Northern/Southern Ethiopia Birdwatching Tour— 20-day Itinerary
Arrive at Bole International Airport. A Lungo Local Tour Ethiopia representative will meet you and take you to your Addis Ababa hotel.
Today, we start your trip to northern Ethiopia’s natural and cultural sites. We cross the Blue Nile River, which drains into the Mediterranean Sea through Sudan and Egypt. Leaving early, we drive up to the Sululta Plain, an important short grassland and seasonal wetland. It is home to unique birds; such as the Blue-winged Goose, Wattled Ibis, Ethiopian Black-headed Siskin, and White-collared Pigeon.
We stop at the Jemmu Valley escarpment and pilgrimage center established in the 13th century. It has magnificent artistic murals and apostils. The nearby gorge attracts such birds as Lammergeyer, Egyptian Vulture, Thick-billed Raven, Little Rock Thrush, Banded Barbet and Vareaux’s Eagle.
We will stop at the so called “Portuguese Bridge”—similar to an old fortified stone bridge and next to the Blue Nile Waterfalls. We will look for White-winged Cliff-chat, Ruppell’s Black-chat, Erckel’s Francolin and more. Overnight at hotel in Debre Markos.
We drive to the town of Bahr-Dar, one of the main tourist destinations in the northwestern part of the country. It is situated on the southern bank of Lake Tana. The lake is famous for its islands’ ancient churches with their treasures and manuscripts dating back to the thirteenth century.
Lake Tana itself is home to water birds such as Pelicans, Darters, Egrets, Herons, Kingfishers and Grebes.
Tis-issat Waterfalls on the Blue Nile and its islands supports Ethiopian Oriole, White-billed Starling, Bruce’s Green Pigeon and many Woodland birds. We overnight in Bahr-Dar.
Today we will take a boat excursion to the famous Kibran Gabreal and Ura Kidanemihret Island monasteries. In the afternoon, we will drive to the Blue Nile Waterfalls and look for birds enroute. Overnight in Bahir Dar.
Driving further north to Gondar, we visit the Fasiladas Castle and Debre-Birhan (Light of the Trinity Church) built during King Fasiladas reign with its painted angels and frescoes on the ceiling and walls. Overnight in Gondar.
Today we drive to the jagged panorama of the Simien Mountains National Park, famed for its exclusive landscape, afro-alpine vegetation and unique wildlife. You may also spot the White-collared Pigeon and the Ankober Serin, along with the endemic walia ibex. You are almost sure to see gelada baboons. Overnight Simien Park Hotel.
We continue on to Axum, the capital of the Axumite Kingdom, which accepted Christianity at the beginning of the fourth century. It is also where Moses’ Ark of the Covenant is found.
On the way to Axum, we will drive the zigzag roads to Adaarkay village leading into the Tacazze Valley with its baobab trees. We will hope to see the Hunter’s Sunbird, Nile Valley Sunbird, Rock Buntings, Superb Starling and more. Overnight in Axum.
You will have a whole day for excursions to the Axum Stelae sites, Church of Saint Mary of Tsion, Queen Sheba’s ruined palace and the underground cavern burials of the kings of the Axumite dynasty. Overnight in Axum.
Today we drive to Mekele, the capital of the province of Tigray, stopping on the way at Adwa, the Debre Damo Monastery, Adigrat, the Abraha We Atsbeha rock-hewn church and the Al-Nejashi mosque, which is said to be the first mosque in Africa.
At Myshinkurti, it may be possible to spot the endemic Harwood’s Francolin, Erlanger’s Lark, Cisticolas, Fiscals and more. Overnight at Mekele.
Today we visit the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela via the towns of Korem and Alamata. Lalibela churches are among the “Eight Wonders of the World.” You can add other equally important monasteries, including Ashetan Maryam, Yemrehanna Kristos and Na’akuto La’ab churches if you are prepared to add an extra day to this tour. Overnight in Lalibela.
We will start the morning with visits to the first part of the Lalibela rock-hewn churches, including Bet Medhane, Bet Maryam, Bet Meskel, Bet Mikael, Bet Danaghel and Bet Golgotha.
