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Although we are now working from home, if you are due to travel shortly we will be in touch to support and guide you in either postponing or cancelling your trip, based on Foreign Office advice and your insurance arrangements.
 
When you feel ready to do so, we are here to help you plan your next holiday, knowing availability in many key destinations is already tight for next year. To help you move forward with confidence, our booking conditions have been relaxed in case you are unable to travel due to COVID-19 issues beyond your control (eg a new wave of infections; visa restrictions; mandatory quarantine; or cancellation of your international flight).
 
Thank you for your ongoing kindness & support in these difficult times. And remember that all our holidays are fully financially protected, wherever in the world you live.

Warm regards

Claire Farley, Managing Director
Ethiopia Holidays Tours Omo Valley Lalibela Simien Bale Mountains Park

Birding in Ethiopia: Bale Mountains + Great Lakes


YPP12A
12 NIGHTS
FROM £3,995
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Birding Holidays Tours Ethiopia Bird Bale Mountains Yabelo Lake Awasa

Our birding holidays & tours to Ethiopia will take you to a fascinating country that offers some of the best bird watching in all of Africa, with over 950 different species & 30 endemics. Visit the central grasslands, Bale Mountains, Lake Langano & Lake Awasa in the Rift Valley, Yabelo & Arba Minch in the south, before flying to Lalibela to view its famous rock-hewn churches. Birding guide, all transfers & park fees included.

Birding Holidays Tours Ethiopia Bird Bale Mountains Yabelo Lake Awasa
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Birding Holidays & Tours
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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
• 
Sululta Plains + Debre Libano
• 
Lake Langano
• 
Bale Mountains
• 
Lake Awasa
• 
Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary
• 
Arba Minch & Tribes of South
• 
Lalibela Churches
• 
Ethiopia Bird Watching
• 
Birding Holidays & Tours
• 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
• 
Sululta Plains + Debre Libano
• 
Lake Langano
• 
Bale Mountains
• 
Lake Awasa
• 
Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary
• 
Arba Minch & Tribes of South
• 
Lalibela Churches
• 
Ethiopia Bird Watching
Day 1
You will be met at Addis Ababa Airport and transferred into Ethiopia's capital city. This beautiful high-altitude country was once ruled by the Queen of Sheba and has a fascinating and ancient history. With over 80 different languages and many different religions, its strong tribal traditions and festivals are world famous.
 
On arrival enjoy a private tour of the city, viewing landmark building such as Headquarters of the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as well as Meskel Square - the main meeting place of the city. We visit Trinity Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in the city, and the former palace of King Menelik II (also called the Imperial Palace or the Old Gebi), which has been the residence of various Ethiopian emperors including Haile Selassie. Today it contains the offices of the Prime Minister.
 
Ethiopia is one of the world's oldest civilizations and you can see many ancient artefacts on display at the National Archaelogical Museum. This includes the fossils remains of Lucy, one of the oldest known hominids ever discovered who lived in Ethiopia over 3.2 million years ago. Over 40% of her skeleton was found intact.
 
Time permitting there is also the opportunity to visit the Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa, and drive up Mount Entoto for panoramic views over the city. As Ethiopia is the birth place of coffee, do try to experience a typical Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony at some stage during your stay.
Day 2
Enjoy a full day of birding in the stunning Central Highlands today, as we travel 1-hour northwards to the high-altitude Sululta Plains on the northeast side of Entoto Mountain.
 
Over 53 different bird species have been recorded here, including endemic highland grassland species such as the Erlanger’s Lark, Erckel's francolin, Red-chested swallow, Somali crow (Brown-necked raven), Botta’s wheatear, Ethiopian cisticola, Pectoral-patch cisticola and African quailfinch. You can also hope to see the Citril, Tacazze sunbird, Brown-rumped seedeater, Streaky seedeater, Mountain thrush, Greater blue-eared glossy starling and Swainson’s sparrow.
 
We continue a further 1-hour to where these seemingly endless plains dramatically drop off into the Blue Nile drainage system. Perched on the edge of this gorge is Debre Libanos Monastery, one of Ethiopia's most sacred Christian sites. Here we walk down to the old Portuguese Bridge and enjoy an included packed lunch, with stunning views over the Nile Gorge.
 
We will concentrate our search here for the Rüppell’s vulture, Verreaux's eagle (Black eagle), Lammergeyer, Augur buzzard, Lanner falcon, Yellow-billed kite, Hooded vulture, Lappet-faced vulture, Nyanza swift, Hemprich's hornbill, Red-rumped swallow, Abyssinian black wheatear, Mocking cliff chat, Reichenow’s serin and Cinnamon-breasted bunting. Endemics we will be looking out here include Abyssinian slaty flycatcher, Rüppell's chat, White-winged cliff chat and White-billed starling. In the remnant montane forest around the monastery we may see species such as the White-cheeked turaco, Lemon dove, Dusky flycatcher, Banded barbet, Red-faced cisticola, Klaas’s cuckoo, Brown woodland warbler, Abyssinian woodpecker, White-backed black tit and Abyssinian oriole.
 
