The Birding Destinations in Ethiopia
Birding, or birdwatching, is a type of recreational outdoor activity in which people observe and explore birds of all species in their natural habitat. Telescopes, binoculars are some devices used, as well as the naked eye, to engage in birding. Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, is an excellent choice for birding. Thousands of visitors visit Ethiopia to behold the splendid wonders of birds interacting with their natural environment. Over 500 species of endemic birds have made Ethiopia one of the most valuable and rich birding destinations in the world. Ankober, Awash National Park and the Bale Mountains National Park are just a few of the bird sites. Whether you in indulge in a short or a long trip, Ethiopia’s feathered mammals can be best seen throughout the summer months. Be sure to plan that next vacation with family and friends to Ethiopia for a memorable experience with the lovely birds.
Ankober, which was once known as Ankobar, is a central Ethiopian town. It is 40 km. east of Debre Birhan and approximately 140 km northwest of Addis Ababa. Ankober has a height of 8,100 feet. Ankober is known to be a friendly birding tour area in Ethiopia. The Ankober serin, a finch, originated from the Fringillidae family. It is about 5 inches long with colored streaking and brown upper body. This serin is recognised by its physical appearance as well as its usual gathering in a flock. This endemic bird resides within the high cliffs and slopes in the wildlife area of Ethiopia.
- Awash National Park
This park forms part of the heritage and cultural background of Ethiopia. It is popularly regarded as one of Ethiopia’s beautiful state parks. Founded in 1966, this park is situated east of Addis Ababa and it contains approximately 759 sq. km. of grassland. In this park, one can find almost 460 species. Some of these species include the Somber chat, Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and the Yellow Throat Serin. In addition, there exists over 50 species which originated from the Somali-Masai biological communities. These Secretary bird and ostriches are just to name a few. Awash National Park is ideal for birdwatching and vehicle safaris. There, the appealing fauna and flora make birdwatching a very interesting and enjoyable activity.
Best time to go: During the hot weather time.
- Bale Mountains National Park
With its exotic landscape and diverse birdlife, the Bale Mountains National Park is situated in south eastern Ethiopia. This national park is 400 km southeast of Addis Ababa and 150 km east of Shashamene. In the past, an area of ice was occupied in the Bale Mountains, measuring 180 km sq. After many years, deglaciation occurred. Since then, the climate has been changing, which has affected most of Bale Mountains’ vegetation. There are frequently strong winds during the day with temperatures about 10 degrees C. There exists a regular change in the weather patterns. Species like the Greater Spotted Eagle, Crane Pallid Harrier, the Rouget’s rail and the Abyssinian Wood pecker can be spotted there. It will be worth your time to go birdwatching at this national park.
Best time to go: After the rainy season running from beginning May to end of November.
With a resounding height of 1708 meters above sea level, Awasa, commonly called Hawassa, is a beautiful city in Ethiopia. It is 30 km east of Sodo and 75 km on the northern side of Dilla. This scenic landform caters to the needs of all who want to experience the beauty of birding. The Grey Kestrel, the white breasted Cormorant, the Brown Snake Eagle and the Blue Headed Coucal form part of the many species in Awasa. Breathtaking moments of these flying mammals attest to some of the finer things which Awasa has to offer.
Best time to go: In the dry season from beginning of November to end of February.
- Sanetti Plateau
In the Ethiopian Highlands, this grand terrestrial plateau is about 10,000 feet above sea level. The Bale Mountains surrounds a great portion of the plateau. A vast amount of volcanic cones measure 4000 meters there. Sanetti Plateau is captivated by an immense amount of mosses, shrubs, lichens and grassland. This high plateau, a World Heritage Site, remains home to 16 Somali-Masai species. Other endemic mammals like the White winged Dove, Jubaland Weavers, Ovambo Sparrowhawk and the Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco reside there. If you are planning to engage in birding, this is one of the most amazing places to be. Stand back, relax and make birdwatching a favourite pastime near the Sanetti Plateau.
- Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park
Approximately 200 km south of Addis Ababa, the Abijatta Shalla is found in the Great Rift Valley. This national park is separated by two lakes named Abijatta and Shalla. In the midst of these 2 lakes, Mount Fike, is the highest peak of the park. The Abijatta Lake is 46 meters deep and the Shalla Lake is 260 meters deep. More than 400 species of birds including the Grant’s gazelle, kudu, flamingos, ostriches, white-necked cormorant and African fish eagle are among the many to be spotted in this location.
- Yabelo Wildlife Sanctuary
Surrounded by rich red soils, this sanctuary and protected area is situated in the west of the town of Yabelo in southern Ethiopia. Above sea level, its height measures from 1430 to 2000 meters. It is 2500 sq. km. The town of Yabelo is overcome by deforestation and illegal hunting of the ostrich. The Yabelo wildlife sanctuary has more than 62 species, including the White tail swallow and the Abyssinian Bush crow. They all belong to the Somali-Mosai biome.
- Sof Omar Cave
Known to be the longest cave in Ethiopia, the Sof Omar cave is 15.1 km. It is particularly located to the east of Robe of the Oromia region in southern Ethiopia. The name Sof Omar was derived from a Muslim man from that area. The cave consists of Fischer’s Starlings, the Salvadori Seedeater and many about 17 other species which live there. This special cave has 42 entrances and is shaped along a network of joints. Come discover the uniqueness of this cave in a tranquil atmosphere.
Best time to go: During the dry months.
- Lake Langano
This lake is a very popular site for tourists and locals alike. Lake Langano measures 200 km and is found in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia. The lake is brown in colour due to the richness of minerals such as high sulphur. Throughout the lake exists a great variety of wildlife such as birds, monkeys and warthogs. Some birds which reside there are the cormorant, ducks and terns. Such a beautiful sight to behold at Lake Langano!
The Sululta plain is located south, near the city of Addis Ababa. It is 2500 meters above sea level and is a very shallow valley. Much of Sululta is occupied by mountains with many small rivers. Sululta is swampy during the rainy season and converts to dry land in the dry season. The Great Snipe, the Rouget’s Rail and the White-winged Flufftail can be spotted there.
Best time to go there: During the dry months.