjoy the good array of birdlife living in the Abiata-Shalla National Park before ending our tour in Addis Ababa.
This tour is built to catch up with nearly all endemics while enjoying about 500 species of birds and some of the most scarce and iconic mammals living in this wonderful country!
Carles Oliver has been travelling long in Ethiopia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Since a first visit early in this century he has come back every time he has had a chance. Exploring the coutry he has arrived to cross into South Sudan and nowadays is planning an expedition into neightbouring Somaliland. This will be our 2nd tour into Ethiopia, where accommodations and infrastructures have improved in a huge way but are still far away from what you can expect in other countries around like Uganda or Kenya.
A book to help you understand Ethiopia: “The Shadow of the Sun” (1998) by Ryszard Kapuscinski (1932-2007).
Day 1. Flight Barcelona – Addis Ababa (if not flying into Ethiopia by yourself)
Flight from Barcelona to Addis Ababa via Istambul. Arrival to Addis Ababa during the night. Transfer to our hotel in Addis.
For those arriving into Ethiopia by its own, a private transport will wait for them at the airport to lead them to our accommodation in the city.
Day 2. Addis Ababa – Debre Libanos.
After a short birding in our hotel grounds to catch up with the first birds of the tour, we will drive to Debre Libanos, where we will spend the afternoon birdwatching.
Along the day we will birdwatch the green highlands North of Addis Ababa to reach the dramatic gorge by Debre Libanos. At the end of the day our list shall include several remarkable birds including Malachite Sunbird, Brown Parisoma, Tacazze Sunbird, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Lanner Falcon and Lammergeier. Endemics may include Blue-winged Goose, Ethiopian Cisticola, Black-headed Siskin, Wattled Ibis, Erlanger’s Lark, White-billed Starling or Abyssian Longclaw.
|Day 3. Jemma Valley.
Early morning transfer to the splendid Jemma Valley, where we will look for endemics such as Harwood’s Francolin, Erckel’s Francolin, Ankober Serin, Abyssian Black Wheatear and White-throated Seedeater. Other species may include Fox Kestrel, Red-billed Pytilia or Little Rock Chat and, if lucky, we may have one of the few Egyptian Plovers overwintering in the area.
Afternoon birding around Debre Libanos where we will scan for more endemics while enjoying the several birds of prey nesting around: Rüppell’s Vulture, Verreaux Eagle, Lammergeier, African Eagle-Hawk, etc
|Day 4. Debre Libanos – Awash National Park.
After some birding and enjoying the herds of Geladas around Debre Libanos we will drive to Awash National Park. We will stop en route in some wetlands that can produce a long list of wildfowl such as Maccoa Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, along with Steppe Eagle or Yellow-billed Stork. Arrival to our hotel in Awash during late afternoon.
|Day 5 & 6. Awash National Park.
This is one of the main birdwatching spots in Ethiopia. During these two days we will search Kory, Arabian, White-bellied & Buff-crested Bustards, Pygmy & Sooty Falcons, Lappet-faced Vulture, Red-and-Yellow Barbet, Northern Carmine Bee-eater, Gillett’s Lark, Rufous-crowned Roller, Double-banded Courser, Rosy-patched Bush-shrike, Nile Valley Sunbird, Ashy Cisticola and many more.
An special effort will be done to try to locate scarce species such as Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse, African Collared Dove, Black Scrub Robin and Somali Bulbul (a serious candidate to become a full species).
Mammals here would include Beisa Oryx, Soemmering’s Gazelle, Gerenuk, Lesser Kudu, Spotted Hyaena, Bat-eared Fox and many more.
Day 7. Awash National Park – Awassa.
Last morning in Awash National Park and transfer to Awassa, where we will have some birding in the afternoon enjoying our hotel grounds and the lake around.
Here we shall connect with interesting species including Red-throated Wryneck, Grosbeak Weaver, Woodland Kingfisher, Silbery-cheeked Hornbill, African Pygmy Goose, White-browed Robin-chat and African Jacana among many more.
|Day 8. Wondo Genet.
We will spend the morning in Wondo Genet, formerly a wonderful autoctonous forest that had been deforested in the last years. The place is still hosting endemics including Black-winged Lovebird, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Abyssian Oriole as well as Banded Barbet, Half-collared Kingfisher, Narina Trogon, White-cheeked Turaco or Greater Honeyguide among other goodies!
Afternoon birding by the Awassa Lake.
|Day 9. Awassa – Goba.
Tranfer from the Rift Valley up to Goba. The road crosses some impressive landscapes as we keep gaining elevation over the valley. During the day we will do several stops to enjoy the birdlife around. Birds here may include Abyssian Woodpecker, Red-billed Chough, Lammergeier, Steppe Eagle, African Snipe, Rouget’s Rail, Thick-billed Raven, Abyssian Catbird, White-backed Blac Tit, Wattled Ibis, Abyssian Ground Thrush, Cape Eagle Owl and, if lucky, Abyssinian Owl!
Days 10 & 11. Bale National Park – Negele.
We will spend one full day up in the Bale NP. During the morning we will explore the gorgeous Sanetti Plateau, +4000 metres above sea level, where we will look for endemic Ethiopian Wolf and their preys, the also endemic Giant Root-rats! Endemic birds are not less interesting and include Chestnut-naped Francolin, Spot-breasted Plover, Rouget’s Rail and Bale Brown Parisoma (griseiventris form, a serious candidate to be considered as a full species). Other good birdlife include Wattled Crane, Moorland Francolin, Moorland Chat, Golden Eagle or African Hill Babbler.