The Gelada baboon (the 'bleeding heart monkey') can also be seen in this region. In the late afternoon we drive 2-hours back to Addis Ababa.
Day 3
Today leave Addis Ababa with your guide and drive southwards for 3-hours, travelling through the beautiful Rift Valley with its chains of lakes - Lake Ziway, Lake Langano, Lake Abijatta and Lake Shala.
 
Along the way we stop for some birding and visit the rock-hewn church of Adadi Mariam that is believed to be the southernmost church founded by King Lalibela. We also stop at the pre-historic archeological site of Melka Kunture in the Awash River Valley, where many ancient stone tools and huge mammal fossils nearly 2-million years old have been discovered.
 
Our next stop is at the amazing Tiya Stelea - the remains of an ancient Ethiopian culture whose age has not yet been precisely determined. There are 36 monuments at this UNESCO World Heritage site, including 32 carved stone slabs covered with symbols that are difficult to decipher.
 
On arrival at Lake Langano relax and enjoy the wonderful views over the lake, with its prolific birdlife. You can hope to see birds such as the ugly Marabou stork, the Hamerkop, African jacana, Black crake, Great white pelican, Pink pelican, Black-winged stilt, Darter, African fish eagle, Goliath heron, Black crowned crane, Malachite kingfisher, flamingos and many other water birds. You can also swim in the lake.
Day 4
Enjoy some early morning birding at Lake Langano this morning. Afterwards we travel 4-hours to Bale Mountains National Park - the best-known national park in Ethiopia.
 
We drive up through forests, fields, villages and banana groves until we reach the open grassy uplands, with the scenery becoming increasingly spectacular as we approach the park. Situated on the high altitude Sanetti Plateau, the park covers an area of over 830 square miles (2,150 sq km).
 
The plateau is broken up by dramatic volcanic plugs and peaks, beautiful alpine lakes and rushing mountain streams that descend into deep rocky gorges on their way down to the lowlands. This is the largest Afro-Alpine habitat in Africa and the best place to see endemic mammals and many altitudinal bird species.
 
Some of the endemics you can hope to see today include Blue-winged goose, Rouget's rail, Abyssinian longclaw, Abyssinian long-eared owl, White-backed black tit, Abyssinian catbird, Black-winged lovebird, Golden-backed woodpecker, Thick billed raven, Spot-breasted plover, White-collared pigeon and if very fortunate, a Black-headed siskin.
Day 5
Today is devoted to the upland birdlife, flora and fauna of Bale Mountain National Park which offers wonderful opportunities to view 11 of Ethiopia's 29 endemic bird species (over 260 bird species have been recorded here) as well as over 60 different mammals.
 
Depart early and ascend the Bale Massif on foot until you reach the high altitude Sanetti Plateau, which ranges between 12,500 and 14,360 ft (3,800 to 4,377 m). As you climb up the mountain you will see the vegetation changing from juniper forests to heather moorlands and alpine meadows, which at certain times of year are covered in an abundance of colourful wildflowers.
 
The Sanetti Plateau is a birding area of great importance, as it supports seven globally threatened species, including the Thick-billed raven, Wattled ibis, Blue-winged goose and Rouget's rail. It also supports nearly all of Ethiopia’s highland biome species and is particularly good for raptor sightings.
 
This is also the best place to see the park's most celebrated resident - the Ethiopian wolf (also called the Simien fox). Watching these vibrantly coloured animals hunting giant mole-rats (another endemic species) is a truly wonderful wildlife experience. You can also see the endemic Mountain nyala, a magnificent antelope unique to these hills, Menelik bush buck, warthog, reed buck, gray duiker and various monkeys.
Day 6
This morning we travel 4-hours to beautiful Lake Awasa, which is home to hippos and a magnificent spectacle of water birds.
 
Species you can hope to see here include the Marabou stork, Black heron, Goliath heron, Hamerkop, Hadada ibis, Pygmy goose, Fulvous whistling duck, White-faced whistling duck, Knob-billed duck, Black crake, African jacana, Three-banded plover, Whiskered tern, White-winged black tern, Pied kingfisher, Malachite kingfisher and many other species of egrets, ducks and kingfishers.
 
In the acacia woodland near our lodge you will also find a host of land birds including the Grey-headed kingfisher, Woodland kingfisher, Red-breasted wryneck, Green wood-hoopoe, Sulphur-breasted bush shrinke, White-browed robin chat, African thrush, Rufous chatter, Swamp warbler, Red-faced crombec, Wattle-eye, Puff back, Spotted creeper and many other colourful species. Birds are so plentiful here that little energy is required in finding them. You can also hope to see beautiful black and white Colobus monkeys.
Day 7
A full day on the road today as we travel 6-hours to Yabelo which lies in an area of rugged savanna in the wilds of southern Ethiopia, punctuated by the vegetation of the Dawa River Valley.
 