We will also visit the remarkable church of Bet Giyorgis—possibly the most elegant of all the Lalibela structures. In the afternoon, we visit the remaining second part including Bet Amanuel, Bet Merkorios, Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufael. Overnight in Lalibela.
While birding along the route, we drive south to Kombolcha town via the Woldia and Dessie scenic mountainous countryside. We will stop at the Hike Estifanos Monastery. In the past, it was used by monastic scholars and Ethiopia’s religious leaders. Overnight in Kombolcha town.
We will return to Addis via Kemise and Senbete; the local towns where Amharic, Oromo and Afar people get together on market days.
We will also explore the underground tunnels of the Debre Sina Mountains and stop at Tarmaber view point to locate the endemic Ankober Serin, Brown-rumped Seedeater, Stripe-breasted Seedeater and Yellow-crowned Canary. Overnight in Addis.
Leaving Addis early in the morning, we drive east towards the Great Rift Valley via Bushoftu Crater Lakes and Nazret town.
We will visit Awash Park with its volcanic landscapes and savannah grassland habitat, in the hopes of viewing a variety of bird species. On the way, we detour to Lake Basaka’s saline water, which is good habitat for water birds such as; Flamingoes, Pelicans, Storks, Herons, Plovers, Lapwings, Sandpipers and Stints. Overnight in Awash town.
We will spend a full day in Awash National Park. We will visit the Illala Sala Plains (Oryx Plain) and the Awash River Waterfalls.
In the park’s acacia thickets, we will search for the Grey Hornbill, Somali Fiscal, Helmeted Guinea fowl, Blue-napped Mousebird, Kori Bustard, Yellow-necked Francolin, Drongo, Red-winged Lard, Woodland and Striped Kingfishers, Robins and birds of prey such as Tawny Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Yellow-billed Kite and Dark Chanting Goshawk.
Awash park is also home to mammals such as Oryx, Lesser Kudu, Hammadryas Baboon and Olive Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Salt’s Dick-dick and more. Overnight in Awash town.
Today we drive to Lake Langano and Lake Abiata with stops at Koka/Awash Bridge and Ziway to see spectacular Rift Valley scenery.
It will also be a chance to see a stunning view of colorful birdlife such as Banded Barbet, Masked Weaver, Spur-winged Plover, Malachite and Pygmy Kingfishers, Little Bee-eater, Ruppell’s and Superb Starlings, Seed-eaters, Sunbirds and many birds of prey. Overnight at Lake Langano.
Dawn birding and after breakfast, we will proceed to ‘Bishangari’ meaning “Blessed water,” located on the eastern bank of Lake Langano. It is adjacent to the Chilalo chain of mountains on the southern edge of the Great Rift Valley with it’s tropical rain forest.
Enroute we search the secondary forest for Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Nubian Woodpecker, Speckled Mousebird, Blue-breasted Bee-eater, African Mourning Dove and many more colorful forest birds. Overnight in Bishangari.
Today we explore the riverine forest and adjacent lake for birds such as Yellow-Fronted Parrot, White Cheeked Turaco, Orange-bellied Parrot, African Paradise Flycatcher, Bare-faced Go-Away Bird, African Fish-eagle, Cuckoo Shrikes, Kingfishers, Weavers and water birds; including Egrets, Herons, Cormorants, Gulls, Geese, Ducks and Shanks. Overnight Bishangari.
Today we drive to Lake Awasa. On arrival, we search the grounds for Spotted Creeper, Senegal Coucal, Dusky Flycatcher, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Ruppell’s Starling and numbers of Marabous Storks and Pelicans. Overnight at Awasa town.
We walk around Lake Awasa shoreline looking for African Pygmy Goose, Hottentot Teal, Black Crake, African Fish-eagle, Hadeda Ibis, Purple Heron, Common Sandpiper, White-backed Duck, Reed and Sedge Warblers and African Jacana.
We end our walk at the traditional fish market, where many birds feed on fish left-overs.
Next, we drive to Wondo Genet with birding enroute. On arrival, we search the grounds for Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Slender-billed Starling, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Hooded Vulture.
An afternoon drive then takes us back to Addis and a transfer to the airport if this is the end of your stay in Ethiopia.