In the afternoon we will explore the area around Dinsho. Here we would enjoy some forest birds as well as the endemic Mountain Nyala and Menelik’s Bushbuck and a variety of birds living in the canopy.
|In our transfer to Negele several stops will be done. Here we will look for Sharpe’s Starling, Abyssian Crimsonwing, Abyssian Ground Hornbill, Olive Sunbird, and the endemic Prince Ruspolli’s Turaco.
|Day 12. Negele.
We will spend the morning around Liben Plain. Here we will look for some really scarce endemic birds including Liben Lark, White-tailed Swallow, Salvadori’s Seedeater but also Somali Courser, Reichenow’s Seedeater, Somali Short-toed Lark or Amur Falcon.
|Day 13. Negele – Yabello.
In our transfer from Negele to Yabello some stops will be done allowing us chances for Black-bellied Sunbird, African White-winged Dove, Juba Weaver, Water Thick-knee, Grey-capped Social Weaver, Vulturine Guineafowl, Slate Coloured Boubou, Pygmy Batis or Abyssinian Waxbill.
Around Yabello we were looking for Northern Grosbeak Canary, African Orange-bellied Parrot, Tiny Cisticola, Marsh Sandpiper, Hunter’s Sunbird, Cardinal Woodpecker, Shelley’s Starling, d’Arnauld’s Barbet, Bateleur and the endemic Stresemann’s Bush-crow among many other.
|Day 14. Yabello – Awassa.
After breakfast and some birding we drive North, arriving to our accommodation during the late afternoon, hoping to have some time to search for birds before dinner by the Lake Awassa. During the say we will make a pair of stops in suitable humit forest where we may have Lemon Dove, Sharpe’s Starling and other goodies plus several commoner species.
|Days 15 & 16. Abiata – Shalla National Park.
Two days exploring a variety of wood lands, open lands and lakes can provide a stunning variety of birdlife. Here we will explore patches of brod-leave forest, swamps, dry thornbush land and large lakes. We will take advantage of the location of our accommodation, placed by a luxurian broad-leave forest where to search for the rare Red-capped Robin-Chat along with Narina Trogon, Scaly-breasted Honeyguide, Green Malkoha, Broad-billed Roller and several more. The list along these days will also include Lesser Flamingo, Wattled Crane, Cape Teal, Hottentot Teal, Temminck’s Stint, Killitz’s Plover, Clapperton Francolin, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Heuglin’s Gull, Greyish Eagle-Owl, Lesser Honeyguide, Masked Shrike, Red-fronted Barbet, Yellow-vented Eremomela and a long list of other good birds…
Day 17. Lake Ziwai – Addis Ababa.
Boat trip around Lake Ziwai, famous lake for the variety and amount of waterfowl. Here where we will look for Saddle-billed Stork, Black Stork, African Skimmer, Collared Pratincole, Black Heron or Ruppell’s Weaver among many more.
Final transfer to Addis Ababa.
|Day 18. Fligh back Addis Ababa – Barcelona.
Flight from Addis Ababa back to Barcelona.
Return regular flights Barcelona/Addis Ababa/Barcelona, all 17 nights of accommodation in twin room, 1 overnight in Barcelona Airport in twin room if necessary (requested in advance), breakfasts, lunches and evening meals, guiding and tour leaders, ground transport in air conditioned 4x4s and minibus, reserves and National Parks entrances fees and travel insurance. VAT included.
Transport to/from Barcelona airport, VISA (50$), meals during airport/plane trips, drinks out of water, any other item not listed as “INCLUDED”.
As the tour covers a big area we will sleep in different accommodations. Our base in Addis Ababa will be Gion Hotel, being one fo the best gardened hotels in the city. 2 nights in Ethio-German Park Hotel or similar. 3 nights in Awash Waterfall Lodge, inside the Awash National Park. This lodge is offering wonderful views on a waterfall, good (but limited) set of food for evening meals, and a really safari-like ambient inside the lodge. We will have twin rooms or double “cabins” imitating local constructions. 2 nights in United Africa Hotel, right beside Awasa Lake. This is offering clean rooms and good food. 3 nights at Bale Mountain Lodge, a new and lovely corner full of wildlife, with wonderful rooms and good food. Overnights in Negele Green Hotel (Negele), Yabello Green Pension (Yabello) and United Africa Hotel (Awasa). 2 nights in Abiata-Shalla National Park, at Wenney Lodge or similar. Last overnight in Addis Ababa at Gion Hotel. When arrived to Barcelona, overnight in one of the hotels around Barcelona Airport (Barcelona Tryp Aeropuerto or similar). All rooms are en suite.
All evening meals are taken in the hotels. Evening meals are buffet style with plenty of choice including an extensive salad bar but also a combined dish with fish or meat (depending on the place). Vegetarians should understand that this option is not well understood in Ethiopia, where most of people eats what they can handdle. Still, in all places you can have a good selection of vegetables and excellent fruits. During the trip we will have a cheff with us. This will be helpful especially in South Ethiopia, where villages are towns are distant from where we will look for the birds. Some days we will stop for lunch in restaurants but other days our cheff will cook for us.
PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH
UK, US & France visitors can purchase a month or 3-month long VISA when arriving to Bole International Airport (Addis Ababa). Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return date. Please check standard health and innoculation requirements applies in your local authorities. However, it is strongly advisable to take precautions against malaria for this tour, and if you are travelling from or have recently travelled in a region with Yellow Fever, you will require the innoculation certificate to travel. Please note that some prescription or over the counter medicines are banned in Ethiopia, please check the Ethiopian Embassy before travel.
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