Ethiopia lacks the stellar reputation of Kenya when it comes to big animals, but that’s only because people don’t know what is hiding in the bush out west. Gambela National Park is witness to a migration of white-eared kob and Nile lechwe up to a million strong, and the birdlife everywhere is out of this world.
Ethiopia’s ecosystems are diverse, from high Afro-alpine vegetation to deseret and semidesert scrubland. Rounding out the roster of habitats are six more unique ecosystems. Ethiopia hosts 279 mammal species, 201 reptile species, 150 fish species and 63 amphibian species and 860 species of birds have been recorded. More noteworthy is the fact that of all the species in Ethiopia, 31 mammals, 21 birds, nine reptiles, four fish and 24 amphibians are endemic (found only in Ethiopia).
Start Addis Ababa. In the afternoon, we will have a city tour of Addis Ababa and visit the Ethnographic museum
An early start this morning to visit the Debre Libanos Gorge, the drive is approximately 2 hours. The gorge is carved by a tributary of the Blue Nile and is home to a large troop of Gelada Baboons, a species unique to Ethiopia. These magnificent animals have a much evolved society and efficiently communicate with each other and are very sociable. Adult males are especially impressive with their long flowing manes of hair and their red 'bleeding heart'. Also keep an eye out for the Lammergeyers soaring over the gorge. We will return to Addis Ababa for the night.
Today we head east to Awash National Park and we stop at Hora Crater Lake and Beseka Lake en route to spot birds and crocodiles. The journey to Awash takes us about 6 hours (including the stops along the route) and we should reach Awash National Park in time for lunch. The park is situated on the edge of the Awash River and is an acacia plain surrounded by hills. This afternoon we will go on a game drive into the park and enjoy the beautiful sunset over the park. We will stay for two nights in the Awash Fall Lodge.
Today we will have a full day game drive in the park that includes a visit to Awash River Falls in the morning and the Kudu Valley in the afternoon. We will have the bus with us to drive us from one game area to another and we can walk with the scouts to have a closer view of the wild animals in the park. The wildlife we hope to see includes the oryx, kudu, jackals, warthog, baboons, spotted hyena, bat eared fox and wildcat. The elusive Striped Hyena, lion, leopard and caracal have also been seen in this park.
We leave Awash National Park this morning to travel to Lake Langano. The journey takes us about 5 hrs including stops at the Koka Dam and Lake Ziway which offers a great variety of water birds. At Lake Ziway we will stop for lunch - make sure you look for small furry mammals called Tree Hyrax which live by the lake. In the afternoon we will arrive at Lake Langano and check into our hotel on the shore of the lake. The lake is surrounded by the Arsi Mountains that are 4000m high. We will take an afternoon walk along the shore of the lake in the acacia woodland forest and look for woodland birds including starlings, White headed Buffalo Weaver, White browed Sparrow Weaver, Lilac- breasted Roller and the African Hoopoe.
In the morning we will visit Abiata-Shala National Park and we will also stop at Lake Abjata to see the flamingos. We will then travel south to Wondogenet, a beautiful hill resort set in tropical forest full of birds and monkeys. There is also a swimming pool that is filled from a local hot spring. We will spend two nights here.
Today we will explore Wendogenet and its surroundings. We take a walk up into the forest to see Colobus Monkeys, forest baboons and many colourful tropical birds including the endemic Yellow Fronted Parrot, Abyssinian Wood Pecker and the rare White Cheeked Turaco. We will have also the option to visit the small local market at Wendogenet which is full of locally produced fruit.
We will leave Wendogenet in the morning and embark on the long road to the Bale Mountains National Park. The journey takes about 10 hours including a stop, but despite the length of this journey the constantly changing dramatic scenery will keep your attention. We cross the vast Arusi-Bale plains and travel over mountain passes at over 3600m. We will have a brief stop at Adaba for the Saturday market of the Oromo people who live in the fertile plains of the Bale Mountains. The Bale Mountains cover an enormous area of 2400 sq km and reach an altitude of 4377m. The park is virtually uninhabited and therefore almost entirely unspoilt by humans. The park contains large areas of plateau broken up by volcanic peaks and gorges, lakes and streams. When we arrive at the village of Dinsho we will visit the park headquarters to collect a guide and scouts. We will then spend an hour walking in the park before driving to our hotel for the next two nights.
Today we will enjoy the varied scenery and unique wildlife of the park. We will drive up to the Senatti Plateau (4000 metres) to try and spot the endemic Stark's Hare, Warthogs, the peculiar endemic Giant Mole Rat and the endangered Ethiopian Wolf. The Senatti Plateau is home to the largest number of Ethiopian wolves in the world and we have a good chance of seeing these rare and beautiful animals. We will spend the morning on the plateau and then drive down to the spectacular Harenna forest, where we will have our picnic lunch. After lunch we will walk in the forest enjoying its flora and fauna and looking for its resident populations of black & white Colobus monkeys, Vervet monkeys and Olive baboons.
After breakfast we travel back west along the Rift Valley towards Lake Awasa, the drive is approximately 6-7 hours long. We will arrive at Lake Awasa in the afternoon and we will go on a walk to explore the rich bird life on the shores of the lake. We will stay in a hotel on the shore of Lake Awasa, which has very beautiful views over the lake.
This morning we will visit the fish market on the shores of Lake Awasa. The fishing boats come in from the lake and the locals congregate to purchase their fish. In addition to the villagers shopping there are local children playing games, pelicans trying to steal food and monkeys swinging in the trees overhead. It is a real taste of local life! After the market we drive back to Addis Ababa (approximately 4 hours) for our final night.
Our trip ends this morning in Addis Ababa.
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