Along the way you can hope to see the Verreaux’s eagle, Abyssinian eagle, Magpie starling, White-winged dove, Black-bellied sunbird, Salvadori’s weaver, Bare-eyed thrushes, African pied wagtails and the Black cuckooshrike. Approaching Yabello we enter the range of two of Ethiopia’s most sought-after species - the Stresemann’s bush-crow and the White-tailed swallow, which you can hope to spot.
 
Check into your lodge in the Oromo Borena region, whose people are known for cattle rearing and singing, as they carry water to their thousands of cattle.
Day 8
This morning we explore the birdlife of the enormous Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary, which covers an area of over 965 square miles (2,500 sq. km).
 
Other wildlife is generally quite shy in this park, but mammals you can hope to see include zebra, gazelle and Guenther's dik-dik. But bird life is abundant and species you can hope to see include the Pygmy falcon, Somali courser, White billed bustard, Buff-crested bustard, Foxy lark, Stressmann’s bush crow, Ruspoli’s turaco, Red-naped bush shrike, D’Arnaud’s barbet, Rufous chatterer,  White-bellied canary, White-tailed swallow and Shelley’s rufous sparrow.
 
In the evening enjoy a night drive where we hope to see nocturnal birds such as Donaldson-Smith’s nightjars and the African scops owl.
Day 9
A full day on the road today was we travel 8-hours to the regional capital of Arba Minch, whose name means 'Forty Springs'. This town is the gateway to the tribes of the Omo Valley.
 
Along the way we stop at a Konso Village situated in an isolated region of basalt hills. All Konso villages are located on hilltops and organised like wood fortesses, with an entrance gate and series of alleys you need to pass through to gain entrance. This tribe is known for their intricately terraced hillsides, as well as making colourful hand-woven cotton cloth. They also sculpt wooden totem poles called "waka" to mark their graves.
 
We continue to Arba Minch and check into our hotel.
 
Note: You will be expected to pay a small fee to photograph local tribal people.
Day 10
This morning we head out early to Nechisar National Park and drive a 37 mile (60 km) circular route to spot some of the endemic mammal of Ethiopia – including the Swaynes hartebeest, Burchil zebra, gazelles and many colourful lowland birds.
 
In the afternoon enjoy a boat ride on Lake Chamo, where you can see the Crocodile Market - the point at which the Kolfo River empties into the lake and a popular place for giant Nile crocodiles to sunbathe. Here fishing for Nile perch and many other species by locals on their traditional boats is by far the best in the country. You can also see many hippos and many waterbirds such as the African fish eagle, great white pelican and egret.
Day 11
Transfer to Arba Minch Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Lalibela Airport and transferred into this spiritual town - the 'African Jerusalem'.
 
Perched high on an isolated mountain over 8,500 ft (2,600 m) above sea level, Lalibela is home to 11 spectacular rock-hewn churches built by King Lalibela (1181 - 1221) after whom the town is named. Each church is carved entirely out of a single block of granite, with its roof at ground level, and each is built in a different architectural style. The entire town seems frozen in biblical times and is today a pilgrimage site for Christians.
 
After lunch we visit the First Group of extraordinary rock-hewn churches and their subterranean complex of passages, found by a stream called the River Jordan. Bete Medhanialem (Saviour Church), Bete Miriam, Bete Denagel, Bete Meskal, Debra Sina and Bete Golgotha are all part of the amazing UNESCO World Heritage site found at Lalibela.
 
Note: When entering churches, men should wear long trousers. Women should wear jeans or long skirts (avoid short skirts and shorts) & must wear a head scarf. Please be aware there is a lot of walking and climbing up and down rough steps when visiting these churches.
Day 12
This morning we take a mule ride to the top of a hill to view the semi-monolithic church of Asheton Mariam (13th century AD). Here you will be rewarded with unforgettable views of the surrounding area.
 
In the afternoon we visit the Second and Third Group of Lalibela's famous churches. These include Bete Gabriel & Raphael, Bete Merquorios, Bete Emmanuel and Bete Abba Libanos.
 
Finally we visit the famous Bete Giorgis - Church of St George - carved in the shape of a cross from solid red volcanic rock. It is the most beautiful rock-hewn church in the world and symbolises Noah's Ark.
Day 13
Transfer to Lalibela Airport for your flight to Addis Ababa.
 
Here you will be met and transferred to a city hotel where you will have the use of a day room. In the evening enjoy an included Cultural Dinner at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant with local music, folk dancing and a variety of local food.
 
Afterwards transfer to Addis Ababa Airport for your flight home.
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