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Northern Ethiopia Birding Tour - 11 Days

Northern Ethiopia Birding Tour
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Birdwatching Tour in Northern Ethiopia

This 11-day Northern Ethiopia Birding Tour is a moderate-paced tour available on request where you can expect to see around 65 species of bird, including 12 endemics and approximately 19 mammals/other wildlife species.

Ethiopia is a unique and spectacular birding destination on the African continent with over 850 species recorded and renowned ornithological for its large number of wonderful endemic species, with 26 birds found only in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is truly a land of contrasts and extremes; a land of remote and wild places, Some of the continent’s highest mountains and plateaux, impressive escarpments, Great Rift Valley lakes and volcanoes are found in this unique country. There is very varied vegetation from juniper forests to arid savanna. Descending from the highlands to the deep valleys far below can seem like entering a completely different world, it is an amazingly varied country.

On our Northern Ethiopia Birding Tour, we will visit a wide range of habitats from mountain peaks and forests to desert plains, hence not only can you expect a good chance of seeing many of the following Ethiopian endemic or near-endemic birdlife but also a wonderful selection of mammals too.

This birdwatching tour in Ethiopia starts from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, and then fly to Gonder and transfer to the city for a short break then drive to Simien Mountains National Park to explore the UNESCO world heritage site and to see endemic Birds to Ethiopia such as Spot-breasted Plover, Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Longclaw, Ankober Serin and Black-headed Siskin and to see endemic wildlife such as Gelada monkeys, Walia ibex, and the Ethiopian wolf as well.

Then we drive back to Ancient Gonder city to visit the impressive 17th-century ancient castle of Gondar and continue our way to Bahir dar to see the variety of birds around the Blue Niles Falls and on the islands of Lake Tana.

The birds you see at Blue Niles Falls and on the islands of Lake Tana area African openbill, Black-crowned crane, copper sunbird, Grey-headed Gull, Kingfisher, wattled Crane, white-throated seedeater, Yellow-crowned Bishops, Yellow-fronted Parrot, White-cheeked Turaco, Abyssinian Oriole, White-headed Babbler, Yellow-crowned Bishops White-throated Seedeaters and many More, then we will also visit NABU -Lake Tana project.

Then continue to drive the south of Bahir Dar to Debre Libanos en route birding in Blue Nile Gorge. In Debre Libanos we look for several birds such as an endemic Banded Barbet, and White-cheeked Turacos, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, and Black-winged Lovebird.

Then drive to Debre Birhan with en-route birding at Jemma River, Jemma-River valley is a small paradise for birds and animal watchers with a breathtaking panorama. Bearded vultures, Verreaux's Eagle, Steppe Eagle, and White-Cheeked Turaco, can all be seen.

Then we will continue to drive to the highlands of Ankober to see the rare endemic Ankober serin that can be found here, and we may also be spotted White-Throated and Yellow-throated seed-eater. Finally, we drive back to Addis Ababa to end this amazing tour.

Our Special Vehicles for birding:

Ethiopian Adventures are the only company in Ethiopia that is specially adapted for Birdwatching. The seating behind the driver's seat is staggered so the clients look over the driver's head. There is a special higher windscreen too for better forward vision to avoid those frustrating situations when the guide sees the bird but the clients do not. The side windows slide open so that long lenses can quickly be focused before a bird or animal disappears.

Each seat is an individual armchair rather than a bench seat so that everybody sits close to a window. The two middle seats fully recline whilst the rear seats recline 20°. This is important because there are some long distances, especially on our 16-day and 25-days tours. Every seat has a 230 volt and USB port for battery charging. Of course, the vehicles are fully four-wheel drive but they have improved suspension for real off-road driving.

Eth-adv - vehicle 2 Eth-adv - vehicle

Northern Ethiopia Birding Tour Highlights include:

  • Visit unique birds species of the UNESCO world heritage site of Simien Mountains
  • Visit the truly spectacular and unique birdlife of the Biosphere reserve of  Lake Tana
  • Visit Jemma-River valley, a small paradise for birds and animal watchers with a breathtaking panorama.
  • Visit the highlands of Ankober to see the rare endemic such as Ankober serin.
  • Endemic mammals: Gelada Monkeys, Ethiopian Wolf and Mountain Nyala.

You might be interested in our another Ultimate Endemic bird of Ethiopia Tour. Click to visit.

© Copyright Ethiopian Adventures. This tour is unique to Ethiopian Adventures and has been carefully planned. The text and photos may not be copied for competitive purposes.

Alternative Tour Name: Northern Ethiopia Bird Tour for 11 Days
Day 1
Day 1 - Addis Ababa

Arrive at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa and at the airport you will be met and greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel for check-in, the hotel is located five minutes away from the Airport.

