13 -14 Days Bird Watching
Arrival and transfer to the Ghion or Extreme hotel in Addis Abba.
2- Day Two
An early morning start we drive to the Mt. Entoto/Sululta Plain with short grassland habitat searching for unique birds such as White-backed Black Tit, Blue-winged Goose, Wattled Ibis, Ethiopian Siskin, Ethiopian Cisticola, White-collared Pigeon, Abyssinian Longclaw, Erlanger’s Lark, Tawny Eagle, Cattle Egret and Yellow-billed Duck. Jemmu Valley escarpment (upper Nile valley) is adjacent to Debrelibanos natural forest and thickets home to the endemic Banded Barbet, White-cheeked Turaco, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Ethiopian Black-headed Oriole, Lammergeyer, Egyptian Vulture, Vareaux’s Eagle, Lanner Falcon and Griffon Vultures. The nearby gorge attracts the endemic White-billed Starling, Ruppell's Black Chat, White-winged Cliff-chat and Mocking Cliff-chat. Scrub lures Erckel's Francolin, Stout Cisticola and Tacazze Sunbird Overnight at the Ethio-German Lodge nearby the so called Portuguese Bridge.
3- Day 03
Today we drive to Jemmu Valley to locate the rare Harwood's Francolin and Abyssinian Black-wheatear. The road climbs steeply through highland fields and traditional villages. The cliffs and boulder-strewn slopes of the Jemmu Valley may have flocks of White-billed Starlings, the extremely rare Salvadori's Serin, Singing Cisticola, Isabelline Shrike and Abyssinian Black Wheatear. In the afternoon, we drive to Debrebirhan town while enjoying another sector of plain grassland birds including Erlanger's Lark, Pectoral-patch Cisticola and Ortolan Bunting. Overnight at Eva Hotel Ankober Lodge.
4- Day 04
An early start exploring the road to Tarmaber scenic view outlook. Our main interest is to find the rarest endemic Ankober Serin feeding in the highland grass field. In the lower fields, we can expect Yellow-crowned Canary, Brown-rumped and Streaky Seed-eater. Overhead we may locate Saker Falcon, Lammergeyer, Augur Buzzard and Alpine Swifts. After late breakfast we drive towards Bushoftut east of Addis towards fascinating Crater Lakes such as Lake Chalalaka, an important shallow lake for migratory waders and significant numbers of Cranes, Marabou storks and Cormorants. Hora a fresh water lake holding Little Grebe, Pelican, Malachite Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Black-billed Barbet, African Paradise Flycatcher, Masked weaver and Starlings. The area named after the crater lake Bushoftu, meaning “Smelling Water” support large numbers of Weavers, Seed-eaters, Thrushes, Doves, Sunbirds and Finches in the adjoining sedges and thickets Overnight at Dreamland Hotel with an excellent view of Bushoftu.
5- Day 05
Today we drive to Bale Mountains found on the other side of the Great Rift Valley looking for Rouget’s Rail, Thick-billed Raven, Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Slaty-flycatcher, Chestnut-napped Francolin, Moorland Francolin, Abyssinian Ground Thrush to name a few. The remnant of Ruddy Shell-ducks and Wattled Cranes are also found here. The northern dry forest around Dinsho is known for exceptional wild animals including Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck, Bohor Reedbuck, Warthog and Bush Duiker. Overnight Goba Hotel at the edge of the Sanate Plateau.
6- Day 06
Beyond Goba we enter typical timberline habitats of Juniper and Hagenia Abyssinica driving up Africa's highest all weather road to 4100 meters above sea level where we enter the 10,000 square kilometers Sanate plateau with its chain of tiny terrains. In this strange and fascinating afro-alpine climate we will find the rare Ethiopian Wolf, Starck’s Hare and Giant Mole-rat. Then the road drops suddenly on the Harena leeside with its wet forest and fantastic view points, through a series of dizzying hairpin bends, as it zigzags down to the lowland town of Dolo-mena. In the afternoon we drive back to Goba looking for birds and animals we missed earlier on. Overnight Goba Hotel.
