THE ETHIOPIAN HIGHLANDS
AND THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY
Wildlife Tour Ethiopian Highlands Mammals, Birds, Landscapes & Flowers
Ethiopia’s heritage, both natural and human, is so clearly African and yet so unique as to warrant direct comparisons with those island mini-continents, New Guinea and Madagascar.
Our tour concentrates on the Ethiopian Highlands and the dramatic rent in the volcanic plateau formed by the Great Rift Valley. The highest asphalt road in Africa takes us into the Bale Mountains where we’ll watch and photograph the iconic Ethiopian (or Simien) Wolf, as they stalk through the heathy moorlands of the Sanetti Plateau, the beautiful landscape dotted with Giant Lobelias and Red Hot Pokers. Mounds of white Helichrysum meyeri, Drimias and Cooperianas are in flower. The afro-alpine moorland certainly has a rich diversity of plant life but it still defies belief that it can support 4000kg biomass of rodents per hectare! Chunky one-kilo Giant Mole-rats form the bulk – they are the wolf’s chief prey, and also support six species of Aquila eagle. In silvery grasslands we’ll see elegant Mountain Nyala whilst Wattled Cranes stride past the spectacular red blooms of Ammocharis tinneana, striped Crinum abyssinicum and the crenulated blooms of the sea daffodil relative Pancratium tenuifolium. We’ll seek the rare Bale Monkey as well as the recently split Ethiopian Klipspringer, and endemic birds such as Abyssinian Owl and Abyssinian Catbird. We’ll spend an evening watching the grasslands for Serval, we’ve a good chance of seeing this gorgeous cat here.
Another cat, the African Wild Cat, is often seen along the tracks through the rift valley Awash National Park. As dusk falls on the slopes of volcanic Mount Fantalle, we’ll watch Spotted Hyenas emerging from the black lava caves, a famed denning site for these enigmatic creatures. Awash is home to Arabian and Kori Bustards, Somali Ostriches, Northern Lesser Kudu, Soemmering’s Gazelles and Beisa Oryx, and we’ll see lots of stunning Northern Carmine Bee-eaters. Troupes of Hamadryas Baboons forage across the plains, whilst in the wild mountain country around the monastery complex at Debre Libanos, is the endemic Gelada Baboon, each Gelada adorned with a ‘bleeding heart’. Photographing Lammergeiers is easy here as bones are regularly put out for them! We’ll finish with two days at a superb lodge set amid majestic figs on the shores of a Rift Valley lake. Here is an abundance of typical African species such as White-cheeked Turaco, Narina Trogons, tinkerbirds, bee-eaters, and barbets, as well endemics such as the Black-winged Lovebird and Yellow-fronted Parrot. Spotlighting will reveal Civets and Bush Babies. Ethiopia is an extraordinary country, its diverse wildlife still abundant, its culture unique, and distinctive and its landscapes often ‘other-worldly’ and frequently magnificent.
Mammals and Birds, Landscapes and Flowers. Also Culture.
Three or four miles a day, often less, and always at a relaxed pace, ideally suited to photographers. Paths are occasionally steep and the ground can be rocky. At times we’ll be 3500m above sea level.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation in Ethiopia. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips and items of a personal nature including travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 15. Only one leader will accompany a group of 6 or less.
The lodges and hotels on this tour are generally of a good or very good standard except for the second, the rather basic Ethio German Lodge by the famous monastery of Debre Libanos. Here the rooms are simple and clean and have en suite facilities. We start though with a night in the Ghion Hotel, a rather plain but decent hotel with a great garden for birds, then move to the Ethio German Lodge. After a night here we move to the Ankober Palace Lodge, set in the grounds of Emperor Menelik’s Palace, for one night. Pleasant rooms, attentive staff, and magnificent views. The superbly scenic Awash Falls Lodge will be our base for three nights before we head up into the Bale Mountains for a four night stay at the excellent Bale Mountains Lodge. This new boutique-style lodge is in a fabulous position with magnificent views of the mountains and forests all around. The rooms are modern and very comfortable, something that can also be said the lovely Bishangari Lodge set on the shores of Lake Langano amid majestic fig forests, where we’ll spend the last two nights of the tour. We’ll arrive back into Addis Ababa on the last evening and go to a hotel where we’ll be able to change and shower before heading to the airport. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are direct from London Heathrow to Addis Ababa. Indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
It will vary from quite cold early mornings and evenings in the Bale Mountains and at Debre Libanos to quite hot in the middle of the day in the Rift Valley sites. The rainy season will just about have ended but there may still be some heavy showers about.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health news. Mammal, bird and butterfly checklists are available.