Addis Ababa, the capital of modern Ethiopia and gateway for most tourists, is the political and commercial heart of the country. The name of Addis Ababa can translate as ‘New flower’, spanning an altitude of 2,350m to more than 2,600m, climatically the city is warm and temperate, and the summers are much rainier than the winters. The average annual temperature in Addis Ababa is 16.3 °C (61.4 °F) The current population of the city is around 4.5 million people; it was founded by Emperor Menelik in 1887.

Accommodation: Momona Hotel, Addis Ababa (https://www.momonahotel.com)

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2
Day 2 - Addis Ababa - Simien Mountains

Early morning you will transfer to the domestic airport for your flight to Gondar; you’re arrival, meet with your driver and then straight away drive to Simien Mountain National Park for the start of the Northern Ethiopian Birding Tour. The mountain range is 125 km ( 78 Mile) or about 3 -4 hour’s drive from Gondar.

Simien Mountains National Park is Ethiopia’s most popular hiking destination. Its highest peak is Ras Dashen 4543 Mts (14,900feet) above sea level, making it the fourth-highest mountain in Africa. The Simien Mountains were recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1978. The area is famous for being the home of 22 large, 13 small mammals, three of which, the Walia Ibex, the Gelada monkeys and Ethiopia Wolves are some unique mammals in the mountains. There are also 57 tree species, a variety of herbaceous plants and about 180 bird species have been recorded.

Over 180 species of birds have been found in the Simien Mountains National Park. Of these, five are endemic to Ethiopia such as Spot-breasted Plover, Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Longclaw, Ankober Serin, and Black-headed Siskin. You will also see Wattled Ibis, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, White-collared Pigeon, Black-winged Lovebird, Banded Barbet, Abyssinian/Golden-backed Woodpecker, Abyssinian/Black-headed Forest Oriole, Thick-billed Raven, White-backed Black Tit, White-billed Starling, White-winged Cliff Chat and Ruppells Black Chat. These birds make the Simiens unique and the reason why the Northern Ethiopian Birding Tour is so popular.

The drive from Gondar to Simien Mountains is 130 km, after driving the first 100km on a very good asphalt road there will be a short stop at Debark town at the National Park office for an entrance fee and Guide and scout/Ranger appointment. Then you will drive to the lodge for 22km on a gravel road. after check-in at the lodge, you will have a break, then you will do a short trek 2-3 hours around the lodge area to Chekwanit to search for bird species such as Eastern imperial Eagle, Chestnut-napped Francolin, Somali Starling and Ruppel’s Blackchat while you enjoy the spectacular scenery of the mountain in selected viewpoints.

In the evening, you will see documentary movies about the mountains in the lodge’s bar while enjoying the fire in the centre of the bar in the lodge.

Accommodation: Simien Lodge, Simien Mountains

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 3
Day 3 - Birding in Simien Mountains N. Park

In the morning your picnic lunch will be packed, the car will drop you around the Sankaber area and we will spend a full day birding in the National Park.

Our target bird for today will be Eastern Imperial Eagle, Moorland Chat, Chestnut –naped francolin, Lammergeier, Black-headed siskin, Red-billed Chough, Wattled ibis, White-collared pigeon, Nyanza swift and many more.

Lammergeier also called The Bearded Vulture or Bone Crusher, one of the largest and most spectacular birds in Ethiopia, this enormous bird has a wingspan of over 2 metres. They are often seen soaring alone along high cliffs and rock outcrops looking for food. Clocked at speeds of 130km/hr and flying at staggering heights with barely a beat of their gigantic wings, they are a magnificent sight.

Around the waterfall area you will have a picnic lunch and one hour break while enjoying the views then drive further inside the park to Chennek area (3,620m). Around Cheneck there are again excellent views of the mountains and you would see more Gelada monkeys, Walia ibex and if you are lucky the Ethiopian wolf.

Accommodation: Simien Lodge, Simien Mountains

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 4
Day 4 - Simien Mountains National Park – Gonder

You will spend some of the morning in the mountains further exploring for more birding and then you will drive back to ancient town Gondar 120 km from Simien Lodge.

Gondar ‘the African Camelot’ is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration. It was the first capital of the Abyssinia Empire founder by Emperor Fasilades of the 16th Century, it is a travel back in times by visiting the royal enclose famous for its rare castles.