7- Day 07
Today we drive to the Sof Omar Caves on the eastern edge of Bale Mountains maybe the world’s most spectacular and extensive underground system carved by the Web River into the limestone that line it. Time has carved out ornate and immense pillars, domes and chambers, and the river flows through the caves year-round. During one’s passage through the caves, we have to cross the river seven times in the 1.5km underground caves. It is an interesting shrine and pilgrimage place for Muslims. The roof of the caves is home to thousands of Bats and the floor is covered with droppings accumulating over many years. Web River gorge and cliffs with its bushes support the endemic Salvadori’s Seedeater, Bristle-crowned Starling, Swifts and Swallows and many more. Overnight Goba Hotel.
8- Day 08
Today we continue through Sanate Plateau, undisturbed natural forest of Harena, Genale River basin towards the Borena diverse ecosystem looking for African White-winged Dove, Juba Weaver, Ruspoli’s Turaco, Sidamo Lark, Stresemann’s Bush-crow, White-tailed Swallow, Golden Breasted Starling, Vulturine Guineafowl, Red-napped Shrike, Rosy-patched Bush-shrike and Striped Swallows to name a few. Overnight the Green Hotel at Neghele town. "Red sandstone landscape."
9- Day 09
Dawn excursion to Hara-kalo and Wadera dry river valleys to search for a remarkable bird called Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco. On the way expect different birds of prey including Pygmy Falcon, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Eastern Chanting Goshawk, White-headed Vulture and the like. In the afternoon we visit the large grassland of the Liben Plain looking for the birds of dry-open country such as Sidamo Lark, Tiny Cisticola, Rufous Short-Toed Lark, Kori Bustard, Sooty Falcon and Crowned Lapwing and many more. After lunch we continue exploring for birds like Golden-breasted Starling, Shelley’s Starling, Magpie Starling, Chatterers and many more arid land birds. Overnight at Green Hotel.
10- Day 10
Today we proceed birding en route to the town of Yabelo an important junction town in the middle of the red sandstone landscape with many large termite mounds. This mosaic arid land is home to several spectacular birds notably the charismatic Stresemann's Bush-crow, White-tailed Swallow, Vulturine Guineafowl, Yellow-naked Spurfowl, White-crowned Starling and many more. Overnight Yabello Motel.
11- Day 11.
Today we explore the road to Mega and Dubluk were mixed thicket attracts Pygmy Falcon, Slate-colored Boubou, Bare-eyed Thrush, Purple Grenadier, Black-capped Social and Grey-capped Social Weaver. Birds of prey are numerous including Gabar Goshawk, Amur Falcon, Lappet-faced Vulture on wings and many more. In the afternoon we will bird Yabelo Forest Sanctuary for Northern Black Flycatcher, White-cheeked Turaco, Tawny Wagtail, Bare-faced Go-Away-Bird and many Seed-eaters. Overnight Yabelo Motel.
12- Day 12.
Today we drive back to the Yirgalem area through typical southern highland forest. Arriving at the Aregash Lodge compound we search the grounds for Great Sparrowhawk, African Hawk-eagle, Tambourine Dove, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Mountain Thrush, Battis, Shrikes and more. Overnight Aregash Eco-lodge.
13- Day 13.
After early morning birding and breakfast we drive to ‘Bishangari’ meaning “Blessed water” located on the eastern bank of Lake Langano adjacent to the Chilalo chain of mountains on the southern edge of the Great Rift Valley. Here we find the remnant of typical tropical rain forest and en route we search for Nubian Woodpecker, Speckled Mousebird, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Mourning Dove and many more colorful forest birds. Overnight Bishangari Eco-Lodge.
14- Day 14.
