ADDIS ABABA ARRIVAL AND GEFERSSA BIRDING
On your arrival at the Bole International Airport, our staff will welcome and assist you for your Hotel transfer. After lunch in the hotel, we leave for Geferssa Reservoir, around 20 km west of Addis Ababa, where one can see the Blue-winged Goose, Black-headed Siskin, Abyssinian Long Claw and Wattled Ibis. Return to Addis Ababa early evening.
ADDIS ABABA TO AWASH
Our Ethiopian trip kicks off with an early start from the country’s lofty capital, Addis Ababa (after breakfast with Brown-rumped Seedeater), as we make our way down into the lake-studded rift valley. We should have time to pause at Debre Zeyit for our first waterbirds, before heading to our final destination at Awash for some introductory dry-country birding. Northern Carmine Bee-eater in Awash National Park.
AWASH NATIONAL PARK
The bird-filled Awash National Park and surroundings will be the focus of our entire day’s birding. At the black lava flow at Lake Baseka, we’ll search for the highly localized Sombre Rock Chat. The rest of the time will be spent scouring the grass plains and bushland for specials such as Arabian Bustard, Hartlaub’s Bustard, Red-winged Lark, Somali Fiscal and Yellow-breasted Barbet.
AWASH TO WONDO GENET
After breakfast on your accommodation, we’ll start our journey southwards, passing various crater lakes and wetlands, such as Lake Ziway and Langano, with surrounding acacia bush, and may see Northern Grey Tit and Black-billed Woodhoopoe. By mid-afternoon, we hope to reach Wondo Genet, and spend the last few hours of light birding in some remnant forest patches near our accommodation, although the main birding here will be the following morning.
WONDO GENET TO GOBA
An early morning birding around Wondo Genet should turn up several endemics and specials, which may include Yellow-fronted Parrot, White-cheeked Turaco, Banded Barbet, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Abyssinian Oriole and perhaps the scarce Abyssinian Ground Thrush. We’ll then wind our way into the fabulous Bale Mountains, keeping our eyes peeled for Thick-billed Raven and Red-billed Chough, for two nights stay.
BALE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The breathtaking scenery of the Bale Mountains provides a backdrop to some of Ethiopia’s best birding. We’ll spend a full day examining the alpine moorlands and Hagenia forests of the area, in search of Moorland Francolin, White-backed Tit, Abyssinian Catbird, Rouget’s Rail, Wattled Ibis, Blue-winged Goose, Spot-breasted Lapwing, White-collared Pigeon, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Woodpecker and White-billed Starling..
RESUME BALE MOUNTAINS EXPLORATION
We’ll be watching out for Ethiopia’s flagship mammal, the Critically Endangered Ethiopian Wolf! Of all carnivores, the Ethiopian Wolf is the most endangered, with only 400 to 600 remaining. We make a special effort to search for them in the Bale mountains.
GOBA TO NEGELE
With a long drive ahead of us, we make an early start across the Sanetti Plateau and down through the Harenna Forest, searching for any local specialties that we may be missing. We’ll pause at a few strategic river crossings in search of the charismatic Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco on our way south on to Negele.
The overgrazed Liben Plains near Negele holds perhaps Africa’s most threatened bird, the rare Liben/Sidamo Lark. This species will form the main focus of our visit, but we also hope to find several other specialties in the area, including Somali Short-toed Lark, White-crowned Starling and perhaps Salvadori’s Seedeater. Arid country birds may include Vulturine Guineafowl and Pringle’s Puffback.
NEGELE TO YABELLO
Today, we continue further south into the arid country of southern Ethiopia, as we continue on to Yavello. We’ll visit some riverine habitats in search of the highly localised Juba Weaver and White-winged Dove and smart Black-bellied Sunbird, pause, if necessary at Arero forest, where one of the largest populations of Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco resides, and catch up with some more arid-country species, such as Red-naped Bushshrike, Three-streaked Tchagra and Foxy Lark.
YABELLO TO AWASSA
The immediate surrounds of Yabello are home to two very special birds, the charismatic Stresemann’s Bushcrow and little-known White-tailed Swallow. We’ll spend the early morning searching for these, before starting our return journey northwards, watching out for Shelley’s Starling at the roadside as we go. We break our journey at the bird-filled Lake Awasa.
AWASSA TO LANGANO
We leave Addis Ababa early in the morning, heading south for the main Ethiopian Rift Valley. We will be birding along the main road, stopping off at Koka Dam and the Awash river and then at Lake Zeway for lunch. After lunch, we head down to the lakeshore where huge numbers of water birds are congregated. African Pygmy Geese, Yellow-billed storks, Collared Pratincoles, Lesser and greater Jacanas, African Jacanas, White Pelicans, Fish Eagles, crowned and common cranes are some of the species to be seen here in impressive numbers. We leave Zeway mid-afternoon, continuing to Lake Langano for an overnight stay. Overnight at one of the lake Side resorts at Lake Langano.
LANGANO TO DEBRE LIBANOS
Today, we continue northwards, back through Addis Ababa and to spectacular cliffs of Debre Libanos. Here we’ll search for the localised Erckel’s Francolin, White-winged Cliff Chat, Rueppell’s Black Chat and the unusual Gelada Baboon.
DEBRE LIBANOS, THE JEMMA VALLEY AND ON TO ANKOBER
An early start from Debre Libanos will see us descend into the Jemma River valley, where after first light we’ll search for Harwood’s Francolin. We’ll also watch out for Hemprich’s Hornbill, White-billed Starling, Black- billed Barbet and Foxy Cisticola, and if we are very fortunate, the scarce Red-billed Pytilia. We’ll then continue onto the escarpment at Ankober.
ANKOBER TO ADDIS ABABA
Yet another little-known endemic can be found in the vicinity of Ankober, the unobtrusive Ankober Serin. We’ll also stand the chance of searching for specials that we may be missing, including Erckel’s Francolin, Black-headed Siskin, Ethiopian Cisticola. We hope also to have time to make a short detour to Melka Ghebdu, where the localised Yellow-throated Serin occurs, before heading over the cultivated plains to Addis.
GIBE GORGE DAY TRIP
Our final day in Ethiopia will be spent exploring the Gibe Gorge area, about an hour’s drive west of Addis. Here we stand the chance again of finding the scarce Red-billed Pytilia, and may encounter Abyssinian Waxbill. It will also give us a chance to search for any other specials that we may have missed. In the late afternoon drive back to Addis Ababa and after some refreshment and rest we will go to a farewell dinner to one of the cultural restaurants and then transfer to the Airport for the departure flight back to Home.