You will visit the impressive ancient castle of Gondar in the royal Compound of Fasil which is named after the city founder Emperor Fasiledas also Known as Fasil and it was inscribed as UNESCO heritage sites in 1979. The half dozen stone castles are protected within the tall compound walls, built over the 17th Centuries. Additionally in the afternoon after lunch and break you will visit the church of Deber Birhan Sillase near the centre of the city, known for its unique church design and highly decorated with mural paintings of portraits of angles and other biblical histories.

Although at this point we divert briefly from the context of the Norhtern Ethiopian Birding Tour, most clients appreciate this short introduction to the history of Ethiopia whilst keeping their cameras handy for the variety of birds found in the cattle and church compounds.

Accommodation: Goha Hotel, Gonder

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 5
Day 5 - Gonder – Bahir dar

In the morning after breakfast, you will drive to Bahir dar 180 km, while on your way you will enjoy the landscape of Northern Ethiopia.

Bahir Dar is the resort town located in the northwestern part of Ethiopia 578 Km from the capital city and at an elevation of 1,840 meters (6,036 feet) possesses tropical ambience weather and position along the southern shore of Lake Tana, the biggest Lake in Ethiopia and the source of Blue Nile River. It is the first popular first stopover for the Northern highland historical circuit tour of Ethiopia.

On the way to Bahir Dar, we will break our journey for birding around Fogera Swamp area to search bird species such as African Openbill, Black Crowned Crane, white billed Starling, copper sunbird and other many birds.

We will continue to drive to Bahir Dar and check in the hotel and then have lunch before driving out to the Blue Nile Falls, locally known as Tis- Isat Falls - 'Smoke of Fire'. The Blue Nile Falls is the most dramatic spectacle on either the White or the Blue Nile rivers. The falls are 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide when in flood, and dropping over a sheer chasm more than 45 meters (150 feet) deep. The falls throw up a continuous spray of water, which drenches onlookers up to 200 meters away. This misty deluge produces rainbows, shimmering across the gorge, and a small perennial rainforest of lush green vegetation. This is home to the many monkeys and multicoloured birds that inhabit the area.

There are White-cheeked Turacao, Abyssinian Oriole, White-headed Babbler, Yellow-crowned Bishops and the endemic White-throated Seedeaters – there are enough species here to keep you busy here for hours and make the Northern Ethiopian Birding Tour unique.

Accommodation: Abayminch Lodge, Bahir dar

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 6
Day 6 - Birding on Island of Lake Tana,Bahir dar

Morning you will embark on a private boat trip on Lake Tana with Picnic Lunch for Birding on the island of Lake Tana and visit and visit NABU – projects.

Lake Tana, the largest lake, in Ethiopia is the source and from where the famed Blue Nile starts its long journey to Khartoum, and on to the Mediterranean. The 37 islands that are scattered about the surface of the Lake shelter fascinating churches and monasteries, some of which have histories dating back to the 13th Century. Uniquely varied habitats at Lake Tana make for excellent bird watching,from majestic Black Crowned Cranes to endemic White-throated Seedeaters; a visit to the Lake Tana Biosphere Reserve will astound you with some of the world’s most amazing birds.

Today the key birds species we look for on islands of Lake Tana are African openbill, Black crowned crane, copper sunbird, Grey-headed Gull, Kingfisher, wattled Crane , white-throated seedeater, yellow-crowned Bishops, Yellow-fronted Parrot and many More.

If we may have extra time we may visit some of the many ancient monasteries hidden on the shores and islands of Lake Tana.

Accommodation: Abayminch Lodge, Bahir dar

Meal plan: Full Board

Day 7
Day 7 - Bahir dar – Debre Libanos via Debre Markos

Today we will start long drive from Bahir dar to Debre Libanos for 380 Km en route birding in Blue Nile Gorge.

We could break the the journey for Lunch at Debre markos , Debre Markos is the largest town and was a former capital of the province of Gojam ,set an altitude 2,450mt in the moist highlands north of the Blue Nile Gorge.

In the Blue Nile Gorge area we search Birds such as Abyssinian wood pecker, African Stanechat, Banded Barbet, Black headed Siskin, Black-wing Lapwing, Rouget's Rail, Ruppell’s black chat , wattled Ibis, white backed black Tit, white-billed starling, White-Collared Pigeon.

In the late afternoon we will arrive in Debre Libanos and will check in to Cillale Hotel to stopover for two Nights

Accommodation: Cillale Hotel, Debre Libanos

Meal plan: Full board

Day 8
Day 8 - Debre Libanos

Today we will drive a short distance to Debre Libanos monastery forest area, stopping along the way to find Gelada Monkeys and other bird species such as Red-collared Widowbird.

The forest surrounding the monastery is a very attractive and good place to see several White-cheeked Turacos and also an endemic Banded Barbet, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher and Black-winged Lovebird.