Early morning we explore the tropical rain forest and adjacent bank of Lake Langano for birds including Yellow-Fronted Parrot, Orange-bellied Parrot, African Paradise Flycatcher, Bare-faced Go-Away Bird, African Fish-eagle, Cuckoo Shrikes and water birds including Greater Egrets, Squacco Herons, Greater and Long-tailed Cormorants, Gulls, Geese, Ducks, Shanks, Kingfishers and Weavers. Leaving after a late breakfast we arrive in Addis late afternoon and we will have a farewell dinner before departing for the airport. We will meet you in the morning at Gonder Airport or your hotel in Gonder. Drive to the first camp(Sankaber) via Debark (the small town); you will be rewarded with very impressive views of the low land areas to the north and west; you will very likely encounter troops of the endemic gelada baboons. The gelada baboon, only found in Ethiopia, is often referred to as the bleeding heart baboon or the lion monkey because their coat is shaggy resembling a lion whilst their chest has a marked red heart or patch. The gelada baboon can be found in good numbers and is quite easy to approach. Sankaber camp is situated at an altitude of 3250 meters on an impressive view point between the northern escarpment and the southern wazla. Before you arrive at the camp you have about 2hrs walk. From Sankaber Camp the path to Geech/3600masl/ Camp will stretch for approximately ten kilometers.(5-6hrs). The initial stages of this path lead through extensive areas of highland grasslands and heather forests. This path offers some of the most impressive views of the escarpment. One of the best views is of the Jinbar Wenz waterfall which plummets down the Geech Abyss. After descending down to the Jinbar River a short ascent remains to Geech village. In this area, cultivation is done in a two-year cycle. One side of the valley is planted whilst the other side lies fallow. You will notice extensive soil erosion in this area as a result of the combination of such factors as slope steepness, cultivation, overgrazing, erosive rainfall and limited land resources. We pause in Geech village as we are invited into one of the local houses for a coffee ceremony. Here you will participate in this very important social tradition of Ethiopia as well as gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle. Just above Geech village is the campsite which will serve as your base for two nights. The campsite has great views of the mountains and is characterized by giant Lobelia plants /which is endemic to Ethiopia /. These plants can grow up 8 to 10 meters in height and may live for as long as twenty years, at which point they first flower before dying. Walk from Geech to Imet Gogo /3926masl/, Saha /3870masl/ and Kedatit /3760masl/.These three places are perhaps the most spectacular places in the Simien Mountains . The time taken to complete this hike is about 5-6hrs and then back to Geech Camp and overnight here. The trek from Geech to Chenek covers approximately twelve kilometres (six to seven hours), following a path along the escarpment edge. Just before arriving into Chenek you will encounter the Kurbet Metaya viewpoint at 4070 metres - this viewpoint is actually a gap in the precipitous cliff - which reveals impressive views of the steep mountain faces to the west and the lowlands areas to the left. The tightly clustered houses (tukuls) that form the village of Dihwara , tucked below a cliff, are also visible from this viewpoint. Chenek campsite is spectacularly located in a beautiful valley at the foot of the Buwahit Peak. Strategically placed benches allow for the opportunity to take in the expansive views back toward Imet Gogo, especially beautiful in both the dawn and dusk light. A large troop of gelada baboons are common here and Walia Ibex are also often seen on the rocky escarpment edges here. Today is the longest trekking day so far, consisting of a total of about ten hours. From Chenek camp, 3650 metres, the path to Ambiquo campsite crosses through B wahit Pass. Leaving Chenek you will be faced with a two-hour ascent to the top of B wahit Pass at 4200 meters. From the top of the pass views open up to the east over Mesheha Valley to the Dashen mountain range. Looking back the impressive rock formations of Imet Gogo loom large. From Bwahit Pass the path leads steeply down and across the Mesheha Valley. Here you will notice an increase in temperature as you descend down to the Mesheha River at 2800 meters before climbing slightly to reach Ambiquo campsite at altitude of 3250 meters. Today is summit day involving a trek of sixteen kilometers (ten to eleven hours)! The path will wind its way over eight kilometers and ascending over 1293 meters to Ras Dejen /4543masl/. To begin the path climbs steeply through barley fields and fallow land before clearing the vegetation zone and reaching mountain steppe at around 3700 meters. From there the path flattens out as it traverses ridges in the shadow of Ras Dashen. Just below Dejen Pass, at around 4250 meters, an impressive moraine can be distinguished. A moraine is material transported by a glacier and then deposited. This moraine was formed 20,000 - 14,000 years ago in the last ice age when the Simien Mountain tops had small ice caps. The final stretch to the summit involves an exciting climb / scramble up and over large boulders to the summit. From atop the summit of Ras Dejen, 4543 meters, you will be mesmerized by the far-ranging view which spans more than ten thousand square kilometers. On the west the steep faces of peaks in the National Park are visible whilst to the north and east the Tekeze valley is visible. From the summit you will need to return along the same path to return to your camp at Ambiko. This campsite, situated along the banks of a stream and amidst a small village, is a project of the local church and a donation for the facilities is gratefully accepted. Walk from Ambiko to Chenek through village the same way. It takes about seven to eight hours walking; stay the night in Chenek camp site. Drive from Chenek to Gonder via Debark, about five hours driving.