We also look for Abyssinian Oriole, Abyssinian CatBird, Hemprich'shornbill, Ruppell's black chat, Montane White-eye, Yellow-Bellied Waxbill, Blue-winged Goose, Erckel's francolin, Moorland chat, Ortoln Bunting, Cinnamon-Breasted Bunting, Yellow-bellied wax bill, Tacazze sunbird, White–Winged Cliff chat and Ethiopian Cisticola.

Accommodation: Cillale Hotel, Debre Libanos

Meal plan: Full board

Day 9
Day 9 - Debre Libanos- Debre Birhan with en route birding at Jemma River

Early in the morning, we will drive to the surrounding area of the Jemma Gorge. This is an arid land, where we will look for a very different type of birds compared to those of Debre Libanos area.

The Jemma River is one of the main tributaries of the Blue Nile. The altitude at the Jemma river-crossing from 1,300 mtr to 2,000 mtr at the top of the gorge.

Here we have fast flowing rivers inhabited by various species. The limestone soil supports Sterculia Africana trees, Tamarindus indica and Ficus thonningii; the endemic Aloe schelpii. The acacia woodland found away from the rivers and on the gorge sides provides different bird habitats.

Jemma-River valley is a small paradise for birds and animal watchers with a breathtaking panorama. Bearded vultures, verreaux's Eagle and Steppe Eagle, White-Cheeked Turaco, can all be seen.

We'll also watch out for Hemprich's Hornbill, White-billed Starling, Black-billed Barbet and Foxy Cisticola, Abyssinian black wheatear, Fox kestrel, Steppe eagle, White Throated Seedeater, Speckle fronted Weaver, moorland francolin and Erckel's francolin and if we are very fortunate, the scarce Red-billed Pytilia.

In the late afternoon, we will arrive to Debre Birhan and stay over in Eva Hotel for one night.

Accommodation: Eva Hotel , Debre Birhan

Meal plan: full board

Day 10
Day 10 - Debre Birhan to Ankober

Today we drive to highlands of Ankober 40 kilometers (25 mi) to the east of Debre Birhan. Here we might find the endemic & other vulnerable spices.

Ankober was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Shoa around 18th Century when ruler descended from the Solomonic Dynasty. There are many famous Ethiopian Orthodox monasteries and churches in the area surrounding Ankober.

Ankober is perched on the eastern escarpment of the Ethiopian Highlands at an elevation of about 2,465 meters (8,100 ft). The highlands of Ankober are great for hiking and even more rewarding for birdwatchers. The very rare endemic Ankober serin can be found here, and you may also be spotted White-Throated and Yellow -hroated seed-eater.

Additionally, we will also watch out for Verreaux's Eagle, Rufous-breasted Sparrow Hawk and Black Headed Siskin.

Accommodation: Ankober Lodge, Ankober

Meal plan: full board

Day 11
Day 11 - Ankober to Addis Ababa

After early morning Birding we will have breakfast and will have a relaxing morning then in the afternoon we will drive to Addis Ababa then check in hotel for a day use Room and leisure afternoon.

In the evening you will be taken to a farewell dinner tradition Ethiopia food and enjoy live Folklore music and dance.

Finally you will transfer to international Airport for the flight back to home.

Day Use Hotel: Momona Hotel , Addis Ababa

Meal plan: Full board

Bird species expected to see:

Abyssinian Black wheatear, Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian Longclaw, Abyssinian Oriole, Abyssinian Slaty Flycatcher, Abyssinian Woodpecker, Abyssinian/Black-headed Forest Oriole, Abyssinian/Golden-backed Woodpecker, African Openbill,  African Stonechat,  Ankober serin, Banded Barbet,  Bearded vultures, Black Crowned Crane, Black Crowned Cranes, Black-headed Siskin, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed siskin, Black-wing Lapwing, Chestnut –naped francolin, copper sunbird, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Erckel’s francolin,  Fox kestrel, Steppe eagle, Foxy Cisticola, Grey-headed Gull, Grey-headed Gull, Hemprich’s Hornbill, Kingfisher, Lammergeier, Moorland Chat, Moorland francolin, Nyanza Swift, Red-billed Chough, Red-billed Pytilia, Rouget’s Rail, Rufous-breasted Sparrow Hawk, Ruppell’s black chat, Ruppells Black Chat. Somali Starling, Speckle fronted Weaver, Spot-breasted Plover, Steppe Eagle, Thick-billed Raven,verreaux’s Eagle, wattled Crane, wattled Ibis, White-backed Black Tit, White-billed Starling, White-Throated Seedeater, White-backed Black Tit, White-billed Starling, White-Cheeked Turaco, White-collared Pigeon, White-headed Babbler,white-throated seedeater, White-winged Cliff Chat, Yellow-crowned Bishops, Yellow-fronted Parrot.

Mammals/other wildlife species expected to see:

Walya ibex, Ethiopian wolf, Gelada baboon,  Menelik’s bushbuck, Klipspringer, Grey duiker, Golden (common) jackal, Spotted hyena, Serval, Rock hyrax, Vervet monkey, Hamadryas baboon, Olive baboon, Hippopotamuses, Black and White Colobus Monkeys, Crested Porcupine, Civet

What is included?

  • Full board Hotel accommodation from simple to good middle class hotel /lodge with bath room or shower / WC in sharing Twin room Basis. (10 Dinner/ 10 Lunch / 10 Breakfast with Water/Soft drinks and Coffee/tea)
  • 2 Litters water per day in the car
  • Sanitizer in each cars
  • All transfer in and transfer out services from Airport.
  • All ground transportation with New Brand Toyota Land cruiser 4WD Car 2019 model.
  • Experienced English speaking Bird tour Expert Guide.
  • Flight ticket for Local Bird Guide from Addis Ababa to Gonder .
  • Printed Field Guides checklist for each clients.
  • All activities as specified in the itinerary
  • Experienced driver & driver allowance.
  • All fuel expenses and Lubricants expense
  • Local guide’s fee and Scout fee where needed.
  • Private Boat trip on Lake Tana, Bahirdar
  • Village Visit fee
  • All entrance fees
  • Fair well Dinner and live folklore dance at the end of the tour.
  • 15 % Government VAT tax

What is not included?

  • Domestic & International Flight
  • Travel Insurance and Visa fee
  • Any alcoholic drinks
  • Any video camera fee
  • Optional safari extensions
  • Laundry service
  • Tips and any expense of Personal items like, internet, fax, telephone
  • Anything else not mentioned in “What is included”

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Why book with Ethiopian Adventures?

Ethiopia is a unique and spectacular birding destination with over 860 species recorded, and among them, 26 birds are endemic species, found only in Ethiopia. This 16 days Ethiopia Endemic Bird tour is designed by Ethiopian expert bird guides who know their country better than any tour operator. This is probably the most complete birding tour of Ethiopia currently available.

Hotels

We only use good hotels in Ethiopia and we try to aim for 4-star accommodation. Our experiences is that 3-star and lower is not sufficient for foreign travellers and is not what they expect. This is especially true on long tours. Ethiopia generally has a lower standard of accommodation than other African countries and consequently, we tend to choose the better standard hotels.

What vehicles are used for the tours?

We generally use specially converted Land Cruisers that have large opening windows that are great for taking pictures from vehicles. Each seat has a 230 volt and USB plugs for recharging cameras and electrical equipment. They have improved suspension that standard vehicles which means that we can go off-road when required.

When is the best time of year to visit?

In the highlands, the rainy season is generally in July and August with small rains in April. Otherwise, most months are good for travel.

What vaccinations are required to enter Ethiopia?

No vaccination is obligatory but the normal vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Cholera/Typhoid and Tetanus are advisable. Yellow Fever certificates are not required for Ethiopia. There is almost no malaria in the highland area but this is prevalent in some of the southern states.

Money

Money can be exchanged for the Ethiopian Birr on arrival. ATM machines are found all around the country. Birr cannot be taken out of the country, nor can it be exchanged back into other countries.

Language

There are 80 different local languages in Ethiopia but English is common. The main local language is Amharic which is also widely spoken.

Temperature

Be prepared for cold as well as hot weather. Some of the mountain areas can be very cold.

Camera equipment

It is generally not possible to buy good photographic equipment in Ethiopia so come prepared with enough SD cards for the trip. AA and AAA batteries are available but always check the date before purchasing.

Crime and Theft

Crime and theft is generally low, even in the capital. However, take precautions everywhere because cameras indicate a sign of wealth and can attract thieves.

Bird Guides

Our birding guides are all experts and the best available in the country. They generally know where to look for specific species.

Internet

Connectivity is improving greatly and internet speeds are increasing. Wifi is generally available in the hotels. A contract has recently been signed with Vodaphone for a 2nd network and this will be operational in 2022.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.


11 Days

Price & Availability

From
USD2,980 / per person
Based on twin/double room
Single Supplement USD 345
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Ethiopian Adventures

Quick Enquiry Form

Tour Facts

  • Northern Ethiopia
  • On Request
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 2 to 6 pax
  • 11 Days
  • September to April
  • +15 years
  • Moderate
  • No
  • English, German
  • Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
  • Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
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